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


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 or instabilty 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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The Wisdom of Age, the Shadow of Time

Dear Integral Meditators,

In the same why that thee is a child within all of us, there is also an old man or an old woman. The article below explores this theme, it may be considered in some ways a companion to my previous article on the shadow child.
The old wo/man and the child self are examples of two themes that we will be exploring in the upcoming “Meditations for Developing the Language of the Shadow Self“.

Yours in the spirit of aged brightness,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
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


The Wisdom of Age, the Shadow of Time

The four stages of life
From the perspective of the seasons and the ‘wheel of life’ according to nature spirituality you have four stages to your life: Birth and childhood corresponding to spring, your youth and young adulthood corresponding to summer, mature adulthood/parenthood (the age of responsibility) corresponding to autumn, and old age/death corresponding to winter.

These four stages of life are literal, physical stages that we go through, but they are also perspectives that we can take on our life at any time. For example if we are in middle age physically we can still consider what our child self might think of any situation we are experiencing, as well as our old or wise self.

At which stage are you the wisest?
Each stage of these four life stages has its own particular wisdom and perspectives, but generally you would say that old age would represent the greatest opportunity for wisdom because it looks back upon the previous three stages using those life experiences to glean wise conclusions. Would you agree? Optimally then, the greatest opportunity for wisdom comes from considering our life from the end and looking back – from the perspective of ourself in old age.

Which stage do we tend to resist and avoid the most?
So if we assess our life from the perspective of old age and death, even if there is currently quite a long way for us to go before we reach that literal physical stage, there is much wisdom and benefit to be gained.
However, if you are like the vast majority of people then you will avoid thinking about old age, and when you do you will do so with feelings of discomfort, displeasure and even at times outright fear. The bottom line is we cling to our youth and fear aging. What is more society and culture seem to worship youth increasingly, making old age an even less appealing topic for contemplation.

The dark shadow of frail old age
Close your eyes now and see a picture of yourself in old age; bent, frail, youthful looks faded. Sense your resistance to this image of yourself, even as the signs of aging are present within your physical body right now. Open to this image of yourself as a frail old person, note and be aware of your resistances to it, your fears, perhaps even your disgust and anger. Try and open to, acknowledge and accept these resistances as deeply as you can.

The bright shadow of wise old age
Now look a bit deeper at this image of yourself. Perhaps you may find yourself looking into the eyes of your old self and see the wisdom of a life lived for many years. Sense the wisdom arising from suffering and the wisdom arising from joy that lives within the body, mind and soul of your old self; perhaps also the humor and kindness of your old self. You may even discover bright qualities within your old self that you absolutely did not expect.
Open as deeply as you can to the wisdom of your old self, his strengths, his knowledge and quiet inner fire.

Opening to aging and its bright counsel
Think of a situation in your life right now that you may be struggling with. Perhaps you might like to ask your old self for her perspective on what is going on. If you opened your heart and explain your desires and fears to your old self, it is possible that you might find a new experience of self-compassion and kindness. Maybe there is even a wily-ness and worldly wisdom that your old self has that can help you get what you want at the same time as satisfying the other people involved as well?

If we have the courage to pass through our resistance to our old-self, there is a bright and unexpected reward that lies on the other side.

© 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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Appreciating the Past to Liberate the Present

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen to our experience of the present if we learned to have a deeply good relationship with our past, even that part of our past that is wounded and damaged? This is the theme that I explore in the article below.

Yours in the spirit of the healed psyche,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
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


Appreciating the Past to Liberate the Present

I was recently listening to a recording of ocean sounds, although the sound itself was generic, I found that as I listened I was immediately transported back to a tiny volcanic beach that I used to visit as a child in the Philippines called the secret cove. As I listened the memory of this tiny cove with the waves breaking on the black sandy beach came back to me with great clarity and power, even though it is thirty years since I have visited that place.

This is a neutral example of how when we experience something in the present our unconscious mind and memory can almost instantaneously free-associate our present experience with a past memory, and that memory then powerfully influences our present experience.

A negative past-present cycle
At its worst our past memories can keep us locked in cycles of pain, limitation, fear, blindness and so on. If when I was a child I learned the best way to protect myself from emotional wounding was to shut down my emotions, those memories as an adult can keep me emotionally shut down for life. Even though every day opportunities for emotional growth and health present themselves, my past memory and habit immediately shuts down any possibility of a new approach. My experience of the present is a prisoner of my past.

A positive past-present cycle
At best we learn to distinguish our useful and positive past experiences from our un-useful ones. We use our useful experiences to enhance our present experiences and to solve problems.
When we sense that our present circumstances are stimulating a difficult or limiting memory, we can use our self-awareness to be sensitive to that, and use the situation to ‘re-write our script’ so to speak. To take the example of the person who has learned in her past to shut-down emotion to survive, if he has enough self-awareness he may be able to sense the past memory, acknowledge and accept it, but then deliberately act in the present to expand his emotional self by feeling, acting and behaving in a new way.
We can also see how past memories create depth and texture to our present moment experiences, giving them richness and quality. A beach that we see today as an adult can stimulate a rich field of past memory which we can delve into with pleasure and appreciation.

An open ended future

If we can establish an effective past present cycle where we

  • Use useful past experiences to problem solve in the present
  • Use present experiences to move consciously beyond the limitations of our past memories, and
  • Use past memory to enrich and appreciate a present moment experience

Then these are some of the characteristics that we can say make us ‘liberated in the present moment’.
We can also say that such a positive past-present cycle means that our future always looks exiting and creative, even when facing adversity or inertia.

A practice

To begin the journey toward a positive past-present cycle, take a present situation in your life and ask yourself the question ‘How is my past experience of similar situations influencing my present experience in the here and now?’ Focus your attention on this question and see what it starts to bring into the field of your awareness.

  • What from your past memory is useful to solve the present challenges?
  • What from your past is limiting and stunting your present experience?
  • What richness and texture from your memory can you use to bring appreciation and pleasure to what is going on in the present?

© 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 Shadow Child

Dear Integral Meditators,

Our shadow self takes on various forms and expressions, one of which is the child. The article below is an exploration of our shadow child-self; what it is, why we should be interested in it, and how we can start working with it contemplatively. I hope you enjoy it!

For those of you in Singapore, tomorrow, Monday will be the last day that you can catch the early bird rate for the upcoming  “Meditations for Developing the Language of the Shadow Self” workshop, so if you are interested in a somewhat reduced rate, then do register today or tomorrow!

Yours in the spirit of the healed psyche,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
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


The Shadow Child

The shadow is 
The ‘shadow self’ is that part of our mind and self that we have rejected and pushed so deeply into our unconscious awareness such that often we are not even consciously aware that it exists. However, from its position within the unconscious mind our shadow self remains active, influencing our behaviour and causing us to behave in ways which seem to be difficult for us to understand. The shadow has both a ‘dark’ side and a ‘bright’ or golden side.

The child self is
That part of us that is child-like in nature. You could say it has three aspects:

  • That part of us that is simply child like in nature; playful, naive, creative, innocent, gullible, needs looking after and so on
  • The historical child, that is the child within us whose character has been shaped and informed by our own literal historical upbringing; experience with parents, peers and other significant others, what happened to us in school, how we were treated and learned to gain approval and so on. The child within us now that is a product of our personal historical experience, and our response to that
  • The spiritual child within us – that part of us that is ever young, ever new, ever creative, ever both innocent and wise, whose light helps us begin again each time we burn out.

The shadow child is
Any part of our child like nature, historical child or spiritual child that we have repressed and rejected, that we are afraid of, that we have neglected, which remains unhealed and damaged, which we have turned away from.

Why you need to connect and make friends with your shadow child
Because if you do not do so parts of your damaged, fearful and disowned child will continue to sap your energy, sabotage your happiness and make joy, love and wellbeing difficult goals for you.

Because if you do not the radiant, optimistic, strong joyful and creative child that lives within you will remain un-expressed, un-enjoyed and undiscovered.

A personal example
Earlier this week I went on holiday to the beach. On the first night I woke up in the early morning in my beach hut. For some reason I started thinking about things like insurance, what could go wrong in my life and was overwhelmed by a feeling of stress and anxiety. I asked to my mind “Why are you feeling so anxious all of a sudden?” A small, scared, high voice replied “Because the world is such a large and scary place”. That voice was an example of one of the ways in which my shadow child exists and speaks within my psyche. I relaxed, opened to the feelings of my child self, accepted them with care and allowed them to wash over and through me. After a while they subsided and I went back to sleep feeling fine.
From this short example you can see that one of the reasons we often reject our child self is because the voice that it speaks in is so child-like. We often dismiss it as nonsense and bury the feelings that are attached to the voice and the inner child that it came from. As a result the fear remains within us, and continues to affect us even thought we have dismissed it from our conscious mind.
To connect to our child self we need to connect with it on its level without judgment, to learn to speak its language.

Connecting with your shadow child
See yourself in a room. In the centre of the room there is a chair, opposite it is a standing mirror. It is in this mirror that you are going to connect with your shadow child.
You may like to decide that you are going to connect specifically to the darker, damaged side of your shadow child or to the brighter, positive side of your shadow child. Alternatively, you may decide you are just going to connect with whatever part of your shadow child wishes to come forward. Make your choice and form your intention.
Now see yourself walking over to the chair and sitting down. As you do so, rather than seeing your literal, physical reflection in front of you, you see a child sitting or standing opposite you in the mirror. It is your own shadow child.
Take him/her in visually, feel her emotions. Is he pleased to see you? Does she trust you? Do you feel distant or close from him? Work with these observations and questions for a while.
Is there anything that he wishes to communicate with you? Is there anything that he is asking of you at this time? How can you help each other?
This is a place and a space that you can come to any time to commune, heal the wounds of and get to know and draw strength from your shadow child, bringing him back into your conscious awareness to participate in your life fully and actively.

© 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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Mindful Learning

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days there is absolutely no doubt that capacity to be adaptable, flexible and to learn quickly are necessary for successfully negotiating both the professional and personal challenges of your life. How can mindfulness help you with this? This is the question that I explore in the article below.

In the ‘whats on’ section below, you will see that this months workshop on the 27th of July is on developing the language of your shadow self. This is another skill that I would put at a premium for living an evolved, happy and successful life. Click on the link for full details.

Yours in the spirit of mindful learning,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
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


Mindful Learning

One of the main functions and benefits of a mindfulness practice is that it helps you to increase your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity. How does it do this? By helping you to become more observant. The more you are really looking and observing in your life the more you will see, the more you see the more you will understand about the way reality works, and the more you will learn

Obstacles to mindful learning
Even with effort mindful learning can be difficult because of a variety of factors, amongst them:

  • Our capacity to make reflex judgments
  • Our tendency to focus on what is wrong and who is to blame

So, in order to make ourselves mindful learners we are trying to replace our habitual tendencies to label an experience good or bad, and to focus on who is to blame and replace them instead with two questions:
What can I learn here? And
What can be done?

An example
I’m in a hut looking out on a beach now, but yesterday morning my alarm went at 6am for me wake up to start travelling to my destination. Unfortunately I had gone to bed at 3am the night before finishing work tasks before I left. And well, ok, I was following the Wimbledon final a little as well (very compelling it was too!)
So you know how it is when you get up with three hours sleep, very dis-orienting, body out of balance, mind all over the show. In the taxi on the way to the ferry lots of judgments in my mind “Should have gone to bed earlier, your paying for it now!”, “Shouldn’t have gone on holiday, your too busy”, “Wish the bloody tennis hadn’t been on!” – You know the sort I’m talking about.
About half way through my taxi ride I remembered I am a meditation and mindfulness teacher (Dan-dan-daaaa! Kung-fu panda moment) “Hold on, what can I learn here?” I thought to myself. I noticed that simply the process of abstaining from judgment and taking a curious and observational stance had an immediate clarifying effect upon my mind, and reduced the amount of pain and discomfort in my body. So there is a lot of learning there already. I then discovered that really my fatigue and the circumstances around being tired did not signify that anything was wrong; I had stuff to finish because I’m busy doing fulfilling work, I’m getting up early because I’m going to take a relaxing break on a beach; the temporary suffering coming from a late night and early get-up are just what has to be accepted to get what I want in both ways. The rest of the journey as spent both happily and productively.
The net result; my mood and my experience change for the better, and I start learning good things from what I am experiencing.

A mindful learning practice
If you want to take the content of this article into your week just keep these two questions at the forefront of your awareness during your daily experiences:

  • What can I learn here?
  • What can be done or not done?

Allow them to unlock your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity.

© 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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Questions Leading to Empty Space – Overcoming Stubborn Distractions

Dear Toby,

What if the things that most disturb you in your meditation practice could become the springboards to a deeper experience of meditation? This weeks article explores how they can become that.

Yours in the spirit of inner freedom,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

JULY
Sunday July 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm –  Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self at Basic Essence, full details shortly.

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


Questions Leading to Empty Space – Overcoming Stubborn Distractions

One of the main purposes of training in meditation and mindfulness is to gain access to that part of our consciousness that lies beyond or behind our thinking mind. It is in that spacious, thoughtless, timeless space that we gain access to both higher levels of our intuitive and creative self, as well as to a level of being that is deeply renewing and regenerating.

The challenge is often that in our daily meditation practice we find that there are particular thoughts, memories and emotions that are bothering us and that refuse to go away despite our best efforts to ‘push’ them out of our mind.
The technique that I describe below is designed to help resolve and harmonize the psychological discord that underlies the thoughts that are bothering us (thus resolving the issue on the level of the thinking mind) and allows us to pass through the distraction to access the open space of consciousness that lies beyond our thinking mind.

It is a useful technique to have because it enables us to use the distraction itself as the stepping stone to a deeper meditative state. Thus the ‘problem’ becomes the method to obtain the desired goal.

Step 1: Identify the thought or issue that is bothering you. 
Sitting in meditation, identify the issue in your life that is most bothering you, or most present in your mind at the time. So for example you might find that your minds primary issue is:

  • I resent my partner for something he has done
  • I am anxious because of the lack of ideas that I have regarding an important project at work
  • I am irritable because my child seems to be incapable of following basic instructions

During this first stage you are simply bringing awareness to your primary issue; the one that your mind is preoccupied with and that is getting in the way of your meditation.

Step 2: Ask yourself; “Why it is good that I have this issue?”
The second stage involves thinking of a good and positive reason that your personal challenge exists, for example:

  • It is good that I am having this issue with my partner because it is helping me learn how to express and assert my needs and wishes to him, which up to this time has been a problem for me in my relationships.
  • It is good that I am feeling anxious about ideas for the project at work because it shows me that I am at the edge of my creative powers and pushing myself to a new level
  • It is good that I am having these issues with my child because it is helping me to see more clearly the levels of development she is at, and to adjust my expectations accordingly

You get the idea; you are framing the issue positively, so that you can see the value in having it. At this stage you can even write down your positive framing if you like, just to make it clear.

Step 3: Express appreciation for this issue
This next stage involves sitting and focusing on the issue and developing feelings of appreciation, acceptance and even enthusiasm for having this issue present in your life. As you breathe in breathe in your appreciation of the issue into your body and cellular structure, as you breathe out feel yourself becoming comfortable and appreciative with the issues existence in your mind and life.

Step 4: Let go of the issue, relax into the thoughtless space behind your mind
Having accepted and harmonized your relationship to the issue that you were struggling with, now gently let go of it and relax into the formless timeless space that lies beyond the thoughts in your mind relaxing into it in a state of meditation for as long as you wish.

What seemed like your obstacle to meditation has now become the tool through which you enter meditation.

Of course this technique also has broader applications; you can use it to build a positive relationship to any existing issue in your life, transforming it into an ally rather than an obstacle.

© 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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