Mixed Mindfulness Arts, Animals and Starlight

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at the martial arts scene these days you will see that a lot of the top guys are mixed martial artists, that is to say that they have trained in and mastered more than one form of martial arts, and this has made them better overall. Similarly training in complementary meditation and mindfulness styles can have a great effect upon your personal growth, more than training in just one.

With this in mind I have edited and updated an older article below on how to meditate with animals and landscape. It is a very old form of meditation that people have been doing for thousands of years, and has a lot to offer us in today’s very urbanized society!

Similarly I would like to sincerely recommend that if you are in Singapore next Sunday 31st September in the morning, then do consider coming along to my meditation workshop The Call of the Wild–Meditations for Deepening Your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Green-world where I will be teaching this meditation method in a very practical and relatively easy to apply way.

Finally, another practice that I have gotten a HUGE amount out of over the last year, and that continues to be a great support and strengthener for my mindfulness practice and personal growth in general is the brain-entrainment and bio-field technology tracks fromI-Awake. They have got a new product, Neuroflow out just a few days ago, which I am posting some information on immediately below. As it has only just come out, I have only had it a few days myself, but I have already had a great experience with it!

Yours in the spirit of mixing and flowing,

Toby


Meditating with Animals and Starlight – Shamanic Journeying

Meditating with animals and animal spirits is one of the main practices found in ancient shamanic traditions worldwide. The ancient shamans were really the pioneers of the first meditation techniques and these techniques (which are mainly the technique of “inner world journeying”) are deeply embedded within the psyche of human beings, including you and me. The result of this is that most people who actually try shamanic meditation techniques actually find that they are able to gain some success quite quickly. Michael Harner, one of the pioneers of modern proto-shamanism reports that fully 85% of people participating in his shamanic journeying workshops are able to gain tangible results and experiences from their first attempts at journeying meditation (The only caveat to that would be that these people chose to attend the workshop, so in a sense they may have ‘self-selected based upon their innate aptitude and interest).

As mentioned above, the main meditation “technique” found in shamanism is the “inner world journey” where contact with animal and ancestral spirits is sought for the purposes of gaining guidance, wisdom and healing. When meditating with animals and animal guides the sequence of the meditations would tend to go something like this:

  1. The shaman (or you and I if we are choosing to meditate in this way) goes on a journey, either within his imagination, or actually physically into a landscape to meet his or her animal guide.
  2. Once the specific animal has been contacted, the shaman requests to be taught or shown the wisdom or healing method that the animal has to impart to him.  There then follows a communion between human and animal, trust is hopefully gained and the relationship proceeds. It should be noted that the animal chooses the shaman, not vice-versa. If you are met by an ant or a rat when you wanted a lion you cannot do a trade in! Experience will show you that in reality the animal that comes is invariably the best one for you and for the job at hand!
  3. A series of meditations can then be embarked upon where the mediator then goes on journeys and receives teachings, techniques and insights from the animal. Initially the meditator travels WITH the animal, but over time s/he may feel as if he is merging with the animal’s body and actually BECOMING the animal for periods of time.
  4. Over time a stable working relationship is established with the animal spirit which is mutually enriching for both parties, and the wisdom and abilities of the animal are imparted to the meditator.

What “abilities” and wisdom do you get from an animal guide?
The way in which animal guides impart wisdom is non-intellectual, experiential and mainly done through images. To take an example, if your guide is a spider, and in meditation you experience what it is like to have eight sensitive legs picking up information from all directions around you then this will give you a heightened awareness of your inner sense of touch which you can apply to appropriate life situations and challenges.

Starlight meditation with a pigeon
One animal that I developed a relationship with around the the beginning of 2010 for a period of months is the pink necked green pigeon a number of which used to hang out in the park near my office. My animal journeying-type meditations are mostly spontaneous these days, done whilst napping or just sitting having a quiet moment. Animal journeying really just becomes an integral part of life once you have been doing it a while. So anyway, here a journey that I experienced with the above mentioned green pigeon that I recorded at the time :
I am having a ten minute meditation break in my office. My mind becomes quiet and tranquil. Quite suddenly I feel myself to be sitting in the next door park, staring up at a tree, where the green pigeon is sitting looking at me. After an initial contact we fly up into the sky going high above the cloudline.
With the clouds below us and the blue sky above, I become aware of rays of starlight flowing down from the heavens, bathing our bodies in white light. The rest of the meditation is then spent simply enjoying the starlight, absorbing it and being it. We then fly back down to the park, the vision breaks apart and I am sitting in my office meditating. I say thankyou to the green pigeon and get on with my day!

For many people the idea of meditating in this way may seem a bit far-fetched.

However there is HUGE value for urbanized humans to do this type of meditation, as it re-connects us to a truly living relationship with nature and animals. The other thing that we discover is that it is actually quite not difficult, it is just a matter of re-awakening our visualization and imaginative skills, and pointing them in the right direction.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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Trusting Your Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

Our mind is our fundamental tool of survival in the world; the better it functions and the more we are able to trust it, the happier and more successful we will tend to be.
The article below outlines a few points around how you can start to build genuine self confidence by learning to trust your mind, and gives a mindfulness exercise that you can use to begin a practical exploration of this area.The coaching offer for August is now closed but, for anyone signing up for one or more 1:1 coaching session with me between now and end August, you will get as a bonus free access to my Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now Online Course.
Yours in the spirit of mindful self-confidence,
Toby

Trusting Your Mind

Mindfulness and meditation can give us temporary calm and relief from the continuous activity of our thinking mind, but if we are tempted to use it as a way of escaping from our mind then we should be wary.
Ideally mindfulness should be a way of gaining confidence and trust in our mind and ourself so that gradually our relationship to our thinking mind becomes more and more harmonious and mutually supportive; our thoughts support a healthy experience of self, and our sense of self encourages a reliable approach to thinking about our life experience.
Nathaniel Branden has in interesting definition of self-confidence, he says “Self confidence is confidence in the reliability of our mind as a tool of cognition…it is the conviction that we are genuinely committed to perceiving and honouring reality to the fullest extent of our volitional power.”
So, the long and the short of this is that in order to be genuinely and deeply self-confident, you need to learn to trust your mind, and use it as well as you are able within the limits of your ability.

Pseudo-self confidence
Quite a few people exert a lot of effort building pseudo self-confidence in order to disguise their fundamental lack of trust in their own mind and judgment. We might become very physically fit, or very wealthy, or have read all the right books about being a parent, have gained many educational certificates and degrees, or even become an expert meditator (and other examples ad infinitum) all as a way of building a buffer between ourself and our actual moment to moment experience of reality and life. Fundamentally we don’t trust our mind to be able to deal with it effectively; deep down we lack self-confidence, so we build buffers and things to hide behind.

Three mindful questions for building self-confidence and trust in your mind.
Take a situation in your life, perhaps something that you have experienced today. Ask yourself three questions in turn:
“What am I seeing and experiencing here”
“What is my mind telling me about what I am seeing and experiencing?”
“Am I honoring my own experience and mind here or am I turning away from it?”The answer to the third question will tell you whether you are using this activity and experience to build your self-confidence and trust in your own mind, or whether you are subverting it. As the old saying goes “Many drops of water slowly dripping into a pot will eventually make it full”; in our day by day journey to self-confidence, or to a lack of it, this saying rubs both ways.Generally the challenge here is not that we don’t know enough, but that we know more than we would like, and would rather avoid the responsibility of that knowledge.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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What do I Need to Focus Upon Now?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Consciously learning to focus your mind where it needs to be is a primary life skill that we can develop through meditation and mindfulness, the article below explores how you can begin today.

For those of you interested in meditative art; When I do a soul portrait for someone, I don’t always know what the significance some of the images, lines and colours are. The response from a client to her soul portrait that I have posted (with her permission)HERE  illustrates just how much this is the case!

Yours in the spirit of joyful focus,

Toby


What do I Need to Focus Upon Now? (The Field of Awareness, the Art of Mindfulness)

In each moment you experience a field of awareness. Within that field there are many things going on. As I am sitting here on a Friday evening I can hear the traffic outside, the cat sneezing on the balcony, the sound of the fan and music. I can feel the open, spacious effect of the meditation I have done, just an inner open pure awareness. There are thoughts formulating in my mind as I type out the article, there is the residual emotions of a long day.  Could go on, but I think you get the idea.
The art of practical mindfulness is simply to keep asking the question “What do I need to focus upon now?” and then train your attention on hold itself where it needs to be. The key understanding here is that what you need to be focusing on changes many times in each day. As I am writing this article on my computer, it is appropriate for my conscious awareness to be focused upon my mental process and typing. Earlier on when I was meditating my attention was absorbed into a spacious experience of deeper consciousness. Still earlier when I was putting my daughter to bed my attention was focused on that process. After writing I’ll have a drink before I go to bed and turn my mindful attention to processing the events and emotions of the day. Each of these states of mindful attention is different, but appropriate.
If I was thinking about my article whilst meditating, that would render my meditation ineffective. If I was processing my emotions from my day whilst putting my daughter to bed, that would make me less effective at that task. If I was zoning out in meditation whilst trying to get this article writ, it wouldn’t get done.
The art of mindfulness is knowing what to focus upon within your field of awareness at any given moment in your day, and to keep changing your object of awareness appropriately as you go through your different activities and tasks.
If you can do this well then your tasks will be as successful as they can be according to your limitations. What’s more, because you are focusing appropriately on each area you will naturally get better at each activity thereby extending your capabilities, which in turn will lead to greater success, self-esteem and happiness.

So there is your question; “what do I need to focus upon right now?” If you keep asking this question each day your mindfulness, effectiveness and wellbeing will improve correspondingly.

For a further exploration of this topic see my article on street mindfulness.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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You Always Have a Choice

Some of you familiar with meditation and mindfulness will be familiar with the practice of choice-less awareness. Choice-less awareness essentially involves learning to be a witness to your consciousness and its contents; just sitting there and allowing whatever comes up in your mind to come up without interfering, like watching clouds in the sky.

However, in daily life and in the world of active thought and action, one of the best ways to turn on and develop your mindfulness practice is to engage in your process of making choices consciously and definitely.

There is never a circumstance in life where you do not have options, and the options that you choose each day have real and tangible consequences on your life. If you abstain from making choices through laziness, fear, confusion (etc and any combination of), or if you labor under the illusion that you have ‘no choice’ in a situation then you are tangibly handicapping your chances of building a happy and fulfilling life.

The flip side of this is that by making sure that each day you are making mindful considered choices you are dramatically increasing the your life-effectiveness, your chances of success in your endeavors, and your chances of getting what you want in the way that you want it.

If you really want to turn your mindfulness practice on, make sure you are asking yourself every day and in each consequential situation “What are my choices here?” Make full use of the mind you have.

 

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Fly on the Wall Mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would it be like to observe yourself s a stranger, and follow yourself around for a while? Would you like what you see? And what might you learn about yourself? The article below explores this theme…

Yours in the spirit of observation,

Toby

 


Fly on the Wall Mindfulness

This is a technique that I mention in my previous article on Mindful Relationships. I’ve been working with it quite a bit this week myself, so I just thought I’d write a little more.

The idea with fly on the wall mindfulness is that you sit down and imagine yourself as a fly on the wall during recent events in your life. You watch yourself as an observer and see what this reveals to you about yourself.

For example if I do this with myself today I can follow myself through various activities based around my daughter’s birthday; see myself going out in the morning to try and find birthday candles (see my annoyance and frustration; does nowhere have birthday candles!!). Later I observe myself reacting/responding to the special dietary requirements of the guests, three visits to the garage or corner shop, but I’m feeling easy and going with the flow. At various other points during the day I see myself and realize that I was having feelings (both positive and negative) that I was not fully aware of, and that being a ‘fly on the wall’ reveals to me very fast.

Some of the benefits of regularly doing the fly on the wall meditation include:

  • Access to an increased objectivity in your view of yourself without repressing or intellectualizing the emotions that are present within
  • Increased awareness of your behaviors and emotions, many of which are invisible to you because they are so habitual and unconscious
  • Greater ability to mentally step back from charged or reactive situations with relative ease
  •  A natural and substantial increase in your healthy inquisitiveness, curiosity and observational skill

After you become used to it, it becomes a perspective that you can take as you are actually going around in your daily life that informs your experience of what is going on; at any time you can take your mind to a place up on the wall of ceiling and observe yourself and what is going on from there.

Finally, don’t let the idea of being a fly put you off, if it does, just use the image of a surveillance camera, private eye or something like that!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships

Dear Integral Meditators,

Do you have a strategy for integrating mindfulness into your relationships? This mid-week article is an invitation to investigate four simple techniques that I have found effective.

 

Yours in the spirit of mindful relationships,

Toby

 


Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships

The following are four techniques for cultivating more mindfulness or, put another way integrating a greater degree of consciousness into your everyday relationships. Each one of them is relatively simple to understand and to put into practice on a basic level, and each one can be cultivated to deeper and deeper levels over time. Just practicing one can be very beneficial, but I have found they really come into their own when practiced together as an integrated unit.

Being the fly on the wall – Imagine you are a fly on the wall observing yourself in real time interaction with your partner, boss or child (etc…) Observe the interaction objectively for a while. What do you see happening? Are your words, behaviour and body language helping or hindering the relationship? How is the other person experiencing you? Get familiar with this new perspective on what is going on and integrate it into the way you approach interacting with others.

Taking the perspective of the other – Imagine inhabit the body, mind, eyes and so on of your partner, child, parent, friend (etc…) What is their world view? What does it feel like to be treated by you in the way that they are? Imagine your words spoken to them and their emotional reaction. Get used to really taking on the perspective of the other regularly, each day.

Acknowledging difficulties – Take time to deliberately get in touch with the emotional wounds, resentments, pain and so forth that you are experiencing in a relationship. Deliberately look them out, bring them to mind, acknowledge them and release them as they arise on a daily basis, so that they can be released as they come up. Anger, resentment, shame, jealousy and so on are not pleasant, but if we are regularly repressing them then they won’t do anything but poison the relationship.

Appreciation – Focus daily upon the gifts, positives, and other valuable attributes of your relationships. For example different stages of bringing up a child each have their own challenging sides, but they also have their delightful sides. Don’t let the different stages of your relationships go by without enjoying them, they will be gone as you move to the next stage…

You can practice these as formal sitting mindfulness techniques, or just deliberately take them into consideration as you are going about your daily relationships. After having focused on one or other of the practices for a while it can be useful to ask yourself the questions “What insight have I gained from this reflection?” and “What might I consider changing in the way I approach this relationship as a result of this insight?”

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


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Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Dear Integral Meditators,
When you think about deepening your inner strength and resources perhaps you think about developing a new set of skills or reading about a new practice. Using mindfulness you can deepen your inner strength and resilience simply by being more fully conscious of what you already know. This weeks article looks at how you can go about doing this.

The program of talks and workshops for August is out, just click on the links below for full details!

Finally, Integral Meditation Asia is having a special August four day sale (3rd to end 7th August) with a 40% price reduction on all its current online meditation and mindfulness courses. just click on the link to have a look at the list available.

Yours in the spirit of inner strength,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

AUGUST

Sunday 10th of August 4-5pm – Free Mindful Parenting preview talk at Basic Essence, to register your place please reply to this email.

Sunday August 17th, 9.30am-12.30pm –Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting – A three hour workshop
Sunday August 31st, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Call of the Wild – Meditations for Deepening your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Greenworld

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia

 


Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Finding a deeper level of inner resources and resilience to your challenges need not be about learning more. As often as not it is about being mindful enough to apply what you already know in a practical way. Sometimes when we are experiencing difficulties or performing sub-par in a situation it is because we are not applying what we already know in an effective way.

A simple example
Let’s say I feel uncomfortable about communicating to my business partner about something that I think he did wrong and that is hurting our business. If I am present to my own past experience, and to what I have read about effective communication I will already know that the best way to tackle the situation is to honestly and politely bring up the subject directly and talk about it explicitly.
However, because I am a distracted by other things and because the emotions within me are uncomfortable I instinctively avoid bringing up the conversation directly. The result of this is that I feel an increasing sense of frustration and resentment toward my partner, and the problem persists on an outer level.
If I bring my full awareness to what I already know, then the plan of action is actually clear; I need to have a direct talk with him. However, consciously or unconsciously I am avoiding the issue, which in turn is making me reduce the level of conscious awareness that I am bringing to the situation. As a result I act against my best knowledge and find myself frustrated and confused.

Reasons why we don’t bring enough awareness to our challenges

Here the issue is not that we do not know what to do, rather it is that we don’t bring enough conscious intelligence to the situation to know what we know and do what we need to do. There are a lot of reasons why we resist bringing our full conscious awareness to situations where we really need it, but here are three:
We are lazy – Simply, we can’t be bothered, so rather than address the issue properly we hope that by ignoring it or pretending it is not there then it will somehow go away. Inevitably this means we expend more effort dealing with the issue because we are dealing with it in the wrong way, so laziness is very often a prescription for more work in the long term.
We are afraid of consequences – To take the example above, let’s say I am afraid of invoking my business partner’s disapproval or anger. Because of this I avoid the confrontation by telling myself it is not necessary, or I pretend it is not really a problem. Because I am afraid of a consequence I deny what I already know and doing really needs to be done.
Being focused on the wrong thing – Another reason we deny our self access to what we know is that we are focused on the wrong thing. Again to use the example of me and my business partner, if I am focused on “who is right and who is wrong in the situation” rather than “what needs to be done to fix our business glitch”, then the issue is not that I am not bringing awareness to what is going on, it is just that I am focusing that awareness on the wrong aspect of what is going on.

An exercise for mindfully deepening your inner resources

Three questions to stay with during the day:

  • What challenges in my inner or outer life need to be solved immanently or urgently?
  • If I bring my full awareness to the issue, what do I already know about how to resolve the situation?
  • Knowing what I already know deep down, what do I really need to do?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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The Sea Snakes of the Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,
When I was young I used to enjoy snorkeling on reefs in the Philippines, where quite often I would come into contact with sea snakes, whom I really loved. The article and meditation below explains a meditation experience that that I had with them more recently. It also co-stars a seal!

Yours in the spirit of calm presence,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

AUGUST
(Full details of both courses shortly)

Sunday August 17th, 9.30am-12.30pm –Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting

Sunday August 31st, 9.30am-12.30pm – Call of the Wild: Meditating with Animal Guides and Familiars

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia


The Sea Snakes of the Mind

The story of the inner sea snakes of the mind
Back around 2008 I did a marathon meditation class series on meditating with animals. We covered about thirty or so animals over as many weeks. One of these animal guides was the seal. The seal meditation went something like this:
Imagine you are on a sunny beach somewhere in wild nature. Set your intention to meet the seal as an animal guide within ‘the reality of your creative imagination’.
Imagine from the sea comes a seal. After greeting you and playing on the beach for a while the seal invites you to follow him/her into the water. As you swim out you find yourself in shallow sea with waving seaweed and perhaps some corral. You spend time playing gently with the seal and enjoying the play of the light in the water and the small fish around you.
You come to the edge of the shallow water a way out from the shore. Here the ground drops away abruptly like a cliff and you find yourself facing the deep blue-green ocean, at the edge of your cliff.
The seal now swims off into the deep water and disappears. From just below the cliff face suddenly a group of stripped sea snakes emerges and begins to swim around you. You know they are extremely venomous, but despite your fear you understand clearly that the best thing to do is relax, breathe and stay absolutely still. If you do so then the snakes will not harm you. If you panic and thrash around however there is very real danger.
After having relaxed, stayed still and allowed the snakes to coil around you for a while, they depart, leaving you alone; still shocked but exhilarated. The seal now comes back from the deep water and invites you to come with him there. You swim out and down over the cliff face into the deep blue-green stillness with the seal into what feels like an infinity of peace and tranquility.
At your leisure you return back to the beach, give thanks to the seal and end the meditation.

The psychological metaphor of the sea snakes
So, the psychological metaphor is that the snakes are like your negative and destructive minds that threaten your happiness and wellbeing. The teaching is that if, when they arise in your mind (like the snakes in the sea) you have the presence of mind to keep calm and still, then the negative minds will hang around, but then leave you after a while without doing any harm. If however when they come up you thrash around, panic, fight with them and so on, then they will bite and poison you.
You leave them alone, they leave you alone. Negative or difficult minds come up? That need not be a problem; just don’t give them any reason to bite.

So the sea snakes are the bad guys right?
If we are saying that the sea snakes are our negative minds then I guess we could say they are the bad guys.
However, on a deeper level I think we could call them guardians. If the shallow water represents our everyday mind and thinking self, and the deep water represents deeper, more powerful and profound levels of consciousness, then the sea snakes arise at the gateway between these two levels. They come to test us; if we are not able to deal with them then we should not proceed to the deeper levels that lie beyond, as they would likely have an unbalancing and possibly destructive effect upon us.
If however we are able to pass the test that the sea snakes pose, then this indicates that we are ready and mature enough to proceed.

So then in this context the snakes are guides and guardians, complementary to the seal in his/her ‘spiritual’ role.
Many times in meditation (or in life?) when you are at the threshold of some breakthrough, apparently negative, destructive or otherwise disruptive forces arise in the mind, the ‘storm before the calm’ so to speak. If we can negotiate the storm then we are ready for the deeper calm and power that follows.

Meditating on the seal as spirit guide and the sea snakes of the mind
To meditate on the inner sea snakes of the mind, and on the seal as inner guide simply follow the story outlined at the beginning of this article in contemplation. Spend as much time as appropriate at each stage.
And when the snakes come, just remember to stay still!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Dear Integral Meditators,
Part of a mature meditation and mindfulness practice inevitably involves getting cozy and comfortable with feelings and emotions that most people run from as soon as they see or sense them. The article below explores two such emotions, and why we should be interested in getting to know them better.

Yours in the spirit of clarity,

Toby

 

 


Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two of the feelings and emotions that generally we least like to deal with. Instinctively our reaction to them is to push them out of our conscious into our unconscious mind, where we hope they will somehow disappear if we ignore them long enough.
The price of ignoring repressing and avoiding guilt and shame is that we then continue to be victimized by them, for many people therefore guilt and shame continue to bother them and obstruct their happiness thru-out their life.
The benefits of opening to our experience of guilt and shame is that we are able to process them effectively which then in turn removes a major obstacle to our fundamental experience of happiness in life. More than we remove a major obstacle to making progress in our relationships and professional development as well. Thus in terms of both personal happiness and gaining an edge in our relational and professional development we should be interested in our experience of guilt and shame.

So what are guilt and shame? I’m going to use a definition from Robert Bly, which I picked up in his book “Iron John”: “A traditional way of differentiating guilt from shame is this: Shame, it is said, is the sense that you are an utterly inadequate person on this planet, and probably nothing can be done about it. Guilt is the sense that you have done one thing wrong, and you can atone for it.”

From this we can start to see that dealing with shame involves connecting to that part of us that feels fundamentally inadequate to life, fundamentally value-less, fundamentally unworthy. It means to, with care, courage and curiosity to invite that part of us that feels shameful to come forward and talk to us, to receive support and to be healed. We can also see that dealing with shame is about connecting to a fundamental belief that we have about ourselves on some level, working each day to replace that belief with a view of self that affirms our self-confidence, self-competence and value as an individual, and acting in ways that demonstrate this.

Dealing with guilt involves looking at specific instances where we feel or believe we have done something wrong and connecting to the emotions that surround that experience. It involves checking the validity of the belief that we have done something wrong with an appropriate rational analysis (perhaps it is a preconception?), and if there is indeed something that we have done that needs correcting or atoning for, then investigating what can actually be done in terms of correcting action?

Some questions for getting to know your shame and guilt:

  • What are the times in my day and life when I really experience myself as inadequate, valueless, unworthy of being present in the situation or even unworthy of being a happy human? What beliefs perpetuate these feelings of inadequacy?
  • What in my past do I feel most guilty about? If I were to look at that past act objectively and rationally, would I consider the emotional guilt I feel as being valid?
  • If I do feel I have done something wrong, then what needs to be done to atone for it?
  • What can I do each day to demonstrate to myself that I am adequate and of value in life, and to build the foundations of genuine self confidence?

Asking yourself these questions and observing the responses that they stimulate in your mind, perhaps even writing them down is a good way to start bringing awareness to your own personal feelings of guilt and shame, and awareness of them is the beginning of your path to dealing with them in a truly mindful and effective manner.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 


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Body-Mountain, Cloud-Thought, Sky-Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

The context in which you experience your thoughts and feelings determines how much significance and power they have over you. The article below explains a simple way of re-contextualizing your thoughts in a way that makes it easier to enjoy their ups and downs, their comings and goings with a greater sense of stability and clarity.

Final reminder of the Language of the shadow workshop this coming Sunday, click on the link below for full details…

Yours in the spirit of mountains and sky,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
This Sunday July 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm –  Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self – A Three Hour Workshop 

AUGUST
Call of the Wild: Meditating with Animal Guides and Familiars

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia


Body-Mountain, Cloud-Thought, Sky-Mind

Here’s an image to use in meditation; Experience your body as being like a mountain, your thoughts and associated feelings as being like clouds and your mind or consciousness itself as being like the sky.

Often the thoughts and associated feelings that we have in our mind are the dominant factor in our experience of personal stability during our day. They take us away from the stability of our physical body and make us forgetful of the clear and spacious nature of our consciousness itself.

How does a mountain experience clouds? It is completely unbothered by them; whether the sky is clear around it or it is surrounded by thunderclouds, wind and rain, a mountain remains stable, solid and calm. By relating to the solidity of your body as being like a mountain you can re-contextualize the way you experience your thoughts and feelings. Being less easily swayed and manipulated by them, you bring solidity to your experience of the present moment.

How does the sky experience clouds and weather? It allows them to come and go with ease.  At all times the sky remains open and spacious, even when it contains clouds, wind and rain. Indeed, if it was not spacious the clouds could not even be there. If we become used to relating to our mind, or to our consciousness itself as being like the sky; even in the midst of mental chaos and emotional stress we will be able to retain a connection to an experience of spaciousness, openness and clarity, just like the sky itself.

Clouds come in many shapes and forms. If we are the mountain and the sky we can enjoy all forms of clouds, all forms of weather with a sense of solidity, calmness and clarity underlying the experience.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com 

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