mind body connection Walking Meditation

On Regenerating Your Energy Body and Walking Meditation

This week’s article looks at the need to develop a healthy mind-body connection and how to increase the amount of subtle energy, or ‘qi’ within our body. There is an opportunity for those of you in Singapore to participate in a Qi gong walking meditation class this coming Sunday morning, 4th December; I have placed the full details of this beneath the article.

Finally, I gave a short talk at the end of a Qi gong meditation class last week on why it is that we sabotage our meditation practice due to an unconscious fear of inner space and stillness. You can read a transcript of this talk here in an article I have entitled “Our Anxiety in the Face of Inner Space and Stillness” .

Yours in the spirit of inner and outer energy,


Article of the Week:

On Regenerating Your Energy Body and Walking Mediation 

Recently I was at a healing event with my wife. One way or another we both had the opportunity to place our hands on various members of the public for healing purposes. One of the things that we both remarked upon in our conversation afterwards was how little qi, or subtle energy seemed to be circulating in the bodies of some the people we had been working with. It almost seemed like although there was clearly a mind in the body somewhere, there was no energetic link between the person’s mind and body to give life force, sustenance and nurturing to the physical being. It was like there was a biological body, then a gap, and then their mind. So, with this in mind I thought I would pass on a couple of meditations that can help improve our mind-body connection, and increase the amount of subtle energy, qi or life force in our energy body

A good mind-body connection is one of the most beneficial and important gifts that we can give ourselves. If we try and meditate without it we will find that our meditation will become rather flat and abstract. Conversely, if our body has a healthy flow of subtle energy and life force within it then any meditation or consciousness work that we do will tend to feel fuller, deeper and more rounded.
With this in mind I thought I would share with you one of the main meditations that I use to help encourage the circulation of qi and life-force within my body, which is a simple energy body meditation, based around the principles of qi gong. It is really easy to learn, and once you are used to it you can do it not only in formal meditation, but also by keeping your awareness of it in your daily life, such as when sitting at your desk or travel ling. Click here to read the instructions for doing the energy body meditation that I have posted on my Qi gong blog

Another great way to improve your mind-body connection is by doing walking meditation. Walking meditation necessarily increases your mind-body connection because you are combining mindful awareness with the movement of your body as you walk. Another advantage of walking meditation is that you can integrate it into your daily routine as you move around from one place to another. You can read the basic introduction to walking meditation that I have recently edited and re-posted on my meditation website.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Sunday Morning Qi Gong Walking Meditation Classes at the Botanic Gardens

Time and Date of next class: 8-9am Sunday 4thth December

Relax, rejuvenate and regenerate yourself on Sunday morning at the Botanic Gardens.

We will be practicing simple Qi Gong and walking meditation techniques to cultivate our inner peace, balance and sense of connectedness to the Earth and nature. Once learned these are techniques that you will also be able to use at other times in your daily life.

The class will be suitable for regular walking mediators/Qi gong practitioners and first timers.

Meeting Point: 8am by the Bukit Timah Gate of the Botanic Gardens, next to the entrance of the Botanic Gardens MRT station. For a map please click HERE

To register or for further enquiries: Email or SMS 96750279

Class Fee:  $25

About the Teacher: Toby Ouvry is a meditation teacher and artist who has been practicing Qi gong for over fifteen years and teaching it for seven years. You can find more out about Toby and his work by going to , or check out his Qi gong blog by going

Background information on Qi Gong:

One of the most ancient and effective forms of preventative heath care in the world today, qi-gong represents a series of invaluable breathing and movement exercises which can help our body and mind keep at peak energy levels in the face of today’s demanding and stressful modern lifestyle and schedules.

Qi-gong is the science of working with the body’s energy field. Literally translated into English it means ‘energy work’, or ‘energy skill’.  In these classes we will be learning the art of moving energy into and around our body using a series of simple and easy to apply techniques that will enable you to:

  • Re-establish your body’s natural bio-rhythms
  • Harmonize your nervous and endocrine systems
  • Invigorate your body tissue and organs with oxygen rich blood and vital energy
  • Clear stagnant energy from your system and help build your energy fields to their optimum health levels!

General information on Walking meditation:

Increasingly many people are becoming aware of a need to find a sense of inner calm, peace and centeredness in order to cope effectively with the stresses and strains of modern life. However, it seems equally difficult to find the quality time for a practice such as meditation that can actually help us to accomplish this.

A solution to this can be found in walking meditation. All of us do a certain amount of walking in our life. By learning walking meditation we can combine the time that we spend walking with time spent cultivating our inner peace, stability and happiness. It is a win win situation!!

Awareness and insight Concentration mind body connection Presence and being present Walking Meditation

The Basic Fundamentals of Walking Meditation

Many people who think of meditation often think of a formal exercise involving sitting still on a chair or cushion with our eyes closed. It can come as a bit of a surprise to such people to find out that walking can be considered a form of meditation practice, and that walking meditation can become a major part of our daily routine, contributing substantially to or overall consciousness development and sense of inner peace and centred-ness. It is well worth investing the time and effort in learning to do walking meditation, as we spend a substantial portion of our day walking from one destination to another, and if we know how to walk in a meditative manner, then time spent walking can become time spent relaxing and meditating!

Walking meditation can be simply defined as any walk that we undertake where we are using the process of walking to develop our mindfulness, awareness of the present moment and other states conducive to inner peace and happiness. Below I describe some very simple walking meditation techniques that can be used by anyone. Be sure to begin your walking meditation with a conscious decision to stop worrying about your personal life, work projects etc., and to focus on enjoying the process of walking in the here and now!

Initial concentration builders:

Method 1
Walking at a pace that is comfortable for you note how many steps it takes you to breathe in and breathe out, then combine your observation of your breathing with your steps. Lets say it takes you three steps to breathe one in breath and three to breathe out. As you take each step on the inhalation inwardly say to yourself ”In”, and as you breathe out with each step say ”out”. So the basic pattern in this example would be in, in, in, out, out, out, in, in, in, out, out, out and so on. Try and get yourself into a rhythm use it to keep your attention in the here and now.

Method 2
A simple variation on method one. Let’s stay with the rhythm of three steps in and three steps out. As you breathe in you recite “step, step, focus”, as you breathe out “step, step, relax”. Continue in this way using the last step of the inhalation to prompt yourself to focus, and the last step of the exhalation to prompt you to relax. If you like you can substitute other words for the focus/relax combination, for example here/now, present/awareness, calm/ease. Choose a combination that is effective and pertinent to you!

Method 3
Pick an object a distance in front of you, such as a tree. Then, as you walk toward it, try and be mindful of the tree and of the present moment with each step and each breath that you take. Once you reach the object, relax for a few steps/breaths, then pick out another object in the distance to focus on in the same way. Build your mindfulness based upon your awareness of the physical object, your breathing and your steps.

Once you have a little bit of focus:

Method 1

As you walk and breathe, pick one sense power, such as your hearing or sight. Try and focus on that sense power mindfully, being aware of all the information that is coming into your awareness through that sense door. So, if you choose your hearing for example, try and pick out all the sounds that are available to you, the wind in the trees, the bird calls, the distant waterfall, the traffic, and so on… Pay full attention to this one sense power with each step, try and experience this as if it is the first time that you have heard, seen or felt it.
Method 2

Once you have some experience of method 1, expand your sensory awareness to take in the whole experience of walking in the present moment. With each step and breath try and experience walking in and experiencing the physical and sensory world as if for the first time. Allow time to disappear, so that the full power of the present is able to impact itself upon your being.

Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Motivation and scope The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Our Anxiety in the Face of Inner Space and Stillness

Transcribed from a five minute talk that I gave at the end of a Qi gong meditation class last week (23.11.11), enjoy!

I just want to say one or two things before we end. I mentioned whilst guiding the meditation that one thing that you may become aware of over time is that our mind resists inner space and stillness. If you ask people “Do you want inner peace?” they’ll generally say “Yes, yes, I want inner peace!” but deeper down actually they don’t. To be able to open to inner space and allow it to change you over time takes a lot of courage. This is a major reason why although meditation is free and it has been practiced for millennia as a way of developing mental peace, relatively few people will do it. This is because from the perspective of the ego, the ego has what you might call an existential fear of inner space. Part of the reason why we like to keep ourselves busy all the time, and when we are not doing anything physically our mind likes to think all the time is because we feel as if we have to keep affirming our existence, otherwise we feel like we are going to disappear! It is like a moment to moment fear of death, of dying. Essentially in this context dying means to have no future, becoming nothing. We feel like “If I am not doing something physical then I need to imagine myself doing something physical, because I still want to exist, and if I stop thinking or doing, then I will stop existing”.

This is a little bit of meditational psychology; it is the way in which our mind thinks, but unless we have examined it closely, for most of us this will be a subconscious pattern. And we need to understand that it is natural to have this type of anxiety (the anxiety of becoming non-existent), and simply having this anxiety is not a problem, it is existential anxiety, the natural tension that arises from being alive and wanting to stay that way. So, this in itself is not a problem, what is a problem is if you are not dealing with that anxiety well, if you are repressing it. A lot of psychological pathologies arise from the repression of this natural anxiety which then becomes pathological anxiety, compulsive doing, and compulsive thinking, compulsive everything!

So the natural anxiety of being alive will always be there, even if you continue to meditate. With a bit of practice in meditation you will start to find you can find a sense of inner space and stillness within yourself, but then it becomes an act of courage to keep opening to that space (which to the ego appears to be a type of death, a type of non-existence) and allowing it to inform your experience of life.

So I just thought I would throw that little thought in at the end of our meditation because it is common to find people having a great initial experience of inner space and stillness in their meditation, but then over time drifting away from their practice and this is one of the main reasons. It is not just because we are logistically busy all the time, although life these days is demanding upon our time and energy (although show me a time in history when life has not been such!), it is because our existential anxiety causes our ego to instinctively veer away from inner space and stillness and find excuses not to meditate. Our ego is actually happy to put up with a lot of stress and a lot of pain/problems, fear and anxiety because all of those things are affirming its existence, you know what I mean? Ego is not a bad thing, but the ego has a lot of fears that aren’t really founded upon anything wise and concrete, so it takes a bit of time for it to learn to trust that empty space, that stillness. So we need to keep if you like holding our ego’s hand and saying “Come on, come on, it is not going to be so bad, just relax and let go” like this!

So this is just and aspect of meditation practice that everyone needs to be aware of if you want to sustain your practice, because your mind and ego will try and find a lot of ways to duck out in order to avoid the anxiety of confronting empty space and stillness.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Presence and being present

Meditating on the Inner Weather of Our Mind

Hi Everyone,
This weeks article focuses on the relationship between the way outer weather functions and the constantly changing ‘inner landscape’ of our mind. It is a useful analogy that I use a lot, particularly when there is a lot of outer rain and wind like there has been for the last few weeks in Singapore!


Yours in the spirit of flow and change,



Meditating on the Inner Weather of Our Mind 

Reflecting on the Changeability of our Mind and Mental States

One of the main challenges that we face in developing our inner peace and happiness is that our mind seems to be so changeable and unpredictable. Mind training techniques that we learn work for a while and then just seem to ‘stop’ working without any particular reason. We try and do all the ‘right’ things to make ourself happy and yet sometimes our relative happiness and sadness seems as fickle and unpredictable as it has always been.

It seems like one way or another if we are on a search for inner peace we have to factor the inner changeability of our mind into our approach, and learn to work with it rather than against it.


Using the Outer Weather as Our Teacher

One of the practical comparisons that I use when I think about the ever changing state of my mind is that of a landscape and the weather. We all know the weather changes all the time, and most of the time we are able to accept this change without too much of a fuss. This is because we know that it is the nature of weather in a landscape to go through cycles and transformations. There are periods of sunshine, brightness and growth, periods of rain, gloom and cold. This is just the nature of weather.

Similarly if we think about our own mind as existing within the context of the group mind of humanity, or Planetary mind, we can start to understand that there are different “inner weather conditions” that come and go within this inner group landscape.

There are different energies, moods, emotions and thought patterns flowing through the group mind all the time, as well as within the particular landscape of our own mind as an individual. The difference between our approach to the outer weather and our inner weather is that perhaps too much of the time we take our inner weather too personally and too seriously.

Perhaps we can try a new approach where we consciously choose to view the inner weather and landscape of our mind a little more lightly and patiently, like we view the outer weather?


Meditating on the Inner Weather of the Mind

The way I meditate on the inner weather of the mind is not so much a formal technique as simply a perspective or lens through which I choose to view whatever is going on in my mind. If I feel happy, glad, joyful, uplifted etc… I think about this as bright skies, sunlight, bubbling streams, plants in bloom and so forth. I go with the flow of this good weather, knowing that it won’t last forever, but will quite naturally change as time passes by.

Similarly if my mind feels dark and gloomy I see no reason to panic, it is just like a cloudy or rainy day. On this type of day things may feel a little more difficult of challenging, but really there is often nothing really ‘wrong’ so to speak, it is just a passing phase that will go away in its own time quite naturally if we hold it lightly and don’t try and fight with it or take it too personally.

I find approaching the ever changing nature of my mind in this way a very good way of staying simple, centered and just going with the flow of whatever is arising.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Presence and being present The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Three Liberating Wisdom Perspectives on the Self

Hi Everyone,

One of the fundamental questions on the spiritual path  is “who am I?” This weeks article looks at three perspectives that can help us to see a little deeper into the nature of our own self.
A quick reminder of this Wednesday evenings meditation class on “The Essential Meditation of the Buddha”, 7.30-8.30pm. You can find full details by clicking the link.

Yours in the spirit of flowing awareness,

Article of the Week:

Three Liberating Wisdom Perspectives on the Self

Here are three perspectives that you can adopt as a contemplative practice both in and out of meditation. These perspectives are related to last week’s article on the Essential Meditation of the Buddha, but it is not necessary to read that article for this practice to make sense.
The benefits of working with these perspectives as meditation objects are numerous, but the most important is that they help to liberate us from some fundamental misconceptions in our mind that normally we carry around unexamined, and which cause us substantial suffering and pain.

These three perspectives are:
1.       “Whenever or wherever there is a strong grasping of or attachment to your self-sense there is suffering”.
2.       “Whenever you have a wish for something transient, changeable and impermanent to remain fixed as it is, then there is suffering and pain”.
3.       “Whatever object you look at is not the self.”

Each of these perspectives is explained in three parts.
1)      A statement that describes the perspective itself.
2)      A method for beginning to test the truth of the statement in your own experience.
3)      A short breathing meditation practice that you can use once you have confidence in the perspective and its power to aid you in your pursuit of a peaceful, centered and aware mind and life.

Perspective 1:
Statement: “Whenever or wherever there is a strong grasping of or attachment to your self-sense there is suffering”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: Recall the last time you experienced pronounced suffering, fear or anxiety. As you do so the feeling of attachment to your sense of self should well up as a physical tension in the center of your chest, a physical sensation, not just a mental one. Focusing on that physical tension, deliberately relax it, and as you do so mentally also relax your attachment to your self-sense. Observe how your suffering decreases in relations to the extent that you are able to relax that strong grasping and attachment to your sense of self.
Actually, most of the time it is perfectly possible to engage all of our daily tasks and relationships successfully with a far more reduced attachment to our self sense than we currently have.

Breathing meditation: Anytime you feel the tension arising from an overactive self-sense arising within your chest space, take a few breaths, as you inhale inwardly say to yourself “letting”, as you exhale say to yourself “go”. As you focus on the words “letting go” and breathing, simply do as the words say, release the tension in your chest and let go of the mental attachment to your-self sense.

Perspective 2:
Statement: “Whenever the self wishes for something transient, changeable and impermanent to remain fixed as it is, then there is suffering and pain”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: One basic sense of reality that we are trying to develop here is simply the sense that everything is always changing. Whether you look at the coming and going of your breathing, the gradual aging of your body, the way Monday changes into Sunday, the movement of the seasons. As the Buddha said “all produced phenomena are impermanent”. With this in mind it is not so surprising to find out in our own experience that whenever we cling to something impermanent, whether it be a stage in our relationship with our romantic partner that is changing, the growing up of children or whatever there is a sense of pain that goes with it. What we need to do is allow change to happen without fighting it in a negative way. Go with the flow rather than always trying to swim against the current. (Note: Doing this might actually mean that you age more slowly ;-))

Breathing Meditation: On the inbreath focus on the word “flowing” and on the outbreath “awareness” allow yourself to relax into the flow of the moment to moment change that is occurring with each successive moment of awareness.

Perspective 3:
Statement: “Whatever object you look at is not the self”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: This is a statement that, like the two above it leverages very heavily upon the teachings and observations of the Buddha. The basic thing to observe in your own experience is that:
a)      We tend to cling to many “things” such as our body, different mental states and emotions as “me” as if they were our true self. We are actually doing this one way or another most of the time.
b)      However, in fact all of these things that we tend to think of as self are actually objects observed and possessed by the self, they are not the self itself. The self is always the witnessing observer of these things. The self is always the subject of our awareness, and so anything that we can objectify and consider as an object is not the self.
So, where do we find the “self”? We find it only as the witnessing awareness of everything that our mind observes. This awareness itself has not qualities or form beyond simply being a witness. In this sense the self is pure, empty, luminous awareness, nothing more.

Breathing Meditation: On the inbreath focus on the word “spacious”, on the outbreath focus on the word “awareness”. Allow yourself to rest as deeply and calmly as you can within the pure, formless awareness of your own true self.
An alternative exercise for this section might be to: On the inbreath focus on the word “no” and as you exhale “self”. As you are doing so recognize that everything that you see, sense and perceive lacks a self in the sense of having a tangible form that can be identified as a fixed, inherent self.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques Presence and being present The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article focuses on some of the subjects and practices that I first began my meditation path with. Every time I return to them I find they always provide me with a valuable source of insight and wisdom. Beneath the article are the details of a meditation class that I will be teaching on the same topic this coming Wednesday 16th November. 

I have recently returned to teaching my classes at Basic Essence, feels great to be back there.

Thanks for reading!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

The Three Sets of Teachings of the Buddha

Looking at Buddhism from the outside it can seem like there are so many different teachings on meditation that it is a little difficult to see the how they all relate together, especially as some of the instructions seem to “contradict” or give very different advice from others. Historically Buddhist teachings evolved into three principal groups: The Hinayana, those teachings emphasizing personal liberation, the Mahayana, those teachings emphasizing great compassion and the path of the Bodhisattva, and the Vajrayana or tantric path emphasizing the union of bliss, emptiness and the “already enlightened, already perfect” nature of things as they are.

The Core of What Buddha Taught

Looking at this tremendous breadth of teaching it can be useful to understand the common core of Buddha’s teaching. This core is that everything he taught has two basic aspects:

1)      First he indicates that the basic experience of someone with an unawakened awareness is that of suffering.

2)     Then he points out the way in which we can ‘wake up’ and become liberated from that suffering. This ‘waking up’ is always primarily a change of our fundamental state of awareness rather than any actual change in our external environment.

Every teaching of the Buddha falls into either the first or the second category above.

Three Core practices Arising From the Buddha’s Teaching

Three practical practices arise from the Buddha’s core teaching:

– Observing and knowing deeply that we suffer.

– Understanding that a main cause of our suffering arises from misconceiving our world as permanent, meditating on impermanence

– Further understanding that the primary underlying cause of our suffering is misconceiving the nature of our self and our environment, meditating on “No-Self”

Observing and Knowing Deeply That we Suffer

The first thing that Buddha pointed out is that the everyday conditioned experience of human beings has the nature of suffering. Suffering here has a slightly deeper meaning that that which we normally ascribe to it. To quote Francesca Freemantle in “Luminous Emptiness”, her commentary to the Tibetan Book of the Dead:

“Suffering in this case is not just worldly pain as opposed to pleasure, but a deeper, more pervasive sense of lack and unreality which is inherent in worldly existence itself”.

Meditating on the pervasive experience of suffering that we experience and as a result developing a strong wish to “drop it” is the first core practice of the Buddha’s meditation. This wish to drop our suffering is sometimes called renunciation.

Meditating Impermanence

The first core reason that we suffer according to the Buddha is that we grasp at ourself and our world as being fixed and permanent when in fact if is transient and ever changing. So the first practice to overcome our inner suffering is to be aware of our grasping at permanence and focus on grounding our awareness on the impermanence of all things, most fundamentally ourself.

Meditating on “No-Self”

The second core reason that we suffer is that we imagine there to be a true self where there is in fact no self, and where there is the true self we imagine no-self!  Here Buddha points out our instinctive tendency to imagine our real or true self to be our body, or our mind, or the combination of our body mind, when in fact these are an impermanent, ever changing amalgamation of things that are not the self (For a slightly more detailed of the search for the true self see my previous article on “Finding and Meditating on Your True Self”). 

In Summary:

Buddha’s basic teaching is that our ordinary, conditioned experience is that of suffering, and that we can drop this suffering by meditating on the truth of impermanence and no-self.

 A Simple Meditation Practice For Meditating on the Three Cores of Buddha’s Teaching.

So, obviously there is a lot of depth and nuance in the three aspects of Buddha’s teaching that I have only just begun to touch on, but here is a really simple practice that you can begin to work with in meditation that to start developing your own experience of these essential meditations:

Step 1: Identify an experience of suffering that you are experiencing, whether it be some kind of manifest emotional or physical pain, or the underlying existential anxiety that underlies so much of our everyday awareness. Simply practice acknowledging it and being with it.

Step 2:  Reflect on the impermanence of both the experience of suffering that you are going through and of yourself as the experiencer of that suffering. See how deliberately recognizing your own impermanence and the changeability of the suffering affects the way in which you experience it.

Step 3: Drop your self-sense for a period of time.  Just try and go from moment to moment as if you had forgotten that you exist. See what it is like to experience your body and the moment to moment flow of your awareness without a continuous sense of “I” grasping at the experience. Experiment and see what it is like to experience your world from the perspective of “no-self”

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website


Meditation Class on Wednesday 16th  November: The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Facilitator: Toby Ouvry

Time: 7.30-8-30pm

Location: Basic Essence, 501 Bukit Timah Road, 04-04 Cluny Court

For directions click HERE 

This one hour meditation class will look at the meditations taught by the Buddha on true sufferings, impermanence and no-self.

These three subjects comprise the core teachings of the Buddha. In this class Toby will be explaining their value and relevance as meditation topics for those of us in contemporary society seeking for enlightened solutions to the problems and challenges that we face in our life.

We will be looking at:

– The importance and necessity of being able to see clearly our own pain, anxiety and discomfort in order to be able to overcome it.

How to turn the realities of impermanence and change into friends and allies in our life, rather than fighting against them all the time.

What Buddha meant by the wisdom of “no-self” and how meditating upon it opens up a door to a genuine and lasting liberation in our life.

The class will consist of a 30-40 minute practical meditation, and a twenty minute or so talk.

Cost for Class: $25, includes MP3 recording of talk.

To register for class: Contact Basic Essence on 64684991 or email