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How did I get through tough times as a Monk?

“Resilient endurance in the face of the ongoing difficulties is more a matter of imaginative compassion than simply ‘getting tougher’”

Dear Toby, 

This week’s article explores how I used a particular meditation technique to work with difficulties when I was a monk. If you enjoy it, we will be focusing upon it as a part of this weeks Tuesday & Wednesday meditation class


In the spirit of compassionate imagination,

Toby



How did I get through tough times as a Monk?
 
During my time as a Buddhist monk, there were plenty of times when I felt I had my back against the wall.

  • Lack of financial & material resources was always a threat
  • Being an unknown element in a mainstream society mean that not all attention was good attention by any means
  • The organization that I worked for was often understaffed in terms of manpower, and so there was often a sense of having to do several different (unpaid) jobs at the same time
  • The path of meditation itself threw up many things to be processed as I moved from one level to the next.

There was a particular set of meditation instructions called ‘Lojong’, or ‘instructions for training the mind’ which was particularly useful at such times. I would even go as far as to say it was my main practice, in the sense of the one that I derived the most value from. I’ll describe below a simple process that I would follow in meditation that really captures the essence of it. For the sake of an example, let’s imagine that the suffering I am contemplating is the heat and discomfort of being a monk in Singapore, where it is very hot and humid, and I was often living in placed without air-conditioning.
 
A visual tool
These meditations were often done with a jewel of enlightenment visualized at my heart. The jewel would be made of light and have the essence of my enlightened nature.
 
“May all my future sufferings ripen upon me now”
This first position involved contemplating the suffering or confusion that I was going through, and then, in the spirit of compassion say something like:
 
“May all my future suffering of this kind ripen upon me right now
 
I would then imagine all the future suffering, to use the example all the discomfort and dizziness of living with too much heat, gathering around me as dark light and smoke. It them ‘ripened upon me now’ by dissolving into the ‘jewel of enlightenment’ at my heart, eventually disappearing. I would then strongly think that all my future suffering regarding heat had already been endured, and that I was free from it, relaxing into the joy of that recognition.
So, of course I was still sitting in the heat of Singapore, and would continue to do so. But the effect of the meditation, at least for a while is that my mental and emotional pain around the heat would reduce dramatically, and I could continue on in a state of relative peace and calm.
 
“May the sufferings of others ripen upon me now”
A further development of this was reflecting upon the fact that my suffering was only one persons’, and that there were many other living beings experiencing the same and worse regarding discomfort and pain around heat/temperature. So then reflecting upon this compassionately I would contemplate “May the sufferings of heat of all living beings ripen upon me now!”
I would then imagine this pain & suffering gathering around me like a cloud of dark, hot(!) smoke, and see it then dissolving into the jewel of enlightenment at my heart, eventually disappearing.  I would then meditate strongly on the thought that all those suffering from heat in different ways had been liberated, and were now free and happy. I took this joyful recognition as an object of meditation for a few minutes.
 
The purpose of doing this meditation was not to be masochistic, rather it was, and is to:

  • Develop resilient endurance in the face of the ongoing difficulties
  • Strengthen compassion and reduce unhealthy self-obsession
  • Find joy in the process of releasing ourself and others from pain and sufferings

Reading the sequence through initially may leave you thinking “Eeeuw, no way!” but doing the practice a few times, we start to see how effective it is at reducing our pain and suffering in the moment, and finding ways to get through challenging times relatively unscathed. It certainly was and is a method I’ve found most useful in my own path.
 
Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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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Trusting your inner guru

“In any path of mastery, the purpose of the outer guru is to reveal the inner guru.”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article is a reflection on developing confidence in your own inner guidance. If you enjoy it, the theme will be quite a big part of this Tuesday & Wednesday’s Wesak Class  meditation.

Heads up for this weekend’s Awakening to benevolence & compassion mini-retreat on Saturday the 25th.

Finally, I have created a new series starting Tues /Weds 25th & 26th June – The Wisdom of Awakening Series:  Meditations for cultivating your inner guidance & guru, which obviously relates closely to the article, exploring this theme in depth…

In the spirit of your inner guru,

Toby


Trusting your inner guru
 
I spent the first ten years of my meditation practice training in the Tibetan Buddhist path. After four years I had become a monk. After four years as a monk I could feel that I was approaching the end of my tenure with that group and with my guru or teacher at that time. That summer I went back to the UK from Singapore to listen to teachings and meditate with the spiritual community, as had been my habit for several years. By far and away the most significant words I heard from my guru over those two week’s was “The purpose of the outer guru is to reveal the inner guru.” These words were like a mantra for me for the next nine months, by the end of which time I had decided to leave my life as a monk and go back into lay life, whilst continuing my path as a meditation teacher. The difference was that now I was just a meditation teacher, not from any group or tradition, just teaching and offering guidance as myself.
 
The purpose of quietening the mind

A side effect of meditation is to calm the mind, and therefore to experience less negative stress and more peace. If we are interested in meditation as a creative path of awakening, we can also see that quietening the superficial noise in the mind is also to put us in touch with the deeper voices, intuitions and impulses that are showing us the way along our path in life.
 
What outer gurus & guides have that we do not

An outer guru, in order to be one who has any qualification, has to be in touch with his or her inner signals. S/he must have established a stable link to the higher and deeper levels of her consciousness, where the guidance comes from. The function of the Guru, if they are worth their salt is to empower/enable their students to get in touch with their inner guidance so that, eventually, the student becomes independent of the master. If a master teaches students to become independent in this way, s/he may find that there is quite a high turnover rate in their classes. Or alternatively, students go and return to the master as their own (ie: The student’s) inner guidance inclines them.  By teaching independence, the master avoids the co-dependency that happens in many groups.
 
Courage as the first virtue & your inner sense of timing (when I left my life as a monk)

I can remember the exact moment that I new I would leave my life as a monk. It was in Los Angeles, at another spiritual gathering with my old Tibetan group. I came in slightly late for the final chanting session, and found myself sitting a few seats back from the main group in the room. As I sat there, I realized I simply was no longer with this group (a purely intuitive and energetic sensibility), and I knew I would be leaving. In the subsequent months, telling my guru I was leaving and setting out on my own was a time full of anxiety and courage in equal amounts. I knew that if I didn’t have the courage to move forward at this time, I would be going fundamentally against the grain of my inner guidance and guru. My inner guru was now the primary guide in my life, but really feeling fully confident in that would be a work in progress for a number of years subsequently!
 
A short story

I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts above; I’ll end with a short story from Anthony De Mello that speaks to this is a fun way:
 
AVOIDANCE
A tourist, looking at the portraits of former Masters in the temple said. “Are there any
Masters left on earth?”
“There is one.” said the guide. The tourist solicited an audience with the Master and
started with the question, “Where are the great Masters to be found today?”
“Traveller.” cried the Master.
“Sir!” the tourist answered reverently.
“Where are YOU?”

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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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Individualism, Self-esteem, Universal love – Aspects of rational mindfulness

“Practice looking at your experiences as an observer, like you were a fly on the wall. It gives you space between you and your life, & access to the creative ideas & solutions that suggest themselves when you observe consistently in this way”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

I think of the “rational mindfulness” described below as the lynch-pin between lower & higher stages of consciousness. If you are good at it, it holds together all of the other parts of your consciousness in a benevolent, stable manner. I hope you enjoy it! If you do it will be the subject of this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday class practice.

Heads up for the Wesak Class  next week, 21st & 22nd May, & the Awakening to benevolence & compassion mini-retreat on Saturday the 25th.

Also, I’ve just posted the Stress transformation & Emotional intelligence  workshops for June.

In the spirit of the fly on the wall,

Toby


Individualism, Self-esteem, Universal love – Aspects of rational mindfulness
 
As we grow into our teenage years, if we grow psychologically in a balanced way, we should find the emergence of a third person, or rational-objective perspective starts to emerge. Whereas previously it was all ‘me’, ’mine’, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, we can now practice standing outside a personal, subjective view. We can consider events and experiences objectively, making assessments based upon that. Several transformations and capabilities come from this. If we can apply them to our sense of self and who we are in the world, then we become a ‘rational’ person in the holistic sense of the world, which is a beautiful thing. What I have done below is list a few of the capabilities of the rational self, with some suggestions regarding how they can be practiced.
 
Being a fly on the wall – Practice looking at yourself and your experiences as an observer, like you were a fly on the wall. This takes you out of your subjective view and into a third person, objective view. Holding this non-judgmental ‘observer position is really the essential mindfulness practice. Doing it gives you space between you and your life, and access to the creative ideas and solutions that suggest themselves when you observe consistently in this way.
 
Goal setting – Thinking about your goals, picturing them in your mind and then working consistently to realize them is a core rational-objective mindful capability. It enables you to move beyond ‘how you feel’ at any given time, and keep on moving forward, gently, and consistently. This can be practised on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
 
Compartmentalizing – This practice enables you to separate out the different activities in your life and their attending emotions from each other, so that you can work on each one descreetly at different times. This means that you avoid one activity or emotion from let’s say your personal life interfering with your work life, and vice-versa. This is difficult to do without being able to step back and consider your life objectively.
 
World-centric love and compassion – When you step back and consider yourself and others objectively, you can see that there are many commonalities that we share with all humans and living creatures, and that all of us have basic value and worth. Based upon this objective position, we can develop an even-minded consideration and benevolence for all the people we meet, regardless of whether we know them personally or not. Practiced in this way, rational mindfulness can lead to an explosion of our sense of love and compassion for the world.
 
Individualism and self-esteem – When we stand back from ourselves, we can assess ourself as having a value as an individual, and start to articulate our own goals regarding happiness and fulfilment. We can then take pride in developing our capacity to move toward those goals effectively, and build a good life. This in turn gives us a further sense of self-esteem. Not only this, but we can then take joy in encouraging others to see their own inherent value, and encouraging them to grow and express themselves as individuals.
 
So, whenever you engage in any of these activities, you are helping to develop your holistic rational, third person capacity. Practice them all together and you can grow it in an integrated and balanced manner!

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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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Spiritual aspects of healing – The medicine Buddha

Spiritual healing is the art of bringing a higher, more whole and inclusive dimension of reality to bear upon a lower dimension, in order to bring that greater wholeness, healing and inclusivity to bear upon the lower dimension, thus effecting healing.

(Link to image source)

Dear Integral Meditators, 

The article below looks at principles of spiritual healing practice in general, and also specifically in terms of Medicine Buddha practice, which is something I picked up in my days as a Buddhist monk, and continue to engage with today. If you enjoy the article & are curious, do join me live or online for the Medicine Buddha Healing meditation this Saturday 11am-12.15pm.

Also, if you know anyone looking to get their meditation practice started, or if you want to get your own practice rebooted, then I recommend this Saturday’s session:Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever

 
In the spirit of healing,

Toby


Spiritual aspects of healing – The medicine Buddha

What is spiritual healing? You might think about spiritual healing in terms of this definition:
Spiritual healing is the art of bringing a higher, more whole and inclusive dimension of reality to bear upon a lower dimension, in order to bring that greater wholeness, healing and inclusivity into the lower dimension, thus effecting healing.
To practice spiritual healing is then basically learning to meditate (Yes, mediate, or channel) higher, deeper dimensions of energy to people or places where healing is needed. It can be done in different ways:

  • To effect physical or psychological healing for ourself
  • To effect physical or psychological healing for others
  • To direct healing energy to groups of people or places on the planet

What/who is the Medicine Buddha
The Medicine buddha practice is an example of a spiritual healing practice. Sometimes Buddha’s are linked to actual people, but more often these are mythic rather than factual stories, and the Buddha in question is more of an embodiment of a particular enlightened quality, a primal archetype rather than a ‘person’. In the case of the Medicine Buddha, he may be thought of as the healing power of all the Buddhas (and our own enlightened Buddha nature) embodied in a human form, albeit with a blue body (!)
Having been related to in this way for over two thousand years, visualizing the Medicine Buddha and reciting his healing mantra provides a ready-made pathway in the human group consciousness that we can use to access this particular spiritual healing energy from the higher dimensions of reality to bring healing to ourself and others.

Paradigms for understanding disease
In the traditional Medicine Buddha teachings, there are four types of disease/illness:

  1. Illness that we can recover from without medicine (physical or spiritual)
  2. Illnesses that we need medicines to recover properly from
  3. Illnesses that have a ‘soul’ level or karmic cause, and that cannot be healed by physical medicine alone, but can be healed through spiritual healing practice
  4. Illness that is essentially untreatable, spiritually or with traditional medicine, and that we cannot recover from once they manifest.

From this we can see that spiritual healing practices like the Medicine Buddha are primarily helpful for the third class of disease, and as a preventative for helping to avoid the fourth class of disease coming into manifestation. In my own practice of the Medicine Buddha, I primarily focus on:

  1. Daily practice as a future disease prevention. This is a bit like taking supplements to increase immunity(!)
  2. Working to build strength and wholeness in the ‘weak’ spots in my body, again making illness and injury less likely
  3. In relation to symptoms of diseases I get, for example reducing pain and activating healing around a recent gastric flu I had. This was in conjunction with regular TCM type medication.
  4. For others I know who are sick and in need of healing, or who are vulnerable to illness

Healing meditation with the medicine Buddha, 3 ways
The methodology used to do spiritual healing is often deceptively simple, in the case of the Medicine Buddha it can be done in a very simple way by:

  • Generating a compassionate motivation
  • Visualizing him in the space in front of you, setting your specific intention for requesting healing
  • Reciting his mantra
  • Imagining healing light and nectar flowing down from his heart (where the mantra sits), into the person, area of the body or part of the world where you want the healing energy to flow
  • Finishing with a brief period of stillness

The mantra itself is Sanskrit:
TAYATHA OM GATE GATE, PARAGATE, PARASANGATE BODHI SOHA

(Link to image source)

This means quite literally ‘Oh doctor (Gate), doctor, great doctor, doctor of doctors, please grant us the healing attainments!’
The practice may look simple, childish even, but combined with good quality intention and focus, the effects can be felt quite rapidly and easily. It’s a practice I have had for years, if your looking for another dimension to your own healing methodologies, this is one I highly recommend.

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Mindful transitioning – Your life as meditation

“Effective mindfulness & meditation is not just about learning to hold particular states in a focused manner, equally importantly it is about the skill of making the transition from one state of mind to another smoothly and ergonomically”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at making transitions in our consciousness as a practice in itself. There is a huge benefit in getting good at this if you take the time to!

In the Tuesday & Wednesday Meditation class this week we will be meditating on our ‘other & we space’; the capacity to see things from another persons point of view, and also become sensitive to the space that lies between people in couples & groups! 

If you know anyone looking to get their meditation practice started, or if you want to get your own practice rebooted, then I recommend this Saturdays session:Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever
And also this Saturday those of you interested in Mantra meditation & spiritual healing will enjoy the Medicine Buddha Healing meditation, 11am-12.15pm.
 
In the spirit of mindful transitioning,

Toby


Mindful transitioning
 
Effective mindfulness and meditation are not just about learning to hold particular states in a focused manner. It is also, and equally importantly about the skill of making the transition from one state of mind to another smoothly and ergonomically.
 
What is the best state of mind to be in?
During the day we do many different activities, each of these requires a different state of mindful attention. For example:

  • The optimal state of attention when at dinner with our partner or date is very different from the state of being focused on work at our workstation. One is more functional and quantitative, the other more open and qualitative
  • Being with children requires a different state of mind from being with adults
  • Singular focus on one task is very different from being in a meeting and ‘reading the room’ with our awareness

So, during the day, in order to be mindfully effective, we need to be able to transition from one state or awareness to another appropriately. If we get stuck rigidly in different states, then we are going to struggle to bring our best to the different things we do, perform to our potential and enjoy each activity. It’s a little bit like martial arts or sports; the movement between shots or punches or single-moment activities is as important as the shots themselves!
 
The basic transition & practice
The basic transition that I like to teach in formal meditation is the one from field awareness to single-pointedness. It looks a bit like this:

  • Field-awareness: For five minutes or so take the position of the observer in your field of awareness, and practice watching the totality of what you notice there. This is like moving a camera to the ‘wide-angle’ position of the lens, so that it takes in the whole of the landscape. Practice mindfulness around the ‘big picture’ in this way
  • Then transition to single-pointedness, focus on one thing within your field of awareness in as singular a manner as possible. Obvious examples would be the breathing, or the weight of the body, or the sounds you hear. This is like closing the aperture of your camera lens so that it zooms on just one thing in the landscape of your mind. Practice building that singularity of focus, editing everything else out for five minutes, before transitioning back to field-awareness

If you meditate for twenty minutes, then you would practice transitioning three times, as well as enjoying the benefits of the actual states themselves. If you brought the time down to changing every two minutes then you would really get better quickly at the transitions.
 
Bringing this into daily life
During the day, I transition from field awareness to single-pointedness many times, and the feeling of doing so combines both personal enjoyment as well as a sense of the day running smoothly and effectively.

  • This morning, I took my daughter to school on the bus. On the ride there I was practicing field awareness, keeping an eye on her and her friends, getting of at the right time etc..
  • On the bus back by myself I zoomed into single-pointedness and did a few energy-mantras in a short five minute meditation, transitioning to a ‘just one thing’ state of mind, which was refreshing.
  • At the beginning of the work day, I go into field awareness, looking at the totality of the day and all that needs to be done. Having assessed the order of the day, I then go into single-pointedness on the next task, in this case my weekly article, which I am twenty minutes into and now nearly finished!

To make my life a ‘working samadhi’ or life as meditation, I need to make the transitions described above smoothly, skilfully and appropriately. If I do that, then my life is literally mostly a meditation! When I arrive at my formal daily meditation and sit down, I’m already very close to meditation, so it’s easy and natural to drop into meditation from daily life. Trying the practice described above (field to single-pointedness) for a few minutes each day can really make a radical difference to your transitioning skill, I really recommend it.
 
Related readingIntegrating field-awareness & single pointedness
Working samadhi

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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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Witnessing your inner ‘power-god’

“If we can start to spot our security obsessed, controlling inner ‘power-god’, we can then start to ‘transcend and include it’, building a healthy sense of our own inner power, confidence & agency”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores ways to be mindful of the role of power in your life. In particular, it looks at ways to become aware of the origins of your sense of power from childhood, and ways in which it continues to play out in our adult life.

Heads up for two new sessions in May:
Saturday 11th May, 9-10.30am – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever
Saturday May 11th, 11am-12.15pm – Medicine Buddha Healing meditation
 
In the spirit of mindful power,
 

Toby


Mindful of – Your inner sense of power
 
The quest for security & control

Around the ages of 4-7, we enter a stage of development where psychologically:

  • We know that we exist in the world as something separate, we have developed a ‘1st person’, ‘I’ or ‘me’ space
  • We start to feel, because of this a strong need for security, and to be in control

This stage of development is sometimes called the ‘power-god’ stage, because of this need for control and power, the world needs to be dominated by ME!
If you practice a little inner reflection, you’ll probably discover some manifest traces of this stage in you still. Things to look out for are:

Sometimes this can also be projected outward, looking for outer ‘powergods’ to follow fanatically (eg: WWE type wrestling matches).
Sometimes this level ‘sleeps’ in people until they get into a position of power, and then takes over. Like a good employee who becomes the boss, and then changes as the power ‘goes to his or her head’. You may have examples of people you know whom this has happened to. Power corrupts, and when someone with a lot of this stage left in them gets power, there can be a swift regression to a five-year-old power god, but in an adult body!
 
What happens if it stays like this?

Parts of us stuck at this level can manifest as ‘addictions or allergies’:
Addiction behaviour would be people stuck in narcissistic, ‘egocentric’, ‘me-mine’ perspective. They can’t take the role of other. The world remains a ‘control or be controlled’ environment (Think Stalin, Hitler, Poll Pot, Putin)
Allergy: Your inner critic – An introjected power-god?
People who have repressed their exaggerated power drives in people often ‘introject’ it (project it internally upon ourselves) as the “inner-critic” or “inner-controller”, that is often the internalized from an ‘other’ (eg: a parent or teacher) experienced when we were at the ‘power-god’ stage of our child development. This ‘inner critic’ or dictator voice is something that many people suffer from. It is a kind of negative perfectionism that can never be satisfied, no matter what you do!
 
A balanced relationship to power & control

So, if we can start to spot our security obsessed inner ‘power-god’, we can then start to ‘transcend and include it’, and then build a balanced sense of our own inner power and confidence. A balanced, mature approach to power would include things like:

  • An appropriate, realistic sense of our own personal power and will & that we use to forge out life path with responsibility and agency
  • A sense of our own ability to control our life & destiny in a way that invites others to do likewise, without needing to dominate or control them
  • The ability to be ‘powerful & polite’ in the face of bullies and retarded ‘adult power-gods’ that we meet in the outer world!

Well-articulated personal power is a wonderful thing. By understanding the ‘power-god’ stage of our childhood development, we can go beyond it, and become a truly powerful adult, and use it as a benevolent force in our life and the world.
 
Related readingLiberating your Personal Power
Willpower as Your Object of Mindfulness
Self-responsibility – Becoming a self-determining entity

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Mindful imagination – From superstition to manifestation

“Mature imagination combined with consistent action can make you an “unstoppable force for the good” in your life, opening up possibilities that surprise & delight you & those around you”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

Imagination is the power of your mind to create mental images & ideas. About yourself, your life, & what is possible. Its potentially a superpower, but used in the wrong way it can create all sorts of problems. In the article below I talk you through how to start to harness its potential mindfully.
If you enjoy the article, it will be the subject of this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday class. You are welcome, live or online!

Quick heads up, I have just put up the Integral meditation deep-dive mini-retreat for the morning of May 25th
 
In the spirit of mindful images,
 
Toby


Mindful imagination – From superstition to manifestation


Our imagination is one of our superpowers, but it can also be a crippling limitation for some people and a debilitating distraction for others. In this article I’ll tease apart these different types of imagination, and offer a way of ensuring that your imagination is more of a superpower for you than a liability!
 
How and where does our imagination start in life?
Our capacity for imagination (image-creation within our mind) starts around 18 months. At this stage we are only able to think from our own perspective, and our sense of the world is that it revolves entirely around ourselves (!) It consists of, instant gratification & magical/fantasy thinking.

  • I want milk, an image of milk appears in my mind & I cry so that it appears, which it does, because a parent brings it
  • I believe if I think of something it will come true

Of course we grow beyond this type of imagination, but it continues to show up for many adults in different ways, for example:

  • Fantasies of ourself being incredibly special & unique, famous stars, with the world at our feet
  • Superstitions thinking: If I think something it will come true, if I see a black cat I will have bad luck, if I stick a pin in a doll of someone they will be harmed by it (‘vodoo’ type beliefs)
  • Excessive indulgence in things like online shopping, I click it and it comes it me. Other types of easy, instant gratification activities

 
What happens if it stays that way?
Then our image making capacity as adults remains severely limited, and cannot be released for mature acts of creativity, problem solving, goal setting, leadership envisioning and so forth. It makes it very difficult to forge a meaningful path and achieve significant things if our image-making capacity is continually distracted by child-like fantasy. 
 
How we can develop dysfunctional imagination as adults
As adults we can also develop ‘imagination-malfunction’ when we think from excessive fear, limitation, or dystopia.

  • We create images of ourself in our mind as a person who ‘could never do that’
  • We out picture the ‘worst-case’ scenario in our mind, with no ‘best-case’ counterbalance
  • We allow the images we have received whilst growing up to entirely determine our sense of what is possible, and never imagine beyond that

If our imagination is trapped in these patterns then it becomes the thing that is limiting our potential, rather than releasing us into our potential.
 
How can we release the power of our mindful imagination?
If our imagination is released from the infantile ego-fantasy and self-imposed limitation of the above, then we can use it to grow. We can use it for:

  • Mature acts of creativity, and the creation of harmony and beauty
  • For problem solving and goal setting, combining this with steady activity towards those goals imagined
  • Leadership envisioning: leading ourself and others toward heretofore unimagined possibilities

 
A mindful imagination exercise

  • Sitting in meditation, become aware of the current imaginative activity in your mind. Be curious (and non-judgmental) about how much of it is mature powerful imagination, and how much of it is of the infantile & self-limiting type.
  • Try doing the same thing around specific areas of your life, notice the role that your imagination plays.
  • Practice acknowledging and witnessing your dysfunctional imagination, with the eventual aim of letting it go and dis-identifying with it
  • Practice deliberately articulating your mature imagination in the service of your goals, inner creativity and self-leadership.

Notice how realistic imagination combined with consistent action can make you an “unstoppable force for the good” in your life, opening up possibilities that surprise and delight both you and those around you… 
 
 Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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 Meditation training page: Using distractions, sculpting thoughts & soft body

Dear Integral Meditators,

Welcome to the Using distractions, sculpting thoughts & softening the body training page. In it you will learn how to do this integral meditation combination effectively, & you can then use the meditation recordings & readings below to practice. Scroll down below to

  • Watch the video
  • Listen to the studio quality guided meditations. There is a 20minute & an 8 minute version
  • Read the related article

Each of these practices are fundamental to good meditation technique. Once familiar with them, they will continue to help you in your other meditation practices almost continuously!

In the spirit of meditative presence,

Toby

Intro to the practices:

Guided meditations:

Listen to the Twenty minute using distractions, sculpting thoughts & soft body meditation

Listen to the eight minute using distractions, sculpting thoughts & soft body meditation

Related articleUsing distractions, sculpting thoughts, softening the body

The Integral Meditation Training pages are a free resource, but if you feel you have benefitted, & would like to donate to the Integral Meditation training pages & project, you can do so via PayPal or if in Singapore you can do so directly by PayNow on +6596750279. Thanks!

​All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this page content, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


VIEW OTHER INTEGRAL MEDITATION TRAINING PAGES


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New Therapeutic Mindfulness coaching service & reading anthology

Dear Integral Meditators,

From September thru December 2023 I facilitated a course called Re-discovering your inner vitality & joie-de-vivre – An introduction to integrative therapeutic mindfulness & meditation.

I am now offering it as a 1:1 coaching service, which can also be facilitated in a group coaching context. You can read about the coaching & training by following the link above. Essentially the question it seeks to answer is “How can we re-work our relationship to the past in a way that helps us to see the present & future with clarity, enthusiasm & vision?”


I have also created this ‘Therapeutic mindfulness reading page’ which is an anthology of all the articles that I wrote during that time. You can find these summarized below, with links to each article.

The recordings of the original course are also available as an online course, if you are interested in that then just drop an email to info@tobyouvry.com

In the spirit of re-awakening inner joy,

Toby


Therapeutic Mindfulness Article Anthology

Creating an inner therapeutic mindfulness space – six positions

The purpose of therapeutic mindfulness is to go back to previous stages in our development in order to reconnect to feelings, emotions, body sensations & memories that we have repressed, denied, or lost touch with. The healthy re-integration of these experiences sets the scene for a renewed sense of wellbeing within our present life, & for safely engaging in higher, deeper levels of personal growth.”

Mindfulness of mood & atmosphere of your life-story

“You might think about your inner mood as being like the weather. If you are playing a game of tennis in a sunny, lightly breezy day, its completely different from playing it on a rainy, very windy day. We can usually shift ourself at least partially toward a better mood if we try, and this then affects everything for the better”

The projector behind you – How the past interweaves your present & future

“Past-focused mindfulness involves delving consciously into past memory & narratives, releasing pent-up energy, and then gently reworking these stories to create a more optimistic and energized outlook

Progressively recovering your joie de vivre (Meditating with your inner child)

“If you are prepared to do the work, it seems there truly are no edges to your level of inner joy”

Meditating with your teenage-self

“The ‘teenage self’ is one of several aspects of our inner-self or psyche that, if we take the time to connect to, we can find ourselves being enriched. For example, if I am well connected to my inner teenager, then I can draw upon his innate curiosity, ambition and appetite for life in a way that other middle-aged folk who lack a vital connection to their inner teenager cannot!”

Suppression & repression – the difference, & it’s importance

“Suppression can be used positively and strategically to enhance our effectiveness and wellbeing in life, whereas repression almost always results in long term inner turbulence and interference in our ability to see and work with our present life as it is”

Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)

In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet & solve a challenge, you can do one of two things. You can give up, or you can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

“As you grow & mature, if you repress your previous selves, they can become ‘allergies’. If part of you remains trapped within them, they become ‘addictions.  Transcending & including means to grow beyond who you were, whilst still giving your previous self a seat at the table”

 All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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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From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

“Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness that has to be earned, step by step. This is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any stage in our inner growth”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This week’s article looks at growing your perspective taking capacity through mindfulness. Essentially it explores 5 perspectives:

  1. Your first person ‘I/me’ space
  2. Your second person ‘we/us’ space
  3. Your third person ‘it’ space
  4. Your fourth person ‘self-as-the world’ space
  5. Your fifth person ‘integral perspectives’ space

Growing all these together within you gives what Ken Wilber describes as ‘Supermind’. If you enjoy the article, then do consider joining us for the Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up course that starts this week!

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

The journey from fusion to ‘Supermind’ is essentially a journey of perspective taking. It is the journey of going from being a baby to a fully developed and integrated human being. A main goal of mindfulness in this developmental sense is to stimulate our growth along that journey, making more and more perspectives functionally available to us as time goes by.

The stages & perspectives of consciousness that we journey along are essentially 1st to 5th person perspectives, and from egocentric, to ethnocentric to worldcentric, to universal/Kosmocentric. Here is a very summary in seven stages:

Egocentric, 1st person, ‘I/me’:

Note with egocentric these are essentially childhood stages, but adults can and do regularly regress to these stages in their daily life.

Level 1 – Archaic/fusion – Our first year of life is spent like this, largely fused perceptually with our physical and emotional environment, reactive to very basic needs, hunger, thirst, warmth, cold etc…

Level 2 – Tribal fantastical – Fantasy wish fulfilment emerges 18months to 3 years old: Superstitions or magical thinking within self, being incredibly special & unique, the world revolves around me (hence the ‘terrible twos!’ etc…).

Level 3 – Mythic fantasy – 4-7 years old – Often termed ‘self-protective, ‘security’, ‘power’ or opportunistic’ level. Self-centred desires for power & control.

Ethnocentric, 2nd person ‘we/us’

Level 4 – Mythic membership – 7-12 years, but still a dominant perspective in many adults lives today. “Belonging-ness” (to groups, family, race, religion etc…) stage. The shift from me focused to we/us focused, or group focused. Strict conformity to the rules. Them vs us. 

Worldcentric, 3rd person, ‘it’

Level 5 – Rational/scientific – The emergence of an objective, 3rd person ‘rational’ perspective, capacity to care for all of humankind, even if not part of our ‘group’. The emergence of true individuality, self-esteem, and goal/achievement focus.

Universal, 4th person

Level 6 – Pluralistic – The ability to take a 1st and 2nd person ‘I/we/’ perspective on our 3rd person rational/worldcentric perspective, resulting in a capacity for deep compassion and empathy for all living beings and the world.

Integral, 5th person

Level 7 – Integral – The ability to:

  1. Take an objective perspective on our 4th person pluralistic perspective, resulting in ‘Universal objective subjectivity’ (!)
  2. Take all the previous developmental stages along with their perspectives (1-6), and ‘transcend and include’ them – Each has their place honoured in the overall picture, but none are identified with exclusively. They function together in an integrated and ‘whole’ way, like a healthy organism.

This integral level of perspective taking is what is referred to as ‘Supermind’. Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness, which is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any of the developmental stages mentioned above.

So then, the interesting thing about this list is, at the moment, all of us have main ‘centre of gravity’ at one of these stages. By practising mindfulness around each of them we can:

  • Unearth the hidden maps of consciousness within us
  • Note which stage we are at, and how that changes or varies in different situations in our life
  • Observe or ‘videotape’ the level you are at in mindfulness meditation in order to transcend & include it, and encourage movement to the next level*

You can then observe your current the lower and higher levels of development within you, ‘cleaning up’ the lower levels that you sometimes notice yourself regressing to, and opening to the higher stages by becoming familiar with what they are and how they function.

Related articles: Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

*Three named terms in this paragraph from Ken Wilber’s ‘Integral Meditation’ book.

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, 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


All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Starts Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


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Integral Meditation Asia

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