If you feel properly you will think clearly

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article describes a simple but profound meditation process for bringing your thoughts and feelings into a state of integration and harmony. When our thoughts and feelings are on the same page, it opens up a whole new dimension of both happiness and effectiveness within us.

Yours in the spirit of integrated thinking and feeling,

Toby


If you feel properly you will think clearly

What is it that gets in the way of clear thinking? You might have the idea that it would be easy to think clearer if only you did not have all these intense emotions within you that seemed to be getting in the way of your thought processes:

  • “If only I was not so angry I would be able to deal with the person who said that awful thing to me”
  • “If only I wasn’t so anxious I could just relax and get down to my work”
  • “If only I was not so jealous I could enjoy my relationship more and with a clearer head”

In this scenario emotion and thought are set up against each other as adversaries within ourself, one pitted against the other.
Actually, the emotion only becomes an obstruction to clear thinking when we repress, deny or otherwise push it away from our conscious awareness and try and bury it within ourselves. When we do this our body becomes tense and armored, our mind becomes cloudy and foggy, and a gap appears between what we think, what we feel and what we do.
When we acknowledge and accept the emotions we feel without denying them, we will find that we tend to experience a clarifying of our thought process, and an inclination to act in ways that are congruent to that thinking:

  • “Because I feel angry with my friend for what they did, I am going to tell them about it, not violently and explosively, but calmly and clearly, because I know that what I am feeling is anger”
  • “I know that I am feeling anxious at work right now, and I understand why, accepting the way I feel I will now get on with what needs to be done”
  • “Jealousy is not a pleasant emotion to experience, but there is a reason for it that I think I need to talk through with my partner”

One of the primary ways that meditation can help you in a practical is to use it as a way to bring your thoughts and feelings into integration with each other. Simply to sit down and use awareness of your body and breathing to become more deeply aware of how you are feeling. As you sit with your body and breathing, you can even mentally describe to yourself (or even out loud) what the sensations are that you are feeling in your body, and what emotions these are connected to. You will be surprised if you do this regularly how quickly you can bring to your conscious awareness emotions that have been hidden from view to you for years. As they come into view, just focus on acknowledging them and experiencing them consciously. You will find that if you do this your head will start to feel clearer, and that you will be able to think and express yourself more clearly. Energy that was previously locked up in the repression and denial of emotion will become available to you for positive and appropriate self-expression.
A final point, as you do this exercise you may be surprised how much positive emotion and feeling you suppress. Excitement, joy, love, sensual and sexual feelings can be experienced by our ego as being as ‘dangerous’ as anger, jealousy and so forth. So it is not all about reconnecting to difficult emotion, it is also learning to feel positive emotions more deeply and enjoyably.

© 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 

Share

What Constitutes the Good Life? – Looking a bit deeper

Dear Integral Meditators,

In order to experience the ‘good life’ I really believe that we need to go beyond our superficial ideas of positive and negative, pleasure and pain. In the article below I explain why.

Final reminder if you are in Singapore of the Mindful Resilience Workshop on this Sunday, 21st September in the morning. Anyone attending the live workshop will also gain access to the Mindful Resistance online course launching next week, which is a really good deal I think.

Beneath the article is details of I-awakes monthly offer, in this case on their Neurocharger 3.0 track. Its good stuff!

Yours in the spirit of the good life,

Toby


What Constitutes the Good Life? – Looking a bit deeper

What constitutes the good life? You might think that the good life might be described by the prevalence of the following types of emotions and experiences; happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable*.
The not-so-good-life would then be constituted of a corresponding list of opposite qualities like unhappy, discontented, in pain, depressed.

BUT. It is possible to be superficially happy, lazily contented, addicted to sensation and short term kicks (bliss) and enjoyment as distraction from what is truly important.

Similarly it can be unhappy in a way that leads to positive change, discontent because it is appropriate to be so, learn valuable lessons and victories from pain and reach a deeper level of self-knowledge when we confront depression and emptiness.

What would then happen if we replaced our list of qualities that constitute the good life to the following; enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and meaningful?*

We can be enriched by our feelings of both happiness and unhappiness.
We can be excited by the prospect of resting in contentment and also shaking our world up with our discontent.
We can be rewarded by our resilience to pain as well as our periodic touching of deep bliss.
We can be challenged by loneliness and depression and derive new levels of enjoyment from that which we find meaningful.

If we are willing to consistently push ourselves beyond the superficial boundaries of ‘chasing positive and avoiding negative’ as well as ‘looking for short term pleasure and avoiding pain’ we may find that undreamed of capacities for the good life start to emerge from each day of our existence.

So then, what are the leading edges of your enrichment, excitement, reward, challenge, and meaning in life today? It doesn’t have to be ‘positive’.

*Two lists taken from “ The Carl Rogers Reader”, Haughton edition,  page 419, section entitled ‘The Greater Richness of Life”

© 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 



I-Awake technologies special offer for September is on Neurocharger – Train Your Brain with 60 Minutes of Gated Frequencies For Energy, Balance & Focus. Get 25% off the regular price!
Discount Coupon Code:(apply during checkout) NEWSSEPT25OFF
Good until Sept 22, 2014
Click on link for full details and to listen to the free sample track…

Share

What Lies Beyond Stillness? – Meditation and heightened creativity

 Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens when you have learned to still the mind in meditation? That is the question I explore below in this weeks article.

Yours in the spirit of deeper creativity,

Toby
 


What Lies Beyond Stillness? – Meditation and heightened creativity

For many of the people who do coaching with me or attend a workshop, the #1 goal often seems to be to be able to access a place of calm and stillness within themselves through meditation practice.
The achievement of resting in inner stillness consistently and at will, in the face of the varied circumstances of daily life takes persistent training in mindfulness and meditation, and is a notable achievement. But what lies beyond the achievement of stillness in meditation once you have attained it?
The inner silence (or space or stillness) with nothing in it that we find in meditation is a living space with nothing in it (no-thing). The flip side of this living space is that it is also a space of all-possibilities. This means to say that because there is nothing there, in that space anything could appear or be created; it is unlimited.
So a space of stillness within our mind is a place where we have temporarily dropped all the constraints of our conventional everyday mind, for whom some things are possible, and others are definitely not. It is not altogether surprising then that, after we have entered a space of stillness in meditation, quite often we start to get flashes of creative inspiration, great ideas about a project at work, new insights into our personal life, great ideas for a work of art, a previously undreamed of solution to a personal problem.
These types of highly creative flashes of inspiration come from a level of our consciousness beyond the everyday mind, and are different from the ‘distractions’ that we have when we are trying to still out mind in the first place. It is the beginnings of experiencing of the higher or trans-rational levels of our consciousness, within which there is an infinite source of creative ideas and creative power.
However, the challenge in our actual meditation can be that we find ourselves departing from the stillness that we have been focusing upon, and find our mind getting distracted by all the inspiration.

As a solution to this it can be useful to set aside a little time at the end of your meditation session to focus upon this deeper level of creative experience. So, for example if you have a 20minute session:

  • The first five minutes might be spent on stilling the mind
  • The next ten minutes could be spent moving more deeply into that stillness and staying with it
  • The final five minutes might be then spent observing creative inspirations that arise from the stillness, noting them and perhaps contemplating how you might practically apply them to your daily life.

In the long term what happens is that you start to be able to access this level of higher creativity even when out of meditation, which in turn enables you to make your whole life a an expression of your deeper creativity. The only chaser I would add to this is that sometimes these creative ideas are deeply challenging to our sense of what are limits are as a personality, so with the experience of deeper creativity comes the need for greater courage to act upon that which is arising within you.

© 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 

Share

Non-resistance – Tapping into A deeper level of relaxation

Superficially relaxation exercises relating to mindfulness might look quite simple, almost to the point of superficiality, but in reality the capacity to become and remain deeply relaxed consistently in life is a profound achievement.
Why so? Because to be able to remain truly and deeply relaxed in the face of all the nonsense that everyday life throws at you implies the achievement of three inner qualities that are not easy to attain:
Self-trust – The knowledge that your mind, judgment and convictions are not vulnerable or susceptible to emotional pressure
Self confidence – The belief that, whatever the challenge you have you are confident in the power of your mind to be able to respond appropriately and effectively
Self-esteem – The feeling and experience that you are deserving of happiness in life, and that you are confident of your own intelligence and its capacity to find solutions to your life’s problems (in this sense you could say that self-confidence is actually a subset of self-esteem).

Non-Resistance – Relaxing into our challenges as a way of practising mindful resilience and recovering from mental ‘hits’ faster.

Rather than theorizing, what I want to do in this article is demonstrate from my own experience how non-resistance works. The other night as I was falling asleep I was suddenly struck by a set of unusual feelings of loneliness, accompanied by images of myself in a big empty house. Caught by surprise by these feelings, I felt my body and mind resisting and trying to reject and deny these feelings, to try and ‘escape’ from them. Catching myself, I then altered my approach, consciously relaxing into the feelings of loneliness, immersing myself in them like submerging myself into the water of a swimming pool. By relaxing and practising non-resistance to the feelings, I found that after a short while they naturally dissipated and I fell asleep feeling relaxed and content; I was able to process and remain resilient to the emotional challenge through the practice of relaxational non-resistance.
Next morning I receive an email from a corporate client regarding a deal I thought was locked up. Turns out they have decided to go with another facilitator, instinctively following the momentum that I had created from the night before, I again practice non-resistance to the email and my emotional reaction to it. I allow it to flow through my body and mind, opening my chest and relaxing deeply. The result – my recuperation and regeneration time from that setback is VASTLY accelerated (not to say that there was no swearing mind ;-)), and I proceed through the mornings work and activities feeling  fundamentally good despite the setback.

So, two related, practical examples of the practice of non-resistance there which I hope will give you some idea as to how to start practising it yourself.

How does non-resistance relate to the qualities of self-trust, confidence and esteem? 
The capacity to practice non-resistance under stress depends to a large degree on how you have developed these three qualities within yourself. If you don’t trust and feel confident in yourself, it is very difficult to relax into an experience that directly threatens your wellbeing. If you don’t have self-esteem it can be difficult not to believe that on some level setbacks in life are confirmations that happiness is not something you deserve to give yourself each day.

Non-resistance is a practice that you can start today and find real benefit, but that to be a master of deep relaxation; you have to earn it over time.

Related articles: Non-StrivingThe Shadow ChildSoft Forms of Psychic Self Defence.
© 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 

Share

Why Mindfulness Primes You for Success

Dear Toby,

What would happen to your enthusiasm and commitment to mindfulness and meditation practice if I were to convince you that practicing it gives you the greatest chance for success in your chosen endeavors, both professionally and personally? In the article below that is exactly what I try and demonstrate to you.

The mindful resilience courses that I am putting on this month, both online and live are designed to give you a very solid and dynamic basis for mindful success.

To your mindful success, and mine, and the better world that will result,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in September:

Sunday September 21st – Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through meditation and mindfulness – A Three Hour Workshop

Wednesday September 24th – Launch of online course: Developing Your Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through mindfulness

Sunday September 28th, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Parenting Workshop – Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting – A three hour workshop


 

Why Mindfulness Primes You for Success

Mindfulness means above all else to be committed to living an aware life. To the extent that you are dedicated to living an aware life, that is to say bringing a greater degree of awareness to your day to day activities and experiences, the greater your chances are of understanding to them. To the extent that you gain understanding in your activities and experiences you increase your chances of being effective in them. The more effective you are in processing your daily activities, the greater chance you have of being successful in them. This is the reason that mindfulness primes you for success in whatever field of activity you choose. The equation looks something like this:

Mindfulness = Awareness +Understanding which leads to greater Effectiveness which then = Greater success

Please note here that we are not defining mindfulness as a technique here, but as a commitment to awareness. If you are truly committed to bringing mindfulness into your life, you will find ways of bringing greater awareness. From this we can see that mindfulness is not so much a technique or a school or club that you can belong to, it is an existential stance and approach toward life and a choice in each moment.

If being mindful increases your chances of success, why isn’t everyone practicing it?

Because being committed to bring deep awareness, understanding and effectiveness to your life brings you into confrontation with questions that most people would rather avoid. For example:

  • What are the things within my mind that make me so uncomfortable that I seek toavoid awareness of them?
  • What is it that I feel confused about and do not understand in this situation?
  • What are the areas in my life where I feel or actually am deeply incompetent and ineffective in my life?

So, from these questions we can see that to be committed to a mindful life means being  committed to going to the places within yourself that are uncomfortable, confusing and even sometimes make us feel stupid. This is why we resist living a mindful life.

However, if we understand that the basic formula of mindfulness is designed to bring us success in whatever our chosen endeavour is, then we may find ourselves picking up our practice again with renewed enthusiasm and courage, and in the knowledge that by renewing our commitment to awareness each day we are massively increasing our chances of long term success in that which is most important to us in our life.

Three mindful questions for success:
Select a particular aspect of your life, work, relationships (etc…) in your life and ask each question in turn, with pauses for reflection in between.
What do I need to be most aware of in this situation?
What is my awareness inviting me to understand deeply about what is happening here?
What skills do I need to practice and become competent at here in order to become truly effective?

© 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 

 

Share

Three Levels of Inner Resilience

Dear Integral Meditators,

What are the primary qualities that you rely upon for your own inner resilience? The article I have written below outlines three important areas for developing our inner resilience in an integrated way, using mindfulness.
Beneath the article I have put the full details of the Mindful Resilience Online course that will be launching on the 24th September, if you want to really take a deeper look at developing your inner resilience this course is a great chance to do so.Quick reminder of the other event in September on Sunday the 28th; the Mindful Parenting Workshop.

Yours in the spirit of flow, structure and immersion,

Toby


Three Levels of Inner Resilience

Imagine your consciousness is like an ocean.
Imagine the challenges that come at you in life are like the waves, wind and rain on that ocean.
Imagine your mind is like a well built boat. To have a resilient mind is to havestructures and habits of thought and emotion in your mind that are able to withstand the outer challenges of your life such as setbacks, and the inner challenges of your life such as periodic low self-belief or perhaps depression. It is the structure of the boat that provides the resilience.
Imagine your body and body awareness is like the sailor on the boat. In order to stay balanced s/he has to keep his centre of gravity low, his body responsive and flexible so that she can ride the waves without getting tipped overboard. This is like the resilience of flow; the ability to keep the energy in your body flexible and flowing in response to the ‘hits’ that you take each day. You are able to recover from setbacks quickly because difficult energy flows through you, it is not held as tension or rigidity within the body; nothing gets stuck.
Imagine that you can also dive beneath the waves to a depth where the turbulence of the surface no longer disturbs you. By diving and immersing yourself deeply in the ocean you are able to find relief and regeneration from the relentless weather, to find a space of peace and deep calm. This type of resilience through immersion is developing the capacity to dive beyond the world of thoughts and feelings to a deeper level of your awareness where a sense of relaxation and regeneration can always be found no matter how tough your life gets.

The resilience of flow then is about mindfully learning to let tension and stress flow through your body so that it does not build up or stay and you recover from it quickly.
The resilience of structure is the structures you build in your mind to deal with setbacks and emotional challenges in a robust, strong and flexible manner.
The resilience of immersion is the skill of learning to dive deeply into your consciousness periodically to a place beyond thought where you can find renewal and regeneration.

If you put these three together you have a truly resilient mindfulness!

If you would like to take the practices indicated in this article into your daily life, simply dwell for a few minutes each day on the image of yourself as a sailor in the sea of life, in your sturdy, well structured boat, keeping your body flexible and flowing, and periodically diving deep into the ocean beneath you to a place of deep calm.

© 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 


Developing Your Mindful Resilience  – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through mindfulness
Beautiful old treeIn a sentence: This is a six module online course that teaches you how you can develop mental resilience through mindfulness practice.

Course will be launched on: Wednesday 24th September

Pre-launch price: Sing$69 (will rise to Sing$85 on launch day, 24th September)

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE MINDFUL RESILIENCE COURSE AT PRE-LAUNCH PRICE OF SING$69 VIA PAYPAL

About the course:

Mental resilience is the capacity to remain actively aware, creatively productive, constantly learning, happy and effective in life and at work, even when faced with pressure, stress and tension from both within our mind and from our external environment. This is a course about how you can develop your mental resilience through practical mindfulness.

The course is online, those participating will be given the link and password to a course page through which they can listen to the course modules at their own pace.

The course covers six aspects of mindful resilience in six modules:

Module 1: Understanding the different levels of mindful resilience

Module 2: Learning to relax into tension and stress

Module 3: Creating a resilient inner dialogue with yourself

Module 4: Developing resilience to setbacks and challenges through mindfulness

Module 5: Understanding and developing different types and levels of focus and concentration

Module 6: Stillness and space as tools of inner resilience

Each module consists of a talk and a guided mindfulness exercise or meditation by Toby. For more details of these six aspects of mindful resilience please check out Toby’s article on mindful resilience

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE MINDFUL RESILIENCE COURSE AT PRE-LAUNCH PRICE OF SING$69 VIA PAYPAL

About the facilitator Toby Ouvry

Toby is a British meditation and mindfulness teacher, and the founder of Integral Meditation Asia. He has been practicing and teaching meditation for over eighteen years, five of which were as a Buddhist monk within the Tibetan tradition. Click HERE for more details about Toby, his background and qualifications for teaching meditation and mindfulness.

Share

Developing Your Mindful Resilience

Dear Integral Meditators,

How resilient are you to the pressures of life? What are the factors that you can introduce into your mind in order to increase your mental resilience? This weeks article looks at how mindfulness can help with this.With this in mind I’ve decided to launch in September an online course that I have had in mind for a while Developing Your Mindful Resilience  – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through mindfulness, it will be launching on 24th September, do click on the link to check out the detailsAs a very special offer going into September, for those signing up for three or more of my range of one to one coaching sessions I will be offering the Mindful Resilience Online Course for free, so if you are considering doing some coaching, now would be a good time!Finally, I-Awake is having a 30% sale for the next few days, full details below.Yours in the spirit of mindful resilience,

Toby


I-Awake technologies are having a 30% Labour day discount sale on ALL products from 29th August – 2nd September. I have the whole collection of products (appart from the one about golf) and I use them everyday to enhance my meditation, peace of mind and productivity. Click the link to have a browse and listen to the free sample tracks. If you do want to buy any, here are the coupon codes to use at checkout:
IAWAKELABOR2014 – 30% Off all Digital Downloads
IAWAKELABORCD2014 – 20% Off all CD + Digital Downloads

 

 


 

Developing Your Mindful Resilience

Back in the days when I was a Buddhist monk, one of the things that myself and many of my ‘colleagues’ noticed after going on meditation retreat was that it was quite startling how quickly we reverted to our normal habitual behaviours and consciousness level upon returning to the ‘real world’ and our daily routine, after all the work we had put into our retreat and meditation, it sometimes seemed like in everyday terms little had changed.
I’ve thought about this a lot in the years since, and it has really inspired me to try and create what I think is a truly well rounded and resilient mindfulness training that is truly going to enable people to change their lives for the better through mindfulness and meditation practice.

So what is mindful resilience? Here is a working definition – “Mindful resilience is the capacity to remain actively aware, creatively productive, constantly learning, happy and effective in life and at work, even when faced with pressure, stress and tension from both within our mind and from our external environment”.

What then are the skills that you need to be able to develop mindful resilience as a way of life? Below I list what I believe from my practical experience are key practices:

1. An understanding of the three experiential levels of our consciousness 
What is it within us that we are trying to create mindful resilience within? Within our mind. There are three domains of our mind, each of which has a particular type of resilience that we can leverage upon.
The first is our sensory-physical awareness, the second is our mental awareness and the third is our experience of awareness itself. Each of these levels or aspects of our mind has a particular type of resilience that we can leverage upon. A practitioner of mindful resilience needs to know how to access each of these levels of mindful resilience.

2. The capacity to relax into tension and other forms of stress
For your mind to be resilient under the pressure of real life situations you need to understand how you can relax into tension and other forms of stress. The first stage of this is learning how to relax into tension so that it does not prevent you functioning effectively, the second level involves learning to actually redirect the stress so that you are actually making use of it.  (See for example my meditation on stress transformation, coachingservice and online course)

3. The ability to create and sustain a positive inner dialog with yourself
We have an inner conversation going on within our mind all the time. For sustainable peace of mind, inner resilience and creativity you need to be able to make that dialog positive and productive where possible, but also know how to deal with the negative, difficult challenging aspects of that conversation when it arises (please note; repressing it or pretending it is not there will not create resilience!).

4. A commitment to appreciating the good and the challenging in your life
A practitioner of mindful resilience commits to both noticing and dwelling upon the good in your life whilst also learning how to appreciate and genuinely value learning and growth facilitated by the challenges, friction and difficulty. As Jim Mclaren would say “Don’t waste your suffering!”

5. Focus!
To be resilient you need to train your mind to be strong, to focus and concentrate, both when the object of mindful concentration is just one thing and also when the situation demands that you be aware of multiple factors at the same time. In reality this means learning that there are different types of focus, and know how to apply them appropriately.

6. Being truly comfortable with silence, uncertainty, open spaces
Undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable aspects of a mindfulness and meditation practice is developing the capacity to relax into a deep and regenerative experience of stillness and silence when we are sitting in formal meditation practice.
In order to bring this truly and deeply into our daily life there also needs to be the capacity to relax into the open spaces of un-certainty, un-predictability and un-knowing that come up time and again in our everyday real time reality . The purpose of getting comfortable with these three “un-s” is not so that we become a victim of them, but so that we can learn from them and take the opportunities they have to offer us.

Want to get started with your own mindful resilience practice?
There is obviously a lot contained within each of the points above, but here is a very short way to get started.
Stage 1: Consider the definition of mindful resilience: “Mindful resilience is the capacity to remain aware, creatively productive, constantly learning, happy and effective in life and at work even when faced with pressure, stress and tension from both within our mind and from our external environment”. Take a little time to dwell upon it.

Stage 2: What sort of images and symbols come to mind when you contemplate this definition? Select an image from your imagination that represents the energy  and experience of mindful resilience as you understand it. Take that image as a focus point for your attention for short periods at regular intervals during the day, reminding and encouraging you to explore your capacity for mindful resilience.

Find out about the IMA online Mindful Resilience Course.

© 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 

Share

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 

Share

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 

Share

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 

Share