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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When You Have to Go Against the Flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

Life is not so tough when everything is flowing in the direction that you want it to, but what happens when you find yourself having to go against the flow of energy? This weeks article explores that space and how we can use meditation to help.

In the article I use as an image derived from landscape and nature as a main method for developing the ability to go against the flow. In the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course  beginning this coming Thursday 19th September I will be using quite a lot of this type of landscape imagery as a way of connecting to the energy of calm, so if you like the article below then this is a course that you might enjoy!

Yours in positively going against the flow,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Beginning Thursday 19th September – Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! ClickHERE to read the full details of the course…


When You Have to Go
Against the Flow

Often times in life we find ourself having to go against the flow. For example:

  • We can find ourself going through a phase in a friendship, work or romantic relationship where it all seems like hard work and nothing is flowing easily
  • In our work business can seem slow, and a lot of effort seems to have to go into generating a relatively small success
  • When an idea that we are deeply passionate about is not taken up with interest by others, or they are even judgmental or negative about it

There are infinite numbers of situations we may find ourselves in that require the life skill of going against the flow, particularly if we are working with ideas that are new or pioneering.

How meditation changes our experience of going with the flow
When we practice meditation we are developing the capacity to “go with the flow” and relax more in our life, but a solid meditation practice will also give us the patience and perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other (literally or figuratively) in order to accomplish a goal that is important to us but that is difficult to achieve because we are having to go against the flow.

A meditation image for going against the flow
In Asia I have visited several rivers that have rapids in them. What I like to do when I visit such places is to use the rocks in the water to hop upstream, going against the flow of the fast moving water. Standing securely on a rock surrounded by fast flowing water I relax and look for the next rock to leap onto. I jump from one rock to the next, gradually making progress upstream again the current of the water all around me.
Often when I am in a daily situation where I am having to go against the flow, I use this image of hoping up a river on the rocks as a way of keeping patient, persevering and gradually keep moving forward. The image describes perfectly for me the mindset that I am using to prevail.

Questions for your own practice of going against the flow

  • What situations in your life do you find yourself having to go against the flow? As you are reading this article, try and think of two or three concrete situations where you yourself regularly have to go against the flow in your life.
  • What images communicate for you the essence of awakened “going against the flow?” In the above article I have suggested an image from my own experience that you are most welcome to use as a way of developing your own “going against the flow” mindset. However, there may be images from your own direct experience that describe very well to you the patience and perseverance that you need to go against the flow and that will work perfectly for you as an image for this type of 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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Is Spirit a Place of Light of Dark?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of experience it is.

There are 3 more days to sign up for the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course for the early bird price of Sing$85, after that you can still of course sign up, but the price will be $105.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?
If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! Click HERE to read the full details of the course…

Dear <<First Name>>,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of and experience it is.

There are 3 more days to sign up for the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course for the early bird price of Sing$85, after that you can still of course sign up, but the price will be $105.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! Click HERE to read the full details of the course…


Is Spirit a Place of Light or Dark? 

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.
© 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

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.
© 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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When You Empty Your Mind of Thoughts, What Does it Fill With?

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article takes a look at what happens when we empty our mind of thoughts, and offers a simple technique that will enable you to practice emptying your mind in order to fill it with that which flows into the empty space!

I’m going to be holding the early bird offer for the Integral Insight Meditation Workshop until the end of Monday, 2nd September, so if you are in Singapore, wish to attend and want a reduction in the price, do make your booking and purchase by then. Click on the link for full details…

Yours in the spirit of empty fullness,

Toby


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

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
Special early bird offer of $80 for all who sign up for the Integral Insight Meditation Course before Sept 2nd! Full cost of the workshop is $95

Online course in September – The Power of Deep Calm – full details up shortly!


When You Empty Your Mind of Thoughts, What Does it Fill With?

In meditation one of the ‘basic’ (but not quite so easy) skills that we focus on is being able to empty the mind of thoughts temporarily. We can readily understand that emptying our mind of thoughts is relaxing, but what beyond that is it helping us to do?

When you empty your mind, that emptiness starts to fill with something. What is that something? Awareness.  Awareness is the experience of being. When you empty your mind of thoughts, awareness flows in naturally to fill the space. Sitting in a state of awareness has many benefits, here are a few:

  1. It helps us to develop and improve the quality of our mind – By dropping our thoughts and simply being aware we develop our capacity to witness our life objectively and in the 3rd person. This development of a stable 3rd person perspective helps us to develop the quality of our rational mind in an holistic and balanced manner. By temporarily dropping the mind, the mind itself improves.
  2. It takes us beyond our mind – When we sit in a state of fullness of awareness and emptiness of thoughts we realize that we are not our thoughts, that there is something beyond our thinking mind that we are. The essential sense of ‘I-ness’ that we have is retained when we stop thinking. Thus we gain the ability to go beyond our experience of self as the thoughts in our mind, and move into a sense of self that is the possessor of our mind and yet something more than the mind. So you could say that instead of “I think therefore I am” it becomes more like “I am (aware) therefore I think!”
  3. It allows our body and mind to rest and regenerate themselves deeply, accessing a deeper level of healing energy that flows from a deeper level within our being.
  4. It gives us a sense of something bigger than ourselves – A sense of a mind, identity, intelligence and order in the universe that is bigger than ourselves, that you might call spirit, but you might equally call it something else. The point is that in a state a pure awareness you start to feel it experientially.

“Pulling the plug”

Here’s an exercise that you can do to help you empty your mind:

  • Imagine your mind is a bath and the thoughts in your mind are like the water.
  • Imagine you “pull the plug” in the bath; see and feel the water of your thoughts draining away down the plug hole, leaving the bath of your mind empty. Rest in that empty space.
  • Now feel the bathtub of your mind filling with awareness. If your mind is empty you will feel the awareness flowing in quite naturally.
  • What does this awareness feel like? Rest and relax in this state of empty mind/full awareness for as long as feel appropriate. Centre your being, your sense of self in this full empty space.

You can pull the plug anywhere you like, for as long as you like. This week you might like to try integrating into your routine it as a short daily exercise to help develop your experience of the true fullness of an empty mind.
© 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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