The ordinary and the unexceptional (the everyday, the unremarkable)

Dear Integral Meditators,

When does striving for something special get in the way of our attempts to be mindful? This weeks article explores this theme.

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


The ordinary and the unexceptional (the everyday, the unremarkable)

One of the challenges that we often face finding peace of mind through mindfulness and meditation is that we feel it must be somewhere other than where we are right now. It has to be some kind of exceptional state of mind. For example:

  • I must attain a ‘perfect’ state of concentration by focusing on my breathing or meditation object so everything else disappears.
  • The presence of my everyday, daily thoughts as I meditate makes me feel like I am not where I ‘should’ be.
  • It should feel like I’m really in an altered state, or ‘in the zone’ somehow.

Our struggle to escape four types of experience in particular prevents us from finding a state of mindful, centered peace in the present moment:
The ordinary – The boring everyday inner mental/emotional and outer physical experiences that we have each day. For example, the bus commute to work on a weekday; somewhat hot, crowded, slightly irritating, perhaps tired and foggy; a totally ordinary everyday experience.
The unexceptional – I sit down to do my best work in the morning, I lose my focus slightly, I get distracted by hanging the washing…by the end of the day it just feels like nothing exceptional has happened.
The everyday – washing, emails, a ‘quite’ pretty, but dry looking tree, a mindfulness session that is 70% perspiration and 30% ‘some’ peace, all the things we do out of habit without thinking about too much
The unremarkable – Stuff we are so familiar with that we no longer notice; our slightly worn shirt, our gradually ageing face, topping up our travel card.
How can any of these help us find the peace we long for? Of course we should be looking somewhere else right?

Accepting the ordinary
The mindfulness technique I am suggesting here involves simply relaxing into, accepting, noticing and not struggling with the ordinary. The act of accepting the unexceptional nature of the moment you are in immediately places you in a space where you start to feel a degree of peace. The choice to be satisfied with the very ‘everyday’ type task that you are doing makes the act of doing it more relaxing and enjoyable. Choosing to notice fully the unremarkable nature of what your experience is makes it a place where you can start to rest and regenerate your energy.

  • As a formal sitting mindfulness practice you do this practice simply by fully accepting and being aware of where you are with no attempt to go anywhere else.
  • As an active mindfulness practice you simply note the ordinary, everydayness of where you are during any given activity, and don’t try too hard to be anywhere else.

As I’m writing this I have been in a plane for several hours; a set of very ordinary, intractable experiences; the dry air, the fatigue, the noise, the in-flight entertainment, nothing exceptional. By simply accepting and resting in the ordinary it has been very easy to relax and feel centered without having to ‘find’ that peace or do anything unusual at all.

Finding the remarkable in the unremarkable
If you practice this, the curious thing about accepting all of this ordinariness and unremarkabilty is that you start to discover all sorts of extra-ordinary, remarkable and exceptional states of mind and being lie there hidden in plain sight, amidst the very ordinariness of it all.

© 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


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Allowing your mind to be messy

Dear Integral Meditators,

Often when we need most to be mindful is often the time when we feel like doing it the least. The article below explains a method of being mindful that you can use when your mind and life are at their most chaotic and mindfulness seems most difficult!

In the spirit of the happily messy,

Toby


Allowing your mind to be messy

Often when we need most to be mindful is often the time when we feel like doing it the least. The meditation technique below is for when your mind and life feel chaotic, messy or when it is difficult for you to focus. For example:

  • When you are so anxious or exited by something that your mind won’t settle
  • When you are ill or taking a medication that impairs your ability to focus
  • When your life feels disorganized
  • When fatigue or pain in the body inhibits concentration
  • When you have jet lag or you can’t fall asleep due to the activity of the mind and emotions

The technique is very simple; you take one slightly deeper, centering breath to focus your attention, then you practice being aware of and accepting the messiness of your mind. Observe how it feels; the sprangled thoughts, the tension in the body, the texture, the dis-orientation and so forth. Watch and observe the messiness of your mind in this way, every now and again coming back to a single centering breath, and then continuing to watch and accept the messiness. That’s basically it!
The ‘technology’ here is that the act of accepting and observing itself allows the mind to start to settle and relax. By accepting the mess, you start to build a tidy little spot in the middle of it that you can rest in.

Today I am tired and sleep deprived, I have a number of appointments I’m working my way thru before packing tonight and flying for a trip tomorrow. My mind and circumstances feel ‘messy’, unsettled, frenetic. The technique above is simply the one I have been using myself to approach my circumstances mindfully; to relax and enjoy the mess.

It’s possible to be messy and mindful at the same 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


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Structure and flow – mindful plumbing

Dear Integral Meditators,

Are your thoughts and feelings working together like a team in your daily life, or does it often seem like they are often working against each other? In this weeks article we have a look at how we can integrate our mind and emotions together into a team using mindfulness.

In the spirit of mindful plumbing,

Toby


Structure and flow – mindful plumbing

One of the keys to mindful thinking is ‘structure’. One of the keys to mindful emotion is ‘flow’. As a mindfulness practitioner, you are trying to consciously create a set of thought structures through which your emotions can healthily flow.

The house of the self
Think of your inner self as being like a house, with the plumbing system being like your thought structures through which the ‘water’ of your emotion flows. The aim of a plumbing system is to allow the water to flow freely in an uninhibited manner, and to direct it where it needs to go; the sinks, the bath/shower, the garden hose, the kitchen, toilets and so forth. In a similar way the aim of the ‘inner plumbing’ of your thought structures is to direct the flow of your emotional energy in a healthy and appropriate way toward expression in your relationships, work and life.

Every thought affects emotion
If you watch your mind for a while, with the above image in mind, you will start to notice how every thought that you have affects how you feel, and the way in which you feel it. As you watch your thoughts in this way, ask yourself the question ‘Which thoughts are helping my emotions to flow in a healthy and appropriate way? And which ones disrupt, repress, block my emotions, or cause them to flow in a negative way?’

Examining your current structures
By being mindful in this way you will become aware of the thought structures in your mind that are ‘healthy, positive plumbing’ so to speak. It is these thought structures that you want to consciously use more and more as the ‘bread and butter’ of your approach to your life and emotions. Conversely, thought structures that create blockages, tension, negative flow and so on are the thoughts that you want to try and take out and replace within your inner plumbing system.
You’ll note here that I haven’t told you what or how to think. Instead I have asked you to watch and learn from your own direct observation and experience. The approach of mindfulness is to take as much of your learning as you can from your own experience of what works and does not work for you in the here and now.

The key to emotional flow is simply to feel
Looking at the emotional end of things, ask yourself the question ‘What emotions am I feeling right now?’ Don’t try and change those emotions, simply feel them as they arise, let them flow. Emotions are of different types, but essentially they all want to flow, like water. We can allow them to flow simply by feeling them. Let emotions come into your awareness, happiness, sadness, depression, elation, excitement, disappointment, breathe in and feel them, breathe out and relax with them, let them flow from moment to moment.

Combining structure and flow mindfully
In summary, the practice of mindful plumbing involves:

  • Being aware how your thought structures affect your emotional flow, and leveraging on the thoughts that, in your experience affect your emotional flow in a healthy way
  • Facilitating your emotional flow by staying connected to how you are feeling in the here and now, in all its richness and variety
  • Bringing these two practices together into a healthy combination of emotional flow and thoughtful structure.

You are the house, your thoughts are the plumbing, your emotion is the water.

© 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


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The yoga of limitation and choice

Dear Integral Meditation,

Is choice always a good thing for us? How can we use limitation to our advantage? The article below looks at how we can use mindfulness to approach both choice and limitation with confidence…

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby


The yoga of limitation and choice

The yoga of limitation and choice are two types of mindfulness practice centered around the process of decision making. In situations where our choices are very limited and where we have multiple choices there are both:

  • Opportunities for specific types of inner growth, happiness and wellbeing.
  • Challenges to our peace of mind and factors trying to sabotage our sense of inner wellbeing

Allowing ourselves to be disciplined by limitation
When I was a monk I deliberately chose to limit my options in life:

  • A very minimal income
  • No sexual or romantic relationships
  • No intoxicants (except the odd expresso!)

Because of this my choices became very limited, which meant I had to practice ‘the discipline of limitation’ living within my means and boundaries. My limitations also enabled me to focus and accomplish the goal of becoming a meditation and mindfulness expert, but even without that I observed that simply having fewer choices makes your life clear and simple; the limitations of your choice give rise to a certain amount of peace if you are able to accept them.
So, to practise the yoga of limitation simply means to be content and accepting of the limitations of your life as you find them each day. This doesn’t mean that you don’t make plans to increase your choices and opportunities in life; it just means you are take advantage of the limitations you find each day, and are not made unhappy by them.

The discipline of choice
Now that I am a layperson in the middle stages of my life I have many choices and options

  • Which personal and business relationships do I pursue?
  • How best to spend and save my money?
  • Am I insured enough?
  • Private or public education for my child?
  • Where to go on holiday?
  • Where to live?

Endless choices, and the more wealth I have, the more choices are born from that…
The interesting thing that I note as I observe my own experience of choice (and many of the people that surround me) is that having all these options can give rise to a lot of anxiety and unhappiness (what if this is the wrong choice? Someone tell me what to do!) In order not to be made unhappy and over anxious by my many choices, I have to be disciplined, decisive and mindful.  When you no longer have the luxury of limitation, mindful, conscious decision making really comes at a premium.

What are the circumstances in your life right now where you need to practice the yoga of limitation; allowing yourself to be disciplined by and content with your absence of choices?
What are the circumstances where you need to practice the yoga of choice; managing the anxiety of having options, and making choices consciously, responsibly and positively?

If you are a mindfulness practitioner, you will know how to take advantage of both types of situation, and have an ongoing experiential grasp of the saying that the time to be happy (in whatever form you understand that) is always now.

© 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


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Going beyond the mind (The spaces between your thoughts)

Dear Integral Meditators,
How can you use meditation and mindfulness to go beyond your mind? This is the subject of this weeks article!

In the spirit of the spaces in between your thoughts,

Toby


Going beyond the mind (The spaces between your thoughts)

I was taking a mindfulness class the other day and one of the participants was relating a story about how relieved she was to discover that practising mindfulness did not require you to stop your thoughts (which she, like many of us considered a near impossible goal); to be mindful she just had to focus on the breathing or watch the thoughts as they came and went. This was a relief to her, and gave her both heart and confidence pursuing her practice.

Going beyond the mind as a goal
Whilst it is true that you don’t need to stop your thoughts when you practice mindfulness meditation, it is also true that one of the capacities that we are trying to develop in the medium and long term is to become able to create and sustain states of mindful awareness where we do actually go beyond or ‘behind’ the thinking mind. We can then start to explore this open space of silence and regeneration that is unknown to the vast majority of people, and leverage upon the developmental potential that it offers us. Below is a technique to begin learning to do this now, starting small and building consistently.

The practice: Watching the spaces between the thoughts

Stage 1: Begin by focusing on your breathing for three breaths, then for the next 10-30seconds mindfully watch your thoughts coming and going as a witness and observer. Then go back to another three breaths to center yourself, after which you then return to watching your thoughts. Alternate between the breath and the watching of your thoughts for a while.
Stage 2: Continue to come back to the breathing for three breaths, but now in the 10-30second gaps in between, rather than watching your thoughts, pay attention to the spaces in between your thoughts, and gently try and extend them for a moment or two longer each time one appears.
Stage 3: Once you get a feel for stage 2, you can start to use the three breaths in a slightly different way; as you breathe in feel yourself opening to the spaces in between your thoughts, and as you breathe out feel yourself relaxing into them as deeply as you can. This way each time you come back to the breathing you use it to deepen your ability to relax into the spaces between the thoughts.

Building comfort in the space beyond or behind the mind
The practice above is designed to be a simple way of gradually building your familiarity and comfort with the inner space in your mind that surrounds, interpenetrates and contains your thoughts. Your thoughts are like clouds, your mind itself (or your consciousness) is like the sky. You are learning to relax into your inner sky, and become comfortable in the space beyond your thoughts.

Leveraging on fatigue and exhaustion to go beyond the mind
Another space you can use to go beyond your mind is when you are really tired. Let’s say you are commuting back from work after a long day, mentally and physically exhausted; to exhausted even to think. Consciously ‘give up’ thinking for a while as you sit or stand in the carriage – let your mind become an open thoughtless space, do absolutely as little as possible, almost as if you were falling asleep (which you may do!) Relaxing into this experience will give you some insight into a state of consciousness ‘beyond the thinking mind’ as well as giving you a bit of a rest!

© 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


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Mindful Mobility – Stepping in and out of the river

Dear Toby,

Building inner flexibility and mobility are really core parts of an integrated mindfulness practice, in the article below I explain two core practices for building mindful mobility.

In the spirit of mindful perspective taking,

Toby


Mindful Mobility – Stepping in and out of the river (& from self to other)

One of the fundamental skills that we are trying to develop as mindfulness practitioners is to be able to shift consciously from one perspective to another, and use these perspectives appropriately. In this article we will be exploring how to shift between subjective and objective perspectives, and between self and other.

Moving from subjective to objective; Stepping in and out of the river of your consciousness
Imagine your mind is like a river, with the stream of thoughts, images, memories and sensory impressions being like the water. Spend some time in the river ‘being the water’; as thoughts, emotions and feelings come up experience yourself as them; be the thought, feel the emotion as if you are the emotion, let your attention absorb into the senses. This is experiencing your mind subjectively, from the inside.
After a while imagine yourself ‘stepping out’ of the river of your consciousness onto the river bank. Spend some time watching your mind as an observer, as a witness; watching the river flow by with a clear gap between yourself and the ‘water’ of the thoughts, images, feelings and senses in your mind. Watch your mind like a scientist; this is mindfully watching your mind objectively, from the outside.
The aim of doing this practice is to be able to consciously shift ‘at will’ from observer to subject, from subject to observer. This then enables us to:

  • Enjoy our emotions, thoughts, feelings, memories, senses (etc…) fully by entering into them and ‘owning’ them
  • Detach from our experiences when we need to so that we can see them more clearly and make more objective decisions and rational choices

Moving from self to other and extending care
In this second exercise you imagine yourself with another person, or a group of people. It might be a situation where there is a little tension between yourself and the others for whatever reason.
Stage 1: The eyes of self – See yourself in the situation and view it through your eyes, from your subjective point of view. Experience what your point of view feels and sounds like. If you do this mindfully you may well become aware of aspects of your experience that you had not been aware of before!
Stage 2: Become a fly on the wall – Look at the situation and group from the outside for a while, as if you were a fly on the wall. This is like ‘stepping out of the river’ from the previous exercise; it gives you an objective, witnessing perspective.
Stage 3: Becoming other – Enter into the shoes and see through the eyes of the other person, or group or people. See the situation from their point of view, what do they see? How are they feeling? Why are they acting the way they act? Use your imagination to mindfully understand as far as possible where they are coming from.
Stage 4: Go back, extend care – At the end of this exercise, go back to seeing through the eyes of self (stage 1) and spend a while extending care to the other person/people based on the understanding of then you have gained in stage 3, ‘becoming other’. Back in ‘your shoes’ extend care, compassion and understanding to them.

These two exercises are ‘mindful mobility exercises’ that, if practiced regularly will greatly increase your mental flexibility and ‘range of motion’ as you go about your daily life, as well as having the basic side effect or most mindfulness practices; greater peace of mind and centered-ness.

© 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:

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July details out soon!


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Calm abiding, beautiful breathing (Inner air conditioning)

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen if you were able to focus your mind in a state of calm abiding at will, or at least more often? This weeks article explores this theme and how you can start developing this skill today!

In the spirit of the strength of calm,

Toby


Calm abiding, beautiful breathing (Inner air conditioning)

Overriding your brains need for over stimulation
One of the main things we are trying to achieve with mindfulness meditation is the ability to focus our mind calmly and continuously on one object for an extended period of time; we train our attention to become happy to be in one place, abiding peacefully. The problem we face is that our brain tends to reward and crave stimulation and new information; impulsively moving from one object to another, happy to remain distracted and busy. So to develop the long term benefits of ‘calm abiding’ we need to repeatedly override our brains craving for stimulation, bringing it back to an object of calming concentration.

The vicious cycle of fatigue and distraction
When we are tired and anxious during our day, often the last thing that we want to do is to bring our mind to a state of calm focus, because it requires effort. But remaining distracted also requires effort and dissipates our energy, making us feel even more tired. With mindfulness meditation we are trying to replace the vicious cycle of fatigue and distraction with the positive cycle of energy and focus.

The beautiful breathing
One of the medium-long term effects of practising calm abiding using awareness of our breathing is the experience of the ‘beautiful breathing’ (so called within the Forest monk tradition of Thai Buddhism) where

  • Our breathing starts to appear more clearly to our mind, with less effort needed to focus
  • Our breathing starts to feel increasingly peaceful, harmonious and ‘beautiful’ as we focus upon it.
  • There is a corresponding feeling of comfort, harmony and bliss within our physical body.

Cultivating the beautiful breathing
One way in which we can cultivate the beautiful breathing right away is to deliberately make our breathing more beautiful and harmonious right now. Here is an exercise for doing this:

  • Set aside a period of time, short or longer. For three-five breaths, deliberately place your attention on the breathing. Make your inhalation and exhalation as smooth, even, harmonious and ‘beautiful’ as you can. You can either make the inhale and exhale even in length, or the exhalation slightly longer according to your preference. Also, make the changeover at the top and bottom of your breath (from inhale to exhale and vice-versa) as smooth and flowing as you can.
  • At the end of your three-five breaths, relax the body as deeply and blissfully as you can; try and feel your body and bring as much ease and comfort as you can to that feeling.
  • Spend the duration of your session cultivating a sense of smooth, beautiful breathing with deep relaxation of the body.

By doing this exercise regularly for a short period of time (daily if you can), you will quite naturally increase your connection to the beautiful breathing, and accelerate the ‘speed’ at which you are able to start to experience it stably and naturally.

Your inner air conditioning
Today I was walking back to my place of work after lunch, focusing gently on my own experience of the beautiful breathing. It was hot, crowded and I was sweating, but because my mind was in a state of calm abiding, just enjoying the smooth flow of my breathing, I felt ‘cool’ inside. The heat and the sweat did not bother me nearly as much. It was almost like I had some ‘inner air conditioning’ with me. It’s a small observation, but it gives an example of what it feels like to have a stable experience of calm abiding, and how it can alter our basic experience of daily life.

© 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 June 18th, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditation & Mindfulness for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice


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Three levels of non-striving

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is it possible by letting go of our striving to then learn how to strive better? That is the topic of this weeks article!

Mindful goals coaching offer ends tomorrow, 8th June.

In the spirit of non-striving,

Toby



Three levels of non-striving

In a previous article on non-striving I defined non-striving as “a refusal to be in conflict with yourself and your life. Put another way, rather than seeing yourself in an adversarial relationship to yourself and your circumstances, you practice accepting and working with what is there”.
What I want to explain here is three levels of non-striving that we can work with in our mindfulness practice. These three stages are:

  1. Noticing your inner conflict and striving
  2. Practising non-striving
  3. Striving better

Noticing your inner conflict
This first stage is simply about awareness. You sit down and notice all of the tension, conflict and striving that you have within yourself at this point in time. Without trying to change it, simply notice the tension you may feel about a conversation you had earlier in the day, an unfinished project, an uncertainty that you can’t control, a mistake that you wish you hadn’t made and wish to rectify, something that you are looking forward to and can’t wait for, something that you are sad about and wish hadn’t happened. Simply breath and be present to all of the different types of conflict and striving you notice. Is there one above all of the others that is stronger and stands out? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Relaxing into non-striving
In this stage the object is to progressively drop the different levels of striving and conflict that you feel within yourself.
Take a few breaths to center yourself, then encourage yourself to move into a state of acceptance of yourself, what you find within you, and whatever circumstances you find yourself in. Alternate for a while between the breathing (to center and focus yourself) and entering into a state of easy, relaxed non-striving. With each round of breathing and relaxing, try and enter one step deeper into the feeling of non-striving; learn to move easily and smoothly with whatever it is you find within. You can stay with stage two for as long as you like, it’s good to really immerse yourself in it deeply when you can.

Striving better
In stage one you practiced mindfully noticing the different types of conflict that you have in your life currently. In the second stage, non-striving, you practiced stepping out of that conflict refusing to be in an adversarial relationship to yourself, going with what you find with acceptance. In the final stage, ‘striving better’ you come back to the conflicts that you notice in stage one and ask yourself the question ‘is there any way I can strive better and more harmoniously in this situation?”

  • You might choose to strive more patiently with the project that is stressing you out
  • You might choose to make good for a mistake made without using the fact that you made it in the first place as a hammer that you keep hitting yourself over the head with
  • You might choose to emphasize being playful in a situation that you have been taking overly seriously

There are infinite potential discoveries that you might make and decide to focus on implementing at this stage, the point is that you are using your mindful intelligence to make the quality of your striving wiser, more ergonomic, more realistic.

By using these three stages we learn not just to relax by practising non-striving, but to combine our striving and non-striving into a mutually strengthening and re-enforcing whole. As always with integral mindfulness its ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’!

© 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 11th June, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday June 18th, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditation & Mindfulness for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice


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Mindfulness of feelings – The principle of flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

In my writings on mindfulness I speak quite a lot about the principle of flow. In the article below I explore it with regard to mindfulness of our feelings, and how to create a healthy, self-cleansing emotional body by using a simple image and exercise.

In the spirit of the flowing river,

Toby


Mindfulness of feelings – The principle of flow

Picture a flowing river. Now imagine that some pollution gets dumped in that river. In the short term this will make the river dirty but, as long as the water keeps on flowing, then eventually the river will self-cleanse. Imagine that same pollution gets placed in a pond. In the case of the pond the pollution has nowhere to go because the water is not flowing, and so the water in the pond simply stays filthy.
It’s the same with your emotions; if you are mindfully feeling and experiencing your emotions every day, then you are allowing them to flow so that, even if some of those feelings are negative, then it doesn’t matter too much because they will be washed along and away by the flow without too much bother. If however you repress or stifle or numb your emotions, then this is like making them into a stagnant pond, they get stuck in your body and mind, unable to flow naturally. In this situation, whenever a difficult or negative emotion gets generated within you it will tend to get ‘stuck’ and just circulate within your emotional being for an unnatural time because it has nowhere to go; it cannot ‘flow’.

The flowing river
Imagine yourself by a deep, flowing river, allow your attention to dwell upon and within the river so that you can start to feel its flow within your emotional being. Allow yourself to feel and flow like the river, letting whatever emotions come up to arise and then flow downstream; don’t try and control or dictate what emotions arise. Allow your emotional self to become a moment to moment flow, gradually becoming a smooth, clear flow of pure feeling-ness; relax mindfully into that and dwell on it for as long as you wish.
You can even take particular emotions that you know you struggle with or tend to repress, and do this exercise specifically with them in mind.

Dealing with surges
When there is a lot of rain, a river swells and the flow increases, but as long as the flow is not blocked, then the surge eventually returns to a normal flow. It’s the same when we have a surge of emotions, as long as you don’t try and block or prevent the flow of the emotion, then after a while it will subside quite naturally. Again the principle here is to work on allowing the energy of the emotion to flow in a conscious, directed way.

© 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


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Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

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

Saturday 11th June, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday June 18th, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditation & Mindfulness for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice


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Lazy compassion

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is about how to use mindfulness to be as ergonomic as possible in the development of your deepest compassionate potential.

In the spirit of our naturally compassionate awareness,

Toby


Lazy compassion (compassion & care through awareness)

I was doing mindfulness coaching with some executives last week. At one point in the session I asked them to complete the sentence ‘Compassion to me means…’ a number of the replies went something like this:

  • – listening more
  • – being more empathetic
  • – paying attention to the needs of others
  • – caring
  • – taking the time to understand

If you look at all the way in which they completed the sentence, you can see that all of them are a direct consequence simply of directing awareness to ourself or others.

  • Listening more begins by paying attention to others, or to ourself
  • Being empathetic and/or aware of people’s needs follows from greater awareness
  • Caring and taking time to understand comes quite naturally from focusing mindfully on a person or situation

From this we can see that if we want to develop our compassion and caring, all we need to do is practice being more mindfully aware, and increasing the quality of our attention. You can understand this from your own experience; if you recall the last time you really felt that someone was extending their compassion to you, you’ll see that much of that experience came from the feeling that they were paying you attention fully, in a way that made you feel understood and valued.

So ‘lazy compassion’ comes from simply recognizing that all you need to do to begin developing and increasing your compassion is to pay attention; to yourself, to others, to your environment. When you practice non-judgmental awareness of any of these things, the warmth of your own human compassion will begin to extend quite naturally to your objects of attention.

Sky and sun
If you think about your awareness as being like the space of the sky, and your compassion as being like the rays of the sun.  Just practice bringing your sky-like awareness to people and things, and then let the sunlight rays of your natural compassion follow the direction of your attention. In the Buddhist teachings where I first learned meditation your natural compassion was called ‘Buddha nature’; whenever our minds become clear and unclouded our natural compassion begins to shine out.

Practicing
Bring your attention to your body, sustain gentle non-judgmental awareness upon the body for a short while, recognize that all you need to do to extend compassion to your body is to bring your attention to it. If you do that then caring and compassion will follow that awareness. Do the same with your mind and emotions. Extend it out to include significant others in your life, then perhaps to people you don’t know or even have a difficult relationship with. Extend your awareness to aspects of your environment, to the non-human creatures that are there. Make the circle of your compassion as large as you like!
In your daily life, whomever you are paying (mindful) attention to, allow your compassion to connect with them through the simple act of awareness.

© 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 May 28th, 2.30-5.30pm – Finding Liberation Through the Witness Self – Connecting to Peace, Abundance and Creative Freedom Though Mindfulness Practice

JUNE
Saturday 11th June, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Starts Thursday June 9th – Thursday Evening Integral Meditation Classes @ Bencoolen Street


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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