Becoming mindfully unfocused

Dear Integral Meditators,

It’s tough to keep focused these days, when there are seemingly so many things demanding our attention. In the article below I explain a method that I use for regenerating my mental energy and willpower when they are feeling a little run-down…

In the spirit of soft focus,

Toby


Becoming mindfully unfocused

Becoming mindfully unfocused is a technique I use specifically to relax and regenerate the energy of my mind when it has been working hard and needs a break, or when I feel my willpower is low and needs to gather its strength. The short-term effect is the experience of feeling mentally and physically refreshed, but I also feel that in the long-game of aging over the years this type of method can help prolong the shelf-life and functioning of my mind, brain, willpower and nervous system.
To practice mindful non-focusing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take a few breaths to relax your body-mind and bring it into the present moment.
Then imagine that your brain has a kind of ‘sleep mode button’, that when you switch it, it goes into a kind of semi-sleep, semi-awake mode; you are still awake and aware, but most of the ‘thinking’ function of the brain has been shut down. It’s like you are asleep and awake at the same time. In this ‘sleep mode’ allow your body, mind and heart to relax as deeply as they can. Now allow your mind to become unfocused, in the same way that for example a movie camera dilates to a ‘soft focus’ where everything is slightly blurred, soft and indistinct.
At this point with your thinking brain in ‘sleep mode’ and your mind in ‘soft-focus mode’, simply work on relaxing into and sustaining that state of mindful non-focus. Allow it to help you rest your mind and regenerate your energy. The key is to apply just enough ‘effort ‘ to sustain this state of being mindfully unfocused. It is a little bit like having a nap, whilst at the same time increasing the capacity of your conscious mind to remain awake and attentive in a state of deep relaxation and ease.
A final point here is that this state of restful unfocused-ness is one that we are dipping in and out of unconsciously at various times during the day, so this technique like many other mindful methods is a way of connecting to an already existing state of mind, using mindfulness to put it to positive use to our own ends.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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Being the center of your universe (not the universe!)

Dear Integral Meditators,

There’s a big difference between being the center of the universe and the center of your universe. The article below explores how to make mindful use of your position in the big scheme of things!

Final reminder for those in Singapore of this Saturday’s Tree of Life meditation workshop

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Being the center of your universe

Often, when we say to someone ‘you are not the center of the universe you know!’ we do so in order to indicate that they are being somewhat self-centered, and that their perspective of themselves is over inflated. Actually, mindfully recognizing that you really aren’t the center of the universe, and that in most ways you are really pretty insignificant can be a very useful perspective to leverage upon. By deliberately recognizing your non-central position in the grand universal plan we can cut our problems down to size, overcome the anxiety and stress that comes with being overly self-centered, and create a lot more mental space within which to relax. Insignificance has its uses!

On the other hand, whilst you are not the center of the Universe, you are the center of your universe, that is to say the universe of our own life. In terms of being the center of your own universe and life, what you do, say and think is of crucial importance. You are the owner of your life, and every choice you make affects your experience significantly. Moreover, if you don’t take steps to influence and direct your life in the way you want it to go, who is going to do it for you? We can receive the help and input of others, but fundamentally we are the ones responsible for our own lives. In this sense we are always the most important person in our life.

So there are two positions we are defining and being mindful of:

  • I am not the center of the universe, so I can relax and stop being so neurotic about all my insignificant problems and challenges
  • I am the centre of my universe, so what I chose and do is of vital and central importance to my life. It’s not anyone else’s job to ‘save’ me, I need to be the master of my own ship!

At different times we can adopt one or other of these views according to what is appropriate for our needs and circumstances, and combine them to help us in our daily life. For example if I think about my work for my business today, on one level none of it ‘matters’ in the big scheme of things. I’m not the center of the universe, and if I should ‘fail’, die or simply go bust, then only a very small number of people will be affected or even notice. So I can relax and get comfortable with my own insignificance, nothing is worth getting unnecessarily worked up about! On another level, my business (teaching and promoting mindfulness meditation) depends upon me entirely, if I don’t take responsibility for my projects, no one else will make a living for me, and the people that I can positively impact will not receive that benefit. So what I do really does matter and is of crucial significance! Similarly, my own happiness is directly affected by the amount of care I take of myself, so what I so matters there, as well as in significant relationships such as the one I have with my daughter.

None of it matters, and all of it matters a lot.

You are not the center of the universe, but you are the center of your universe. You might like to play with this as a mindfulness practice over the next few days, using both perspectives in tandem to help you relax and keep you motivated!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

3rd December, 2-5pm – Mindful Resilience three hour workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

 

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The Yin & Yang of mindful thinking

Dear Integral Meditators,

Managing your basic thinking processes is one of the most important life-skills that you can develop. The article below explores one simple mindfulness method that can really help!

For those in Singapore, quick reminder of the Tuesday evening class starting on the 8th!

In the spirit of the thought filled journey,

Toby


The Yin and Yang of mindful thinking

As I continue to coach people in the art of mindful thinking it continues to strike me how tricky people find basic positive thinking and care of the thinking mind. This short article is an attempt to explain in simple, practical terms how to think in a way that supports our happiness and wellbeing at the same time as taking care of wounded, negative or challenging thoughts that arise.
The basic principle of this practice is this; deliberately think two constructive thoughts, and then acknowledge a more negative or challenging thought. So, if I take myself right now as an example I bring to mind two good things I’ve experienced in the last 24 hours:

  • I enjoyed listening to Ken Wilbur’s Full body mindfulness module on the bus to work this morning
  • I enjoyed my meeting with colleagues yesterday where we discussed our future plans for collaboration

I note and dwell upon these two positive experiences for a moment, letting my appreciation sink in. On the basis of this simple, positive experience, I then seek out a more difficult or challenging thought or perspective that may be bothering me. For example:

  • I feel somewhat run down physically due to my workload right now

I then spend a few moments simply being aware of, acknowledging and taking care of the feelings associated with this challenge, making my peace with it. Then I go back to constructive thinking and seek out two positives:

  • I enjoyed the conversation I had with my daughter last night
  • I feel grateful for the fact that I can help the healing of some niggling sports injuries I have using mindfulness (great skill to have at my disposal)

I dwell upon these thoughts and the feelings associated with them, so that my sense of my world being basically ‘good’ is re-enforced. Then I deliberately seek out a troubled part of my mind to take care of.  Looking at my mind as an example right now:

  • I feel sad that I don’t have more time to devote to environmental concerns, or to spend more time in and with nature

Again, I mindfully acknowledge that thought, consciously taking care of the feelings associated with it, approaching it with compassion.

And so it goes on. Whenever there is a spare moment I come back to this mindfulness of thoughts; deliberately seeking out and enjoying two constructive thoughts before I then look for a challenging thought/perspective to take care of and process consciously. If I do this mindfully through-out the day, then my mind is going to really start to feel strong and resilient, as my reality is increasingly experienced through the perspective of my positive thoughts, and any challenging thoughts and feelings within me are made to feel supported and cared for (as opposed to feared, rejected or indulged in). One thing that I notice about this practice is that it really affects my physical energy quite tangibly, there is no doubt that having a strong mind helps the body to feel strong to a certain extent and degree!
Like my other integral mindfulness practices, this can be done as a sitting down exercise (even a written one using a note pad), or simply something to be mindful of as you are going about your daily activities.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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Body-heart-mind scanning

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is it possible to release physical, emotional and mental stress in a single practice? This weeks article is principally a description of a meditation technique for doing just that, and implicitly building a stronger, more resilient body-mind connection within yourself.

Until the 26th I-awake technologies has a 50% sale on all their meditation technologysound-tracks, You can read my thoughts on the use of this type of technology HERE.

In the spirit of an integrated body,mind and heart,

Toby

 


Body-heart-mind scanning

If you are familiar with mindfulness practice to any degree, then you will probably have heard of body-scanning, the practice of scanning through the different areas of the body looking for tension and consciously releasing it. In the technique below I describe a simple body-scan in conjunction with a ‘mind and emotion scanning process’ that enables us not just to ease physical tension, but also to become aware of and release tension within our mind and ‘thought-body’ as well as our emotions and ‘emotional body’. The aim and effect of this technique is to effect a greater degree of relaxation within ourselves, at the same time as synchronizing/harmonzing our body, heart and mind together.

The practice

Step one – The physical body scan
Sitting or lying comfortably with a relatively straight back, use your awareness to mentally scan progressively through each area of the body, from the crown of the head down through the face, neck, torso, arms, hips legs and feet. If you like as you are checking each part, you can first tense the muscles in that area to feel them fully, then relax them completely. This second ‘tensing and relaxing’ method is an option you can try.

Step two – Connecting to and relaxing the mind, heart and instincts
The mind – Having scanned through the body once, now focus your attention in the brain and forehead area. As you breathe in and out feel the brain becoming more and more relaxed. As it does so, feel yourself letting go of your thoughts and thinking; relax the mind as deeply as you can.
The heart – Now come down to the heart and chest area, as you breathe awareness in and out of your heart area, become aware of any emotions that may be present there. As you exhale, feel your chest and heart relaxing, and your emotions calming and stilling.
The instincts – The third stage in this section involves moving your awareness down into your belly and abdomen. Bring awareness to the rising and falling of the abdomen as you breathe. As you breathe in this way, become aware of the energy of your instincts and biological life force. As you exhale down in the belly, feel yourself calming your instincts and letting go of any primal, fight or flight tension.

Step 3 – Going deeper into mindful flow
In the final stage, pick one area of your body to focus on, the brain area, the heart or the belly. For 3-5 breaths focus upon the sense of ease and relaxation in that part of the body, then spend a few moments holding your attention still in that area. Repeat this pattern of 3-5 breaths followed by a few moments of still-attention for the remainder of the meditation, going deeper into a state of mindful flow.

Practising in daily life
In daily life you can do short periods of body-heart-mind scanning, with almost no extra effort. For example, if you were to do a 1-3-minute practice, once in the morning, afternoon and evening where you briefly scan and relax the body, then spend three breaths each relaxing the brain & thoughts, the heart & emotions, and the abdomen & instincts, this would have a tangible and positive effect on your stress levels and ability to stay centered under pressure.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings from November – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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Two types of choice-less awareness

Dear Integral meditators,

This weeks article focuses on two different ways of being mindful of your choice-making process. As well as the article I have two free videos for you:

Two events this coming Saturday 22nd October if you are in Singapore. Firstly theMeditations for Quietening the Mind workshop from 9.3oam-12.30, and secondly theMindfulness & Movement session I’ll be doing at Lifechiro from 2-5pm with my good friend Dr Jesse Timm.

In the spirit of choice-less awareness,

Toby


Two types of choice-less awareness

What is your current relationship to making choices in your life?

In traditional Buddhist mindfulness practice practicing ‘choice-less awareness’ means to witness whatever comes up in your field of awareness as a detached observer, without commenting, judging or getting involved in what arises. You are aware of what is arising without making any choices or trying to affect it; whatever is there is there; simply watch, observe and relax.
The fundamental benefit of this practice is that it gives you the peace of mind arising from being able to separate your ‘I’ from the contents of your consciousness. You are the owner of your thoughts, feelings and impulses, but you are not the thoughts, feelings and impulses.

Type two: Deliberate non-choosing
A second type of choice-less awareness involves simply deciding to abstain temporarily from making decisions and choices. The goal here is to deliberately set aside time where we make no choice or decision at all, simply resting in the circumstances that we find ourself in, and relaxing*.

The anxiety of being ‘caught between’ choices.
The reason for cultivating this second type of choice-less awareness is that much of our mental anxiety is created around our relationship to the decision-making process:

  • What is the right or best thing to do in this situation?
  • What if I make the wrong decision?
  • I don’t know what to do here
  • What if I am blamed for this?

If we are not careful we can spend a lot of our time in a state of low-grade anxiety, worrying about the dilemmas and choices in our life. For many of us this has become a habit to the extent that, even when we do make a choice that solves a problem, rather than deriving satisfaction from that, our attention simply seeks out another dilemma to worry about!

Stop your inner debate!
The idea with the mindful ‘non-choosing’ is to stop worrying by deliberately suspending our choice making capacity. This enables our mind to relax, regenerate its energy and return to sanity. To practice this as a sitting meditation, for the designated time you have set aside create a boundary; ‘For the next X minutes I will make no choices about my life, nor will I debate or weigh up issues. I will enjoy the simple pleasure of unburdening myself of my choice making responsibilities and being more present’.

Conscious choosing
The idea with conscious non-choosing is not that we don’t make choices at all, ever. Rather it is that that we develop the skill of temporarily putting down our choices in order to enjoy a more relaxed mind, better quality of life and reduce our anxiety.
The flip side of dropping our choices is to then spend the time when we are making choices in a more focused, mindful manner. We deliberately identify the important choices that we need to make today, this morning or in the next hour, and bring our full intelligence to that choice-making processes.
A good question to ask yourself to facilitate conscious choice-making is ‘what are the two most important choices that I need to make today?’ Identify the two choices that must get made today, and focus your intelligence on making them as well informed as possible!

Note from para 3* If we are doing this while engaged in some form of activity, for example walking, then we will obviously have to make small choices (to go left or right for example). The point here is to avoid our mind debating between two or more options in an abstract way. The immanent, small choices that we have to make in the moment (go left, go right) we can just make as required.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday 22nd October, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday 22nd October 2-5pm – Mindfulness & Movement session at the LifeChiro Center

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

 

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Mindfully dropping (and picking up) your story

Dear Integral Meditators,

We all have a story, or a history. Is your story and the story that your telling yourself helping you or hindering you in your life? How can mindfulness help you to develop a constructive and enjoyable approach to your past? The article below considers these questions…

In the spirit of mindful amnesia,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday 22nd October, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday 22nd October 2-5pm – Mindfulness & Movement session at the LifeChiro Center

Saturday November 12th, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)

Saturday 26th November 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat


Mindfully dropping (and picking up) your story

The heavy bag of our story
For many of us our ‘story’, our past, our history is something that we are carrying around with us all the time. Unless we are careful it can end up like a heavy bag that we never put down, sapping our energy. It can define what we believe we are capable of; filling out mind with what could have been, what we did wrong, what we wish we could change and so on…

You can drop your story
Because we carry around our story so habitually, we can forget that it is possible to simply decide to ‘drop’, or put down our story and to mindfully experience the present moment unburdened by the past.

Conscious amnesia; entering the present by dropping the past
One simple technique I use is to imagine that I have amnesia, I literally can’t remember who I am, what my name is, what has gone on in my past. I enter into the moment with a ‘blank slate’ so to speak, and enjoy the radical way in which my reality becomes simplified.

The joy and strategic value of dropping your story
I find dropping my story on a regular basis allows me to recover my lightness of spirit, my playfulness and ability to connect to the simple joy of the moment as I find it.
I also find it a useful exercise when I am feeling overwhelmed at work or by life. It enables me to strategically re-find my center and, (having dropped my story for a while) to come back to my challenges with greater clarity

Dropping your story and meditative states
Dropping out past offers us the ‘liberation of being a nobody’. Until we drop out past we don’t realize how much our past is defining how we experience ourselves in the present. It also  offers a point of entry into the timeless present; that deeper dimension of the present moment that is not defined by our immediate circumstances, and that is always whole, complete and perfect as it is.

Picking up and improving your story
Once we have learned to drop our story, this then invites us to pick up our story again, and deal with it more consciously and creatively. We can approach the events of our past with more care, curiosity, courage and appreciation, rather than feeling burdened by it.

Summary practices

  • Notice how you carry around your story and how it sometimes acts as a source of anxiety, limitation  and heaviness.
  • Realize that you don’t have to carry your story around with you all the time, you can drop it and inhabit the present moment more fully!
  • Spend periods of time consciously and deliberately dropping your story, practising ‘conscious amnesia’. Notice and enjoy the freedom and clarity that it offers.
  • Pick your story up again mindfully, using its accumulated wisdom to inform your daily life, without allowing its wounds and habits to define and limit your choices and aspirations.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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Creating a unified body-mind (No future)

Dear Integral Meditators,

The achievement and experience of a unified body-mind is one of the biggest pleasures of practising mindfulness. It also has huge practical benefits in terms of building our real-time inner strength and resilience. The article below explains a simple method you can start practising yourself….

Final reminder for those in Singapore of the Engaged Mindfulness workshop this Saturday.

In the spirit of wholeness,

Toby


Creating a unified body-mind (No future)

All parts of ourself in the same place
One of the functions of meditation and mindfulness practice is to bring together, or unify our body-heart and mind so that they are all present in the same moment, working to support and strengthen each other. Initially we build this experience in our formal practice, but increasingly as we develop we find that we are able to spend more and more of our time in daily life in a state where our mind, body and heart are in a state of unity or wholeness, rather than fragmentation and division.

Not leaking energy (a boat that does not ship water)
One of the benefits of a unified body-mind is that we leak less energy and we become more resilient. Most people’s minds and energy systems are quite inefficient. When our mind is off worrying about something, our emotions are in another place, and our body is engaged in a third activity, we become like a leaky boat, shipping water as we travel. We find ourselves having to ‘bail water’ a lot of the time, and wonder why. Unifying our body, mind and heart is like making ourselves into a well-made boat, that has no leaks. We find ourself going around in our daily activities feeling whole-er, stronger, more effective, and more capable of love and benevolence. Rather than feeling as if we are leaking energy, we start to feel as if we have energy to give.

Creating boundaries around your mind and energy
To begin to unify our body-mind we need to start creating boundaries that can help contain our energy, and bring our thoughts, emotions and physical energy into one place. There are many different ways in which we can do this, the ‘no-future’ technique I describe below is one.

No future
To practice ‘no future’ simply means that, for the period of time you have set aside, you do not think about, or send your thought energy into the future. You effectively imagine that the future has disappeared, or ceased to exist, and practice the discipline of holding that recognition. You can be aware of what is going in in the present moment around you. Youmay think in a conscious way about the past, although you will also find that erasing the future has the effect of ‘short-circuiting’ your relationship to the past as well, to a certain degree. By gathering your mind away from the future you bring your mental, physical and emotional energy into the present moment, they become more whole, unified, stronger. This can be done as a sitting or walking meditation, or as you are doing an activity, for example traveling home from work.

Building a better relationship to the future
Practising ‘no future’ helps to unify your body-mind, recover your energy, and build resilience that you can use to face whatever the future brings. It also gives you the freedom to choose whether you are going to think about the future or not at any given time. It means that when you do think about the future, you are doing so consciously and volitionally, and that you know that you can put it down at any time.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday 8th October 9.30am-4.30pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop/retreat

Saturday 22nd October, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

19th November – One Heart Celebration Day (Joint event)


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

 

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Dualistic appearance – What you see, and what you think you see

Dear Integral Meditators,

What you think you see and what you actually see are two separate things, often going on simultaneously. The article below explores how this happens in our life, why its important, and how we can start to work with it mindfully.

In the spirit of clear vision,

Toby


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:
Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby
Saturday 8th October 9.30am-4.30pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Dualistic Appearance – What you see, and what you think you see

One of the most useful distinctions I learned from my time as a Buddhist monk was that there is often a difference between what you think you are seeing and what is actually there. This was called in Buddhist-speak ‘dualistic appearance’. The technical definition of dualistic appearance is:
 ‘The appearance of an object to our mind together with our generic, or conceptual image of that object’.
Essentially this means let’s say you see for example a person. In the first instant of seeing that person you see them literally, physically as they are in front of you. In the next instant your mind will then project your idea or concept of what you think they are upon that person. So from that point on you are seeing two things as you look at them:

  • The person as they literally appear in front of you
  • Your idea of what you think they are, that you project (often unconsciously) upon them

Some examples:

  1. I’m feeling angry after a day at work. Someone unintentionally obstructs me on the pavement as I walk home. What literally happens is someone obstructing me physically. A moment after I experience this I project the image of a complete idiot blocking my way who is intensely annoying. The person literally blocking me is what’s actually there. The image of the ‘idiot’ that I project onto them is a conceptual image of my own creation. Two appearances in the same moment; one is ‘real’ and one is a projection of my mind.
  2. Let’s say I’m feeling anxious and insecure. I’m having a normal day, but because I’m feeling anxious and insecure I project it upon the people around me in the office. They are basically saying and doing ordinary things, but I am projecting that they may not like me, that they are judging my work and so on. Again we see what is ‘actually happening’ appearing at the same time as what we think and project is happening.
  3. I’m feeling unusually positive, but I’m with someone who is upset and negative. Literally what is appearing to me is a person behaving in a negative manner, but I’m feeling so good and so strong inside that I project a positive image upon them; ‘nice guy really, just temporarily upset(!)’

The essential point here is that in each moment there are two things appearing to us:

  • What we see
  • And what we think or project we see

The first is relatively fixed, the second is flexible, mutable, changeable. If you can change what you project, you can change what you experience!

Things you can mindfully start doing with dualistic appearance

1. In any situation ask yourself the questions:

  • What literally, observably happened here?
  • What ideas and images am I projecting upon what is happening / being experienced?

2. Spend time consciously observing and witnessing your life, projecting as little of your own personal content as possible on the situation. See what this reveals to you.
3. Be aware when you are projecting negative ideas and images on your world. Don’t buy into it. Project less!
4. Practice imprinting positive, kind, benevolent images and ideas upon your reality, see how you can change it for the better by doing so.
5. Be aware when other people around you are projecting too, be discerning what you buy into!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Integral Meditation Asia

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Three ways of saving and building energy with mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days, with so many ways in which we feel our energy is under pressure from distraction, the pace of life and the task of ‘keeping up’ what can mindfulness offer to help? The article below explores this theme in a practical way…

Last couple of days to catch the Special Offer for 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia in September 2016.

In the spirit of a deeper source of energy,

Toby


Three ways of saving and building energy with mindfulness

In my recent book ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ I outline three types of mindful attention; neutral, positive and catalytic.

  • Neutral objects of mindful attention are those such as your breathing or your senses that when you focus upon them make your mind calmer & more peaceful.
  • Positive objects are those such as hope, appreciation and love, objects that make your mind more energized, excited and optimistic.
  • Catalytic objects are those types of object that we find difficult of disturbing to focus upon. When we focus upon catalytic objects mindfully, we use them to build up our inner strength and eventually learn to find the inner energy and ‘hidden powers’ that these challenging experiences offer to us.

Saving and building energy with these three types of object
Each of these three objects of mindful attention offers us a way of saving and/or building energy. Neutral objects enable us to rest, recuperate and regenerate our energy. Positive objects enable us to find more energy by looking at our world in a positive way. Catalytic objects enable us to find energy in places and situations that would normally drain us of energy. Here are three practical examples from my last twenty-four hours:

  • I was traveling in between meetings on a bus this morning, feeling tired. I consciously came back to my body and breathing for the duration of half the bus journey, minimizing my physical, mental and emotional activity by focusing on my senses as I sat. By doing this I was able to rest my body-mind and regenerate my energy before I arrived at my next meeting.
  • Coming back this afternoon from another meeting, I made a conscious attempt to mentally list and appreciate all the good things that had come out of my meetings today so far. This led to a good feeling and a sense of having more energy as a result of paying attention to these positive outcomes.
  • Over last weekend I spent time in my spare moments exploring, entering into and accepting feelings of being lost, broken and insignificant. By deliberately seeking out these catalytic states (that instinctively we tend to push away, deny or run from) I was able to enter into them, feel at peace with them and discover the power, energy and freedom that each one of them reveals when we embrace them
  • What power and energies might I start to find by embracing catalytic objects? For example: By accepting and entering into the feeling of being broken I begin to relax and feel whole, its opposite. When encountering and standing with the experience of being lost, I start to feel at home with it, which leads to the ‘finding’ of a deeper part of myself. By accepting feelings of insignificance I discover a renewed sense ofcourage to assert myself benevolently in the world. Essentially every scary mind/emotion/experience that we encounter has within it a hidden gift, an energy and strength for us.

As with all integral and engaged mindfulness practices, you can practice focusing on neutral, positive or catalytic objects as a formal meditation sitting down, or as something that you do in the midst of your daily activities. All of the above examples were informal practices that I did in between events; just ways of focusing my attention mindfully to process the day ergonomically and find more energy.  This week if you like you can set yourself the task of spending a bit of time each day seeking out neutral, positive and catalytic objects in your own life and using them to nurture and build your own healthy energy levels.

Related article: Seven Ways to Mindfully Save and Create More Energy

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby
Saturday 8th October 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * BooksLive Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

 

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Using your senses to support your mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you are in a mental tangle, one of the simplest ways to untie yourself is by returning to your senses. The article below explains how!

For those in Singapore, a reminder of this coming Saturday’s Free book talk on Engaged Mindfulness at 2pm, all are most welcome!

In the spirit of coming to our senses,

Toby


Special Offer for 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia in September 2016

From 6-22nd September there is a 15% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services at Integral Meditation Asia! Click HERE for full details.


Using your senses to support your mind

We all know the expression ‘when s/he came back to his senses’ when it is used to indicate that a person has temporarily gone mad or crazy, and lost touch with reality. They regain their contact with reality by ‘coming to their senses’. When our mind is full of hyper-busy thoughts and difficult emotions we can actually use attention to our senses as a way of coping more effectively with the experience, calming ourselves and becoming more resilient. Paying attention to our senses can also help us to deal with challenges such as insecurity or lack of confidence, emotional sensitivity, depression, and fear of aloneness.
The technique of coming back to our senses can be used not only as a way of dealing with mental or emotional dis-orientation, but also as a way of enhancing pleasure, ease and appreciation in our lives, particularly around the experience of sensory pleasure.

Coming back to your senses
To do this exercise you simply need to take your attention away from your thinking mind, and direct it toward your sensory experience in the present moment. So for example now as I am sitting at my computer I can pay attention to:

  • The weight of my body on the chair,
  • The quality of the light through the window
  • The sound and feeling of the wind, and the call of the birds, as well as the distant traffic sounds
  • The physical movement of my breathing
  • The colours of the objects in my room

If I focus my attention on these objects of my sensory awareness, then naturally I take my attention and energy away from my mind and the thoughts and emotions I may be experiencing. My senses act as a literal anchor for my attention in the physical world, helping me to re-acquaint myself with the present moment and reduce the habitual movement of my mind as it see-saws from past to future…
You can use this method as a formal sit-down meditation technique, or just as a way of paying attention when you are out doing your daily activities, and want to steady yourself.

Two examples:
I used to find going out to busy shopping malls pretty unpleasant and dis-orienting, with all the movement, people, energy and friction (as I experienced it). Mentally my impulse used to be to detach from my physical experience and retreat ‘into my mind’ in such situations, but I found that did not really help my, in fact it only made it more unpleasant. Now in malls I do the ‘returning to my senses’ technique; using the physical sensory experience of being in the mall to anchor my attention and stabilize my mind and emotions. I wouldn’t say I now enjoy the experience of being in a mall particularly, but the challenge if being in crowded spaces like malls is now not a big issue for me.
Last Sunday I went for a walk by a reservoir with my daughter. Three quarters of the way around I could feel the heat and fatigue starting to set in a little and my mind beginning to complain/get bored. Focusing on my senses allowed me to quieten my mind, enter into the experience of being by the water, with the trees, engaging in the simple act of walking in a way that was deeply pleasurable and satisfying.

So remember; the next time you are being run ragged by your mind, return to your senses!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

8th & 17th September, 7.30-8.30pmFree book talks on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ by Toby

Saturday 8th October 10am-5pm – Engaged Mindfulness day workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

 

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