The Way of the Rat

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at my website, articles and workshops, you’ll see there is quite a lot of material on transforming difficulties, re-directing negativity into positive energy and so on. Who taught me all this? Well I had a meeting with a rat 14 years ago that set me on the right track…

Quick reminder, 7th December: Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop, 

Yours in the spirit of fur and claws,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self

Saturday December 7th – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop


The Way of the Rat

When I first came to Asia as a Buddhist Monk in 1999, I stayed for 6 months or so in Johor Bahru at a small Buddhist Centre, whilst making regular trips into Singapore to explore the possibilities of setting up a meditation center there.
Over the 2-3 days of new year period 2000-2001 I was at this small centre, pretty much all alone, and at the time having doubts about my capacity to do the work that I had been asked to do. The meditation center was an apartment on the top story of a shophouse, with the stair well being the only way in and out.
During this period of aloneness and self-doubt, a large rat ran up the stairs from the street and disappeared under a cupboard before I could scare it back out. Realizing I was stuck with it for the night, I shut my bedroom door firmly before bed!
The next morning I was sitting meditating on the floor in the main shrine room, deeply relaxed, when suddenly I felt this pressure on my knee. I opened my eyes and this big rat had crept up on me and now had its front paws on my knee and was staring up at me inquisitively. He only had half of his fur, and was clearly a bit worse for wear! I had actually been in quite deep meditation, and so having a big rat suddenly leaning on my leg and staring up at me really shocked the cr**p out of me! I jumped up very quickly with a yell and he then ran off and hid in my bedroom.
I never saw him again. After checking he had moved out from my bedroom, I left front door open that night, with the metal gate shut, and I think he must have just gone down of his own accord when he found there was nothing much to eat!

Qualities of the rat
My encounter with the rat was the beginning of a series of experiences where I became aware that chance meetings with animals were actually playing and active part in my spiritual path and journey. This was a time in my life where I had really been thrown back on my own resourcefulness and capacity to survive, persist and problem solve as intelligently as I could. What better a companion, example and object of meditation could there be for me than the rat, an animal that survives and thrives in the most difficult, dirty and persecuted of circumstances?

Looking out for animals in your life
If a dragonfly flies through your window and spends a couple of hours with you while you are cooking dinner, or you go for a run and see a snake in the path, it’s worth just exploring what the qualities of the animal are and how its virtues and strengths could be applied to the challenges that you are going through right now. You may find it surprising how quickly your mind can free-associate a tangible and useful meaning between the qualities of the animal and what you need to do.

Re-awakening to our intimacy with the animal kingdom
For our ancestors living close to nature it would have been natural to feel close to animals (to both love and fear them), and to see spiritual meaning in their interactions with them. I think contemporary society has numbed our sense of intimacy with the natural world, but looking out for the coming and going of animals in your life in the way described above can be a first step toward re-awakening our own intimacy with, care for and support from wild creatures, even the dirty ones that live in our drains!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Meditating on the Sound of Silence

Hi Everyone!

Inner silence is often spoken of as one of the main goals of meditation, but how can you go about getting there? In this week article I talk about something called the “sound of silence” as an object of meditation that can really help enhance our capacity to move into a space beyond thought without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of silence,

Toby


Meditating on the Sound of Silence

When I was young I can remember sitting in my bedroom, or lying on the bed and becoming intensely aware of in inner ‘ringing’ in my ears that became louder and more prominent the quieter my surroundings became. I used to enjoy just listening quietly to this sound and allowing my mind to become free from thought almost effortlessly as a side effect of listening.
Now that I am an adult and a meditator, I find that this inner “sound of silence” makes a very pleasant object of meditation; it is constant, relaxing and, with a little practice you can learn to ‘hear’ it even when there is quite a lot of sound around you. Because it is constant and continuous, it is has a natural relaxing effect on the mind, which gently encourages us to enter into a state of non-thinking.

One way in which you can encourage a greater sense of stillness and silence as you are listening is to focus on your brain and try and find the inner space or cavity in the middle of the brain that the Taoists call the “cavity of original spirit”. This is an actual space in the centre of the brain where, if you place your attention there you find that there is no mental activity whatever, it is literally a silent space that you can find by exploring and finding it using your own awareness. It is in the area where the thymus and hypothalamus are located in the brain, but you really don’t need to know too much about the brains actual anatomy, if you just go into the middle of your brain and explore, you’ll find that there is a specific place where, if you place your attention there it has a naturally quietening effect upon the mind.

Meditating on the sound of silence:
So, a basic meditation on the sound of silence would look something like this:

  • Sit down somewhere reasonably quiet and focus on listening. After a short while you will start to become aware of a gentle high pitched sound within the ear that is ever present, but that becomes especially prominent when everything around is quiet. Once you have found the sound of silence, simply focus on it gently and allow your mind to relax into the experience.
  • If you want to, you can then enhance the depth of the silence by combining your focus on the sound of silence with deliberately locating your attention in the central area of the brain, or “cavity of original spirit” as explained above.
  • Remain focused in this way for as long as you wish, it makes a great short three minute meditation, but you can also use it as a way of moving to deeper, expanded states of consciousness in longer meditations.
  • Once you have finished the meditation, do take time to ground yourself fully into your physical body and environment, particularly if it is a longer meditation!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

Hi Integral Meditators,

The dreams and imagined images in our mind can be a powerful source of inspiration and growth. This weeks article looks at how we can go about capitalizing on positive dream and imaginary images that our mind produces by considering them in the light of our golden or bright shadow, or the positive part of our repressed unconscious.

Wishing you all the best in your inner journey,

Toby


 

Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

The Shadow is the part of ourself that we have repressed or rejected and that lies within our unconscious mind.
Normally when the shadow is talked about it is referred to as the dark, damaged or broken part of our self. However it is also equally true that we reject parts of ourself that are strengths and positive qualities but that we do not believe we are capable or deserving of. For example we might be a potential very good public speaker, but because of excessively shy or humble nature we repress and deny that capacity and have no awareness that it exists within us.
One of the ways that we can start working with our bright or golden shadow is to look for images and figures that come up in our dreams that seem to indicate a part of ourself that we are not aware of that seems to have positive potential. Once we have identified such a dream figure, we can then work with it in meditation in order to find out what part of our bright shadow it represents, and how we can go about integrating it consciously into ourself as well as expressing it in our life.

Here is one example from my own shadow work: A couple of nights ago I had quite an extensive dream with Robert Plant in it (the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin). In the dream I spent quite a long time chatting and hanging out with him, ending in a concert in a small venue with other related figures like David Lee Roth (ex lead singer from Van Halen).
So, observing the prominence and clarity of the dream I decided to do a little bit of shadow work with it, using the 6 step shadow process that I teach in my workshops on the shadow:

Step 1 – Seeing/spotting the shadow: In this case the subject was already clear, the figure of Robert Plant appearing in my dream
Step 2&3 – Feeling and interpreting the shadow: Recalling the dream, the feelings and ideas I felt when I focused on RP were a feeling of ‘shining’; not being afraid to be centre-stage when necessary and also a commitment to staying at the edge of my creative process. Robert Plant as a lead singer quite obviously embodies the ability to be the centre of attention (which I myself have some aversion to), and his life has always been a commitment to never resting on his laurels, and working on music projects close to his heart, even if they are not popular or famous
Step 4&5 – Being it and owning it: Now I have identified the qualities embodied by my dream image – the capacity to ‘shine’ and the commitment to staying on the edge of my creative process. So during this stage in my contemplation I focused on really integrating a sense of these qualities as a part of ME, a part of who I am.
Step 6 – Integrating it: The final stage of the golden shadow practice is then to focus on integrating and expressing this “new” part of ourself into our daily life.
So for me deliberately placing myself in situations where I am being a little more positively extrovert as well as re-committing to staying on the edge of my own creative process becomes my follow up practice.

A Practice for the Week:
Watch what positive images/figures come up in your dreams (or daydreams if you can’t remember your sleeping ones!). Once you have one or more image/figures to work with, practice exploring and integrating what part of your bright shadow they might represent by using the steps outlined above.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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 Zen Meditations

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on practical Zen exercises based around more or less well known quotes that are in the spirit of Zen. The nice thing about all of them is that they are great simplifiers of the mind, and realeasers of our natural intelligence.

Yours in the spirit of Zen,

Toby


Four Zen Meditations

This article is simply a set of four quotes in the spirit of Zen (note, not all from Zen sources, but nevertheless in the spirit of Zen practice), together with a focused contemplation to go with each.

“Knowledge is learning something every day, wisdom is letting go of something every day” – Zen Proverb
We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of information coming our way in modern day life. Whilst we definitely need to keep increasing our knowledge, in order to make sure that our wisdom also increases in proportion to our knowledge we also need to spend time dropping our knowledge and resting in a state of simplicity and conscious ‘forgetting’. This means not just once every few months, but once a day!

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God whilst one is peeling the potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes”- Alan Watts
Pick one or two activities each day where you are focused on a non-conceptual experience of the activity itself, with the amount of conceptual thought kept to a minimum.

“The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?” – Confucius
It’s very easy to over think and over-complexify when it comes to the things that we need to do in our life, and the motivations with which we do them. Practise pairing down and simplifying your actions so that they are simple, direct and appropriate responses to the demands of the moment. Don’t over think it!

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing” – Meister Eckhart
Ultimate truth is a non-conceptual phenomenon. The only way you can get to it is though direct observation, penetration and experience of what is right in front of you. Practice erasing your thoughts and just looking at what is there.

A little further practical Zen tid-bit:

“The only Zen that you find on top of a mountain is the Zen that you bring with you” – Robert M Pirsig

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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How Can We Experience Integral Vision? (And a list of the free meditations posted for October)

Dear Integral Meditators,
Meditation and the development of expanded states of awareness always needs to go hand in glove with psychological development and maturity. This weeks article  looks at one method I use in my coaching practice to help people (and myself, I do use it myself!) to develop a more mature psychological vision of what they are experiencing.

November meditation workshops are mainly focused around Zen practice from an integrated point of view on Tuesday evening 19th December we have  An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1  and then on Sunday 24th November we have  Zen Meditation Workshop Level 2: Journeying Deeper into the Path of Zen  , It you are able to make it , see you there!

Finally, here are the various free audio meditations that I have posted on the IMA website during the month of October in case you missed any of them: Dropping Your Conceptual LeavesMeditating With Your Shadow SelfTransforming Your Stress,Finding a Place Beyond Ordinary Happiness and Suffering.

Yours in the spirit of a more integrated vision of life,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Sunday October 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 19th  November, 7.30-9.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1

Sunday 24th November, 9am-1pm  – Zen Meditation Workshop Level 2: Journeying Deeper into the Path of Zen 

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self


How Can We Experience Integral Vision? 

An alternative title to this article might be “How do you coach psychological insight and growth?” In my coaching with people, one of the main ways in which I help people to increase the quality and power of their mind is to help them increase the number of points of view from which they are able to look at their life circumstances and challenges.

Normally we think about out life challenges mostly from one point of view – our own, occasionally interspersed with how one of the other people in the situation might be feeling or thinking. Not surprisingly, as a result our vision of our life and the circumstances remains very limited and partial.

The aim of the exercise that I will be explaining below is to turn the way you view a life challenge from a partial vision to a more integral or integrated vision.  An integral vision is simply one that is able to take many perspectives on the situation, each of which will reveal a certain part of the REALITY of what is going on. The more points of view you can take in, the more “whole” and integrated your understanding of what is happening will be.

Developing an Integrated Vision on One of Your Life Challenges:

This is an exercise that I sometimes do with clients. You can simply do it mentally as you are reading through it if you like, but it really starts to take off as an mind development tool when you do it as a written exercise.

Begin by selecting a situation or life challenge that you wish to process. Think of it clearly in your mind, or write it down.

Then ask yourself these eight questions, write freely and quickly without over-analyzing:
1) What is my personal experience and perspective of the situation?
2) How might the other person/peoples involved be experiencing the situation?
3) What does a 3rd person or objective experience of the situation look like?
4) What might a “spiritual” (spiritual in your own terms) interpretation of the situation be?
5) Describe the situation in purely sensory and physical terms
6) How would you describe the principle feelings involved?
7) What are the economics of the situation?
8) Of the people involved, who is looking to gain what from the situation?
Now consider what you have written or thought about with each question, considering each one in turn.

Then, finally ask:
9) Taking into account all of the perspectives I have considered above, what might be the wisest way to positively move forward in the situation right now?

The first eight questions are designed to give you an integral or fully rounded vision, or set of perspectives about what is actually happening in your life challenge. This gives you your “integral vision”. With all the insights you have gained, question eight then asks you to make the all important step of turning your vision into action.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Shifting Down the Gears – On Meditation and Power Napping

Dear Integral Meditators,

I’m a great believer in power napping, in fact I am quite a believer in napping in general! This is not just because it is a good way of relaxing, from a meditation training point of view a nap offers a great opportunity to bring the experience of our ordinary everyday mind together with states of deeper, formless awareness. The article below offers a simple technique for making greater and more effective use of a power nap.

Just in case you missed it, here is the link to the Shadow Meditation free audio recordings that I sent our midweek, they are simple and effective ways to start developing an experience of working with your shadow.

If you enjoy the shadow meditations, then do consider joining us on the 27th October for the Shadow Meditation Level 1 Workshop.

Yours in the spirit of effective power napping,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Sunday October 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 19th  November, 7.30-9.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1

24th November – An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen Levels 2&3 (full details shortly)

Sunday December 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2: Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self


Shifting Down the Gears – On Meditation and Power Napping

Let’s say you have ten minutes for a power nap during your day. The problem is that, by the time you get to the end of ten minutes your mind only has only just started slowing down fully enough for you to become truly relaxed, so the amount of actual fully rested time you get is not that substantial.
The following technique is one that you can use to slow down your mind in order to achieve a state of mental and physical deep calm and lucid resting relatively quickly. The key is not to try and go from active mind to totally still mind in one leap; rather it needs to be done progressively in stages.

Once you are lying down or sitting comfortably simply become aware of the current activity in your mind. Think of this natural activity and momentum as being like a car in fourth gear cruising along the road at say 50 kmh.
After watching the activity in your mind for a short time, deliberately try and reduce the amount of momentum/activity in your mind just slightly, as if you were shifting down from fourth to third gear in a car, and reducing your speed from 50kmh to 30-35kmh. You can use the exhalation if you like; as you breathe out feel the pace of your mind gently reducing…
Once you are in “third gear” then after a minute or so take the pace of your mind down another increment, like going from third gear to second gear, or from 30kmh to 15kmh. Again, use the exhalation of you like as a way of doing this.
After another minute or so of “second gear”, take your mind down another incremental level, down to first gear, or 5kmh or so. Again use the breathing to do this, or just mentally “reduce speed” just slightly.
Now you are down in “first gear”, your almost at a standstill, the mind is slow and relaxed. When you are ready try and let go of all activity in the mind and simply move into a state of deep, still resting. Stay there for the remainder of your power nap. Even if you can’t keep your mind totally still for the rest of the time, the state of relaxation that you will have achieved by this progressive “winding down” of your mind will still be deeper than it would otherwise be.

You can also use this technique as a method for going to sleep at night, or as a meditation technique for slowing down the mind in general. From a meditative point of view the interesting thing about power napping is that when you do it you can often find yourself in a state of “lucid napping”, where you are technically asleep, and yet you still have an element of conscious awareness. This state of mind resembles (note, not quite the same as) deep states of formless meditation that are achieved by proficient meditators who have meditated for long periods of time. Thus power napping, as well as making us more effective at work can also give us a glimpse of the deeper and higher reaches of consciousness that lie beyond our ordinary waking awareness.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

Dear Integral Meditators,

For me one of the major benefits of being a meditator is that it opens us up experientially to a place and a space of rest, regeneration and renewal that we can go to at any time. It is a place  that is there for us no matter what else is going on in our life.
You could call this place Spirit if you like, though of course you could call it plenty of other things….

This weeks article is on the subject of that special space.

Yours in the spirit of Spirit,

Toby


Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

If you were asked to give your own definition of Spirit, that is to say of the ultimate, causal domain of reality beyond the world of the senses and of the mind, what would it be?

It is worth pausing for a moment here and seeing what you come up with in response to this question.

How do you meditate on something that is beyond the grasp of the conceptual mind? that is literally transcendent in nature? This is one of the age old problems in connecting tangibly to the spiritual dimensions of reality; it is very difficult to explain using our mind and words.

However, I feel that there are some images and concepts that really can do quite a good job of inviting us into a space where we can start to explore spirit experientially, using the images as a ‘prop’ so to speak, inviting us to go beyond the limitations of concepts.
With that in mind here are two of my favorites. The first is a traditional one from the Western Mysticism* that goes as follows:
“Spirit is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”

The second is a more contemporary postmodern/evolutionary definition of spirit**:
 “Spirit is the non-existence from which the world of existence emerges”

So at this point there is quite a lot of detail I could go into about both of these definitions both philosophically and metaphysically (and post-metaphysically for the integral geeks amongst you), but that would kind of miss the point and power of what I want to convey in this article, and that is that these words are meant to be sat with and contemplated directly in order to reveal the experience to which they are pointing.

They are not a riddle in the sense that there is a right intellectual “answer” to them that you need to find. Rather by focusing upon them in a gentle, poetic and imaginative way with your mind they have the power to start revealing something beyond themselves, giving us a feeling and intimation of that which Spirit is from an experiential, meditators perspective.

What is it that lies at the centre of everything and yet whose edge is nowhere?

What is the no-thing from which the everything emerges in each moment?

*******

*My source here is the “Mystical Qaballah” by Dion Fortune.
** My source here is Andrew Cohen, author of “Evolutionary Enlightenment”

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Transforming Specific Aspects of Your Past Through Shadow Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope that you have had a good week that you feel has served your inner growth well! This weeks article explains an meditation practice that I really have something of a soft spot for, and that is of real practical value. Our past experience is constantly impacting our experience of the present, and the meditation is specifically designed to effect a healthy ongoing relationship between our past and present, so that we can face the future with confidence.

In the “upcoming courses” section you’ll see that I have mapped out the  workshop program from now until the end of the year (I’ll have to see about online courses, I’m not sure yet). The main thing that is ‘new’ is that I will be backing up the Shadow and Zen meditation workshops with level 2 workshops, so for those of you that have done the introductions, there will now be an opportunity to go onto the next step!

For any of you that missed the mid-week email with the free meditation audio on transforming stress, you can have a listen just by clicking HERE.

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Sunday October 27th, 3-6pm – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life: Practical Meditations And Techniques For Working With your Shadow-Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Tuesday 19th  November, 7.30-9.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Level 1

24th November – An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen Levels 2&3 (full details shortly)

Dec 1st – Shadow Meditation Level 2 (full details shortly)



Transforming Specific Aspects of Your Past Through Shadow Meditation

This article explains a practical way of working with aspects of your own individual past history in order to transform the way in which we experience the effects of that past in our lives right now.

Often we are not fully aware of the effects that our past history is having upon our present moment experience; the purpose of this meditation is improve our awareness of the way our past is impacting our present, and to effect a healthy communication and reconciliation between the person we are now and the person who went through those past experiences.

Those of you that have done some shadow coaching with me, or attended a shadow workshop will recognize some of the techniques in this meditation. The meditation technique is simple but powerful, and there is plenty of room for you to follow your own intuition and imagination.

The Practice:

Stage 1: Select a past experience to focus on 
Choose an area of your past that you wish to investigate, perhaps one that you consciously or intuitively feel that there are some unresolved issues for you. Examples might be:

  • A particular period of your childhood upbringing or schooling
  • A particular relationship with a parent, sibling or teacher
  • A difficult time such as post-divorce, being layed-off at work, or times when you had to experience your parents going through this

Stage 2: Connect to and travel down your life tree:
Having set the past experience you wish to investigate, set your intention to investigate it. Then sit down in meditation and see yourself in front of a huge tree, with its roots going deep into the earth, and its branches reaching high up into the sky. Think of this tree as your own personal Tree of Life, or Life Tree.
In the bottom of the trunk of the tree there is a door. When you are ready open the door. See extending down into the earth below there is a spiral staircase. Follow it down as far as it goes until you find a second door, which takes you out into a landscape connected to the period of your life that you wish to investigate.

Stage 3: Encounter and communication
In that landscape you encounter a figure connected to that past period of your life. For example if you are investigating a period of your schooling, then you might meet yourself as a young boy, or one of your teachers (whatever appears at this stage is right for you, trust what you see). Investigate the feelings that arise from your encounter with this figure (or figures). When you are ready, ask the figure three questions:
What is it you wish to communicate to me?
How can I help resolve the issues that you are unhealed?
How can I be of service to you?
Pay attention to and note the answers that come back.

Stage 4: Conclusion
When you are ready, say goodbye and return back up the spiral staircase to the surface world. Try and implement whatever insights you have gained from your encounter into your present life.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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How Much Happiness Are You Prepared to Tolerate?

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if happiness were easier than we think, and the only thing getting in the way was that we often find being happy profoundly uncomfortable?

This weeks integral meditations article is in the form of a series of questions that invites us to look a bit deeper into the real causes of our lack of happiness.

I’m in the process of setting up the rest of the meditation program for the rest of 2013, you can see the dates below, full details will be out by next week.

Yours in the spirit of uncomplicated happiness,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Starting Sunday October 7th  – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and Removing Your Inner Stress – A Four Class Series

19th & 24th November – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Levels 1&2 (full details next week)

October 27th, Dec 1st – Shadow Meditation Levels 1&2 (full details next week)


How Much Happiness Are You Prepared to Tolerate?

What if happiness was easy?

What if the obstacle to happiness was not the fact that it was not available to you each day, but rather the experience of being unconditionally happy was something that you had a very low tolerance level to?

What if being happy actually caused you anxiety on a subtle and unconscious level, life surely could not be this good?

What if you are actually avoiding being happy because a large part of you actually prefers being unhappy, struggling with life?

What if the idea of working towards happiness as a future goal seems attractive to you, but accepting happiness as it exists in the present moment is something that makes you genuinely uncomfortable to the extent of avoidance?

The word meditation and its applied practice really means to ‘ponder deeply upon’, or ‘to look deeply into’. This week your meditation practice is to ask yourself the above questions and the one question below, to ‘penetrate the question’ so to speak.

What if real genuine happiness was available to you right now and the only thing standing in the way of it was your acceptance of it?

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you have had an interesting and insightful week, and that your life journey has been unfolding smoothly!

This weeks article takes a look at the often quite subtle difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current in life. It is a subtle difference but a crucial one, and I hope the article is able to shed a little light on how to tell the difference…
The article below is a complementary one to last weeks  offering; “When you have to go against the flow”.

Yours in the spirit of the strength of flow,
Toby


Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Going with the flow is seen as a desirable quality; a relaxed leaning into the process of life that enhances our happiness and wellbeing, helps us to achieve more by doing less and allows synchronicity and other larger powers to function more freely in our life.
In contrast, drifting with the current means allowing ourself to drift unconsciously with whatever currents there are in our life without distinguishing whether they are good or bad; we just allow ourself to be moulded by circumstances, habits, fears and so on.

So, what is the difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current? The challenge is that they can look and feel quite similar, and as a result it can be pretty difficult to discern which is which. Let’s take an example:

Drifting with the current
Let’s say I have an issue with my partner that I am feeling emotional about. We sit down to dinner one evening and there comes a natural space in the conversation which would be an ideal place for me to bring up the issue that I wish to talk about. However, because I feel uncomfortable and apprehensive about the subject matter, I simply allow myself to direct the conversation toward another less challenging topic, thus avoiding the discomfort of bringing the issues (that I need to talk about) into the open. This is an example of drifting with the current; I allow my fears and apprehensions to steer me away from that which needs to be said in order to avoid the short term discomfort.

Going with the flow
Now let’s take the same situation; I have an emotional issue that I wish to talk about with my partner. We sit down for dinner, and the flow of the conversation creates a natural space for me to bring up the issue I am concerned about. As this space opens up I feel the discomfort within myself, the fear and resistance to bringing up my emotional vulnerability. However, instead of allowing this discomfort to make me drift away from what needs to be said, I consciously flow with the discomfort and bring up my emotional issue with my partner and we talk it through.

From this we can see that going with the flow does not mean that we avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, rather it means that we flow with what is there, and consciously direct that flow toward a benevolent end.
Going with the flow can be a way of gently confronting the difficult challenges in our life. It is not simply avoiding anything in our way that seems difficult, or allowing our fate to be determined by outer circumstances; that is drifting with the current.

A practice: “Am I going with the flow or just drifting with the current?”
Over the next week or so ask yourself this question a couple of times a day, or whenever you face a choice in your life. Are you using the gentle strength of going with the flow to move forward in the direction you want to go, or are you just drifting aimlessly with the currents in your life?

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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