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:

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

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


Mindful Goals Coaching Special Offer: 15% off from May 25th – June 8th

For two weeks starting May 25th & ending June 8th I am offering a special 15% discount on my mindful goals coaching service. For a three session package that is a saving of Sing$90.
‘To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it is still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble’ – Bill Watterson
Click the link above to find out more about the Mindful Goals Coaching Service!


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

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Mindful concentration in an age of distraction

Dear Integral Meditators,

How can we build our mindful concentration when oftentimes we find ourselves in environments that encourage us to do the opposite? The article below offers a structure for us to get started!

In the spirit of mindful concentration,

Toby


Mindful concentration in an age of distraction

In an age where we are surrounded more distractions than ever before, the skill of being able to focus our mind in a single pointed manner has never been more important. Concentration (here meaning simply the ability to keep your mind and attention focused upon one object for an extended period of time) offers many benefits, amongst others:

  • Increased mental peace
  • The ability to get things done more effectively and with greater quality execution
  • Greater benevolent control of our mind, body and feelings

Concentration is also central to the practice of mindful meditation. If you can’t keep your mind focused, then it’s really impossible to achieve lasting results from your mindfulness practice, so building good concentration technique is a really essential for good mindfulness.
What I want to explain in this article is a daily mindful concentration practice that you can do as a complete beginner in order to build mindful concentration.
It is also a practice that you can do if you are a more advanced practitioner, but want to have a very short exercise daily exclusively related to concentration. One thing I notice is that it is very easy for our basic concentration technique to degrade over time unless we renew it daily.

Day of the month mindful concentration
The object of this exercise is very simple; keep your mind focused on the breathing. Each day of the month has a number, from 1-30/31. Every day your job is to sit down at least once and focus your mind on the breathing for the number of breaths that relate to that date. So for example today is May 21st, so my job today is simply to sit down at some point and focus on my breathing for 21 breaths without getting distracted. If whilst I am doing the exercise I get distracted, the I have to start again. The rules are I have to do 21 without distraction on the 21st of the month.
This will go on, increasing by one breath at a time until the 31st of May, when I do 31 breaths. So then on 1st June I go back to just one mindful breath(!), building up to 30 breaths on 30th June. On the days of the month that are small numbers, then of course you can take more than one mindful breath, but the point is if, every day of the year you spend between 10seconds and 5 minutes practice, your capacity for mindful concentration is going to increase with only a very small amount of effort on your part.

Drops of water in a jug
This practice relies upon consistency. If you keep dripping water in a jug, then eventually it will fill. If for every day of the year you concentrate on a small number of mindful breaths each day, you will find the effects are far reaching!

© 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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Your Thoughts as Emails

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at how we can be more mindful of our thoughts by considering them in the same way that we might consider emails. I hope you enjoy it!

In the spirit of mindful thinking & non-thinking,

Toby


Yours Thoughts as Emails

In Taoist philosophy there is a saying that goes that your lifespan can be measured in the number of heartbeats we have each day, the lesson being that you should relax more, let it beat more slowly and therefore live longer!
What if instead we were to measure your lifespan in relation to the number of thoughts you have each day? What if our lifespan in this sense meant not how long we would literally live in terms of physical age, but how long our mind remains active, flexible and fully capable/functional? In this case thinking too much would have the consequence of our mind and intelligence ‘burning out’ due to over use, like a car that breaks down before its time due to the bad driving technique of the owner.
If you thought about your mind in this manner, would it cause you to reconsider the way you think, and the number of thoughts that you give energy too each day?

Your Thoughts as Emails.
This is a simple mindfulness exercise to help us become more aware of our thoughts, and more discerning with regard to the energy we give them. To do it we think of our mind as the inbox in a computer, and our thoughts as emails.

We can divide the daily emails we receive into three parts:

  • Those that are either of no interest to us, or are outright spam
  • Those that are of functional value
  • Those that we derive active pleasure and meaning from receiving

To do this as a mindfulness practice sit still for a while and turn your attention to the ‘inbox of your mind’, with thoughts coming in being like the emails. As you watch the thoughts come in, drop or ‘trash’ the ones that are irrelevant or ‘spam’. The functional thoughts, set to one side temporarily. Try to dwell only upon the thoughts that are meaningful or pleasurable; that enhance your experience of the present moment. If there are no thoughts coming in, then just enjoy having an empty inbox!
Initially you may need to do this in an undistracted space, but after a while you can learn to play it as a game at any time, for example when you are traveling between locations or in between tasks, or walking along the street.
When you are going about your daily tasks you can include the functional thoughts in your mental process as they are obviously necessary for getting things done, but try and keep your spam filter operational; dropping/trashing the thoughts that are garbage, unnecessary, negative and so on.

Here’s to a long life of pleasurably mindful thinking!

© 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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Moving From Being a Consumer to a Producer

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is your life a product of your own creative and independent thinking, or is it merely a pastiche of the ideas that you have received from others around you? Possibly it is a mixture of both. This weeks article examines the idea of the ‘mindful producer’ and how we can start to use it to become more of a creative producer in our lives and choices.

In the spirit of mindful production,

Toby



Moving From Being a Consumer to a Producer

To be a consumer in this context means to consume the creative ideas of other people, of society, of your culture, and become a ‘product’ of that consumption. To be a producer means that you are a creative producer of your own choices and ideas in your life; You are actively creating ‘products’ in your life, rather than consuming other peoples.

To be a mindfulness practitioner means to be actively interested in using your awareness, attention and intelligence to become an active producer of your own life, rather than allowing it to become merely a product of what other people around you think it should be.

Let’s take a simple example. If my group of friends are all wearing the latest pair of branded jeans, and in order to become an accepted member of that social group (and their ideas) I am told that I really should be getting a pair of jeans like this, in order to be one of the ‘cool set’. If I am a ‘consumer’, then really I have no choice but to get a pair of trendy jeans because that is the only way I can see to keep on belonging to that group. If I am a ‘mindful producer’ then I might choose not to get the pair of jeans because they might cost more that I’m willing to pay, and/or I don’t personally like the design, and/or I have other fashion ideas that I like better and want to express. Because I am mindfully considering what it is that I want to do with my life, I cease becoming merely a consumer of the culture around me, and instead become a creative producer of my own life path and direction.
Here we are talking about jeans, but we could be talk about your career path, relationship choices and other fundamentals in the same way.

Becoming a mindful producer is not easy
Early on in life we are taught to jump through hoops and play the game others created;

  • ‘If I can just pass this exam then I’ll be accepted to the next level of school’
  • The advert suggests to us that by buying their product we will become a successful member of society – no need to think about it for yourself, just possess the object
  • Well established patterns and ideas of success and happiness seem to be so certain and solid, why would I think to challenge them?
  • By stepping outside of other people’s ideas of what I want and what I do I’m taking risk, stepping into uncertainty, courting disapproval, why would I want to do that?

And of course market forces in the world have an active interest in keeping us merely consumers, buying into and digesting products that they have designed.

What do you have to gain from becoming a producer?
Becoming a producer takes a type of engaged mindfulness where we are taking responsibility for our choices and for articulating our deepest needs and wants and expressing our individuality in a benevolent and creative way. It is a challenging and sometimes difficult habit that we are creating so as to find deeper levels of fulfillment, enjoyment and meaning in our day to day life.

You can still enjoy being a consumer
Of course we cannot avoid being consumers, but we can enjoy being conscious consumers; digesting only the things that are useful, healthy and supportive to the life that we wish to live and express!

If you were to express 5% more of you ‘mindful producer’ today, and each day for the rest of this month, what might change?

© 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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Witnessing – Being That Which is Not

Dear Integral Meditators,

What does it really mean to ‘be the mindful witness?’ and why is it useful to us? This weeks article seeks to answer these questions in a practical way.
For those in Singapore, last call for the upcoming workshop: Saturday April 30th, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Self Confidence: Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation

In the spirit of the witness,

Toby


Witnessing – Being That Which is Not

Really the first basic ‘position’ that you are being asked to take with your mindfulness practice is that of the witness self. Other ways of describing this is to say we are trying to:

  • Become the observer self
  • Strengthen our capacity for taking and keeping a 3rd person, detached perspective
  • To dis-identify with that which we observe arising within our mind, body and environment. To watch but not to engage

Dropping all that is not the witness
Then the question may arise if I am becoming the observer of my mind, body and environment, who am I? Who is the observer? One way to clarify this is to carefully and systematically note that the witness self is:

  • Not any element of your environment or senses
  • Not your body or any part of it
  • Not your feelings or emotions
  • Not any part of your mind

If you drop all of these one by one, what you are left with is awareness itself; that which is conscious and observes. It has no form, and because it has no form it exists out of time in the eternal NOW. The witness is present at all times in your mind, as it is the basis of your consciousness itself. However most of the time it is invisible to us, or in the background of our awareness, hidden by our identification with the activity of our body, mind and senses.

Getting started with witnessing
To become the mindful witness then, simply do the exercise above, stripping away all that is not the witness, and then practice recognizing and resting in that which is aware, that which is witnessing; pure awareness or consciousness itself. As the witness you can then start to observe in a detached manner the contents of your consciousness, body and senses, simply be that which is the watcher rather than identify with what is being observed.

The benefits of mindfully being the witness self

  • It is relaxing and calming
  • It gives you more objective perspectives on your experiences, both the good and the bad
  • It gives you a deeper experience of who you are, and answer to the question ‘Who am I?’
  • It gradually liberates you from the attachment, clinging and consequent fear and anxiety that comes from being over identified with the contents of your mind, your body and senses.

An image: The Watchman
I sometimes think of the witness self as like being a soldier on guard duty. As s/he stands on guard his job is simply to watch and scan his environment, to witness it with awareness and alertness. If he should see something that needs action then he is ready, but the vast majority of his time is spend simply being the watcher, the observer, the witness or watchman. Practice being the Watchman; that which observes and witnesses with alertness and discipline.

© 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 April 30th, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Self Confidence: Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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Making Objects of Your Subjects

Dear Integral Meditators,

How does mindfulness help you grow and develop your mind? This weeks article considers this question from the perspective of subjects and objects, and offers a simple practice to start focusing upon.

In the spirit of inner growth,

Toby


Making Objects of Your Subjects

Mindfulness essentially is about learning to watch and observe your inner life objectively, like a witness.
One of the ways in personal growth can be explained is this: What previously we used to identify with absolutely at one stage of our growth becomes an object that we can dis-identify with and consider objectively when we move onto the next level.
Here are two quotes from developmental psychologists that explain this idea, the first is from Harvard psychologist Robert Kegan: “I know of no better way to describe development than that the subject of one stage of development becomes the object of the subject of the next stage.” The second is from Jean Gebser “The self of one stage (of development) becomes the tool of the next (stage of development)”.

Two examples:
When I was a baby, I was completely subjectively identified with my body. Thus when my body was hungry ‘I’ was hungry, and there was no self, other than the I that was hungry. Thus if I was hungry I had no choice than to be upset because my ‘I’ was completely identified with the hunger. As I grew up, I learned to distinguish my ‘self’ from my body, and thus I can recognize ‘My body is hungry’, and separate my sense of I-ness from the hunger. This enables me to exert self-control so that I can be hungry but not upset.
At a relatively low level of development I may be completely identified with my emotions. When my emotions are angry ‘I’ am angry, and I have no choice but to be angry because I completely identify with my emotions as being self. As I move to the next level of my inner growth I develop the capacity to detach from my emotions, so that when I experience anger I am able to separate ‘me’ from my anger. By doing this the anger becomes an object of my awareness rather than the subject, which in turn gives me the choice as to how I am going to deal with it; the anger is in my mind, but it is not ‘me’.

Mindfulness as the stimulator of inner growth
So, mindfulness works as a tool of inner growth simply by encouraging us to make objects of our subjects; to take the aspects of our body and senses, mind and emotions that we are currently very identified with, and simply learn to observe them as objects.

Videotaping
One image that I got from Ken Wilber’s new book Integral Meditation (highly recommended!) is that the process if mindfully turning subjects into objects is like videotaping; you simply watch an aspect of your mind or self that you are currently very identified with. Imagine you are behind a camera videotaping it; just watch, observe and film, don’t get involved.

‘People are so stupid’
Over the last day or so I have been caught up in a certain view of some people that is essentially very frustrated with their (perceived) stupidity, I notice that ‘I’ am very identified with this frustration with this sense of their laziness, lack of drive, lack of curiosity. So I chose this as my object of ‘mindful videotaping’ sitting down, acknowledging it and them simply watching it, witnessing it, videotaping it. As the observer I note:

  • The frustration feels like this, in this area of my body
  • The inner dialogue or conversation in my mind around stupid people sounds like this
  • The outer events in my life giving rise to the frustration and judgment are this, this and this

As I continue to watch my frustration and judgment, gradually it ceases to become ‘me’ and becomes instead an object of my awareness. It is in my mind but it is not me. This in turn enables me to make conscious choices about what I am going to do with the emotion, which is mostly just let go of it, and make a conscious choice about what, if anything I am going to do about the situation.
Like most other aspects of mindfulness, the aim of turning subjects into objects is to give us greater inner freedom and intelligence and take empowered control of our life choices and experience.

© 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

Thursday 21st April 7.30-8.30pm – Monthly Thursday Evening Integral Meditation Classes @ the Life Chiropractic Centre with Toby

Saturday April 30th, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Self Confidence: Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation


Integral Meditation Asia

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

 

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