Depth of Pain = Depth of Pleasure

Hi Everyone,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, many thanks to all of you who came to yesterdays Integral Meditation Practice Workshop, it was a pleasure to spend time practicing mediation with you! Please not there is a six week Integral Meditation Practice Course beginning on 31st of October, click on the link below for full details.

This weeks article covers a subject that is very close to my heart, and one of the areas inmy personal coaching practice that I gain the most satisfaction from; how to re-awaken depth of positive emotionality within ourself by contacting “negative” emotional within ourself that we are afraid of, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of appropriately  liberated emotion,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Depth of Pain = Depth of Pleasure – The Double Bind (and Double Opportunity) of Emotional Repression

One of the reasons why people find it such a challenge to keep up a daily meditation practice is that it starts to reveal to them painful emotions that lie repressed within them that frankly they would rather remain repressed and forgotten. The process of meditation itself causes a release of the “knots” in the mind that hold the pain that we have repressed down, and  this “untying” gives us access to self-knowledge that frankly we might rather we did not have!

However, there is both a carrot and a stick that we can use to encourage us to face our painful emotions with courage:

The stick is this – Whenever we repress or cut ourself off from a deeply felt painful emotion, we also cut ourself off from the entire deep emotional level on which that emotion is based. Because we cut ourself off from an entire level of deep emotional feeling, we deny ourself not only the painful feelings on that level, but also the pleasurable feelings on that level. So, if we habitually repress  negative emotions, we find that we are also no longer sensitive or receptive to deeply felt pleasurable emotions that make life worth living!

The carrot is this – Whenever we find the courage and self-compassion to reach out to and re-integrate painful repressed emotion within us, as we do so we simultaneously re-awaken a level of emotion within us that is open to deep pleasure, appreciation, joy, sensuality, rapture, hilarity and so on.

One of the most common challenges that people whom I do 1:1 coaching with talk about with me is how they feel cut off from life, they feel emotionally dis-engaged from a world that they feel they should be appreciating, connecting with and enjoying much more. Accordingly, much of the main work that I do with individuals as well as teaching them meditation is to seek out the painful emotions that they most often repress, and bring them back in a benign way into the light of their conscious awareness for healing. When this is done, very often they find that because they are no longer repressing emotions that they are afraid of, they suddenly find that the range of positive emotions that become re-sensitized to is quite remarkable. They become “alive to life” once more”.

Facing up to difficult and challenging emotions in ourself takes courage, but if you are a “spiritual hedonist” like me, and want to reclaim your right to daily emotional depth of pleasure, aliveness, spontaneity and positivity, then you know that the courageous effort is always rewarded in a worthwhile manner!

And finally, once you are used to positively confronting tough emotions, meditating everyday feels no longer so much like a discipline as a pleasure.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Awakening to the Sensuality of Your Three Bodies

Dear All,

How are you? This weeks article focuses on one of the “three pillars” of Integral Meditation Practice, energy meditation. There are a lot of quite “formulaic” forms of energy meditation, but as I hope the article demonstrates meditating upon energy is something that can come very easily and naturally, and provide profound benefits, not least an increase in healthy pleasure, enjoyment and appreciation of both outer and inner sensuality.

Yours in the spirit of abundant and  pleasurable energy,

Toby


Energy Meditation; Awakening to the Sensuality of Your Three Bodies

Energy body meditation can serve many purposes, amongst others it can:

  • Increase our overall  physical, mental and emotional health  by increasing the flow of energy in our energy system
  • Help us reduce conceptual thoughts and stress in our mind by reconnecting us to the experience of the natural sensuality and pleasure  of our physical and subtle bodies
  • Provide us with access to higher levels of consciousness by awakening our awareness to the energy bodies which support those higher levels of consciousness
  • Sharpen your outer senses, making them more effective in daily life
  • Sharpen your inner senses, thus enabling you to sharpen  qualities such as your EQ (Emotional intelligence), Social Intelligence and SQ (Spiritual intelligence)
  • Increase our natural compassion and empathy for othersYou don’t have to be someone special to start enjoying working with energy in meditation, you just need to have a basic understanding of what we mean by energy, and a simple technique to start to work with that energy, both of which this article aims to provide.

Three energy bodies, not just one
The first thing to realize with energy meditation is that we have at least three basic energy bodies, not just one. These three are:

  1. Your physical energy body, and the subtle qi/prajnic/bioelectric body that supplies that body with life-force
  2. Your mental energy  body, or the body of energy that you possess that supports your activities of mind
  3. Your pure awareness body, or the very subtle and formless energy body that supports and facilitates the experience of awareness itself. This is also called the “causal body”, in the sense that is the ground from which our experience of the mental and physical bodies arises.

You can find these energy bodies in your direct experience now without too much difficulty:

  • The energy you feel in your physical body now is your physical and bioelectric energy body
  • The energy or “feeling tone” that supports the thoughts that are going through your mind right now is your subtle mental body
  • The subtle spacious energy that supports your experience of purely being aware right now is your very subtle energy body

Meditating on your Three Energy Bodies

Step 1: Meditating on the sensuality of your physical body
Sitting or lying down, bring your attention onto your physical body, and simply try and feel it in a deeply sensual manner. As you breathe in and out, breathe your awareness into your skin, muscles, bones, organs, and body as a whole. Breathing and connecting with your physical energy body in this way is actually a deeply sensual and pleasurableexperience. Much of our life is spend chasing or longing for genuine pleasure, actually there is a deeply satisfying experience of pleasure that comes from simply being fully connected to and aware of our physical body!

Step 2: Meditating on the “feeling tones” of your mind
Watch your mind, and the thoughts that arise and pass through it. Become aware thateach thought has a feeling tone, vibration or subtle energy associated with it. These subtle feeling tones arise from the mental energy body that supports your mental activities. You can support the positive harmonization of your mental energy body simply by generating a thought with a positive feeling tone, and focusing on that feeling tone, allowing it to fill your mind like a musical note or beautiful colour.

Step 3: Meditating on the texture of inner space and silence
Notice the inner space and silence that surrounds and interpenetrates the thoughts in your mind. Notice the “feeling” of that inner space and silence; it’s very subtle and comfortable texture, a kind of “living emptiness”. That is the energy of your very subtle or formless energy body which supports your awareness itself. Learning to sit and rest in your causal body allows its regenerative energy to start to penetrate and regenerate both our mind (mental body) and body (physical body), healing unhealthy energetic patterns and creating potential for new positive and creative patterns in our body-mind.

As I hope you can see, basic energy meditation as described above can be performed in a very simple way that is enjoyable, beneficial and profound.
Energy meditation is in my opinion important for all meditators to have at least basic competence at, and this is the reason why I teach it as one of the three central pillars of my own “Integral Meditation Practice” workshops and courses. For me personally it has been a main way in which I have come to see that used in the right way, “bodily” feelings,  sensuality, pleasure and enjoyment can be vehicles for inner growth and development, rather than impediments or distractions.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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 Present Moment Awareness Comes Naturally

Dear All,

Wouldn’t it be nice if living in the present was something that came naturally to us, rather than our having to exert all this effort to drag our minds back into the here and now and away from all our frenetic mental over activity? Well, the good news is that natural present moment awareness is definitely possible, and I can vouch for that. The challenge is that it takes some effort to get to the place of no effort! In the article below I describe what natural present moment awareness is, and how we can start building experience of it into our daily life.

Yours in the spirit of natural presence,

Toby


 

When Present Moment Awareness Comes Naturally

When people come to me for meditation coaching, quite often I will not necessarily emphasize formal meditation in those sessions, so much as a deeper sense of self knowledge and the natural inner harmony that arises from that increase in self knowledge. In this article I want to talk about how present moment awareness can really be seen as a side effect of inner harmony, rather than something that we bring into existence through sheer force of will.

Often in traditional meditation training we are taught how to bring our mind into the present moment by focusing on an object such as the breathing, and learning to take our mind out of the busy linear timeline that it is so often locked into through force of will. We can achieve a certain amount of success in this is if we become familiar with such a meditation practice, but the challenge with it is that it always requires an (often relatively strenuous) act of will, and does not address many of the reasons why our mindACTIVELY AVOIDS the present moment, and  SEEKS OUT the “comfort” of distractions.

Here is my formula for natural present moment awareness:
“Present moment awareness is a natural side product that arises when the instinctive and rational minds move from conflict with each other to harmony with each other.”
Synonyms for the instinctive and rational minds are:

  • The conscious mind and unconscious mind
  • The body self (or biological self) and the egoic (or conceptual) self.

My basic proposition is this, that whenever these two minds, instinctive and rational, conscious and unconscious are in conflict, then this conflict throws us out of the present moment and traps us in that state of distracted conflict.
Whenever the instinctive and rational minds are in harmony with each other, they form a greater or larger self awareness that is naturally and easily grounded in the flow of the present moment.

So, if you want to learn to live a more relaxing life centered in “presence”, then sure, learn a formal meditation technique, but secondly, and equally (perhaps more importantly)work to resolve the stress fear, anxieties that arise from the conflict between your conscious and unconscious minds, your body-self and your egoic (conceptual self).

The next time you find yourself distracted, mentally uncomfortable, unable to focus in the here and now, ask yourself the question “Where is the inner conflict coming from that is preventing me from relaxing naturally into the present moment?” 
If you can answer this question successfully and identify the area of conflict, then are half way to resolving it. One of the other keys to being able to resolve the conflict successfully is being able to create an arena of communication where the conscious and unconscious minds can “have a bit of a chat” and come to an appropriate solution to their conflicts. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. If through enquiry you discover that the unconscious mind is very angry about something, and that the conscious mind has been repressing that anger (hence the conflict), the conscious mind can acknowledge the hurt in the unconscious mind, and perhaps engage in positive action to resolve the situation causing the anger, whilst the unconscious mind can then make the agreement to stop “acting out” so much and disturbing our inner peace.
  2. If the instinctive self has been feeling “sexually frisky”, and the rational mind has been repressing those feelings (because for example it feels them to be inappropriate), then the two minds can have a communication, and perhaps the conscious mind might agree to acknowledge the feelings of the instinctive self, and if possible find a way of expressing them in an appropriate way, and the instinctive self will most probably be MUCH MORE HAPPY to practice contentment and self control now that the conscious mind has acknowledged and expressed recognition if its needs.

This type of dialog work or inner communication work takes a bit of work to develop the skill (which is one of the things that I often do in my coaching work with clients), but the result is a far greater resolution of the inner conflict between the two minds, and an entirely natural improvement in our inner peace, ability to concentrate and rest in the present moment.

Beginning to practice:
As a simple way of starting this work, whenever you notice your mind is distracted, avoiding the present moment, ill at ease, discontent, anxious, ask yourself the question I placed above:
“Where is the inner conflict (between my two minds) coming from that is preventing me from relaxing naturally into the present moment?”
The answers that come back to you questioning in this way are actually the answers that will help you directly build self knowledge and inner wisdom. Articulating your answers to this question as you ask it each day are the building blocks for a gradual increase in your inner peace, natural concentration and effortless present moment awareness.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Hi Everyone,

When you think of spiritual courage what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Likewise, what does the idea of spiritual fear conjure up in your mind. This weeks article is a contemplation on both spiritual fear and spiritual courage, and how we can start to deal with spiritual fear by leveraging more upon our spiritual courage.

In the upcoming classes section below you will see that the write ups for the Integral Meditation Practice workshop and six week course beginning in October are now complete, feel free to click on the links and have a read about these brand new programs!

Yours in the spirit of spiritual courage,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia
An in Depth Look at Meditations For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 
Time: 7.30-9pm
Location: SCWO, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore. for map click HERE

3rd October, Class 4Focus, Concentration, Peace
A fragmented, distracted state of mind seems to be the norm in the midst of our current, frantic pace of life. The meditation techniques taught in this class specifically address how we can develop the skill of focused, lucid concentration amidst all the distractions and busyness that calls for our attention. Developing focus and concentration not only has the benefit of making us more effective in achieving our goals, it also gives us access to an experience of deep regenerative peace that we can rest in as we travel our life’s many and varied pathways.

******

Sunday 21st October– 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: An Introduction to Integral Meditation Practice

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation
To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Defining spiritual fear and spiritual courage
Spiritual fear is the fear we experience when we are faced with the possibility and challenge of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
Spiritual courage is the courage that it takes to keep stepping up to and into the challenge and possibility of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
In other words, spiritual courage is the answer to the challenge of spiritual fear.

Not something new
Spiritual fear and courage not something new to us. All of us can remember the fear and apprehension of moving from kindergarten to primary school, of moving out of our family home for the first time to go to college, of getting our first job, of setting up our first self employed business. All of these situations involved moving from a smaller world and sense of self to a larger world that involved developing both a new sense of who we are, and dealing with the challenges of a larger, more complex and often uncertain universe.
So, there is a sense in which we have already been confronting our spiritual fear; fear of giving up our old, secure identity in order to embrace a larger one, and exercising our spiritual courage; boldly stepping into a new, larger world and embracing a new, bigger and more challenging sense of self.

The challenge to keep on developing and enquiring as we reach adulthood
The challenge for most of us is that once we get to the average, conventional level of functional adulthood, our willingness to keep embracing new and deeper experiences of who we are generally stagnates. We enter a comfort zone where our sense of who we are becomes more and more fixed, more and more comfortable. As we become more comfortable, our willingness to continue developing and pushing ourselves deteriorates.

Spiritual courage is the courage to keep evolving our consciousness
So then spiritual courage is the courage that keep encouraging us out of our comfort zone, and keeping on accessing developing new and deeper dimensions of who we are and what we do.

The stick: The reality of the certain death of the small self
The “stick” that calls us to listen to our spiritual courage and moving beyond our spiritual fear is the knowledge that, at the time of our physical death everything that we are as a personality or ego, and all that we have accumulated materially ceases or is left behind.
If our sense of self only goes as deep as our ego-personality, then at the time of death we will literally feel as if we are losing everything. This mindfulness of the challenge of death encourages us to keep looking deeply into our identity and find something within our moment to moment awareness that is “beyond death” or that continues after our ego-personality ceases at the time of death. You could say that this is one of the main jobs of meditation, to help us develop awareness of that within our awareness that is “deathless”.
Spiritual courage and the actions we engage in over a lifetime based upon spiritual courage enable us to meet our physical death with equanimity and joy, and encourages us to use the time we have in our remaining lifespan as well as possible.

The carrot: Each year of our life becomes the “best ever” as we continue to get older
A life based around spiritual courage will tend toward greater and greater happiness as life goes on and we get older. 
When I was at school when I asked my teachers what was the best time of life, they would either answer childhood or young adulthood, as you have more time for fun and fewer responsibilities. Now, as I pass the 40 year mark of my life, with quite a lot of responsibilities, limited time and a slowly aging body I can still say that this year has been the best of my life so far. This is not because the best outer things have been happening in my life (it has been quite challenging in this way), but rather because my sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life is clearer than ever before, and so the qualitative, moment to moment experience of life is for me now better than it has ever been. As long as I keep enquiring more and more deeply into “who I am” I can only see next year being better than this one, the year after being better still and so on.

Meditating on spiritual courage
Meditating on spiritual courage does not need to be a complex affair it is simply a matter of thinking each day “How would my deepest or highest self respond to the challenges that I face today?” Having asked this question, quieten your mind, look within yourself and connect to the deepest sense of self that you can find within that moment. Observe the perspective that it brings to your life and circumstances, and try and identify with and act upon that deep perspective, rather than the louder and more superficial perspectives that our ego often encourages us to act from.
So, in this sense we could say that meditating on spiritual courage is simply being aware of the deepest, wisest way of viewing ourself and our circumstances, and choosing to act upon that perspective, despite the resistance we may feel from our spiritual fear.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Mind of Ease Q&A: What to do When you are Overwhelmed by Negativity

Press play below to listen to the Mind of Ease 15minute Q&A Session on “What to do when you are overwhelmed by negativity”:

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Mind of Ease Q&A Sept 2012

Here is a summary of the question:

“In the last meditation class, you shared about developing mental positivity.

However, many times the force of negativity in my mind is so strong that I’m being drowned and the awareness is not even present there to witness the river of mind flowing at all.

For such situations, when there is no awareness to recognize your negativity, how do you even pull back with awareness when awareness itself is absent? (Especially you are in one of those endless loops of negativity which drain your life?)”

And here is the summary of my answer:

Answer:

Meditation is about developing the strength of our conscious awareness and the ability to witness the contents of our mind, it takes practice!

The best time to work on strengthening our self awareness through meditation is when our life and mind are relatively stable and peaceful. If we wait until there is a crisis in our life before we think about trying to meditate, then often it is too late to be of real, practical use.

Most people are leading unconscious lives, being drowned by the force of negativity and habit. Broadly speaking there are four or so stages that we need to go through in order to consciously  re-work deeply engrained and overwhelming negative energies/patterns in our mind:

1)      The first stage is to notice the negativity when we get carried away by it

2)     Second stage is to detach with self compassion and flow with the experience, not fight with it.

3)     Third stage is to dissipate the negativity, and reduce its momentum in our mind and life by practicing non-resistance to it (ie: Not feeding energy by fighting with it or trying to overcome it purely by force of egoic will.

4)     The fourth stage is to replace the negative thought pattern with a new positively structured set of perspectives, thoughts, beliefs and behaviors

This takes time! Our negative personal and inter-personal patterns (ie: in our relationships) have been building up for years and years, of course it takes months and years of consistent practice of conscious awareness to become aware of these patterns, heal them and replace them with appropriate alternatives that wil server the evolution of our consciousness.

Yours in the spirit of a mind of ease,

Toby

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Recognizing Three Types of Fear, Meditating on three Types of Courage

Dear Toby,

Many of the daily challenges we face require dealing with a certain degree of fear, and generating an appropriate degree of courage. The article that I have written below tries to place fear and courage in a particular framework which will help people think about how they can start dealing with fear and consciously use courage to live a more full and fulfilling life, less dominated by fear.

I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of daily courage,

Toby


Recognizing Three Types of Fear, Meditating on three Types of Courage

The three types of fear are:

  1. Instinctive or biological fear – This is activated when we, or someone we care for are in actual physical danger of some sort and that impels us to act decisively. The difficulty for many of us in this day and age is that our biological fears get activated in situations where there is not actually any manifest physical danger, and we find ourself in fight or flight mode when we don’t need to be. So a major part of dealing with this fear is to allow it to affect us only when appropriate and necessary!
  2. Psychological fear – This type of fear occurs when our ego or self image feels threatened either by what someone else says about us (for example a deliberate or non-deliberate verbal insult), or when we have thought or emotion that our self image deems inappropriate or bad, and so we then try and “get rid” of that bad thought or emotion, or otherwise repress it out of fear.
  3. Existential fear – This to use the definition of existential psychology is the fear that we all face arising from “Being in the face of non-being”. That is to say it is the fear that we experience as a tiny unity of temporary human life in the face of our inevitable death, or movement into non-being. This is a fear that all of us faces and experiences.

Accordingly there are three types of courage that we might think of as qualities that help us to deal with the three types of fear:

  1. Instinctive or biological courage – This type of courage we are called to act upon in situations of actual danger to our life or wellbeing, or the life/wellbeing of someone else. It is a courage that we have to activate generally only occasionally, but it is important that it is present and ready for these occasional purposes.
  2. Psychological courage – This type of courage enables us to appropriately repel the threats to our self image that may come from the negativity of others outside of us, but perhaps more importantly it enables us to appropriately acknowledge the difficult emotions and thoughts that haunt our own mind and make a firm decision not to run from these inner fears, or to distract ourself from them, but face up to them and learn how to deal with them appropriately. One of the best ways we can set ourself up for happiness and wellbeing in life is to keep ourself as clear as possible of repressed or “shadow” fears in our unconscious mind that block the flow of energy in our being and make us feel unworthy of genuine and deeply felt enjoyment. Another point here is that quite a lot of our psychological fear is actually our biological/instinctive fears projecting themselves onto our everyday situation, so it is actually fear number 1 projecting itself onto fear number 2. If we can learn to recognize this, then this can also really help us deal in a more relaxed and down to earth manner with our psychological fears.
  3. Existential courage – The third type of courage is existential courage, which is essentially the courage to live a full and creative life even in full knowledge of the fact that eventually we will die and (from the perspective of the small-self of this life) lose everything. Existential courage encourages us to really think about what is most important in our lives, and make sure that each day we are expressing our core values, working toward goals that really mean something to us, and appreciating the things in our life that we really hold dear. To have existential courage means to live life in the present moment fully and vibrantly for as long as it lasts, and then hopefully to die without regrets!

A meditative perspective on the three types of courage:

As meditators on courage then we are trying to:

  • Be mindful of our instinctive courage, calling upon it when necessary and control our biological fear when genuine threats are present.
  • Face our psychological fears with courage, acknowledging and dealing appropriately with thoughts and emotions that appear to threaten the wellbeing of our self-image.
  • Consciously leverage on our existential courage to live a full and meaningful human life.

A final point here is that as we meditate we also start to have experiences that temporarily transcend our existential fear as our self-sense expands beyond our ego. When in meditation we start to develop a sense of ourself as being part of a Universal being or consciousness that did not start with our biological birth and will not end with our biological death, we do start to genuinely transcend our natural fear of death. However, in my experience, even after a part of our awareness does transcend our small self, and identify with its deeper Universal nature, there is still a substantial part of us that still has to work with our life as an individual human, and still has to leverage substantially on the three types of courage in order to deal with the three types of fear.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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 Key to Dealing with Stress, the Challenge of Dealing with Anxiety

Dear All,

How are you? This weeks article looks at the perennial themes of stress and anxiety, and takes what I think is a relatively new or at least novel approach to the issues that you may find interesting!

Yours in the spirit of an appropriate relationship to stress and anxiety,

Toby


The Key to Dealing with Stress, the Challenge of Dealing with Anxiety

The key to dealing with stress is learning to take life less personally.
The key to deaing with anxiety is learning to take life more personally.
Here is what I mean:

The key to dealing with stress, such as for example you might face with living in a city is not to take the natural friction of such environments personally. This type of friction is simply a natural extension of living in a large community and it is unavoidable. If you take this natural friction personally, then it is going to cause you stress, if you don’t, then it won’t, or at least the stress will be manageable.
For example the old person who tries to jump the que at the bus stop is a natural feature of the city landscape, as are periodically obnoxious customers, co-workers and bosses. The heat and friction of daily life in a crowded 21st century environment is just that, heat and friction, no need to take it personally. Simply learn to detach appropriately and don’t make a problem out of the natural dynamics of the situation.
Similarly in our relationships with friends and family, a certain amount of friction is quite natural, it is not unusual and there is no need to make something unnecessarily personal of it.
In the same way it is quite natural to have a certain amount of friction in our mind as competing concerns crowd into our awareness and make noise to try and attract our attention.
Learning not to take natural friction personally is a major key to managing our stress, and learning to direct the natural stress of our daily situations in an appropriate, mindful and constructive direction.

The key to dealing with anxiety is to keep trying to answer the questions that your deeper sense of self is asking you about the meaning of your life. Anxiety (as I am defining it in this article) is the tension and apprehension that we feel in our mind when we feel our deeper, or evolving self pushing us to develop ourselves, to articulate meaningful action, to move toward our highest potential, to make positive changes, to think independently and courageously, to make a difference. Anxiety is the inner tension that we feel when we hear that inner evolutionary to move out of our comfort zone.
People who have no connection to their deeper self suffer only from stress in life, not anxiety. Anxiety is a call to action that comes from the depths of our being, a call to become who we really are, and to express that without fear or apprehension.
One major coping strategy that many people use to cope with their anxiety isconformity. They hope that by simply working hard at conventional goals that will give them conventional “respect” in society, they can simply be accepted by the status quo and thus they can avoid the challenge of doing something that is truly their own, truly an expression of their deeper self and deeper potential.
However, this superficial strategy of avoidance leaves the inner anxiety un-dealt with, and as a result many people find themselves with a sense of anxiety that is always there, gnawing at them, and they don’t even understand where it is coming from.

Mindful awareness of stress and anxiety

The basic “meditative moves” to deal with stress and anxiety are quite different:

  • Dealing with stress mindfully involves observing when we have started to take the natural friction of our life personally, and consciously stepping back, detaching, releasing, and smiling at ourselves for taking the whole thing rather too seriously.
  • Dealing with anxiety means each day to look into our deeper self and ask; “What is my evolutionary potential asking of me today?” The next thing to do is to start something/make the change/make the decision/begin to create that which is the answer to this question.

The two types of happiness that arise from dealing with stress and anxiety

  • The happiness of dealing with our stress through detachment and not taking it personally is primarily a relaxational type of happiness, learning to go with the flow of life.
  • The happiness that comes from dealing with anxiety is the deep and vibrant happiness of feeling fully alive, awake and engaged with life.

The consequences of not dealing with stress and anxiety:
Interestingly, the consequences of not dealing with stress and anxiety seem to be different and yet similar; the experience of irrational fears and projections in our mind.

  • When we don’t deal with stress well, we find the days’ stressful events “sticking” to our mind, and we re-live them in a state of anger, frustration and fear.
  • When we don’t live to our potential, the anxiety that this creates is a slightly more complex fear, a fear of our own power, and an absence of deeper self confidence, which causes us further anxiety, and makes it more and more difficult to discover what we really need to do in order to make our life a reflection of who we are and what we really want to give.

Conclusion
The main point that I think I am trying to make here is that stress and anxiety (as I am defining them in this article) are different problems that require different solutions.

  • The principle solution to stress that I am putting forward in this article is the practice of appropriate detachment
  • The principle solution to anxiety is the courage to engage more deeply with our idea of who we are, and act every day to make our life a reflection of the deeper meanings that we really wish to make our life an expression of.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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 Energetic Dynamics of Love

Dear Everyone,

This weeks article looks at the inflow and outflow of love in our life, and how we can start to make conscious, meditative adjustments to improve this flow for the better, I hope you enjoy it.

Yours in the spirit of benign flow,

Toby


 

The Energetic Dynamics of Love

The fundamental energy dynamics of love are those of giving and receiving. In order to be a love giver, there needs to be enough love being received within your being in order for you to give. When speaking of love in this article, I am simply referring to feelings of warmth and friendship, care and benevolent attention. There are four basic levels of receiving and giving love that we will be looking at:

  • In our relationship to self
  • In our relationship to others
  • In our relationship to the world and the Cosmos at large
  • A synthesis of the above three

Receiving love from self
All of us have blocks in our relationship to ourself; things that we don’t like about ourself, reasons why we withhold love from ourself and so forth. However, learning to receive love from ourself is really an act of great simplicity. It is just a matter of sitting quietly, bringing our attention onto ourself and our body, relaxing our chest and heart area, and allowing ourselves to receive the natural healing and caring energy that starts to flow when we focus our attention gently upon ourself without judgement. The act of directing conscious caring attention toward ourself is in itself an activity that naturally directs love toward ourself. We then simply need to sit within that space and allow ourselves to receive that energy from…ourself. You can try it right now it is really as simple as that!

Giving love to self
Once we have some basic familiarity with receiving love from self, we can then practice giving love toward self, which is really just a slightly more active and dynamic way of receiving love from self. When actively giving love toward myself, I normally just raise the corners of my mouth a couple of millimeters, so that the expression on my face is in a half smile. This half smile carries a natural positive warmth and friendship that I then direct toward myself, breathing it in as I inhale, feeling the energy expand thru-out my body as I exhale.

We are all communal beings, and tend to define ourselves to a greater or lesser degree by our relationships to others, but it is surprising how much healthy, loving energy we can create within ourself just by paying attention to the above two practices. This then gives us a healthy “not overly needy” basis upon which we can then practice giving and receiving love from others.

Receiving and giving love from and to others
If we habitually block love from ourself to ourself, we can also bet that we also habitually block the reception of love from others to us, and deprive ourselves of the positive support we could be receiving from them. To practice receiving love from others, just think about the people who love and like you, friends and family. All of them have a loving intention toward you (even if sometimes on the surface there is annoyance etc…). At any time we choose we can simply be aware of this positive, loving intention from those that are close to us, and open our hearts and minds to receiving that energy fully. It is energy that is available to us all the time (even if we are not always physically close to them) that we can benefit simply by being aware of and opening to.
Consistent awareness of this flow of love toward us practiced over time gives us an inner feeling of having a lot of love inside us, and consequently, in our relationships with others it becomes more and more easy to give love to others, both as an act of awareness in meditation, and as actual acts of kindness and generosity in the world.
Practices together in a balanced way, receiving and giving love should actually build upon each other, creating an ever increasing cycle of love and care in your life.

Receiving and giving love from the Universe
In this world there is a lot of free energy around, in the sense of ambient life force and life-giving subtle energy. I became most prominently aware of this when I started a Qi gong practice over fifteen years ago, and saw how it is possible to receive huge amounts of energy from the universe (that is already there) just through attuning my awareness to it, and learning to direct that energy into and through my body.
Similarly, there is a huge (infinite?) amount of ambient love and warmth on a universal level that we can start tapping into just by becoming aware of it, opening to it, and allowing ourself to receive it.
Essentially it seems to be the loving energy of a creative source (conceptualized by some as God, or alternatively for example that which Was, before the big bang) which flows naturally out into creation, and we can be on the receiving energy of that energy just through an act of conscious awareness.
I remember being in Brazil one time and passing a river where a whole line of small alligators were lined up at the bottom of a small waterfall with their mouths open, waiting for the fast current to wash fish into their mouths. Receiving love from the universe is a bit like this; you just open your heart (like the alligators mouth), and let the love flow in.
Once you have a sense of receiving love from the universe in this way, you can then practice giving love to the Universe, just as an act of joy and communion.

A short integral or synthesis meditation on giving and receiving love
Once you have a sense of the above three ways of giving and receiving love, you can then use a very simple breathing exercise to facilitate that flow in your meditation:

  • As you breathe in, feel yourself receiving love from yourself, from others, from the Universe into your heart and mind. If you like you can see that loving energy as a light in your heart being fed and brightened by streams of energy coming into your body as you inhale.
  • As you breathe out see and feel yourself giving love out from your heart-space; to yourself, to others in your life, and to the Universe at large.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Building the Inner Power of Your Mind – Gross Subtle and Formless Objects of Meditative Concentration

The nature purpose of training in concentration

The meaning of concentration in a meditative context is similar to the mainstream usage of the word; it simply means to develop the ability to focus our mind upon one object or task single pointedly without distraction. Developing concentration through meditation has many benefits, whether you simply want to become more effective at work, become a better tennis player, become mentally stronger and more resilient, or achieve enlightenment, concentration can help you in your goal.
In general the side effect of concentration is peace of mind. All of us are familiar with the pleasure of being so deeply involved in a task or hobby that all our troubles and worries are forgotten. The flow of concentration creates space and comfort in our mind, and an appropriate detachment between ourself and the challenges we face in our life, enabling us to take better perspectives and make more appropriate choices.
In a specifically meditative context, concentration gives us the power to shift from one state of mind to another at will, making the inner goals of meditation far more eminently achievable.

Should we stay with just one object of training when developing concentration, or can it change?

In the great wisdom traditions of the world generally we find the advice that sticking with one object of meditation is best when training in concentration, if we keep shifting our object of concentration, the act of changing the object in itself becomes a bit if a distraction. However, what I personally recommend is that as your concentration practice evolves, you alter your object of meditation slightly to reflect your developing ability.
Initially when our concentration is quite week, it is best to stick with a relatively gross or manifest object that is easy to find and focus on. Once you become more accomplished you can then switch to a more subtle mental object. Once you can focus clearly for extended periods on a subtle mental object, you can then switch to a very subtle or formless object of meditation. Here are three practical examples of what I mean.

Example 1: The light of a candle flame

Beginners – Gross object: You take an actual candle flame as your object of concentration, fixing your gaze upon it without distraction.
Intermediate – Subtle/Mental object: You take the mental image of a candle flame as your object of meditation, visualizing it clearly and focusing on it without distraction.
Advanced – Very subtle/formless object: You take the inner, empty luminescence, or inner light of your mind as your concentration object.

Example 2: The breathing

Beginners – Gross object: You begin by simply taking the gross breathing as your object of concentration, developing the capacity to follow it without getting distracted.
Intermediate – Subtle/Mental object: If you keep focusing on your breathing consistently, you will find that it will naturally transform into what in the Thai Forest Monk tradition is called “the beautiful breath”. The breathing becomes very smooth, natural and comfortable as the energy winds or prajna, or qi in our body becomes very balanced, blissful and harmonious.
Advanced – Very subtle/formless object: If you keep focusing on the beautiful breath, then breathing will then (over a period of time of practice) slow right down .You can then change your focus to the living inner space and silence that you experience in the pauses between your breaths.

Example: The flow of thoughts in our mind

Beginners – Gross object: Initially you just learn to focus on the flow of thoughts and images in the mind as they arise from moment to moment, watching them as an observer.
Intermediate – Subtle/Mental object: Once you are competent at the beginners stage, you can then switch to focusing on the inner space and silence between your thoughts, taking this as your object of concentration.
Advanced – Very subtle/formless object: Once we are comfortable focusing on the inner space between our thoughts, eventually we can switch to focusing on the open expansive emptiness of our inner awareness, and develop deep concentration on this very subtle object of meditation.

So, I hope these three examples give a clear idea of how we can change our object of meditation as our meditation practice evolves, and our ability to focus on progressively more and more subtle objects increases.

Concentration in daily life

Of course concentration should not be confined to formal meditation practice. In these days of furious multi tasking, it can be a nice practice just to select one activity a day where we choose to consciously focus on that task and nothing else, keeping our mind as present to the task as possible. It does not need to be complicated. It can be hanging out the washing, our daily half hour responding to emails, our daily jog, even mindfully watching TV (Caution, potential capacity for self delusion here “Oh, so all I need to do to develop concentration is watch TV intensely!”).

Developing our concentration requires consistency in our practice, but the benefits really are deep and far reaching in terms of our quality of life, I hope this article contributes to your personal inspiration to develop your own concentration!
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Isn’t it About Time You Got Your Inner Self in Shape? (Integral Inner Fitness Training)

Dear Everyone,

Isn’t it about time you got your inner self in shape? Its time to stop procrastinating and get your mind looking looking sleek, svelte and sexy!

Yes, the Integral Meditation Asia meditation term starts this Sunday with the three hour Mind of Ease workshop (full details below), and then continues with the Mind of Ease Five Week Course beginning on Wednesday 5th September. Seriously, if you have been wanting to get your mind in shape for a while, and are looking for the opportunity, these courses are a great opportunity to get yourself up and running.

This weeks article looks at the interface between inner fitness and outer fitness, and the different ways in which meditation promotes your own integral inner fitness.

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia

Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

Date: Sunday 2nd September
Time: 9.30am-12.30pm
Location: SCWO Training Room 4, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore. For map click HERE

This three hour workshop offers a practical introduction to meditation that aims to integrate the fundamentals of traditional meditation practice with contemporary insights from psychology and neuropsychology.

What you will learn
Simple meditation 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
  • Develop your concentration skills (the ability to focus one-pointedly upon a single object/task)
  • The ability to find 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.

Again, all of these skills can be consolidated into a daily meditation practice that can be done in ten minutes!

The Structure of the Workshop:

1st Hour – An explanation of what meditation is, followed by an introduction to and practice of  the basic seven stage meditation on how to develop a mind of ease, relaxed concentration and positive intention.
2nd Hour – Questions and answers, followed by meditation on awareness of our stream of consciousness, and learning to orient our mind around thoughts and perspectives that give rise to happiness, wellbeing and appreciation.
3rd Hour – Talk on how to develop inner focus and concentration, and how to relax into the natural inner space and silence of the mind. Practice of meditation for developing concentration and awareness of the inner space and silence of the mind.

You will also receive:

  • Extensive workshop notes giving a detailed of the meditation practices that are taught.
  • Three ten minute MP3 meditation recordings that you can take away and listen to as a support for your personal practice

Cost of Workshop: Sing $85 per person

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE MIND OF EASE  WORKSHOP BY CREDIT CARD

TO PURCHASE BOTH  THE THREE HOUR MIND OF EASE WORKSHOP AND THE THE FIVE WEEK MIND OF EASE COURSE AT A SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATE OF SING $145 (SAVE $30!) CLICK HERE!

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Isn’t it About Time You Got Your Inner Self in Shape? (Integral Inner Fitness Training)

As someone trying to live and integral life, I try and practice (in however rudimentary a way) an integral form of physical fitness. I have six basic categories with I try to arrange my physical fitness activities. The idea is that each of these activities keeps a different aspect of my physical body and brain ability used and in good shape. Here they are:

  • Strength training – The development of muscle strength through weights etc…
  • Stamina or cardiovascular training – Eg: Jogging·
  • Flexibility – Stretching, Yoga, Qi gong and so on…
  • Hand-eye co-ordination – Through Racquet sports, or other ball sports for example
  • Spatio-temporal awareness – The ability to think and visualize in three dimensions, for example in order to apply         strategy in ball games
  • Diet and Rest

Each of these activities has its own important and crucial role to play in the overall development of integral physical body fitness.
I have to say that integral physical fitness training is a great way to get your mind in shape as well, but what I want to do now it to talk about how meditation is a type of integral inner fitness training.
What I have done below is to take each of the categories of outer fitness above and show how practicing meditation has a corresponding inner fitness benefit!

The six ways in which you get your inner self in shape through meditation:

  1. Strength Training – Meditation helps us to develop a strong mind by developing our ability to focus our mind on a single object for an extended period of time, thus increasing our mental strength. Done correctlyconcentration training in meditation helps us to find more inner and outer energy.
  2. Stamina training – Meditation increases our awareness, appreciation and gratitude for the good, the beautiful and the true in our life, giving us access to deeper levels of happiness and wellbeing. Thus in turn makes us more resilient to temporary setbacks and able to “keep on keeping on” with the goals that are important to us where other people would give up
  3. Flexibility – Integral meditation makes our mind soft and pliable, able to adopt the optimally “positive” perspective on any given situation, rather than getting stuck in viewpoints that are negative or toxic and that are not serving our happiness in any meaningful way.
  4. Mental hand-eye co-ordination – Meditation gives us greater awareness of the way in which our mind, feelings and bodily energies are co-ordinating themselves together. This awareness alerts us when our thoughts and feelings are out of alignment, and encourages us to get them back on the same page
  5. Spatio-Temporal Awareness – Meditation makes us deeply appreciative of and able to rest in the inner space and silence of our mind enabling us to retain clarity of mind even it is busy or when we are under a degree of stress. Meditation also gradually increases our ability to see and visualize objects in our minds eye clearly and vividly and to use this skill consciously to our advantage.
  6. Diet and Rest – One of the central practices that I teach in my meditation coaching is how we can create a safe space, enabling us to rest and regenerate our energies, and also to improve the quality of our sleep. As mentioned in the “strength and stamina” categories above, meditation encourages us to feed ourself a steady diet of positive and energy enhancing thoughts and feelings, rather than negative and toxic emotions and thought patterns.

Finally, for those who may be interested, there are three interesting books by integral practitioners that look at the relationship between physical fitness training and inner meditation training, all very interesting reads in their own way:

 

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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