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You Always Have a Choice

Some of you familiar with meditation and mindfulness will be familiar with the practice of choice-less awareness. Choice-less awareness essentially involves learning to be a witness to your consciousness and its contents; just sitting there and allowing whatever comes up in your mind to come up without interfering, like watching clouds in the sky.

However, in daily life and in the world of active thought and action, one of the best ways to turn on and develop your mindfulness practice is to engage in your process of making choices consciously and definitely.

There is never a circumstance in life where you do not have options, and the options that you choose each day have real and tangible consequences on your life. If you abstain from making choices through laziness, fear, confusion (etc and any combination of), or if you labor under the illusion that you have ‘no choice’ in a situation then you are tangibly handicapping your chances of building a happy and fulfilling life.

The flip side of this is that by making sure that each day you are making mindful considered choices you are dramatically increasing the your life-effectiveness, your chances of success in your endeavors, and your chances of getting what you want in the way that you want it.

If you really want to turn your mindfulness practice on, make sure you are asking yourself every day and in each consequential situation “What are my choices here?” Make full use of the mind you have.


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Fly on the Wall Mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would it be like to observe yourself s a stranger, and follow yourself around for a while? Would you like what you see? And what might you learn about yourself? The article below explores this theme…

Yours in the spirit of observation,



Fly on the Wall Mindfulness

This is a technique that I mention in my previous article on Mindful Relationships. I’ve been working with it quite a bit this week myself, so I just thought I’d write a little more.

The idea with fly on the wall mindfulness is that you sit down and imagine yourself as a fly on the wall during recent events in your life. You watch yourself as an observer and see what this reveals to you about yourself.

For example if I do this with myself today I can follow myself through various activities based around my daughter’s birthday; see myself going out in the morning to try and find birthday candles (see my annoyance and frustration; does nowhere have birthday candles!!). Later I observe myself reacting/responding to the special dietary requirements of the guests, three visits to the garage or corner shop, but I’m feeling easy and going with the flow. At various other points during the day I see myself and realize that I was having feelings (both positive and negative) that I was not fully aware of, and that being a ‘fly on the wall’ reveals to me very fast.

Some of the benefits of regularly doing the fly on the wall meditation include:

  • Access to an increased objectivity in your view of yourself without repressing or intellectualizing the emotions that are present within
  • Increased awareness of your behaviors and emotions, many of which are invisible to you because they are so habitual and unconscious
  • Greater ability to mentally step back from charged or reactive situations with relative ease
  •  A natural and substantial increase in your healthy inquisitiveness, curiosity and observational skill

After you become used to it, it becomes a perspective that you can take as you are actually going around in your daily life that informs your experience of what is going on; at any time you can take your mind to a place up on the wall of ceiling and observe yourself and what is going on from there.

Finally, don’t let the idea of being a fly put you off, if it does, just use the image of a surveillance camera, private eye or something like that!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Dear Integral Meditators,
When you think about deepening your inner strength and resources perhaps you think about developing a new set of skills or reading about a new practice. Using mindfulness you can deepen your inner strength and resilience simply by being more fully conscious of what you already know. This weeks article looks at how you can go about doing this.

The program of talks and workshops for August is out, just click on the links below for full details!

Finally, Integral Meditation Asia is having a special August four day sale (3rd to end 7th August) with a 40% price reduction on all its current online meditation and mindfulness courses. just click on the link to have a look at the list available.

Yours in the spirit of inner strength,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:


Sunday 10th of August 4-5pm – Free Mindful Parenting preview talk at Basic Essence, to register your place please reply to this email.

Sunday August 17th, 9.30am-12.30pm –Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting – A three hour workshop
Sunday August 31st, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Call of the Wild – Meditations for Deepening your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Greenworld

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia


Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Finding a deeper level of inner resources and resilience to your challenges need not be about learning more. As often as not it is about being mindful enough to apply what you already know in a practical way. Sometimes when we are experiencing difficulties or performing sub-par in a situation it is because we are not applying what we already know in an effective way.

A simple example
Let’s say I feel uncomfortable about communicating to my business partner about something that I think he did wrong and that is hurting our business. If I am present to my own past experience, and to what I have read about effective communication I will already know that the best way to tackle the situation is to honestly and politely bring up the subject directly and talk about it explicitly.
However, because I am a distracted by other things and because the emotions within me are uncomfortable I instinctively avoid bringing up the conversation directly. The result of this is that I feel an increasing sense of frustration and resentment toward my partner, and the problem persists on an outer level.
If I bring my full awareness to what I already know, then the plan of action is actually clear; I need to have a direct talk with him. However, consciously or unconsciously I am avoiding the issue, which in turn is making me reduce the level of conscious awareness that I am bringing to the situation. As a result I act against my best knowledge and find myself frustrated and confused.

Reasons why we don’t bring enough awareness to our challenges

Here the issue is not that we do not know what to do, rather it is that we don’t bring enough conscious intelligence to the situation to know what we know and do what we need to do. There are a lot of reasons why we resist bringing our full conscious awareness to situations where we really need it, but here are three:
We are lazy – Simply, we can’t be bothered, so rather than address the issue properly we hope that by ignoring it or pretending it is not there then it will somehow go away. Inevitably this means we expend more effort dealing with the issue because we are dealing with it in the wrong way, so laziness is very often a prescription for more work in the long term.
We are afraid of consequences – To take the example above, let’s say I am afraid of invoking my business partner’s disapproval or anger. Because of this I avoid the confrontation by telling myself it is not necessary, or I pretend it is not really a problem. Because I am afraid of a consequence I deny what I already know and doing really needs to be done.
Being focused on the wrong thing – Another reason we deny our self access to what we know is that we are focused on the wrong thing. Again to use the example of me and my business partner, if I am focused on “who is right and who is wrong in the situation” rather than “what needs to be done to fix our business glitch”, then the issue is not that I am not bringing awareness to what is going on, it is just that I am focusing that awareness on the wrong aspect of what is going on.

An exercise for mindfully deepening your inner resources

Three questions to stay with during the day:

  • What challenges in my inner or outer life need to be solved immanently or urgently?
  • If I bring my full awareness to the issue, what do I already know about how to resolve the situation?
  • Knowing what I already know deep down, what do I really need to do?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Dear Integral Meditators,
Part of a mature meditation and mindfulness practice inevitably involves getting cozy and comfortable with feelings and emotions that most people run from as soon as they see or sense them. The article below explores two such emotions, and why we should be interested in getting to know them better.

Yours in the spirit of clarity,




Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two of the feelings and emotions that generally we least like to deal with. Instinctively our reaction to them is to push them out of our conscious into our unconscious mind, where we hope they will somehow disappear if we ignore them long enough.
The price of ignoring repressing and avoiding guilt and shame is that we then continue to be victimized by them, for many people therefore guilt and shame continue to bother them and obstruct their happiness thru-out their life.
The benefits of opening to our experience of guilt and shame is that we are able to process them effectively which then in turn removes a major obstacle to our fundamental experience of happiness in life. More than we remove a major obstacle to making progress in our relationships and professional development as well. Thus in terms of both personal happiness and gaining an edge in our relational and professional development we should be interested in our experience of guilt and shame.

So what are guilt and shame? I’m going to use a definition from Robert Bly, which I picked up in his book “Iron John”: “A traditional way of differentiating guilt from shame is this: Shame, it is said, is the sense that you are an utterly inadequate person on this planet, and probably nothing can be done about it. Guilt is the sense that you have done one thing wrong, and you can atone for it.”

From this we can start to see that dealing with shame involves connecting to that part of us that feels fundamentally inadequate to life, fundamentally value-less, fundamentally unworthy. It means to, with care, courage and curiosity to invite that part of us that feels shameful to come forward and talk to us, to receive support and to be healed. We can also see that dealing with shame is about connecting to a fundamental belief that we have about ourselves on some level, working each day to replace that belief with a view of self that affirms our self-confidence, self-competence and value as an individual, and acting in ways that demonstrate this.

Dealing with guilt involves looking at specific instances where we feel or believe we have done something wrong and connecting to the emotions that surround that experience. It involves checking the validity of the belief that we have done something wrong with an appropriate rational analysis (perhaps it is a preconception?), and if there is indeed something that we have done that needs correcting or atoning for, then investigating what can actually be done in terms of correcting action?

Some questions for getting to know your shame and guilt:

  • What are the times in my day and life when I really experience myself as inadequate, valueless, unworthy of being present in the situation or even unworthy of being a happy human? What beliefs perpetuate these feelings of inadequacy?
  • What in my past do I feel most guilty about? If I were to look at that past act objectively and rationally, would I consider the emotional guilt I feel as being valid?
  • If I do feel I have done something wrong, then what needs to be done to atone for it?
  • What can I do each day to demonstrate to myself that I am adequate and of value in life, and to build the foundations of genuine self confidence?

Asking yourself these questions and observing the responses that they stimulate in your mind, perhaps even writing them down is a good way to start bringing awareness to your own personal feelings of guilt and shame, and awareness of them is the beginning of your path to dealing with them in a truly mindful and effective manner.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Mindful Learning

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days there is absolutely no doubt that capacity to be adaptable, flexible and to learn quickly are necessary for successfully negotiating both the professional and personal challenges of your life. How can mindfulness help you with this? This is the question that I explore in the article below.

In the ‘whats on’ section below, you will see that this months workshop on the 27th of July is on developing the language of your shadow self. This is another skill that I would put at a premium for living an evolved, happy and successful life. Click on the link for full details.

Yours in the spirit of mindful learning,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Sunday July 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm –  Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self – A Three Hour Workshop 

Call of the Wild: Meditating with Animal Guides and Familiars

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia

Mindful Learning

One of the main functions and benefits of a mindfulness practice is that it helps you to increase your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity. How does it do this? By helping you to become more observant. The more you are really looking and observing in your life the more you will see, the more you see the more you will understand about the way reality works, and the more you will learn

Obstacles to mindful learning
Even with effort mindful learning can be difficult because of a variety of factors, amongst them:

  • Our capacity to make reflex judgments
  • Our tendency to focus on what is wrong and who is to blame

So, in order to make ourselves mindful learners we are trying to replace our habitual tendencies to label an experience good or bad, and to focus on who is to blame and replace them instead with two questions:
What can I learn here? And
What can be done?

An example
I’m in a hut looking out on a beach now, but yesterday morning my alarm went at 6am for me wake up to start travelling to my destination. Unfortunately I had gone to bed at 3am the night before finishing work tasks before I left. And well, ok, I was following the Wimbledon final a little as well (very compelling it was too!)
So you know how it is when you get up with three hours sleep, very dis-orienting, body out of balance, mind all over the show. In the taxi on the way to the ferry lots of judgments in my mind “Should have gone to bed earlier, your paying for it now!”, “Shouldn’t have gone on holiday, your too busy”, “Wish the bloody tennis hadn’t been on!” – You know the sort I’m talking about.
About half way through my taxi ride I remembered I am a meditation and mindfulness teacher (Dan-dan-daaaa! Kung-fu panda moment) “Hold on, what can I learn here?” I thought to myself. I noticed that simply the process of abstaining from judgment and taking a curious and observational stance had an immediate clarifying effect upon my mind, and reduced the amount of pain and discomfort in my body. So there is a lot of learning there already. I then discovered that really my fatigue and the circumstances around being tired did not signify that anything was wrong; I had stuff to finish because I’m busy doing fulfilling work, I’m getting up early because I’m going to take a relaxing break on a beach; the temporary suffering coming from a late night and early get-up are just what has to be accepted to get what I want in both ways. The rest of the journey as spent both happily and productively.
The net result; my mood and my experience change for the better, and I start learning good things from what I am experiencing.

A mindful learning practice
If you want to take the content of this article into your week just keep these two questions at the forefront of your awareness during your daily experiences:

  • What can I learn here?
  • What can be done or not done?

Allow them to unlock your natural intelligence and problem solving capacity.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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The Dance of Relaxation and Alertness

Dear Integral Meditators,

Normally when we think about meditation the image that comes to mind is that is stillness and sitting still. In the article below I describe meditation and mindfulness as a dance, and how we can take this dance into all areas of our life. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of the dance,


The Dance of Relaxation and Alertness

When I first learned meditation I was taught an analogy for how to concentrate in meditation that after all these years still holds good in my understanding. It is like holding a bar of soap in the shower; if you hold it too loosely it will slip out of your hand, but if you hold it too tightly then the tension of the grip will cause the soap to ‘ping’ out of your hand. So in order to hold the bar of soap you need to have the right balance of grip strength and gentleness, too much of either and the soap will slip from your grasp.
Concentration in meditation and mindfulness is like this; you need the right balance of relaxation and alert effort. If your concentration is too relaxed then you will keep forgetting and loosing the object of your contemplation. Conversely however, if you try too hard to focus then the tension of your effort itself will cause your concentration to be impeded. So you have to hold this ever delicate balance of relaxation and alertness in order to sustain your focus over time. This balance is one way of interpreting what Buddha meant by ‘the middle way’; we avoid the extremes of over-exertion or laziness by hitting this combined, balanced state of alert-relaxation.

So you could say that meditation and mindfulness are a perpetual dance of relaxation and alertness; you are trying to find a complementary and mutually supportive combination of these two qualities so they are like dance partners that mutually enhance each other’s qualities as opposed to being like two opposing fighters that are continually trying to knock each other down.

Generally this is a skill that we have to learn because for most people relaxation and alert effort are two different habitual modes of our being, either we are relaxing and reducing our level of alertness, or we are expending effortful alertness at the expense of our experience of relaxation.

So when we learn the dance through meditation and mindfulness we can then start taking it into all sorts of practical domains in our life, for example:

  • What might the dance of relaxation and alertness look like when dealing with challenging emotions, avoiding the extremes of crushing and repressing the emotion or allowing it to completely control us?
  • What might the dance of relaxed alertness look like in a business meeting?
  • What might it look like when making love?
  • When trying to get to sleep?
  • When dealing with disappointment or elation?
  • When focused on a sporting activity?

All questions to dance with.

This week if you like you can just spend a few minutes focusing on your breath specifically as a method of getting a feel for the dance of relaxation and alertness. Then in your daily activities keep experimenting with how the dance can help you with your daily activities, choices and challenges, increasing both your happiness and performance.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Street Mindfulness – Three Key Questions

Dear Integral Meditators,

What is the core of your personal mindfulness strategy for a happy, empowered and effective life?. In this weeks article I share my own, and invite you to think about what yours might be.

Yours in the spirit of the right questions,


Street Mindfulness – Three Key Questions

We all know the saying if you can find the right question, the answer will come. One of the keys to the effectiveness of my own mindfulness practice I have found is to find the right questions that will direct my mind and consciousness toward the place that I want it to go. Here are the three questions that are currently pasted to my fridge on a piece of paper. I have found them particularly effective for optimizing my happiness, self-empowerment and effectiveness each day:

  • What is good about my life?
  • What am I willing to do to make it better?
  • What do I need to focus upon now?

What is good about my life?
As I’m sure you will know, when we are busy and stressed it is all to easy to start reacting to all the things around us and within us that seem to be not going so well or outside of our control. Particularly when I can feel a downer coming on in my mind, I just pop this question in there and focus on it for a little while.  Answers start coming naturally from focusing on the question, resilience from unhappiness does not need to be super effortful; sometimes it is just a matter of asking the right question and following where it takes you.

What am I willing to do to make it better?
Whatever the situation we always have some volitional control over what is going on and how we choose to experience it. This question reminds me that I always have choice, and that it is always a matter of how much responsibility I am willing to take. It helps me to focus on what I (or we if in a group) can actually do to make circumstances and experiences better, rather than casting around for something or someone to blame and then acting like a victim of circumstance.

What do I need to focus on now?
Our awareness is like a torchlight, it is always shining somewhere (as long as we are awake). For me the problem is that often my mind is not focusing my awareness where it needs to be in order to be most effective in the moment. So, this third question just prompts me to be mindful of where my attention is, and direct it toward where it needs to be to tackle the issue at hand most effectively.
I find this question to be particularly effective because it is all too easy in challenging situations for my focus to go AWOL not because I am tired or incapable, but because the emotional charge around the challenge makes me uncomfortable. So it is all too easy to ‘zone out’ or stick my head in the sand as an avoidance tactic. As an effectiveness tactic however this is a disaster! Hence the importance of ‘What do I need to focus on now’ as an mindful effectiveness tool to help me pay attention when I really need to!

So there you go; three questions that you can use if you like. I think of them as my ‘street mindfulness’ practice as I ask them when I am going about my daily activities, they don’t require a special sitting meditation session, or indeed a belief system, you just need to be willing to pose the questions and follow their consequences.

What might be the key mindfulness questions for you in your life?

Related article: Fridge magnet spiritual happiness

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

I-Awake Technologies product offer of the month
(lasts until Tuesday, 1st July)

Get 25% off  Heart Wave Meditation; “A new discovery in Meditation Technology for engaging the heart”
Click on the link to listen to the free sample and find out more.

To get the 25% discount simply type in the coupon code NEWSJUNE25OFF into the relevant box during purchase and checkout

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Liberation from Social Metaphysics

Dear Integral Meditators,

Every time you discover a new word or term your universe expands. If you had a good teacher at school you may have heard this saying from her or him. One of the new terms I’ve been enjoying exploring in my own practice recently is ‘social metaphysics’, the article below explores this powerful idea in terms of mindfulness practice.

For those in Singapore a final reminder of the Enlightened Flow Workshop this Sunday, 29th June, start time 9.30am!

Special Soul portrait summer sale offer closes this Thursday, 26th June.

Yours in the spirit of trusting your mind,


I-Awake Technologies product offer of the month

Get 25% off  Heart Wave Meditation; “A new discovery in Meditation Technology for engaging the heart”
Click on the link to listen to the free sample and find out more.


To get the 25% discount simply type in the coupon code NEWSJUNE25OFF into the relevant box during purchase and checkout

Liberation from Social Metaphysics

“Social metaphysics is the psychological condition of one who holds the minds and perspectives of other people, not objective reality, as the ultimate authority and frame of reference”- Nathaniel Branden

What does liberation mean? Many things to different people no doubt. As a mindfulness teacher sometimes I have trouble shaking off the preconception that people sometimes to come to the discipline of mindfulness with, which is the idea the our mind is inherently untrustworthy.

I think one of the problems that people (myself included) have is that we don’t trust and use our mind enough. Rather than being confident in and trusting our own mind’s capacity to process our reality and give us reliable feedback , it can be super tempting to look for someone else to tell us what to think, to tell us what is really there, to tell us what to do, to save us, anything to stop us having to really use our mind more consciously,  take responsibility for the choices that we make and from  engaging in the actions that will really  get us where we want and need to go in life.

This temptation to give up our trust in our mind and the facts in front of us, and to hand over authority to the minds and opinions of others is the problem that Nat Branden calls social metaphysics (metaphysics being the study of ultimate truth). One of the main things that I am trying to do as a mindfulness teacher is to help people to liberate themselves from their own personal social metaphysics and to really learn to trust their own mind and judgment.

Friends, parents, culture, the media, gurus, churches, temples, partners, rich people, poor people, Marxists, politicians, the sources of our social metaphysics are varied and many. To liberate yourself from social metaphysics does not mean that you don’t listen o the opinions of others, it’s just that you don’t hand over your personal authority, integrity and autonomy to them, any of them.

Of course if you take real responsibility for your life, your choices and your happiness then it can be scary, it can be inconvenient making yourself accountable for your life, and of course you are going to make mistakes sometimes.

But can anything be more precious than trusting yourself and your mind deeply and fully, and to act in the real-time of your life centered in this self-trust and confidence?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Mindfulness: The Co-Creation of Happiness and Performance

Dear Integral Meditators,

This is an article that I prepared with some corporate clients in mind, it is another answer to the ever young question “what is mindfulness?”. Also, the practical exercise at the end is short but can have HUGE results.

Yours in the spirit of mindful flow,



Mindfulness: The Co-Creation of Happiness and Performance

Mindfulness is the art and practice of bringing more conscious awareness to your activities, relationships, thoughts, emotions, desires and motivations. It functions primarily (though not only) as a method of strengthening the conscious mind and its attendant natural intelligence.
In each moment we are making choices about how much conscious attention and awareness we bring to our activities; mindfulness guides us to bring a high level of consciousness to the activities in our life where it is most important to be fully awake and engaged both personally and professionally.

Mindfulness functions to bring two main effects to our life:

  • We become happier
  • We become more effective at our chosen tasks

More than this, mindfulness helps create a win-win relationship between these two; the happier we become the more effective we tend to be at work and at home, and the more effective we are the happier we tend to be both in our professionally and in our personal life.

Up to this point in time the majority of people practising mindfulness have been doing so because they have come to understand the benefits of mindfulness to their own personal wellbeing and health. More recently organizations are coming to understand that mindfulness offers one of the best ways to improve employee engagement at work and to improve productivity. But why should this be so? Let’s take a closer look using three examples:

Personal happiness and effectiveness at work
Positively disposed people are more likely to find ways of being happy in their work (rather than looking to find work that makes them happy, which is a crucially different thing), when you feel happy your mind is relaxed, you feel good and so it is actually enjoyable to put effort in to your tasks at work. Enjoyment and effort combine to produce greater effectiveness and engagement at work. Greater effectiveness and engagement in tasks as we all know have a feel-good factor, and so our greater productivity gives rise to more personal happiness in a mutually complementary dance.

The way you feel about yourself directly influences how you manage change
Mindfulness is a way of leaning to bring a conscious appreciation of yourself and what you bring to the world; it helps to create what psychologists call a good self-image or self-concept. People who have solid, secure and positive self concepts are less threatened by external change and thus when change happens in the workplace they tend to have the capacity to respond to it rationally, consciously and intelligently. The capacity to manage change well in turn further re-enforces a positive self-image and concept, so again here we see a mutually re-enforcing relationship between the a strong self-concept and the capacity to manage change, both facilitated by mindfulness.

Confidence and personal responsibility increases both creativity and problem solving capacity
Mindfulness is a space where we can learn to consciously cultivate confidence in ourself and learn to take responsibility for the important things in our life. As we all know, confidence and the capacity to take responsibility are essential qualities that we need to bring to the table to creatively solve problems and put forward new ideas in our professional life.
Conversely, whenever we solve a challenge or come up with a new idea at work both our confidence and our tendency to take responsibility for tasks and problems. So again we see a mutually re-enforcing pattern where mindfulness improves our personal qualities and wellbeing which in turn strengthen and enhance our engagement at work and in life.

It turns out that the best way to improve professional engagement is to work on a person’s personal growth and wellbeing; whether a CEO or a cashier, a happy and centred person is always a more effective professional.

Two questions to begin working with your own mindfulness practice

So what does a mindfulness practice actually look like? Actually there are a variety of mindfulness practices that you can engage in. Here is a two minute one:
Or the first minute focus your conscious attention upon the question “What is good in my life right now”. For that time simply focus upon mentally noting the good and the positive in your life.
For the second minute focus upon one particular situation in your life and ask the question “What is the most important aspect of this situation that I need to pay attention too?” For the duration of that minute see what answer this question takes your mind to.
If you find it helpful you can write down your principal answers to both questions.

Two minutes of mindfulness practice right there. Try it for a week, see where it takes you.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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A Benevolent Universe? (Old Men Fighting)

Dear Integral Meditators,

What do you think the Universe thinks of you? Is it for you or against you? This mid-week article examines this question with a little bit of humor.

For those of you in Singapore, next Tuesday evening , 17th June is the date for the free preview talk on Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release From Stress, see you there if you are interested!

Finally, I am currently offering a decent summer deal on the Soul Portraits I do, see details below.

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


Special Soul Portrait Summer Sale 11th-26th June!

From the 11th-26th June I am offering a 15% discount on all Soul Portrait orders. For this limited time only the prices for Soul Portraits will be as follows:

For an Individual Soul Portrait:
  • For an A4 size (297x210mm) portrait Singapore $260 Sing $220
  • For an A3 size (297x420mm) portrait Sing $390 Sing$330
  • For an A2 Size (594x840mm) Sing $585 Sing$495

For Couples* (Ideal for weddings, Anniversaries and Valentines!):

  • For an A4 size297x210mm portrait Sing $340 Sing$290
  • For an A3 size 297x420mm portrait Sing $490 Sing$415
  • For an A2 Size (594x840mm) Sing $730 Sing$620

For further enquiries or to order a Soul Portrait please contact me by email:

This is a great opportunity to get a Soul Portrait for yourself or as a gift for any of your friends or family for a very reasonable price!

To have a look at slideshows of past Soul Portraits click HERE

To look at past individual Soul Portraits click HERE

A Benevolent Universe? (Old Men Fighting)

Are the intelligent, creative forces behind the creation of our Universe benevolent toward us? That is to say are they friendly and wishing for us to succeed in our endeavours? Are they conspiring against our wishes and plans? Or are they just entirely indifferent?
At some time in our lives we have probably felt each of these three ways. At times  we have felt supported and guided, other times lost and ignored and at yet other times Beelzebub himself seems to be screwing us at each turn. What I want to do in this article is first to flag up how our own relationship to ourself affects this perception, and then relate a little story.

Your perception of your relationship to the Universe
Our relationship to the universe is directly affected by our relationship to ourself, as Emerson said “If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.” The corollary of that is that if I can maintain genuine and deep self confidence, self belief, self esteem and self trust (and demonstrate all of these things to myself through my actions) then even in the face of adversity there is the experience that, even though circumstances conspire against me the universe provides me with the solutions through the resource of myself.
So this is a first point to consider and contemplate. You can see this explored also in the recent meditation on Self-Trust that I posted.

Old Men Fighting
Recently, after finishing my regular Monday evening squash session with friends around 10pm I walk from the sports centre to a local open air coffee shop by myself,  order a beer and sit for a while sipping and contemplating the universe (you know the dodgy middle aged white blokes you see sitting alone at these places? Yup, like that).
I get up to go and as I do so a fight breaks out between two of the fifty-plus year old group of ‘serious drinkers’ near the exit. I have to walk towards them to get out, so I try and do it quietly and unobtrusively. As I’m going past I see that one of the guys is punching the other very slowly and consistently on the nose, gradually the nose breaks and blood starts to go everywhere, but it is all like watching a SLOW motion movie because they are so drunk and uncoordinated. So I put down my bag and make to break it up. I’m immediately accosted by the rest of the drunk old men who forbid me to do so. I’m not going to get into a fight with them, so feeling sad about the state of the universe (at least in this coffee shop) but clear that this is not my problem.
I’m crossing the road right next to the exit, and I see a white car with big blue letters coming towards me. Not only that, it has lights on the top, it is a police car! Joyfully I wave stop and wave my hands at it, as it slows down I point to the old men fighting. Two appropriately big and cheerful looking policemen get out, smile at me, say thanks and walk over to deal with it. I smile all the way home, safe in the knowledge that two drunk old men are now no longer punching each other in slow motion.

Who knows, perhaps the universe really is a big friendly giant? Or maybe it just has a lower tolerance level to sheer ridiculousness than other forms of human suffering.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website