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‘Going through the motions’ as a mindfulness tool

Dear Integral Meditators,

You may have heard or even experienced how mindfulness makes you more productive and increases your potential for success, but how does this actually work in practice? The article below gives a practical example…

In the spirit of quiet power,


PS: Live in Singapore this week: The Tuesday & Wednesday evening meditation classes this week is the Spring Equinox Balancing & renewing Meditation, all welcome!

‘Going through the motions’ as a mindfulness tool

There are a lot of things that are very necessary and important for you to be successful in life that are not very exciting, motivating or interesting. There are many days when you wake up tired, moody and undermotivated. On such days, even things that normally would excite you or motivate you can seem really uninteresting.
Whether it’s a boring task, or your feeling under-motivated, it’s really important in terms of being successful that you to keep doing what is necessary, whether you feel like it or not! When we do something that we don’t want to do, we sometimes say ‘I’m just going through the motions’. There are three basic stages to mindfully ‘going through the motions’ to get things done:

1. See the benefit of doing the task or action – This morning I went through a long list of old scripts, to see which ones I might want to re-vamp into new meditations. I was tired and it was essentially mundane work, but it was necessary to do before doing the fun, creative work of re-writing new material from the old. The mundane task sets up the completion of the fun, creative task.
2. Accept you don’t feel like doing it – If I’m feeling tired, run down and insecure on an evening, I may not feel like responding politely and considerately to my partners questions, or dealing with my children’s bad moods. But if I’m intelligent and thoughtful, I know that even though I don’t feel like it, it is in my own,  the other persons and the relationships best interests to make the effort. But I accept that I don’t feel like it. I’m going to do it despite the fact that I don’t feel like it!
3. Go through the motions anyway – At this stage I see the benefits of doing the task, I accept the fact that I don’t feel like doing it. Now, I need to go through the motions, just do it! It may feel mechanical and mundane, I may feel I am mentally ‘walking though treacle’, but I just do it. I start writing, I engage politely, I start exercising…I just get going, even if it feels fake. I go through the motions!

The benefits
There are a number of benefits to getting in the habit of going through the motions
You get it done, which feels good – As one writer said “I don’t like writing, but I like having written!” when you complete a task there is a feel good factor and a sense of satisfaction. Sometimes especially if you didn’t feel like doing it!
Sometimes you start to enjoy it and feel good – Once you start and overcome the initial inertia you can find yourself enjoying the activity. You didn’t feel like being polite to your partner, but now the conversation is chugging along very enjoyably!
Mundane stuff can be centering and grounding – If you are doing something boring, the repetition or predictability of the task can create a rhythm that is calming and centering. I noticed this recently painting walls in my apartment. The physical movement and repetition is deeply mind-calming and stress relieving!
You get sh#*t done that sets you up for success – when you habitually ‘go through the motions’ you become capable of doing and achieving things that you could not do if you relied on ‘feeling like it’. GTTM’s gives you the qualities of maturity, discipline and endurance that facilitates the long term fulfilment of deeply held goals and ambitions. You become capable of doing what the ordinary man or woman cannot do.

So, the next time you’re feeling tired, under motivated or despondent, simply set up the next task that you need to get done, and mindfully go through the motions!

Related article: On boredom, creativity & ‘mindful fishing’

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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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Complementricizing Your Archetypes

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks a little at our personal experience of archetypes and how we can create a complementary harmonic between the different ones that we have within ourselves.

Yours in the spirit of harmony,


Complementricizing Your Archetypes

When I was around 19 I read a book by Herman Hess called Narcissus and Goldmund. Narcissus is a venerated monk in a monastery, Goldmund is a child who is left at the doorstep of the monastery, and who, once taken in seems to be heading for the life of a monk. However, as Goldmund reaches puberty Narcissus recognizes that Goldmund is not of the right temperament and type for the austere life of the monastic, and so he basically kicks him out of the Monastery. Goldmund then embarks on a series of worldly adventures that leads him into the lap of many women, and he becomes a passionate and sensual artist, dying somewhat early after a life very fully lived.
I can remember when I read this that both characters made an extremely powerful impact upon my mind; I could associate with them BOTH almost equally. After a while I forgot the novel, but in my forgetfulness I them went to art school and became an artist. Then after that I trained in meditation and became a monk for a decade or so. One reason I did not remain as a monk was because I felt a strong urge to start doing art again. So now I am an artistic ex-monk who teaches meditation and mindfulness, and creates art when he can.

So, l if I look back over the last twenty years I can see within myself an exploration of the themes of these two archetypes within me; the monk and the artist, the aesetic and the sensualist, the worldly and the divine, the highly controlled and the passionately released. At times there is no doubt that these archetypes an energies have been in conflict within me as they are (superficially) so different, but overall the journey for me has been toward learning how to create a complementary harmonic between these two aspects of myself so that they feed, inform and strengthen each rather than being in conflict. I have learned that it is perfectly possible for these two powerful aspects of who I am to live in harmony with each other within my own body-mind-soul. One does not have to destroy the other to live, or vice versa.
My basic point in this article is that, like me, you will have these powerful and very different archetypes and themes within you. You may have seen them articulated in a book, poem or movie like I did with Narcissus and Goldmund, or you may simply have observed them as they play out in your life over time; the warrior and the peacemaker, the wise man and the fool, the gentle reconciler and the powerful changemaker, the vulnerable child and the capable adult, the radical and the establishment wo/man, the list goes on.

  • What are the most powerful character archetypes in you?
  • Are they working together to make you stronger and wiser, or are they in conflict, ripping you apart?
  • How can you ‘complementricise’ them? That is means create a complementary harmonic between your contrasting archetypes so that they are making you more whole, complete, capable, wise, loving?

I want to end this article with a quote from Narcissus and Goldmund where Narcissus speaks to Goldmund about their relationship: “We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other’s opposite and complement.”

So it should be when we harmonize our own inner archetypes.

© 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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