Trusting the Random

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on my own experience of meaningful co-incidence over the past few days. A lot of our most important sources of life-lesson are happening right under our nose in the present moment, so its important to keep alert for them!

I’ve also this recently created a short video on ‘How to start transforming and re-directing your anger‘ in which I talk about this potentially tricky but very meaningful and useful subject. If you enjoy what you see, and want to explore further, then do check out the Transforming stress, fear, anger and more into energy, positivity and enlightenment – A four week online course details, up to August 6th the cost is still only Sing$105, after which it will be going up to its final price of $135.

Enjoy the article!

Yours in the spirit of the random universe,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Starting on August 8th: Transforming stress, fear, anger and more into energy, positivity and enlightenment – A four week online course

Coming up on 7th  September:  Integral Insight Meditation – Discovering the power of awareness to heal and maximise the potential of your body, mind and emotions                 

 


Trusting the Random  

In today’s chaotic world where there seem to be many things happening to us that are outside of our control it can oftentimes feel difficult to trust in the flow of things and allow our mind to rest in that trust. It can help to develop this ‘trust in the flow’ by noting our own experiences of how sometimes seemingly random events in our life turn out to be acts of random meaning and even kindness to us from the universe. Here are two examples from my last week in London:

  • I had just seen my brother and sister (very nobly) going into the cinema to see the Smurfs movie with our collective children (all six of them under 7yrs). I had two hours to myself with which I really felt I needed to relax and get some space. I walked out of the O2 shopping centre and, having no idea where I was going turned left on Finchley Road up a hill. After walking for about 15 minutes I found the Camden Arts Centre, a beautiful place with an art gallery, a café and a garden totally uncrowded and peaceful. I took in the art exhibition, had a great and inexpensive lunch at the café and relaxed with coffee in the garden. I could not have imagined finding a better place to rest and rejuvenate my spirits that I found, or was guided to by seeming random coincidence.
  • Coming out of the northern line tube with my daughter, she announced that she needed the toilet. My heart sank as I new from previous experience that the nearest toilet was MILES away, and I could not even remember which direction it was in. Taking a random tunnel we walked for quite some time with heavy bags with still no sign of a toilet. The sign indicated we were now under Kings Cross station. In exasperation I asked a police officer where the nearest toilet was. “Up the stairs to the main station and straight ahead”…up we go, straight ahead to the toilet. To the right of the toilet it just so happens there is the Harry Potter “Platform 9 and three quarters shop” which upon seeing it my daughter goes into fits of ecstasy, being a complete Potter fan and having read most of the books with me at bedtime. Another very meaningful and fun seeming random co-incidence marked by my seven year old getting a chocolate frog, a wizarding card and seeing the fancy wands of all the main characters in the Harry Potter movies!

So, really the object of meditation or awareness here for me is simply the persistence of meaningful, humorous and even deeply kind co-incidence that the universe seems to hand out to us all even amidst all the seeming stress, seriousness and chaos of our human life. I think if we can hold onto this ‘trust in the random’ then it has real power to make the quality of our life lighter, more playful, more meaningful, and more fun!
I find it particularly useful when I feel ‘cornered’ by my circumstances, when seemingly there is no way out. Generally there is, and the door comes sometimes in ways we would never have imagined.
© 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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The Story of Your Breathing

Often times when we are taught to meditate on the breathing it is primarily as an exercise in concentration, and/or where we alter our breathing in some way in order to achieve a certain effect, such as relaxation.
The technique I explain below is a free form method of working with the breathing that invites self-discovery, greater awareness and the inner strength that comes from this.

I’ve been taking a holiday for the last week or so now, and the main way that I have been enjoying my own awareness of breathing is observing how my pattern of breathing is intimately connected to the story of my life

  • When I reflect on the current happiness and joy in my life, I can feel and sense that joy and happiness subtly altering and communicating itself in the way my body breathes
  • The sadness and stress that I feel is similarly reflected in my body’s breathing as my mind ponders

In both a literally real and a poetic sense it seems as if the pattern of my breathing is telling the story of my life whenever I tune into it; my experiences, my age, my history, everything I am as well as all that I might become in the future seems to be held in the energy and pattern of each each breath.

So, amidst the relative busyness that I find myself in at this time whilst on holiday I’ve taken to finding a bit of time just to sit down with my back resting against a tree, closing my eyes, focusing on my breathing and listening to the story that it is telling me.
Some of the things that it tells me I know, some things are new, all of it helps me to feel more fully alive to the process of my life as it is now, the struggles, the joys, the unknowns. As I focus on the story of my breathing and its vulnerability I feel a new and deeper strength growing in me.

© 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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No Name (Meditation Spaghetti Western Style), plus upcoming ‘Transforming Negativity’ Online Course

 Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope this message finds you well, I’m currently back in the UK and enjoying my time re-connecting to the summer landscape with all the woods plants and greenery that surrounds my family home!

I’m also exited to tell you about the new online course that we will be offering at Integral Meditation Asia beginning on August 8th: Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Four Week Online Course. You can find full details of the course by clicking the link, and you can also see and listen to me talking about the course and its content here:

Toby talks about the upcoming transforming Negativity and Stress Course

If you enjoy what you read below and/or see in the video, and are interested in signing up for the course, up until August 1st you can purchase it for just Sing$85, which is a 40% reduction on the price that it will be by the start date of the course!Also, if you happen to know of anyone else whom you think may be interested in the course, then do feel free to forward them this email!

Wishing you all the very best in your meditation practice,

Toby

No Name (Meditation Spaghetti Western Style)

The man or woman of no rank is a nice practice found within various meditation traditions. Essentially the idea is that, when in meditation you can temporarily drop all the labels that you normally attach to yourself and just be.
During our daily life we build our sense of who we are around labels;

  • I am an architect, manager, artist, teacher, saleswoman
  • I am this type of son, wife, father, daughter
  • My friends think of me as this type of person
  • Etc…

When we set these labels aside we become free to be, to be “ourself” and to connect with our “ true” or essential self; the self that lies beyond the labels we stick upon ourselves.

As a longtime fan of the Spaghetti Western and the man with no name, I often do this meditation with a visualization that looks something like this:

  • I am sitting on a bench outside an empty bar/hotel in a western (as in wild western) town that has long since been deserted by its inhabitants
  • There is the creaking of an old signboard above me, a gusting breeze, a big sky. A few of those rolling bushes are going by in the street, the town is surrounded by desert scrub, no one is around.
  • In this space I simply imagine myself sitting thinking of nothing, dropping any memory of who I am.
  • Progressively I become just a man, then a human being (genderless), then just a being, I just be, allowing myself to merge with the vastness of the landscape around me. I relax deeply.

Returning to your identity
The idea of regularly dropping your identity is to gain freedom from our normal automatic over-identification with the labels that we allow to consciously and/or unconsciously dominate our identity. By doing this we develop the capacity to live a life that is psychologically free from these labels, but that enables us to use these labels wisely and appropriately when necessary.
For example I’m Clint Eastwood, the world famous western actor. Oh no sorry forgot, I’m Toby Ouvry the meditation teacher, or at least I was before I started this article, and I think he’s still there!

© 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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Getting Wet in the Rain (Meditation and Images)

Dear Integral Meditators,

We all know the expression “A picture paints a thousand words”, sometimes this can be particularly true when trying to explain meditation as it is fundamentally an inner state of mind that cannot be seen or described directly. This weeks meditation article describes one such image that I have been working with this week in my own practice.

I am sending this weeks newsletter out a day early because on Sunday evening at 7pm the price for the upcoming online course: Get Yours Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Class Ever will be going up from Sing$30 to Sing $60. So, if you want to get this course at the very reasonable price of $30, you have until Sunday evening Singapore time!
For those participating in the course, you will be sent a link and password to the course content on the 18th of July, and then you can listen to and download the course content onto your computer anytime you want. As well as the 45 min course itself there are 4 short studio meditation recordings for you to use on a daily basis.

Yours in the spirit of peace and flow,
Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Get Yours Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Class Ever


Getting Wet in the Rain (Meditation and Images)

We all know the expression “A picture paints a thousand words”, sometimes this can be particularly true when trying to explain meditation as it is fundamentally an inner state of mind that cannot be seen or described directly.
One of the images that I have been using this week as a way of connecting to a peaceful and flowing state of mind whilst being busy with many things is that of raindrops. I was walking down the street a few days ago and it started raining lightly. As it did so I thought about how each drop of rain falling on me and around me was like a task in my life, and how there seem to be getting more and more of them, like gradually heavier and heavier rain.
I then thought about how trying to get everything done when life is busy is like trying to catch each of the raindrops in a cup before they fall on me; I am constantly moving, adjusting, looking, catching. This is ok up to a point, but then after a while it gets tiring and confusing.
So then I thought about the act of meditating as being like temporarily stopping to try and catch all the raindrops, and just let them fall. Let them fall on me and let them fall around me, just relax and “get wet”.
I would then sit with this image for a while as a way of putting down all the activity and movement in my life, rest in this state of peace and flow for a while, and then when I felt refreshed I would then pick up the next task that I had to do and carry on.

The next time you are feeling super busy and feeling a bit confused by all the activity, you may like to use this image as a way of taking small breaks to rest, recharge and deal with the challenge in a more peaceful and centred way. Spend short periods of time just letting yourself get wet!

© 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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Is Meditation about Stress Management or About Enlightenment?

Dear *|FNAME|,

What is the reason that we meditate and practice mindfulness? This is the subject of this weeks article, it is one of those questions that it is very useful to be clear on!

The main development at Integral Meditation Asia this week is that  I have created a newshadow coaching service. As many of you know I have been offering shadow meditation workshops for some time now. This coaching service is designed to provide a personalized service for people to really get to grips with their own shadow self, and start enjoying it rather than running away from it!

The other main news is the upcoming workshop this Sunday 14th July, 9.30am-12.30pm: Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention , which you can find out about below also.

With all best wishes for your inner wellbeing,

Toby


New Service:

Shadow Self Coaching with Toby – Finding Freedom From What Holds You Back in Life

Would you like to find in the space of three short (60 minute) coaching sessions learn how to:

  • Develop the inner confidence to manifest that which you want in your life free from self-sabotaging unconscious patterns?
  • Access greater feeling of overall wholeness and wellbeing?
  • Find much deeper self-understandingreduced fear and greater emotional freedom?
  •  Experience greater harmony and success in your relationships with other people (because you no longer project your shadow onto them)?
  • Get to the bottom of personal challenges that you have been having that seem to be holding you back, but that you cannot clearly seem to identify the cause of?
  • Develop the capacity to self –heal parts of your psyche that are in pain and need care and attention?

Click HERE for the full details!


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Sunday 14th July, 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 

You will learn simple meditation and mindfulness techniques which can be condensed into a ten minute daily practice that:

  • Reduces and transforms anxiety and stress, releases unwanted tension from your body-mind.
  • Helps you to build an intention toward yourself and others genuinely based around warmth, friendship and love
  • Trains your mind to take in, focus upon and appreciate the positive in your life
  • Develops your concentration skills (the ability to focus one-pointedly upon a single object/task), and in particular a special type of relaxed concentration, or lucid awareness
  • Enables you to connect with and relax deeply into the natural  inner space and silence of your mind
  • An increased capacity to witness the contents of your consciousness as an observer, rather than being completely identified and wrapped up in it.

Click HERE for the full details!


Is Meditation about Stress Management or About Enlightenment? 

Why do we meditate of practise mindfulness? Traditionally and historically it was practised by those who wished to attain a spiritual liberation or enlightenment, but more recently meditation and mindfulness have been touted as methods that can help us deal more effectively with our secular stress, help us relax and improve our work performance. So, is it about enlightenment, or is it about stress relief?
Thinking about this I came up with three basic levels of meditation practice that gives a spectrum of possible uses for meditation practice.

Meditation from the perspective of the ego: Here we are motivated to practice meditation in order to reduce stress and negotiate our life challenges in a more fulfilling and enjoyable manner. In this context meditation is a secular skill which value adds in a measurable way to our quality of life.

Meditation from the perspective of the soul: Here we practise meditation in order to provide the inner stability and strength to live a life of principle and depth, for example to live life according to the principles of goodness, beauty and truth. Meditation in this context contains within it the “ambition” to go beyond our biological and lower human nature, and to start consciously embodying positive principles in the world through our actions.

Meditation from the perspective of spirit: On this third level we practise meditation in order to pursue enlightenment – the realization of the ultimate, formless, timeless dimension of reality and of ourselves. Here we commit not just to doing this in sitting meditation, but also to embody that reality in our daily action; to mediate (not a typo; mediate, conduct, channel) the energy of enlightened awakening into the outer world of illusion. The goal if meditation on this level is to accomplish the same fundamental realizations of your Buddha’s, Christ’s, Krishna’s, Lady Tsogyal’s, St John of the Crosses etc… and to act as forces of enlightenment within the world as they did.

So, there are your three basic levels, it’s up to you where you pitch your own practice. Even if you only think yourself capable of the first, then this is still a wonderful step to take and commit to.
I think the reality is that every time we sit down and meditate we do a little of all three levels; we reduce our stress (ego level), go a little deeper into our inner self (soul level), and awaken even if it is only in the smallest of ways to our true nature (spiritual level).
© 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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Three Types of Faith

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you are having a good weekend, this weeks article looks at how to integrate three different of faith into our life in order to improve our ability to go with the flow, decrease our stress levels and open to different patterns of meaning. I hope you enjoy it!

Final reminder for the online 2 week course starting this Wednesday, 3rd July: Going Beyond Happiness – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfillment and Wellbeing in Your Lifeif you enjoy the article below and the ones from the last 2/3 weeks, then you will definitely enjoy and get a lot out of the course!

Yours in the spirit of faith,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Click on event titles for full details

JULY
Wednesday 3rd & 10th July – 2 Week Online Meditation course: Going Beyond Happiness – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfilment and Wellbeing in Your Life

Wednesdays 3rd and 10th July, 7.30-9.30pm on both days – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – A Two Week Course


Three Types of Faith

 You don’t need to be religious to use a mind of faith in a practical and useful way to enhance your quality of life and wellbeing. With so many uncertainties in life we could say that faith and a sense of trust in something is actually one of the most important minds that we can learn to rely upon as the basis of our inner wellbeing.

Here are three types of faith that you can cultivate on a daily basis:

Faith in ourself: This is a sense of trust in our own integrity, care and intelligence to help us through whatever challenges we may face. We don’t need to be perfect before we develop faith and trust in ourself, but we do need to work on demonstrating to ourself our ability to care, to take a positive attitude and to find a way to survive and thrive in life.
Faith in the unfolding process of life: Life is very complex, and there are always many things going on on many different levels at any given time. Looking at the apparent chaos it can occasionally seem like there are no patterns going on, no meaning. To have faith in the process of life means to trust that, whatever way things are turning out for us there is a pattern of benevolent meaning and unfolding. It means to go with the flow of what is happening and be open to the insights and enjoyments that each moment offers.
Faith in something bigger: To have faith in something bigger can be thought of as a formal belief in God if you are that way inclined, but really it means simply to have a sense of a larger force or metta intelligence that guides and informs the process of our life, and of evolution on earth at large. We may not know why many things are happening in our life and around us, but we can nevertheless be open to the possibility that it is a part of a larger pattern of reality of which we see only a small glimpse. To have faith in something bigger is simply to relax into the flow of our life, opening to the sense that we may be being guided by a higher and deeper intelligence.

One minute mindfulness:
To be mindful of a sense of faith in our life, we simply pick one of the three types of faith, develop a feeling for it and then relax into its flow, breathing and resting in its energy for a short period of time. Out of formal mindfulness or meditation on faith we try and retain a sense of faith, trust and flow in our life as we face our daily challenges

© 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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The Way to Be Ok, Always – Liberation and the Witness Self

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at the cultivation of the witness self in meditation, and why we should be interested in it!

Yours in the spirit of “ok, always”,
Toby


 

The Way to Be Ok, Always – Liberation and the Witness Self

Cultivating the experience of the witness self means to cultivate your experience of self as a detached observer of your mind, body and life experiences, as opposed to having your sense of self totally caught up in them.
The witness or observer self has two main qualities:

  1. It witnesses our life with detached awareness
  2. It has no physical or mental form, it is merely formless awareness

The path to personal liberation from pain and suffering has an enormous amount to do with the cultivation of the witness self. To the extent that we are able to detach ourself from our pain we can control it. If we can detach ourself from our pleasure we can enjoy it without clinging to it and thus avoid the experience of pain that happens when we are separated from that pleasure.

In meditation we cultivate and strengthen the witness self, but it is important to understand that the witness self is present with and available to us right now, whatever stage of development we are at, as these two short stories demonstrate:

As a fifteen year old at school I had a friend the same age (let’s call him Tony) who went out with a seventeen year old girl. She left him for an older boy who was a mutual friend. Tony subsequently told me the story of how he had confronted the older boy and shouted and screamed at him in an emotional outburst. He then told me, looking slightly sheepish about how he had felt that there was a part of him watching the whole episode (including himself screaming and shouting) that was not upset at all, but felt detached and calm. That “watcher” that he had experienced amidst his emotional outburst was his witness self.
Later I had a female friend at collage who similarly discovered that her boyfriend had been having an affair with another woman whilst away at University. Again with a similar sense of sheepish confusion she described to me how she had shouted and screamed at her boyfriend whilst simultaneously feeling that a part of her was observing the situation with total calm and detachment. Like my friend Tony, my female friend had found herself aware of her witness self at the same time as she experienced emotional turmoil.

So, with meditation we cultivate awareness of this witness self, making it increasingly “front and center” of our daily experience, and consequently finding an increasing sense of ever present calm even when under multiple forms of stress. Consequently we find ourself basically “always ok”, nothing we can’t handle.

Reading this some people may think that cultivating the witness self may make us cold, uncaring, emotionally mono-syllabic and so on. The reality is however that when practised in an integrated and balanced way, centring our awareness in the witness self increases our capacity to enjoy deeper and more positively multiple forms of emotion, pleasure, happiness and wellbeing. You could say that it liberates us to a whole new level of the human experience.
A final point; being centred in the witness self also liberates us substantially from the fear of making mistakes, looking foolish, taking an appropriate chance. So, whilst finding an experience of liberation through the detachment of the witness self, we concurrently find a new way of engaging in our world and human experience more freely and dynamically.

I’ve created a diagram below that illustrates in a very simple way the essential transformation that comes from cultivating our identity as the witness self. I hope the image helps to give a feeling for what I have written about 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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Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you’ve had a good week, this weeks article continues the theme of last weeks article on Paradox as Therapy , looking at ways in which we can hold apparently contradictory states of awareness together in order to develop and enhance our inner wisdom.

Yours in the spirit of inner wisdom,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Click on event titles for full details

JUNE
Sunday June 23rd, 8.00-10.30am – Walking Meditations for Connecting to the Energy of Nature 

Sunday June 30th, 8.30am-12.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and Releasing Your Inner Stress

JULY

Sunday 14th July, 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 


Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Normally we think of our good fortune and happiness as being in contrast or opposition to our misfortune and unhappiness. This article and the exercise outlined aims to help us to use our difficult experiences to:

  • Cultivate mindful acceptance of our challenges
  • Cultivate greater appreciation of our good fortune and wellbeing
  • Find a space of awareness that lies beyond and is transcendent of both that which makes us unhappy in life and that which makes us happy.

Here is what you do:

Stage 1: Select an experience of suffering, pain or misfortune in your life. Let’s say in this example that I am feeling unappreciated and uncared for by a close friend whom I expected more support from. So, the first thing that I do is to become mindfully aware of the feelings of hurt that I am experiencing in this circumstance. I sit with awareness of the feelings of being unloved/uncared for as they are. I don’t try to change them, I just accept them as they are, holding them with mindful awareness.

Stage 2: I now select an experience of good fortune/happiness that contrasts directly with the original negative experience. So, in the example here I would deliberately bring to mind people whom have demonstrated real care and appreciation of me. I focus on remembering all the times when they have demonstrated this care and appreciation, and allow this feeling of being cared for and appreciated to register fully in my mind.

Stage 3: I now become aware of a part of my mind and awareness that remains the same whether I am feeling uncared for (as in stage 1), or cared for (as in stage 2). I cultivate awareness of that part of myself that is beyond the ordinary changeability of my daily experiences, that remains a quiet witness or observer to all “different weather” of what happens in my daily life. This pure witnessing awareness is always tranquil and peaceful, even blissful in a way that transcends ordinary happiness and suffering.

Stage 4: Now I alternate between awareness of stages 1, 2 & 3 for a while, taking them all in without favoring one or another of the three. I feel the pain of being uncared for, I feel the pleasure of being appreciated and supported; I experience that part of my awareness that is beyond both ordinary pleasure and pain. Allow all three experiences to be in your mind; don’t favor one or the other. Make your mind big enough for all three.

To conclude, finish with a brief period of mental resting and equanimity.

The effect of this exercise when done regularly is to:

  1. Develop equanimity and stability when experiencing discomfort, pain, misfortune, emotional unhappiness and so forth
  2. To use our misfortune to deliberately stimulate our feeling of good fortune and appreciation of what we have
  3. To gradually learn to go beyond ordinary happiness and suffering and locate our fundamental sense of self in a place of awareness that lies beyond the fickle events of our daily 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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Paradox as Therapy (and the difference between a spiritual and a psychological crisis)

The difference between a psychological crisis and a spiritual crisis is that:

  • With a psychological crisis the problem is that there is some part of the mind that is not working properly. If you think of your mind as a motor engine, and a crisis as being like one of the parts going wrong and needing to be fixed or replaced
  • spiritual crisis is a crisis of meaning. This means that it is not that any one of the parts of your existing mind have gone wrong, rather that you have a new, deeper level of mind and self emerging within you, and that none of the existing ways of thinking and feeling that you have are adequate to cope with the new, deeper level of meaning that is emerging. The ‘solution’ to a spiritual crisis is to find, grow and articulate that new level of meaning in your life.

Spiritual and psychological crises are often quite similar, and often confused with each other, and yet they are fundamentally different. One of my tasks as an integral meditation coach is to distinguish between these two types of crisis for clients and provide advice and therapies that are appropriate for the type of inner problems and challenges that they have.

The paradox of a spiritual crisis
One of the challenges of a spiritual crisis is that, even when you have identified you are having one, it can feel like it is taking an awfully long time to develop clearly. For example I spent a good year before I decided to leave my life as a monk knowing that there was something changing within me, but not knowing clearly whether it would be the right thing for me to do or not to leave and enter lay life again.

One of the ways that I dealt with this waiting period was with a technique of awareness that I have cone to call “Paradox Therapy”. This involves becoming aware of the contradictions in your life, and learning to hold them together in the same act of awareness. This creates and experience of comfort and relaxation in the mind that is able to cope with the inner stress and contradictions of life with lightness, humour and patience.

For example in the year before left my life as a monk I would notice that:

  • I was in a state of inner conflict much of the time (“Things are bad”)
  • Simultaneously there was much in my life to feel fortunate for (“Things are good”)
  • There was always a part of my mind that was separate from and observing the positive and negatives (“Things are beyond good or bad” )

So, what I would do would be to sit with these three paradoxical perspectives in my mind, holding the “goodness”, the “badness” and the “beyond good or bad” in the same act of awareness.
This did not “solve” my predicament, but it did give me the peace of mind, patience and sense of inner wholeness and wellbeing to allow my path to unfold and relax into that unfolding, allowing the crisis to teach me what was emerging, and how to start to express and embody it in my 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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The 20 Second Rule – Guerilla Tactics for Peace of Mind and Wellbeing

Dear Integral Meditators,

Its all too easy to let life’s best moments slip by without noticing them fully, this weeks article outlines a practice you can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you any more, from this moment on!

Wishing you all the best,

Toby


 

The 20 Second Rule – Guerilla Tactics for Peace of Mind and Wellbeing

This is a very simple idea that can have far reaching benefits. The basic logistics of it are:

  • As you may know, our brain has an inbuilt “negativity bias” that evolved for survival reasons. This means that it only takes one or two seconds for a negative experience to be committed to our long term memory. Our brain even has special neural pathways specifically designed for relaying negative information fast.
  • Conversely you have to focus your attention for at least 10-20 seconds upon a positive experience for it to become hardwired into your long term memory and to seriously impact your current mood and perception of life. Our brain does not have specially designed neural pathways for relaying positive experiences to our long term memory, so generally we have to work harder to make our positive experiences “stick”.

Over time and with training our brain can and does become quicker at registering and appreciating positive information about our life (this is the idea of so called “neuro-plasticty – you can change your brains physical structure by consciously training your attention and thought processes), but it takes effort extended consistently over a relatively long time.

One minute mindfulness:
With the above understanding in mind, here is a short practice that you can do to regularly commit your positive thoughts, feelings and experiences to your long term memory, and learn how you guide your daily experience toward greater happiness.

  1. Break your day up into set periods when you will do this one minute practice, for example once and hour, once every three hours, once in the morning, afternoon and evening, something like that.
  2. Look back over the last hour/the morning/the evening and pick out a positive experience or something that happened that is worthy of your appreciation, gratitude, and enjoyment ect…
  3. Focus on your remembrance of that positive experience with relaxed, focused awareness for around 20 seconds, so that it slips into your long term memory and starts to directly influence your mood right now, in the present moment.

We’ve all got busy lives, but I think you’ll agree that the above practice is not beyond any of us. If you practice it consistently there is no doubt it will empower you to take greater control of your peace of mind and inner wellbeing.

© 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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