When You Are Less Distracted, Your Mind Goes Deeper Into Things

We have just cut off our cable TV contract, and so we have no telly at home right now. I have to say I am really enjoying it. It is not that I am vehemently against TV, but the relative silence and absence of easy distraction in the evening has really contributed positively to the quality of my mind.

For example, I have just finished eating my dinner and doing the washing up. Everyone else has gone to bed. I pick up a pink quartz crystal that has been sitting on our coffee table, the evening is so still and my mind is so clear that I feel as if I can feel everything about the crystal; the energy inside it, the texture of its surface on the pads of my fingers. Holding the crystal is a deeply simple, pleasurable and rewarding experience.

In addition to finding time for meditation, it is also worth regularly cutting down on your distractions. Doing so enables you to experience and look into the simple things in your life with depth, clarity and genuine pleasure.

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The Importance of Your Memory as an Object of Meditation

Hi Everyone,

We all know the old saying “You can’t change what has happened in the past”. On an obvious level this carries definite truth, but if we look a little deeper we find that in reality we change the past every time we think about it. To see how this is the case, let us consider a simple example:

Let’s say at work yesterday I made a simple mistake. Today I happen to be feeling generally happy and confident, and so when I remember the mistake I made at work yesterday I find it east to laugh off. When others make fun of me for it, I laugh with them. Life is good, and so my memory of a past mistake and its significance is generally benign and has no power to cause me upset.

Fast forward to tomorrow, I wake up feeling generally out of balance; I sense old fears and agitations in my mind as I go to work. Mid- way through the morning someone mentions the past mistake I made two days ago. Because the general climate of my mind is negative and turbulent, as soon as I remember my mistake mentally I start attacking myself for being so stupid, I feel embarrassed by the mistake. The gravity of my error seems significant enough to knock me further off balance.

In this example we have two different days, two different REMEMBRANCES of the SAME event. Each time we experience the past event in a new way according to our present state of mind. From this we can see that we do indeed have very real power to change the past each time we remember it.

To take our memory as our object of meditation means to be mindful of the power that our mind has to re-invent the past, and to ensure that we are mentally framing past events in a way that is constructive and serving us, rather than a way that is causing us to be trapped in a cycle of misery, pain, discontent and so forth.

Your life is your meditation, and meditating on positive use of memory is an important meditation practice to develop!

Thanks for reading,

Yours in the spirit of the journey, 

Toby

PS: All are invited to the new two part meditation class, Tuesday evenings February 22nd and March 1st: Landscapes Of The Mind: Finding Inner Power and Balance In Your Life Through Meditation on Wild Nature And Landscape” .

If you are not in Singapore, the classes will be available for purchase as recordings.

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Meditations for Spring Time and the Beginning of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit

Hi Everyone,

I’m off to Thailand for a week, so this will be my last post for ten days or so. Whilst in Thailand I intend amongst other things, to spend a healthy amount of time simply sitting and attuning to the energies of nature, of the landscape and of the sea.

The turn to February sees the energy of spring starting to manifest in the northern hemisphere. Here are two simple meditations with images that you can work with at this time in the year to attune to the energies of spring and of new beginnings.

The first draws upon traditional Chinese associations of the wood element. The second draws upon traditional images of the Goddess/divine feminine and the child self.

 1. Working with the wood element to heal and energize of physical and energy body, mind and emotions:

In Taoist and Qi gong philosophy the season of spring corresponds to the wood element. Spring sees a re-awakening of the green world and an exponential expansion in the growth of trees and plants. Here are some of the qualities and correspondences of the wood element energy:

Wood element healing colour: Green

Direction: Energy rising upward from the Earth

Direction: East

Actions: Countenance or good posture

Bodily organ: Yin organ – Liver, Yang organ – Gall bladder

Emotions: Positive – Kindness, negative – anger/resentment

Mental Quality: Sensitivity (Integrate vision of Child and goddess into this section)

Senses: Vision/sight

Brief meditation on the wood element:

  • Sit facing east, imagine a fresh spring breeze blowing from the east, refreshing your mind and body.
  • Feel down into the earth beneath you. Sense a vast reservoir of light and energy in the centre of the earth. Sense the colour of this light as gold, white and green. Now see it rising up and filling your body through your feet. Sense this green and gold energy surrounding and infusing your liver and gall bladder. Feel any trapped anger and resentment being stored in these organs being released. Feel the organs being cleansed by the light, and being filled with the energy of kindness and sensitivity.
  • Now feel the energy of kindness and sensitivity spreading out into your whole body. In particular feel it going into your eyes and eye sockets, refreshing the power of your inner and outer vision
  • Feel the green and gold earth energy in your whole body, breathe it in and out of your physical cells for a few breaths, and then just relax in stillness for a while.

 2. Two further images of spring: The Virgin Goddess and the child

The Goddess or divine feminine in her youthful or virgin aspect is a traditional image symbolizing new birth and spring.

The child, or new human life is another image strongly associated with spring, as childhood is when we are in the “spring” of our life.

 Meditation images for the Virgin Goddess and the child within

  • See yourself in your inner vision sitting in spring landscape (or sit in one physically if you can!). Quietly and intuitively feel yourself attuning to the energy of the season
  • A beautiful young maiden approaches you, she is the virgin goddess, the goddess of spring. As she stands before you, three rays of light radiate from her
  • Light radiates from her brow to filling your mind, brain and head with the energy and light of clarity
  • Light radiates from hear throat to your throat, filling your speech with kindness
  • Light radiates from her heart to your heart, filling it with the light of positive empathy, gladness and joy
  • You notice that the Goddess is holding a newborn baby in her arms. She offers you the baby. Take it your arms, as you hold it, meditate on the seeds of new life, ideas and projects that you can feel beginning to germinate and grow within your being.
  • A young child comes to join you and the Goddess. It is your own inner child. See how s/he appears to you. How easily are you able to relate to her? Try and feel the natural joy and playfulness of your child self as you connect to the child appearing to your imagination.

 3. Meditating on the rabbit as a power animal

Because it is the lunar new year of the rabbit, February/March 2011 is also a good time to meditate with the Rabbit as a power animal. Here is a simple way to integrate it into the second Goddess and child meditation above:

  • Within your spring landscape see the rabbit (could be one or many) appearing. For a while s/he sits and hops gently around the feet of the Goddess, examining you curiously. After a while (in its time not yours) the rabbit approaches you, allowing you to stroke it, perhaps hold it. Feel your mind and energy connecting to the rabbit and commune for a while in silence. What happens or what you see and experience at this time arises from your communion with the spirit of the rabbit.

Thanks for reading!

 Yours in the spirit of Spring,

 Toby

PS: On February 22nd and March first I will be leading two classes entitled Landscapes Of The Mind: Finding Inner Power and Balance In Your Life Through Meditation on Wild Nature And Landscape” all are welcome, if you are not in Singapore the classes are available for purchase as recordings.

 Article © Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use it, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The Difficult Decisions That That You Have Made in Your Life as Objects of Meditation, And How I Avoided Feelings of Bitterness and Envy Toward my Friends and Peer Group When I Left my Life as a Monk.

Hi Everyone,

Last week I looked at how it can be very useful and fulfilling to identify some of the Compelling Moments in Your Life and use them as objects of contemplation and meditation. This week I want to focus on the difficult or challenging decisions that we have made in our life and why it is important to integrate these into our meditation and awareness training.

When we make a difficult or challenging decision, generally we do so with an awareness that there will be consequences that we will have to deal with. However, having made the decision it is easy to then forget that we made the decision and start blaming other people or circumstances for our problems. Here are a couple of examples:

  • If we make a decision to be a care provider for a family member who has a long-term illness, initially we may do so willingly as we are clear about why we chose to care for them (out of love). However, as the months and years go by, and we have to make one sacrifice after another for this person, it can be easy to forget that it was our choice to care for the person and instead we start blaming the person for the troubles and sacrifices that we are making in our life.
  • You decide not to go for a job that pays substantially more than your present one, but you choose not to because you have ethical concerns about what it may ask of you. A friend or colleague of yours applies for a similar job, and soon you see him/her driving around in a nicer car than you, taking their family on exotic holidays and so on. Seeing this it is easy to forget the reasons you did not go for the job, and simply feel regretful or jealous of your peers newfound resources.

In both of the above cases the person has made a GOOD decision for the RIGHT reason. However, s/he will have to remain mindful of the choice s/he has made and renew it EVERY DAY in order to avoid feelings of bitterness, resentment, envy and so on.

Difficult choices are difficult because they have very real consequences that may not be easy to accept. Difficult choices are often made with higher or deeper motivations in mind, and so in order to avoid suffering as a result of making these choices, we need to REMEMBER WHY WE MADE THEM!

How I avoided feelings of envy and bitterness toward my friends and peers upon leaving my life as a Buddhist Monk

Somewhere in the middle of my University Fine-Art Degree in the early 90’s I made a definite choice to dedicate ten or so years of my life to the serious investigation of meditation and spirituality. After leaving University this choice took me deep into meditation practice and ended up with five years as a Buddhist monk, making absolutely no money, but acquiring a lot of spiritual knowledge and experience.

Ten years down the line in the Christmas of 2002 I found myself in Singapore having left my life as monk with about fifty bucks in my pocket, and cheap hotel accommodation for a week. As I moved back into secular life, I started to reconnect to my friends and peers. All of them had more money than me, many had a home and family, some had exiting and fulfilling careers. Outwardly it looked like I was WAY behind all these guys and I could feel feelings of bitterness at my situation, envy, thoughts of being a “worthless nobody” all coming up in my mind.

One of the found to be most helpful at that time is just to think back and realize that where I was now was 100% a result of my choices ten years before. I had made a choice at University to follow the “spiritual rabbit hole” as far as it would take me, and that I did. So, there was a price that I paid for this, which was the development of my secular life, monetary wealth, security and status (and let’s not talk about the amount of potential good sex that I gave up please!). I had chosen to give that up, there was no one else to blame. Was it worth it? When I thought about why I had made the choice, and the inner wealth that I had acquired as a consequence it was a no brainer OF COURSE IT WAS WORTH IT!

By remembering my difficult choice I was able to overcome my insecurity, bitterness, envy and all of the other unpleasant emotions that I was having, and this is why remembering your difficult, existential choices is important!

So, what are the difficult choices that you have had to make in your life, and that you now need to remember in order to avoid suffering and pain now?

If after reading this article you can note down two or three of your own difficult choices, and make the effort to remember why they were worth making, then this article will have served its purpose!

Thanks for reading,

Toby

 

Article © Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Your Life’s Compelling Moments as Meditation: The Moment When I Realized That I was no Longer Going to be a Buddhist Monk

There are certain moments in each person’s life that have a compelling meaning, moments of personal significance where something happens that causes a paradigm shift in our minds, and our life is somehow never the same again. Sometimes these moments can be experiences of bliss and radiance, but equally (and perhaps more often) they can be moments where we are challenged, and experience difficulty or stress. Whether pleasant or unpleasant for us, our life’s compelling moments are moments of power for us, moments that when we recall or remember them we immediately connect to a powerful guiding force or emotion within us.

To give an example of this, I can remember one of the moments when I understood very clearly that my life as a Buddhist Monk was going to change, that I would be moving back to lay life before too long.

The event happened in a coffee bar in Los Angeles. I was sitting with a long time teacher and mentor of mine. I had been a monk for about five years, but in the six months or so prior to that meeting I had been struggling with certain aspects of being an ordained monk, and with the direction that it was taking my life. Essentially I felt I had reached a learning threshold and did not know how to make progress to the next level, or at least the level beyond the challenges that I was facing.

So, I decided to try and talk to my mentor about these issues, which made me feel quite venerable, but nevertheless I persisted. During the course of my attempts to explain how I was feeling, I mentioned to my mentor that I had been talking to a life coach and getting some feedback from him on what I was experiencing. As soon as I mentioned this her (my mentor’s) manner immediately seemed to change. She asked me if this life coach had any connection to the Buddhist tradition that we belonged to. I replied that no, he did not, and that I had wanted to talk to someone outside of the tradition to get some objective feedback. My mentor responded that she did not think that it was good idea for me to have talked to anyone outside of our tradition, as the feedback would not be appropriate.

At this point in the conversation something ‘clicked’ in my mind. At that moment I realized that there was no way that my mentor or anyone else within the mainstream of my present spiritual group was ever going to recommend anything for my challenges other than do more of the same spiritual practices that I had already been doing for many years. I knew at that moment that my path had moved outside, or beyond what was going to be acceptable from their spiritually conservative point of view. I knew that this meant that I was going to have to leave my life as a monk, and as a teacher within that tradition. Within the space of a short conversation, and a short exchange within that conversation, the path of my life had changed irreversibly and I knew it. With this knowing came conflicting feelings, a sense of fear of the unknown, a sense of resentment toward my mentor and the narrow mindset she represented, a sense of being mis-understood. But within all the conflict and uncertainty I could also feel a shift in my sense of inner power. I knew that I was going to have to be more self reliant from now on than I had dared to be in the past. I knew that I could not look to my past teachers to show me the way forward in my life anymore. There was a new and deeply felt sense of personal empowerment.

It is this sense of personal empowerment that, when I remember that conversation in the Los Angeles coffee bar I immediately feel re-connected to. It was a compelling moment in my life that changed me forever, and has been fuelling my path of personal growth since.

What are your life’s compelling moments? The moments and events that, when you recall them cause you to reconnect to your deepest sense of inner empowerment, spiritual connection and transformation? They are worth remembering and re-connecting to on a regular basis!

Thanks for reading,

Yours in the spirit of a compelling life,

Toby

PS: Here are the meditation class details for February:

Tuesday February 8th: Charity Meditation: Welcoming in the Spring and Lunar New Year of the Rabbit at Sanctuary on the Hill

Tuesdays February 22nd and March 8th –  Landscapes Of the Mind: Finding Inner Power and Balance In Your Life Through Meditation on Wild Nature And Landscape

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s pemission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Meditating on the Five Chinese Elements as a Method Achieving Harmony and Balance Through Dependent Relationship

Hi Everyone!

In general meditations on dependent-relationship are very good for developing insight into the way that everything in our life is inter-related. It shows you that if one area of your life is out of balance, then that will affect other parts of your life detrimentally. Similarly, if you focus on getting one imbalanced area of your life back into balance and harmony, then that will affect pretty much all other areas of your life in a positive way too.

One cycle of dependent relationship that I have been enjoying working with recently, both by myself and with students is the Chinese five element cycle, specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional qualities. Here is a brief summary of the five elements, together with their mental and emotional characteristics (emotional section includes emotion when balanced, and the emotions when imbalanced:

EARTH ELEMENT/SEASONS: Balanced mental quality: Clarity, Emotions:  Empathy/Anxiety

WOOD ELEMENT /SPRING: Balanced mental quality: Sensitivity, Emotions: Kindness/Anger

FIRE ELEMENT /SUMMER: Balanced mental quality: Willpower/Creativity, Emotions: Hate/Joy

METAL ELEMENT/AULTUMN: Balanced mental quality: Intuition, Emotions: Courage/Grief

WATER ELEMENT/WINTER: Balanced mental quality: Spontaneity, Emotions: Calmness/Fear

So, the point about these five sets of elements and their qualities is that they are all in relationship. For example if you are able to generate mental clarity and appropriate empathy (earth element), then you with then be able to generate appropriate and balanced kindness to yourself and others (wood element emotion), which in turn leads to the experience of joy (fire element emotion). If you read through the list in a contemplative state of mind you will start to develop your own insights into how you can make emotional and mental adjustments in your own life to bring your own “elemental cycle” of emotional and mental dependent relationship into greater harmony and balance.

An example of a five element meditation on dependent-relationship:

Here is an example of one meditation on dependent relationship that I led in class last week

Stage 1: Sitting comfortably, generate an appropriate feeling of empathy (wood element emotion) toward your body and mind. Appropriate empathy means being in touch with the authentic feelings and emotions of your body-mind, without allowing your self-sense to get overwhelmed by them.

If you generate authentic empathy, this will give you a mental sense of clarity (earth element mind) regarding how your body-mind really feels.

Stage 2: If you have mental clarity, you will then be able to extend appropriate and balanced kindness (wood element emotion) toward your body-mind, which in turn will enable them (your body-mind) and you to feel joy (fire element emotion).

Stage 3: With the feeling of joy in your body-mind, and a sense of them both co-operating with you, rather than working against you, it will be quite easy to develop balanced willpower and creativity (fire element mind).

Stage 4: With your willpower working well and in an harmonious way, courage (metal element emotion) will be relatively easy to find within yourself. You will feel in control of your body-mind, and so it will be relatively easy to find that still centre within you where your intuition (metal element mind) resides.

Stage 5: With your intuition and courage working well it will be easy to find a sense of calm within (water element emotion), as well as to be natural and spontaneous (water mind).

Stage 6: Being calm and spontaneous further enhances our earth element qualities of appropriate empathy and clarity, and we find ourself back to the beginning the cycle once more! 

So, this is one example of meditating with the mental and emotional qualities of the five elements, as I said above, if you read thought the list of elemental qualities in a contemplative way, personal insights into how these emotional and mental qualities are playing out on your own life will start to flow… 

Thanks for reading!

Yours in the spirit of the harmonious five elements, 

Toby 

PS: New meditation classes for February:

February 8: Charity Meditation: Welcoming in the Spring and Lunar New Year of the Rabbit at Sanctuary on the Hill

February 22nd, March 1st: Landscapes Of The Mind: Finding Inner Power and Balance In Your Life Through Meditation on Wild Nature And Landscape

© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 2 – Looking at How You Can Meet Your Higher Needs Through Meditation

Hi Everyone! 

A couple of week ago I took a look at how it is that meditation can help us to meet some of our basic needs, or needs 1-3 in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I this article I want to look at how meditation helps us to start to satisfy our “higher” needs; specifically needs 4-6 of Maslow’s hierarchy:

4.  Esteem needs – Competence, approval, recognition

5. Aesthetic and cognitive needs – Knowledge, understanding, goodness, justice, beauty, order, symmetry

6. Self Actualization 

4. Esteem Needs – Competence, approval, recognition.

One of the basic things that any form of authentic meditation technique will improve is your concentration. With better concentration your ability to be competent in any given area of expertise that you set yourself is going to improve. So, meditation helps your esteem needs in this regard by helping you increase your mind power and therefore become competent faster. This in turn will likely lead to approval and recognition from your teachers, peers and society.

With regard to the need for approval and recognition, I would say that consistent meditation will help you to make approval and recognition into a preference rather than an all consuming need. This is because meditation takes us gradually away from “doingness needs” and toward “beingness needs”

  • “Doingness needs” are the needs that we have to prove our worth by deeds, job titles and all the other bench marks that conventional society lays down as meaning “successful”.
  • “Beingness needs” are the needs that arise from already seeing, feeling and experiencing ourself as whole, complete and worthy as we are. Meditation encourages a daily connection to our own state of beingness, that is to say as whole, complete and worthy as we are right now. In a state of beingness, our own needs are perceived as being already met, and so our “needs” actually start to focus more and more on the needs of others around us. We are happy as we are, so we have more energy to focus on the wellbeing of others.

In conclusion, when our beingness needs are met (which they will be increasingly through balanced meditation), of course we can be happy when we are measured as “successful” by the conventional benchmarks of society, but if not it is no big disaster, as our sense of beingness ensures that we feel happy and complete as we are. 

5. Aesthetic and cognitive needs – Knowledge, understanding, goodness, justice, beauty, order, symmetry

With our beingness needs increasingly being met by meditation (as outlined in section 4 immediately above), an increasing amount of energy is opened up within us to look into “bigger questions”:

What is the meaning of life?

Why am I here?

What is fairness?

What is justice?

What is beauty?

This is level 5 of Maslow’s Hierarchy, our aesthetic and cognitive needs. A regular meditation practice will not answer these questions per-se, as a lot of meditation practice is about reducing the content of the mind, not filling it! However, what meditation will do systematically over time is to open us up to a full functioning awareness of our intuitive, archetypal and spiritual minds. This naturally helps us to articulate a considered response to the big questions that are posed by our aesthetic and cognitive needs.

A final point; meditation prevents us from getting “stuck” on the existential questions that are posed by this level. “What is the meaning of life?” is a question that may never be fully answered, and this is right and good. Meditation enables us to recognize the point where question asking and philosophizing ceases to be useful and relevant, and to move into states of silence and pure awareness. 

6. Self Actualization:

Actually, up to the last century or so, the main focus of meditation has traditionally been enlightenment, or needs associated with levels 5 and 6. It is only in more recent times that meditation has been advocated as a potential solution to the stress, mental busyness and anxiety of modern life, which has made it useful and relevant on the level of our survival needs  (levels 1&2 of Maslow’s hierarchy) and level 3, emotional wellbeing. Through history the predominant reason that people have meditated is to commune, merge and create a state of union with their spiritual being, which in turn exists in a state of one-ness or unity with the Universe. So, in terms of the sixth and highest level of our needs; Self Actualization, or enlightenment, meditation is actually the most effective, tried and tested method for accomplishing this need.

Thanks for reading,

Yours in the spirit of Self Actualization,

Toby

 PS: Info on this Wednesdays Qi gong class HERE

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Different Levels Of The Mind; Comparing The Problem Solving Capabilities Of Meditation And Conventional Psychology, And Understanding Why It Is Important Not To Mistake the Two!

Hi Everyone,

Before I begin an quick reminder for those in Singapore: This Sunday 16th January, 9.30-11.30am sees the first of 2011’s Meditation Intensives. In this intensive we will be doing simple meditations based around the principles outlined in my article on “Meditating with the Tao” …If you can make it I hope to see you there!

I was recently sent an article by a friend written in the Guardian newspaper on how mindfulness meditation is proving to be useful for developing overall mental wellbeing, and proving to be effective in helping prevent relapses in psychological disorders such as depression. Anyone who has tried meditation will know how effective it can be for calming the mind, reducing stress and making life altogether more manageable and enjoyable. However, it needs to be clearly understood I think that meditation in and of itself will never be able to replace the ability of good conventional psychology and psychoanalysis to solve many mental and emotional problems. One fundamental reason for this is that the traditional purpose of meditation, and therefore its fundamental technique and outlook, are fundamentally different from that of conventional psychology and psycho analysis.

  • The main purpose and function of meditation is mainly to magnetize our consciousness toward its next higher, or deeper level of development. In this sense it is fundamentally evolutionary and developmental in nature. It definitely has therapeutic side effects, but really it is a science and an art form (see my previous article on “Is Your Meditation Therapy, Artform or Spiritual Practice?” ). Anyone who has interfaced with any spiritual community where meditation is practiced will know first had that it is perfectly possible for a person to be quite a highly realized meditator and fundamentally psychologically dysfunctional!
  • The main purpose of good conventional psychology and psychoanalysis is to fix the parts of our consciousness and mind that have already developed, but have become dysfunctional. The fundamental job of psychology (psyche meaning “soul”) is to fix the ailments of the soul. This means to fix the dysfunctions that we experience in our sensori-motor and emotional beings (psychoses), as well as the dysfunctions and repressions of our cognitive or thinking nature (neuroses). From this definition we can see that the fundamental job of psychoanalysis is therapeutic.

As I mentioned above, meditation does have many therapeutic qualities, but fundamentally its impulse is to magnetize our consciousness to its next level of depth and capacity. It is NOT designed to fix that which is already in the mind but broken. This is the job of psychology. One particular area where meditation will not help, and may make the issue worse, is repression. Meditation may help you live with repression, but it won’t help you see it, dig it out of your consciousness and fix it! This is why people who have been meditating for twenty years often come to the painful realization that they still suffer from anxiety, depression and other issues, and simply doing more meditation is not the solution…

I am aware that there is some cross over between meditation and psychology, for example:

  • Cognitive psychology and positive psychology can stimulate a person’s mind toward the next level of inner growth
  • The great world spiritualities are often accompanied by a quite complex psychological outlook. For example in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition that I received my meditative education in there was a lot of studying the inner dynamics of the mind, and our psychological self. However, this is not the same as conventional therapeutic psychology, and does not contain techniques or insights for a lot of fundamental psychological malaise, the most obvious example being repression.

So the basic message of the above is that meditation and good modern psychology need to go together to createbalanced, integrated personal growth (which is one reason why I offer two types of coaching; meditation coaching and transpersonal (as in transpersonal psychology) coaching).

A final point I want to end with is that, although meditation does not solve all our mental problems per se, one thing that is does do is activate our minds natural capacity for self-healing, and in and of itself this IS powerful medicine.

Thanks for reading,

Yours in the spirit of integration,

Toby 

PS: I’ll finish off the second part of the “Meeting your needs through meditation” next week.

PPS: If you are not aware already, I have a Mental Fitness blog where I tend to write most of my psychologically based and positive thinking articles. Feel free to check it out!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Motivating Yourself to Meditate Part 1 – Looking at How You Can Meet Your Needs Through Meditation

Hi Everyone,

One reason why people find it difficult to hold down a regular meditation practice is that it is very easy for meditation to get knocked down our priorities list. It seems like there are so many things that need our attention. It is easy to think that we have so many “important” priorities that we can put off meditating until tomorrow, and so it goes on. We never really get serious or consistent about our meditation practice because it is not enough of a priority.

So, what I am going to do in this and next week’s article is have a look at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and see how meditation can help with these basic needs.  If we have a clear idea about how meditation helps us with our human needs, then we will keep it high on our priority list and make sure that we do it! 

A quick outline of Abraham Maslows hierarchy of human needs, he starts with the most basic first, and then ascends in terms of depth and complexity:

  1. Physiological needs – Food and drink
  2. Security needs – Shelter, physiological safety
  3. Belongingness and love needs – Affiliation, acceptance, affection
  4. Esteem needs – Competence, approval, recognition
  5. Aesthetic and cognitive needs – Knowledge, understanding, goodness, justice, beauty, order, symmetry
  6. Self Actualization

How meditation helps us with these basic needs:

Needs 1&2: Physiological and security needs

I am guessing that if you are reading this article, you will have your basic food, drink and shelter needs being met. You may not be in Buckingham Palace, but you aren’t homeless either right? Although many of us have our basic needs met, many of us remain stuck psychologically in “survival” mode, fighting our way through a hostile universe oblivious of the good fortune of having our basic needs met.

Meditation helps us with this by helping our mind to be calm enough to appreciate and enjoy the fact that our survival needs have been met. Meditation gives us the presence of mind to enjoy life’s simple pleasures; Food, drink, shelter and a basic quality of life. Without peace of mind studies show that those in first world countries are no happier than those in 3rd world countries. Meditation makes sure this does not happen to you! 

Need 3: Belongingness and love needs

A daily meditation practice is a statement to yourself that you are important and lovable enough to deserve happiness and peace of mind. Belongingness and love needs are often projected outward onto other people, but in reality our primary love relationship is with ourself. If we get this right it will help our love relationships to others.

Meditation also puts you in touch with a source of love inside you that might be termed as “Universal” or unconditional. This love starts to rise up in our mind whenever we truly touch mental peace and calm (see last weeks article on the “Two Main Lessons of Love”). You deserve to receive love every day right? So give yourself that pleasure by sitting down and doing a bit of meditation every day! One final point here, meditation by its nature makes us more mindful, relaxed and aware. This quality of mind helps us to see that there is love being directed toward us all the time by our friends, family and colleagues. A relaxed, meditative mind can open to this love and receive it deeply into our being, instead of shutting it out.

So, next week I’ll write a few thoughts on needs four, five and six, but I think if you contemplate the above three, there is plenty of reason to renew your determination to find time and space for at least a little meditation each day! 

Thanks for reading,

Yours in the spirit of the harmonious meeting of our higher and lower needs!

Toby 

PS: Two opportunities for meditative activities over the next week:

  1. I will be facilitating a Qi Gong workshop for beginners this Sunday, 9th January. Qi gong is a whole world of meditative movement exercises for health and wellbeing, if you have been interested in learning how to start a practice, this is an ideal opportunity!
  2. Next Tuesday sees the start of a new series of Tuesday classes entitled  “Finding Your Outer Balance, Inner Harmony and Spiritual Centre Through Meditation on the Tao, Yin Yang and the Five Elements”. Recordings will be available if you are interested but not living in Singapore!

 PPS: Relating to point 2 above, I have started a new series of articles on meditating with the Tao and Yin Yang on my Qi gong blog. You can find the first article HERE.

Like this blog, if you wish to receive automatic updates of these free articles from my Qi gong site, then you can simply sign up on the top right hand side of the page after you read the article on the Tao and yin/yang.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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The Two Principle Lessons of Love

Golden TreeI was thinking the other day that there are two main lessons that we need to learn about love. I think if we get these right, then other aspects of our relationship to love and loving will tend to be good.

  • The first is that we are loved
  • The second is that we are love

We Are Loved

Knowing that we are loved comes from two levels.

  • On a conventional, everyday level remembering that we have friends, family, pets, colleagues and so on who love us, and allowing ourselves to open to and receive that love, rather than unconsciously blocking it out or forgetting about it.
  • On a more spiritual level it means remembering (and trying to experience in meditation everyday) that as a child of the Universe, a child of the Planetary Being, a child of God, or whatever way in which you conceive the forces of the Cosmos, we are loved. If you sit still in meditation and allow your mind to open to it, you will feel the conscious spiritual love of the Universe flowing into you. Its free, and its unlimited, unlike oil and other material commodities!
  • So, on a conventional and spiritual level we are loved

We Are Love

This second understanding takes it a step further to the realization that our very nature is love and to love. Again you can look at this on two levels.

  • On a conventional level the impulse to create, to form relationships, to nurture, to bond are a part of everyone. These are all characteristics of love, and we all have them. Therefore we are all love. Sometimes these impulses get misguided or expressed in inappropriate ways, but fundamentally love is at their core.
  • On a deeper level, if you sit in meditation each day and practice receiving the love of the Universe, there will come a time when the distinction of you as the receiver of love and the Universe as giver starts to drop away. The subject object duality will gradually dissolve and you will simple become the love of the Universe, full stop. At this point you become a gateway through which the creative and loving power of the Universe can flow forth into creation, you have become love.

Simple Breathing Meditation on receiving and being love.

  1. Sitting quietly in meditation, as you breathe in know that you are loved and breathe in that love, RECIEVING it deeply into your being. Follow this pattern for a few breaths.
  2. Then as you breathe out, practice BEING love. As you breathe out feel love and joy radiating out from your heart and touching others. If you like you can visualize particular people or beings such as your friends, family or pets. Alternatively you can simply practice being and giving love to all beings, with no one specific in mind.
  3. Once you are used to both forms of breathing described in sections 1&2, you can practice combining them together. As you breathe in feel yourself receiving love. As you breathe our practice being love, and giving it to all beings.
  4. End with a short period of just simply sitting in silence and being love.

Thanks for reading and all the very best for your inner growth 2011!

Toby

 

© Toby Ouvry 2010. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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