Categories
A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Motivation and scope One Minute Mindfulness

Why Meditation and Mindfulness Won’t Reduce your Stress (and why this is a good thing)

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article takes a bit of a closer look at exactly what it is that meditation is supposed to do for us. I look at the idea of mindfulness as stress reduction, and offer a new, what I think is in many ways a more constructive and beneficial perspective within which to view the goals of meditation and mindfulness.

Yours in the spirit of increased tolerance to stress,

Toby

 


Why Meditation and Mindfulness Won’t Reduce your Stress (and why this is a good thing)

It is of course a popular idea these days that meditation and mindfulness are key tools that you can use in order to reduce your stress, and many people come to these disciplines hoping to do exactly that; reduce the amount of stress in their lives. However I like to think of meditation and mindfulness doing something different, namely increasing your tolerance to stress and developing the capacity to remain steady and calm amidst situations that are inherently stressful.

Redefining the purpose and function of meditation in the above way is important I think, because it is all too easy to experience a bit of inner peace through meditation and mindfulness, and this experience then take us in the direction of becoming less tolerant to stress, and seeking out meditation as a way of escaping that which we can’t cope with effectively.

Let’s use a simple analogy. Let’s say your present capacity to deal with stress is the equivalent of doing ten push ups in a row before reaching exhaustion. In the analogy lets then say that your life circumstances present you with circumstances that are the equivalent of doing sixteen push ups in a row. This is presently beyond your capacity or stress threshold. What a meditation or mindfulness practice would aim to do then is train your mind to become progressively more efficient at dealing with stress such that, after a while the “sixteen push up” stress level is something that you can live and cope with without getting flustered.

So, simply put the aim of mindfulness and meditation is to increase your stress threshold in a balanced way, such that you can deal with more without getting exhausted. Mindfulness and meditation when done well teach us to work with and re-direct the stress of our life in creative and dynamic ways that enable us to thrive at levels of stress that would normally be way beyond our capacity to deal with constructively.

I think this is an important point to make because:

  • Living a meaningful, creative and thoughtful life that is outside of the very narrow concerns of societies present level of consciousness involves confronting ever new forms of stress and tension
  • Meditation and mindfulness by their very nature increase the creative power and energy in our mind, which creates “growth stresses” within our being itself. Unless we are prepared for this, and look forward to the new stress tolerance levels that this process will take us to, then there is a good chance that we will give up our practice thinking that it isn’t working!

One Minute Mindfulness; Notice the Space
Even when your mind is busy, and when your physical world is filled with logistical activity, notice that all this activity and busyness exists within the context of space:

  • Your busy mind is like a big, spacious sky filled with clouds; without trying so get rid of the clouds (busy thoughts), you can still notice and open to the spaciousness of the inner sky of your mind
  • Your physical world and activities always take place in the context of an open land or cityscape. Take the time to notice the space of the sky above you, and objects in the middle and far distance of your world, not just what is right in front of you.

Regularly opening to inner and outer space in your day, gives you a bigger context within which you can contain and consciously direct the stress and tension in your life, without feeling so easily overwhelmed.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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

Categories
Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Shadow meditation Uncategorized

Soft Forms of Psychic Self Defence

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at some somewhat counter-intuitive forms of inner psychic defence, which I hope you will enjoy and be able to relate to.

Yours in the spirit of strength in softness,
Toby

 


Soft forms of Psychic Self-Defence 

Normally when we think of psychic self-defence, both in the sense of defence from the negativity of others, from an energetically negative environment, or from our own negativity (depression, anger, jealousy etc…) we tend to think in terms of positive thinking, visualizing defences around us (a golden bubble of light that deflects the negativity etc…), fighting the negative, blocking it out, not letting it in, never giving up. These are what might be called the “hard” forms of psychic self defence, rather like karate and judo are called “hard” martial arts in the sense that they fight force with force, in a pattern of blocking, throwing and punching.
Of course there are the “soft” forms of martial art, which involve taking the force of your opponent and using it against them. This soft technique involves yielding to your opponents attack, and then re-directing the energy. The principle of the soft forms of psychic self defence that I am about to try and explain work on this same principle of non-resistance to negative forces. You let them flow in and around you using the principle of non-resistance, but the act of non-resistance itself acts as the dissipator of the negative force, rendering it non harmful. The soft forms of psychic self defence are in some ways a little more “advanced” than the hard forms, but they are well worth the effort because once you get the hang of them dealing with negativity becomes far less effort-full, and far more ergonomically efficient. Negativity is understood as simply an energy that can be flowed with and re-directed, rather than something to fear.

To explain these soft forms of psychic self defence I am going to use two images, because they speak very well to the “feeling” of the technique.

1) Sinking to the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Lets say I am fighting a regularly occurring depression. That  depression is like a swimming pool. Normally my way of dealing with it is to fight it, trying desperately to keep my head above water, but often finding myself struggling desperately at mid-depth, feeling surrounded by the movement of the emotion. The soft form of defence is this; rather than trying to stay afloat, deliberately I completely relax the mind and allow myself to self to sink down to the bottom of my “swimming pool of  depression”. At the bottom I simply rest and relax, surrounded by the water, deeply intimate with the emotional centre of the depression. I stay there quietly for a while, resting at the bottom of the pool (which is at the “centre” of the emotional vortex of the depression. When I am ready, having regained my strength, I push off from the bottom of the pool toward the surface. Because I have found the bottom of the pool, it is easy to push powerfully and easily back to the surface.

2) Removing sticks from the river bank
I’m talking to another person, who is downloading a lot of negative emotion and bile at me, and I am not feeling strong, in fact I am feeling overwhelmed by their negativity.  In this analogy the other persons “river of consciousness and energy”  is flowing into my river of consciousness. All of my own negative issues are like branches sticking out from the side of the river bank into the water. Any negative energy coming from the other person that is similar to any of my negative issues gets “caught” on the one of the branches, thus getting stuck and building up in my mind and energy system, making me feel overwhelmed.
The technique here is to mentally take out all of the branches from the river of my consciousness. As I feel the persons energy flowing over and through me, I note that some of my issues get triggered by their negativity. However, rather than tensing up, I consciously keep my body and mind relaxed, so that any negative energy flowing onto my river of consciousness from the other person does not get “stuck” but rather flows straight through me and out of my energy system, meeting nothing to get “caught” on.

So, two images there. The soft forms of psychic self defence are subtle and kind of counter intuitive, which is why using images and analogies works best to try and explain them. However, if you use the images I have given above I think it should not be too difficult to get a practical feeling for them, and begin to experiment with the soft form of psychic self defense in your own life.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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


Categories
A Mind of Ease Presence and being present The Essential Meditation of the Buddha Zen Meditation

The Pattern of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article on the pattern of meditation is really a summary of one of the big themes that has come out of the last two meditation workshops that I have done in January. I think if we understand this basic principle then it really helps to gain clarity on the what and the why of meditation.

Yours in the spirit of healthy patterns of consciousness,

Toby
     

The Pattern of Meditation

Each of us has three different facets of our fundamental, moment to moment experience:
1.       Our experience of physical or sensory awareness, and the objects within it.
2.      Our experience of mental awareness, and the thoughts, images, feelings and emotions within it.
3.      Our experience of awareness itself and the experience of inner spaciousness that it gives rise to.

If you think about your mental and sensory worlds as being like clouds, and the experience of spacious awareness itself being like the open sky, then this gives you a good image to work with.
If you think about your spacious awareness as being the water in a huge ocean, and the physical and mental appearances as being like the waves on the surface of that ocean, then that gives you another good image. One of the interesting things about this second image is that the waves are made of the same substance as the ocean. In terms of our analogy this hints that the mental and physical appearances to our mind arise from the ocean of conscious awareness itself, rather than being something separate.

For a non-meditating person, their consciousness tends to move to and fro between the first two types of awareness. It goes from attention to body to mind, from physical awareness to mental awareness, from thinking to doing. The only time that such a person really rests deeply in their experience of spacious awareness is when they are asleep, which they can’t remember, and so it is not much use to them!*(see note at bottom) As a result of this basic pattern of consciousness, most people remain totally identified with their body and mind as their ‘self’, and are unable to enjoy, rest in and leverage upon the third type of consciousness; spacious awareness.

The fundamental task of someone who meditates is to change the pattern of their consciousness so that it no longer goes only from body to mind, body to mind, body to mind, but rather alternates evenly from body to mind, to spacious awareness in equal amounts. The integration of spacious awareness into the consciousness pattern of a meditator enables them (amongst other things) to:

  • Relax regularly and deeply even when in the midst of busyness and stress
  • Overcome neurotic over-identification with their body and mind (or thinking and doing)
  • Become responsive to life rather than reactive
  • Become much more spontaneous and creative in their life, and think outside of the societal programming that they have been brought up with

Beginning to Integrate Inner Space into Your Life
To begin integrating spacious awareness into your life all you need to start doing is to notice that in each moment of your awareness there are three things available to you; what appears to your physical senses, what appears in your mental awareness, and the spacious awareness that surrounds and contains the first two. Just for short, regular periods of your day pay attention to this and, rather than focusing upon your body and thoughts, just rest in the experience of spacious awareness, focus on the sky itself, rather than the clouds.

*Long term meditation practice does include developing conscious awareness during sleep, and thus leveraging on the natural deep spacious awareness of the sleep state.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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

Categories
Meditation techniques mind body connection Motivation and scope One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Meditation at Christmas – Mindful Eating

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sincerest best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season  from myself and Integral Meditation Asia. Enjoy this weeks article!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,

Toby


Mindful Eating As Your Object of Meditation

The Christmas season is upon us, which, amongst other things involves gathering together to enjoy food in (hopefully) good company. With this in mind I got thinking about the different methods I have come across for transforming the act of eating into an act of meditative awareness. In general we eat every day, and so having a method of transforming eating into a mindfulness practice is invaluable for any meditator, as it means that the act of eating itself strengthens ones meditation practice and the practice of states of mind that lead directly or indirectly to the experience of happiness and/or insight.
In particular at Christmas which can have many spiritually and culturally connotations, mindful eating gives us a chance to enjoy the interface between our meditation practice and the enjoyment of delicious food.  I have outlined five techniques below from you can take your pick, or alternate between. With this in mind, here we go:

1. Eating with detachment – Delicious as the food may be, the great wisdom traditions of the world have always advised that food is in fact not a true source of lasting happiness, and have thus recommended that we temper our attachment to what we eat, and enjoy it without getting completely consumed by mindless gluttony. For those that have learned to practice detachment in a balanced way, the insight is that a certain level of detachment actually enhances the pleasure from any given activity, and this is also the case with food. By mindfully eating with a certain level of detachment the amount of enjoyment from the sensual experience of eating actually increases.

2. Eating with an altruistic intention – You can enjoy your food whilst at the same time motivating yourself to use the energy that you get from the food to bring benefit to the world. This is the kind of classic “Bodhisattva training practice” that one finds for example in Mahayana Buddhism. Before one eats one might think something like “My main wish is to be of benefit to others, in order to do this I am now going to sustain my body by eating this food”. With this in mind you can then enjoy your food in the same way that you normally do, but behind it lies a compassionate and loving motivation.

3. Regarding what is eaten as a manifestation of primal bliss and emptiness – This method is primarily a tantric method (for me one I learned within the Tibetan tradition),and consists of regarding the food that is eaten as primarily a manifestation of the causal, formless bliss that underlies that whole of the manifest world. Thus one eats with the recognition that behind the world of ordinary appearances (such as the food one is eating) lies the ever present bliss and spaciousness of spirit. This practice requires a certain level of experience in meditation, but it can be a fun one to play with even on a more elementary level of practice.

4. Eating with appreciation – Before one eats time is taken to appreciate the cooks, the circumstances in one’s life that make such nutritious/delicious food to be possible, the trees, plants and animals that provided the ingredients.  Eating with gratitude and appreciation provides a wonderful inner context for the enjoyment of good food.

5. Eating whilst putting down your baggage and having fun – In meditation classes I often tell people at the beginning of the session to put down their mental baggage before we begin to meditation. Similarly we can take the beginning of a meal as an opportunity to put down our mental baggage and engage in the simple act of eating in the present moment with enjoyment, like a mini eating meditation. If your mind is pre-occupied with its usual nonsense, there is always the danger that we waste the fun and enjoyment of food simply because we are mentally elsewhere!

Enjoy your food!
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Categories
Energy Meditation Meditation techniques mind body connection

Energetic Self-Healing

Hi Everyone,

I hope this message finds you well, this weeks article focuses on a practical healing technique that you may be surprised at both the simplicity and effectiveness of, enjoy!

The other practical piece of news from Integral Meditation Asia is that there are now structured meditation and life coaching programs, lasting from 3-6 months available. Up to this time I have been doing 1:1 sessions with clients on an ad-hoc basis. This new structure is designed to offer those that are interested in longer term coaching and personal growth work a format that provides both structure and consistency at a price that is very reasonable I think. If you are interested, do feel free to check out the link!

The run up to Christmas always seems to be a time where old established patterns suddenly come into a state of flux, a time of letting go and seeing how, and of trusting.

Yours in the spirit of integrated energy healing,

Toby


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

Wednesday 9th January, 7.30-9.30pm:  ”The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Two Hour Mini Workshop”

Wednesday 16th January, 7.30-9.30pm: “An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen”

Sunday 26th January – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: ”Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@integralmeditationasia.com, or call 65-68714117


Energetic Self-Healing

One of the things that I have really been struck by over the last year is how relatively easily and quickly I have been able to heal minor injuries in my body (mostly sports related) with the aid of a little meditative awareness, and conscious direction of subtle energy (synonymous with the Chinese concept of “Qi”, or the Yogic word “Prajna”) to the area of my body where the injury lies. I have been meditating and working with subtle energy for a long time, but I really have the feeling that this sort of self-healing through energy awareness is something that anyone can do with a little practice. With this in mind, what I am going to do now is explain a simple technique for energetic self-healing that you can try yourself with any minor injuries, with areas of the body that are tired / weak and need a little healing assistance.

Step 1: Connecting to energy
For this type of meditation I recommend having your feet on the floor, either sitting in a chair, or standing. Actually once you are used to it you can even do it lying down, but in the beginning just to get a feeling for it, I recommend upright with feet on the floor.
Relax and focus your mind deep within the earth beneath you. See within the centre of the earth a huge ocean or reservoir of subtle light, energy and life-force. See this life-force flowing up from the earth into your body through the soles of your feet, filling it from head to toe with light and energy.
Take a few slightly deeper breaths, as you breathe in feel all the cells in your body breathing the light into themselves, being energized and refreshed by it. As you breathe out feel the light and energy expanding through your cellular structure, relaxing the cells and releasing stuck energy and tension.

Step 2: Focusing the energy on the area that needs healing
Now focus your mind on the area of your body that needs healing work. See the light and energy in your body focusing in this part of your body.
For example if it is your shoulder joint, see the light gathering very intensely into that shoulder in general and into the dead centre of the shoulder joint specifically.
Now, as you breathe in really focus the energy intensely in this area, seeing the light going as deeply and intensely as it can into the heart of the injury. As you breathe out feel the whole injured area lighting up like a light bulb. As you are doing this you may feel some sharp pains in the injury as the energy starts to penetrate and circulate through the damaged area.
Breathe like this for as long as feels appropriate, 2-4 minutes should be fine for one go.

Step 3: Relaxing in stillness
Finally, simply spend a short period of time relaxing in physical and mental stillness, and in particular relaxing the injured area as deeply as possible. Just relax in deep stillness for a minute or so, or as long as you wish.

End

If you can do this meditation for five minutes, two/three times a day you may be surprised at the good effects you can get. As I say, I don’t believe you need to be an expert meditator to get solid practical results relatively quickly.

Once you are familiar with the basic process explained above, you can also use this technique to also work on healing damaged emotions and feelings. Basically you use the same technique, but you focus on the area of the body where you feel the damaged emotion/feeling, rather than the physical injury. Other than that the process is basically the same.
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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

Categories
Awareness and insight Enlightened love and loving Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation

Hi Everyone,

Light-heartedness is the theme of this weeks article, a seriously important meditation if you ask me!

 

Happy meditating!

Toby


Taking Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation

Light-heartedness is a state of mind and being that combines the elements of serious mindedness and deep caring with a sense of lightness and fun. It avoids the extremes of either:

  • Being over serious and heavy in our approach, or
  • Resorting to purely superficial/hedonistic fun as an “escape” from the pressures of our life.

Sometimes life can feel like an attritional battle that we are fighting and this is often partly because the imbalanced attitude that we are adopting toward our challenges only adds to the burden. Consciously practising light heartedness is a very good way of increasing our stamina and ability to bear our burdens effectively whilst at the same time having more genuine fun.
The ability to practice light-heartedness arises from the insight that fun and seriousness are not mutually exclusive poles, but qualities that can be (and need to be) combined together in order to experience life fully and richly. When you are having fun with someone whom you care for deeply and seriously, that fun is enhanced and much deeper in quality. When you are in a serious situation and you are able to retain an element of lightness and relaxation, then that serious situation can become fun, and the levels of consequent fulfilment arising from it increases correspondingly.

To be light-hearted is to hold things lightly whist caring deeply.

How to meditate on light-heartedness

“Breathing in I hold it lightly,
Breathing our I care deeply”

Take a situation in your life; at work, at home, in your relationships or whatever. With this situation in mind take a few meditative breaths. As you breathe, focus on the two sentences above:

  • As you breathe in consciously introduce the theme and quality of holding the situation lightly, maybe smile gently to yourself as you do so.
  • As you breathe out open yourself to a deep caring for the situation; don’t duck that which demands that you take this situation with appropriate seriousness.

Continue breathing in this way until you feel as if you have found the balance in your attitude between lightness/fun and caring/appropriate seriousness. You might think of this light-hearted attitude as being like a kind of “playful, involved detachment”. Become familiar with this state of light-heartedness by just breathing with it for a little while longer.

Once you are familiar with light-heartedness as a meditative exercise (and the exercise need only take 3mins or so to practice at any given time) then your job becomes to consciously sustain this attitude whilst in the middle of your daily activities, so that it becomes a habitual approach to what you do. Whenever you feel like you have lost your link to light-heartedness, simply come back to the breathing in the manner described above and re-establish it in your awareness as an approach.

As well as increasing the quality and genuine fun on your own personal experience, I think light-heartedness is a great social skill to have. People naturally appreciate and gravitate towards people who radiate caring and lightness. Why wouldn’t they? Instinctively I believe it is how many of us would like to be, but perhaps don’t quite know how.

This article and meditation technique is an invitation to the “how” of light-heartedness, enjoy!

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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

Categories
Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Presence and being present Primal Spirituality

What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing?

Dear Toby,

In last week’s article I talked about balancing the development of the ego and the spirit, in this week’s article I take a practical look at non-doing, a powerful practice for developing your spiritual being that also has many benefits on the other levels of your being. It comes under the category of practices that are sometimes described as “effortless effort” or “the pathless path”. So, if making progress with no effort sounds like a good deal to you, read on 😉
I have to say in the history of my own life and practice, in my times of deepest discomfort and unhappiness in have found that this practice has offered me a perennially effective path out, or I suppose I should say it has offered me a perennial “non-path” out.

Yours in the spirit of non-doing,

Toby


 

What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

Non-Doing: The What and the Why?
The practice of “non-doing” as a meditative “training” (or “non-training”) is most often overtly found in the paths of the Tao and of Zen, but if you look closely you can find analogous practices in all the major wisdom traditions of the world, and in particular those that are consciously teaching and embodying a non-dual path.
To practice non-doing means essentially to practice doing nothing, or no-thing on the physical and mental level and with gentle alertness rest our mind in our own primary awareness. That is to say the awareness that acts as the basis of our daily experience of doing and being, but is normally “hidden by the noise” so to speak. Originally the practice of non-doing was taught as a spiritual practice, that is a method for discovering our own True Nature or Spiritual Self, but the benefits of the practice actually extend to many levels of our being.

The Benefits and Purpose of Non-Doing:

Biological/Body level: On the body/biological level non-doing allows our body to relax deeply and regenerate its energy, as well as encouraging our internal organs and nervous system to come back into balance and harmony. It also sharpens our connection to our physical senses, as well as creating space for us to become more aware of our inner senses (subtle touch, sight, hearing  etc…) and how they function. Of course there is always a certain section of the population who are interested in the development of their “psychic senses” or abilities. One essential ingredient to developing this aspect of inner consciousness development is to spend quality time watching and listening to each moment that arises whilst otherwise doing nothing.

Ego level: On an ego level the practice of non-doing enables us to regularly detach from the goals and activities of our daily life, and reconnect to ourselves as a human-being rather than a human-doing. It gives us the space to assess what is important and what is not, what needs to be held onto and what can be dropped, and creates the inner awareness to make these kinds of decisions consciously and non-compulsively. It also creates time for feeling deeply and allowing our psychological being to “catch up with itself” so to speak, and process whatever baggage we have been carrying around.

Soul Level: Non-doing creates an inner space where we can listen closely and become more aware of the deeper motivations of our soul and callings of our inner heart. It creates space for us to connect to our higher mind and the trans-rational and psychic faculties that go with it. It creates a space where our true depth of being and character can emerge.

Spiritual level: Non-doing is a practice that by explicitly cutting out all of our “doing” and activities encourages us to move into a direct communication the timeless, formless “always already” dimension of or being that was never born, that never dies, that is liberated from suffering and is our “true home”. Non-doing is a “non-exercise” that repeatedly creates an environment for us to recognize that our enlightened nature is, was and always will be something inseparable from our everyday daily awareness. Spiritual enlightenment is not something that we become, it is something that we recognize we are already, but had forgotten.

How to Practice the Meditation on Non-Doing

Step 1: Set aside a period of time, from 3minutes to an hour (whatever you have, and whatever feels appropriate). Short, regular periods of non-doing, say 3-5minutes 3-5 times a day can be really very effective. You can do it as a formal sitting meditation, or just sitting on the couch, having a cup of tea/coffee. Even slow activities like washing up or walking can be a space to practice non-doing. Even though literally  you may in fact be doing the something the activity is simple enough to combine with non-doing practice.

Step 2: Within the time you have allotted yourself here are the “rules”:

  • Be no-one: Forget about who you are, drop your “story”, let go of the continuous ego-conversation in your head about yourself. Don’t worry, it will pick itself up again just fine once you have finished.
  • Do no-thing: Keep your physical and mental activities to a bare minimum. Empty your mind as fully as possible and don’t hold onto any objects that pass through your mental awareness. Physically sit still, or if you are engaging in a simple activity such as walking or doing the washing up, do the activity relatively slowly and with full awareness.
  • Go no-where: Temporarily drop your worldly aspirations, your struggles, dilemmas, anxieties and conundrums. Drop also the things that you normally enjoy and or are attached to filling your mind with. Just be here and pay attention to that.

Relax, be and pay attention to that experience fully.

Step 3:Taking the experience of non-doing into the rest of your life.
As we engage repeatedly in the above two steps, one of the things we start to realize that the person who does not “do” in our life but always “is” can be present in our awareness all of the time, even when we are fully engaged in the busy-ness of our daily life. This awareness can become a rock around which we can build deep inner security, which paradoxically we may find enables us to take greater appropriate “risks” or make big changes in other areas of our life.
The nicest thing about it from a purely energetic point of view is that the practice of non-doing does not require a huge amount of effort, as by its very nature it is all about putting stuff down and doing less! But I guess that is the challenge for many of us; are we prepared to really commit to developing the wisdom of non-doing and make it a priority in our life?
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, one thing I find is that the clarity that comes from non-doing often saves time in the sense that we find more efficient ways of doing what needs to be done and less time chasing our own tail.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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

Categories
Awareness and insight Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Motivation and scope

Balancing the Development of Your Ego and Spirit

Hi Everyone,

The concerns of our ego and the concerns of spirit are often set up as being mutually antagonistic to each other, but is this really the case? This weeks article looks at ways that we can begin to synchronize our ego and our spiritual selves in to a complementary unity, where they are mutually supporting each other.

Yours in the spirit or harmonization,

Toby


 

Balancing the Development of  Your Ego and Spirit

Within the traditional spiritual worldview the ego is often set up as the opponent or enemy of spiritual life. Similarly in traditional psychoanalytic circles, spiritual experiences are reduced to merely pre-rational fantasy, or at best treated with deep scepticism.
An integral perspective to self-development attempts to bring together egoic and spiritual development into a complementary, mutually supporting unity, even though our ego-self and our spiritual-self are two very different levels and modes of being.

For the purposes of this article what I mean by ego is as follows:
The ego refers to the different psychological structures that combine together to create our functional personality or “psychological- self” that exists in the day to day world of conventional time and space.

What I mean by spirit is as follows:
Our spiritual self is the timeless, formless dimension of our being that is liberated from all suffering, and that experiences itself as being in union and communion with all life and the Universe as a whole.

These two dimensions of our being as I say are very much contrasting, almost “opposite ends of the spectrum of self” so to speak. In this article I am going to present developing the health of the ego as having three facets or aspects:

  • Going somewhere
  • Doing something
  • Being someone

Conversely, I am going to suggest that cultivating a healthy connection to our Spiritual self has three aspects:

  • Relaxing deeply and going nowhere
  • Doing no-thing, or practicing non-doing
  • Being no-one.

To develop our ego and spirit in a complementary manner, we need to be able to do develop our skill in BOTH of the above sets of activities.

Going Somewhere/Going Nowhere

To develop and maintain a healthy ego you need to have goals in life and strategies that give you a way of moving toward the achievement of those goals. Without such goals and strategies the ego loses motivation and becomes vulnerable to many forms of psychological ill health.
Developing one’s connection to spirit involves regularly creating and entering into spaces where you consciously drop all your goals, forget about “direction” and focus all your awareness in being absolutely and fully where you ARE without any idea of going anywhere else!

Doing Something/Doing No-Thing

Healthy ego growth requires that one fills one’s time with healthy and appropriate activities in ones personal, work and relationship life that keep our personality and “everyday self” (ie: our ego) engaged, happy and learning.
Connecting to our  spiritual self  involves deliberately entering periods of doing no-thing in order to cultivate our awareness and connection to what lies beyond the world of things, and to decrease our attachment and over identification with “what we do” and mistaking it for “who we are.

Being Someone/Being No-one

A sound ego-self is a self that has a clear sense of positive identity, an “I” that is resilient, realistically optimistic, has self-worth and self-compassion, that sees itself positively in relation to other people it is in relationship to, and to the world in which it finds itself.
To create a relationship to and identification with our spiritual self involves regularly dropping all of the ideas and images that our ego has about who we are, and temporarily becoming a nobody, or a no-one. This is because it is only when we drop our fixed idea of who we are as an individual that we can start to experientially identify with the “self that we are” on the metta, universal or spiritual level.

Doing Both/And

The main point here is that in order to develop our ego and our spirit in complementary tandem we need to get comfortable with the doing both of the above sets of practices:

  • We need to be going somewhere as an ego, whilst regularly creating spaces for “going nowhere” in our life, within which we can cultivate awareness of our ever present spiritual being.
  • Be doing something as an ego in the sense of keeping our self constructively occupied and learning whilst also getting comfortable with spiritually doing no-thing, that is to say cultivating absolute contentment and comfort with your“being-ness” rather than staying stuck in your “doing-ness”.
  • Be someone as an ego in the sense of developing a healthy self-identity whilst simultaneously being no-one in the sense of learning not to over identify with our ego-self and embrace the larger sense of self that lies beyond the world of form.

A Challenging Balance

Negotiating the balance between ego development and spiritual development can be quite a challenge, but once we start to get a feel for it and start to really synchronize our ego and spirit together in harmony the results in our life in terms of the deep health of our being are indeed profound.
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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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Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Motivation and scope spiritual intelligence

Cultivating the Beauty, Truth and Goodness of the Soul

Dear Integral Meditators,

Last weeks article on the Fulfillment of the Ego, Soul and Spirit looked in general at these three fundamental levels of our being and how we can go about evolving and developing them together. This weeks article focuses on the Soul level of development, and offers a specific practical technique for developing the qualities of our Soul on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of truth, beauty and goodness,

Toby


Cultivating the Beauty, Truth and Goodness of the Soul

We can measure our development as human beings in three ways:

  • In Egoic terms we can measure our development in terms of temporal achievements; competency in the tasks and work we do, ability to build successful and happy relationships, fulfilling our responsibilities, balancing work, rest and play, and so on.
  • In terms of our Soul (or Deeper Self), development arises from the cultivation of the principles of goodness, beauty and truth within our inner being. This is also often related to our outer activities, but fundamentally it involves cultivation of inner virtues, of which there are many, but all of which can be included under these umbrella terms of the good, the beautiful and the true. These three concepts used as a unit (goodness, beauty, truth) can be traced back to Plato, but they have currently been widely adopted in the Contemporary Integral Consciousness Movement. Essentially our development as a soul can be measured according to the degree that we possess and express these qualities of inner beauty, goodness and truth.
  • In terms of the development of our Spiritual Self our evolution can be measured in terms of our ability to recognize and rest within our true nature, or eternal being, that which is already awakened, perfect and unified within us.

In this article I am going to be focusing on a practical method for developing ourself on the soul level on a daily basis. As you can see from the above definition, the soul development is really quite an extensive task that we engage in over a whole lifetime (and, from a certain perspective multiple lifetimes), but we can ground this long-term soul development in a quite simple daily exercise, taking only 10minutes or less, as follows:

Step 1: Ask yourself the question “What have I done over the last 24 hours to improve my experience and embodiment of beauty, goodness and truth?” Then write down three short answers to this, one for beauty, one for goodness, one for truth. Once you have written them down, take a moment to appreciate these actions and the contribution they have made to your inner soul development

Step 2: Ask yourself the question which of my daily actions today were discordant with either goodness, beauty or truth, and how can I change in the future to avoid such unhelpful activities, and/or transform them? Again, write down your answers.

Some Examples of Responses to Step 1 From my Own Journal:
Below are some simple examples from my own daily journal. I think you will see that many of the things are quite “everyday” type activities (that anyone can do) and that you do too each day, but nonetheless, they are entirely valid as vehicles for our Souls development.

Beauty:

  • I stopped to appreciate the wind blowing through a Bodhi tree growing from the sidewalk for a couple of minutes on the way to catch the bus.
  • I spent an hour enjoying painting with my daughter
  • I read 20minutes of “To a Mountain in Tibet” by Colin Thubron, a beautiful piece of travel writing

Goodness:

  • I made the effort to avoid judging miserable looking people at the super market, and generate consideration and compassion for them instead.
  • I recycled my spare cans, bottles and waste paper today.
  • I spent a couple of hours coaching people today, helping them to develop and integrate the three levels of their inner being (ego, soul, spirit).

Truth:

  • I admitted to myself that I am angry about certain aspects of my relationship to a close friend; I resolved not to let it ruin our relationship, but instead try and take the higher, more patient and openly communicative road.
  • Reading the book “Evolutionaries” by Carter Phipps I realized that the choice we are often presented with in the mainstream media between either the reductionist scientific idea of evolution or the absolute belief in a mythic God who created the world in 7 days is a complete illusion. Neither of these opposing poles gets close to the great work that is being done in the fields of evolutionary spirituality, which happily (and I think successfully) merges evolution and religion.

An Example of Step 2 From my Own Journal:
(This is a kind of funny one, but I also hope it makes the point!)

  • I have noticed that I have become mildly obsessed with choosing a new squash racket, and have tended to spend too much time surfing the web looking at all sorts of brands and obsessing away, when really I could be spending less time on this and using the time to do some meaningful work for Integral Meditation Asia! The battle plan to change this is simple; draw a line under the search for a squash racket, and, when I sit down at the computer focus on the important and meaningful tasks first!

The Goal and Result of Consistent Soul Development
The goal and result of consistent Soul level development could be described in the following way: “Depth of Presence”. When we make the effort every day to develop out inner goodness, beauty and truth over time we become a deep and resonant human being with enough inner joy and wisdom to provide not only for ourself, but to act as a source of joy and wisdom for other people.
Sometimes we meet a person who seems very impressive, but over time as we get to know them we realize that the impressiveness is actually rather shallow. Other people we get to know may not interest us so much at first, but over time we become more and more aware of their depth, substance and quality as a human being. The latter type of person is one who has the “depth of presence” that comes from Soul development, or the commitment to developing their  inner goodness, beauty and truth.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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

 
Categories
Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques spiritual intelligence Uncategorized

Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

Dear All,

I hope this message finds you well, this weeks article compares and contrasts the needs and desires of the ego, the soul and the spirit within us, and how we can begin satisfying their different desires for happiness and fulfillment together, rather than have them competing against each other.

When I was in my early twenties I sacrifices a lot of the needs and desires of my soul and ego in order to fulfill the wishes of my spiritual self. Although it was worth it in the sense that I got what I wanted (in terms of spiritual realization), in reality my soul and ego paid quite a price for my spiritual ambition and unwavering willpower. Over the last decade of my life I have come to realize that actually a person can accomplish spiritual realization without having to sacrifice the needs and desires of the soul and ego in quite such a drastic way as I did, and what I try and explain in my teaching practice at Integral Meditation Asia is how to balance the needs and wishes of the ego, the soul and the spirit, enabling them all to grow and develop together in harmony with each other, in such a way that they mutually support each others needs and goals!

Yours in the spirit of integral growth and development,

Toby


Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

What might an integrated fulfilment of our happiness look like? One way of considering this question is to look at three levels of  our being, and how each one of them exerts a different set of demands upon us in terms of what they are seeking, and what will enable them to find satisfaction and happiness.

The three levels of being working with I am calling the ego-self, the soul-self and the spiritual self or true self. All of them are important to our overall level of happiness and fulfillment in life.

The ego-self , personality or “frontal self” seeks happiness primarily through appropriate and satisfying work, relationships and a healthy self-image. The sort of work and relationships that give the ego happiness are generally ones that will give it a sense of worth within the context of the society in which the person lives. The consensus idea of what satisfying work and relationships are, as well as a self-image that “fits in” with the norm of what society thinks of as a happy, successful person are likely to be satisfactory for a person who is only active on the ego level, and largely dormant on the soul and the spiritual level.

The soul or deeper self seeks happiness through the practice of virtue or, put another way through actions that is some way express what is good, and/or what is beautiful, and/or what is true. The soul-self seeks to find and express that which is unique about itself, and to find the sorts of activities and relationships that “makes the soul sing” so to speak.
Often as not the soul will seek these experiences of deeper satisfaction and virtue through a deeper enquiry into what type of work and what type of relationships really give rise to happiness, and how work and relationships can become an expression of deeper meaning and connectivity to life.
This process of enquiry may take the person away from the “societal norms” of what a good job is, or what a happy, meaningful relationship is and move them toward a less conventional way of working, being and relating that is considered somewhat eccentric by others, but which provides a much deeper level of happiness and satisfaction to the individual soul.

The Spiritual Self, or the True Self is the aspect of self that is always and already perfect, complete, fulfilled and satisfied as it is. You cannot satisfy this self by going somewhere or becoming something, you can only find happiness in this self by recognizing it, awakening to it and being it.
One of the primary ways in which you awaken to the spiritual self is through meditation, where you learn to rest in the present moment “as it is” without looking to go anywhere or do anything. The spiritual self is outside the world of time and form. there is nothing that needs to be “done” for us to find it or for it to give us happiness. The happiness of the true self or spiritual self is found simply by recognizing it and resting in it. This is incredibly simply on one level, but our ego (and often our soul also) finds it very difficult to do, as it involves letting go of everything we think we are, temporarily “dying to ourself” so to speak.

“So What Does All This Mean?”

Well, the search for integrated happiness on the ego, soul and spiritual level might then look like this:

  • On the ego level we would find happiness and satisfaction by leading a well organized life where we seek fulfilling work and relationships.
  • On the soul level, within the context of the above well organized life we would make room for a deeper sense of enquiry into the meaning and purpose of our life. We would be prepared also to make changes and accept challenges in our life that would make accommodate the needs and desires of our soul to find deeper meaning and purpose in our life, to make our life an expression of deep goodness, beauty and truth.
  • On the spiritual level we would spend time each day resting in the present moment, recognizing that there is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go to find ultimate fulfillment, as that ultimate fulfillment is here already, and we have never been separate from it.

Is it Easy to Do?

Many of the people that I coach seek out coaching because they are trying to deal with the tensions that come from awakening to a new level of their being. For example if a person has basically been functioning on the ego or personality level, and then awakens to the soul level, then suddenly many of the activities and relationships that they previously engaged in no longer appear satisfactory. They find themselves with new desires that they find difficult to understand. They experience anxiety because they feel as if they are becoming a new person without all of the old securities of the “old self” that they were. As such it is my job to discern the stage that people are at in their development, and help them make choices and engage in practices that will help them negotiate this transformative stage in their life successfully and securely, without avoiding or running away from the genuine challenges involved.

As such trying to balance out the demands of all three of these levels can be a challenge indeed, but the nice thing about engaging in the process of trying is that there are really an infinite number of levels and qualities of happiness and fulfillment that can be found in our life.

A Short Practice:

Once you are basically familiar with the three levels of self outlined above you can try asking yourself these three questions each day:

  • “What does my ego need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What does my soul need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What can I do to connect to connect to the happiness and fulfillment that is already present within my spiritual being and true self?”

Listen to the answers that come back from these three questions, and act upon them.
© Toby Ouvry 2012, 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