Awareness and insight Essential Spirituality Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness

Mindfulness of the Sacred

Hi Everyone,

How much of your day is spent in expereintial touch with a sense of the sacred as you understand it? How would your life be different if you were to deliberately cultivate that connection to the sacred? This weeks article explores this question.

You can also find below the dates and titles for classes in March.

Yours in the spirit of the sacred,

Upcoming Meditation Classes and Events in March (Full details to follow next week)

Wednesday March 14th, 7.30-8.30pm Meditation Class at Basic Essence: “Awakening to the Sacred – Discovering the benefits of developing a contemporary spiritual practice and meditation practice.”

Wednesday February 21st 7.30-9pm – Zen Walking and Sitting Meditation: “Meditating on The Present Moment: Gateway to Eternity”.

Wednesday March 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th 10.30-11.30am – Qi gong meditation classes at Basic Essence.

Article of the Week:

Mindfulness of the Sacred

We are moving apartments at the moment, and one of the ways that I have been trying to glide through all of the confusion and monotony of box packing is to cultivate regular mindfulness of the sacred or, to put it another way, to bring a sense of the sacred into my day at regular intervals.

What is a sense of the sacred? One way of defining a sacred state of mind is this:
“Sacred awareness is a state of mind where we are simultaneously aware of the wholeness and universality that pervades all life, whilst at the same time having a sense of the preciousness of our own unique individuality, and how the flowering of that individuality is continually cared for and nurtured by God/the creative forces of the Universe/the Tao(or insert expression of choice)”.
So, looked at this way we could say that when we are aware of the sacred we feel life as a whole is a precious and beautiful thing, and that we in whatever small way may have something to add to that preciousness and beauty by living out our life in the best way we can.

So, working with this basic definition of the sacred, you might like to ask yourself, “What stimulates a sense of the sacred within me? What objects, memories or people? How can I bring my mind back to this sense of sanctity at regular times in my daily life in order that I can live my life within the context of a living sense of its sanctity?”

When it seems more than ever before there is more opportunity for cynicism, and for feeling over burdened simply by the over demands of the logistics of our life, deliberately reconnecting to a sense of the sacred at regular times in our day can be an invaluable tool for navigating the challenges of our life more smoothly, humanely and courageously.

© 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 Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present Zen Meditation

Zen Flowers, Zen Doorways

Hi Everyone,

This week’s newsletter looks at Zen meditation practice from two lenses, firstly there is the class this coming Wednesday 22nd February entitled “Zen and the Flower of Life” which looks at Zen practice from the perspective of the original teaching of the Buddha from which Zen meditation is said to derive.
Secondly, this week’s meditation article focuses on how we can develop a more complete experience of our own consciousness through a practice that I call “doorway mindfulness”. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of flowers and doorways,

Upcoming Meditation Classes and Events in February

Wednesday 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th February 10.30-11.30am – Qi Gong Meditation Classes at Basic Essence

Zen and the Flower of Life: Meditating on the Origins of Zen

With meditation teacher Toby Ouvry

Date and Time: Wednesday 22nd February, 7.30-9.00pm

Venue:  Gallery Helios, 38 Petain Road, Singapore 208103 (click HERE for map)

This 90minute meditation class will be taking as its subject the story told in the “Flower Sutra” which is said to be the teaching of the Buddha from which the path of Zen meditation originated. Toby will be teaching a simple but profound method of Zen meditation and contemplation based around the flower sutra teaching.

The class will consist of a 20-30minute walking meditation, followed by a short talk, and then a 30-40minute sitting meditation session.

Course fee:  Sing$35, all participants will be provided with a set of class notes and an MP3 recording of the class for their own personal use.

Click HERE to make payment for this class by credit card

To register or for further enquiries: Email or SMS 65-96750279

About the Teacher: Toby Ouvry is a meditation teacher and artist who has been practicing and teaching for over fifteen years, including five years as a Buddhist Monk. You can find more out about Toby and his work by going to

Article of the Week:

Doorway Mindfulness as Zen Practice 

Zen practice is based around the understanding that although the thought-based, linear or logical mind constitutes only a small part of our total consciousness, we have become completely identified with it up to the point that it dominates our life, feelings and experience almost completely.
Thus, one of the main objectives of Zen practice is to develop our Consciousness-Awareness, our awareness that our consciousness is much more than the particular thoughts arising in our mind at any given moment.
Within Buddhist teachings, ‘consciousness’ is often defined as ‘clarity and awareness’. ‘Clarity’ in this context means having no form (i.e.: physical, emotional or mental form or characteristics). Clarity might also be thought of as light, or a sense of inner space and spaciousness.
‘Awareness’ means having the power to perceive or understand. In order to get in touch with the level of our being that is pure conscious awareness, we need to be able to let go temporarily of our thinking mind, thus allowing the clarity and light of our natural or original consciousness to become manifest.To do this, we need to find ways of regularly bringing our mind back into the present moment, and letting go of our habitual over-attention to the contents of our consciousness. Whenever our mind is fully in the present moment, our thinking mind will necessarily be pacified, as thinking by definition always has a past or future topic as its object of contemplation.
In addition to practicing the formal sitting meditation exercises taught in Zen, it is very important to find ways of bringing our mind back into the present moment during the day. One way in which we can do this is, every time we pass through a door way, to take an easy deep breath, letting go of the mental activity in our consciousness and relaxing into the here and now for a few moments. By doing so, we shall momentarily allow the clarity and light of our consciousness to become manifest, and prevent ourselves from becoming completely pre-occupied with the subjects that our mind is concerned with processing. Using a physical doorway as a prompt for our mindfulness of the present moment is one way that it is useful to prompt our mindfulness, as each day we pass though many doorways!
There are many similar techniques that we can devise for ourselves that can help us to do this. The best method is the one that works most effectively for you!

© 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 and Psychology Meditation techniques Presence and being present The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Your Ego as Resistance to What is Present

Hi Everyone,

The theme of this week’s newsletter is the perennial spiritual theme of learning to live more fully into the present moment. This week’s article is on the subject of how and why our ego resists living in the present moment, and gives a specific technique for us to start tackling this resistance.

Yours in the spirit of presence and being present,


Article of the Week:

Your Ego as Resistance to What is Present

Ego is a word that means different things in different contexts, but from a meditative point of view, one of the most practical, useful definitions that I have found is that our ego is simply our resistance to what is present in our life right nowor, put another way, our tendency to wish that the reality in front of us was not there because it does not conform to the reality that we want or wish to be there.
Because our ego is constantly resisting what it present in our life we could say that the ego is actually the source of all our stress and suffering that we experience. To give a couple of examples:

Example 1:  If we have gotten the flu our ego may say things like “This is a lousy time to get the flu because I have this important project on”, or “Why do I always get sick!” Our ego may even try and deny the symptoms that we are sick and continue with our life without slowing down, thus making us even more sick in the long term.
Example 2: If we wish for our partner’s approval regarding something we have done, if s/he does not give us that approval our ego will fight that reality. Rather than accepting what has happened and thinking about what might be the best way to proceed we either try harder for the approval that they are clearly not giving, or we try and punish them for the perceived insult.

In both of the examples above our ego takes the challenge of the situation and turns it into a stressful, painful battle that makes the situation intolerable. We find our ego creating all sorts of mental strategies to avoid the present moment, resist what is present and instead disappear off into a mentally created world that is different from what is actually there.
The ego’s resistance to what is present in our life is one way of describing the dynamic of what the Buddha called “dhukka” or “suffering”; Whenever there is resistance to what is present in our life, there is imbalance and suffering. Correspondingly, whenever there is a letting go of that resistance and a corresponding full movement into the present moment, there we find liberation.

An Exercise to Begin Observing and Releasing the Resistance of the Ego.

A simple technique for releasing the ego’s resistance to the present moment whilst in the midst of your day to day activities is take time regularly in your day to take a few breaths in the following manner:
As you inhale quietly or mentally say to yourself “release”, then as you exhale say“resistance”.  As you breathe in this manner consciously let go of any resistance that you ego is having to whatever is going on in your life, and allow your mind to rest in a state of alert acceptance of what is.

Once you are familiar with this basic practice you can make it slightly more insightful by doing the following:
Before you start your series of “release/resistance” breaths, take a little time to note the nature of whatever your resistance may be to the present moment. For example

  •  Are you resisting the present moment due to a pleasant past memory that you wish was here with you now?
  •  Is your mind hankering after a sense of contentment that is apparently not attainable within the present circumstances?
  • Is it negative anger or another disruptive emotion regarding an unresolved situation that is making you resist what is in front of you?
  • Is sadness or a sense of loss preventing you engaging with what is there with you right now?

Take a little time to get in touch with the specific nature of your ego’s resistance before you try and release it. Then as you engage in your “release/resistance” breathing focus on specifically letting go of the ego resistance that you are feeling right now.

Doing this exercise for 1-3 minutes, three or so times a day over the next week will give you a good start in your journey of letting go of your ego’s resistance to the present moment.

© 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

Concentration Inner vision Meditation techniques Presence and being present Uncategorized

Meditating on the Core of Your Body

Hi Everyone,

This weeks article details a meditation that I teach quite often in my Qi Gong meditation classes; meditating upon and breathing with the core of your body. It is a simple but profound way of learning how to positively connect and direct your subtle energies.


Article of the Week:

Meditating on Your Body’s Core

Awareness and meditation upon the core of the body is a practice that you find in Qi gong, Indian yoga and Tibetan yoga practices, all in slightly different forms. This article outlines a simple practice that I sometimes teach as an aspect of my Qi gong meditation classes.

What is your body’s core?  
The core of the body (in the context of this article) is its “dead centre” so to speak. In terms of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and hips you could say that the core of these parts of the body is a line of energy running from the top of the centre of the head down through the centre of the brain, neck, chest, abdomen and hips, terminating at the perineum, the point between the middle of the legs. In particular for the purposes of this article we shall be focusing on the core of the body that runs from the lower abdomen up to about the level of the collar bone.

Why should you be interested in developing awareness of the core of your body?

Three main reasons:
1. If you check the way in which your body feels whenever you feel out of balance, physically, mentally and emotionally one thing that you will note is a feeling of being out of touch energetically with the central areas of the body, the heart and the abdomen in particular. It feels as if there are energies in these areas of the body that are dictating your experience. The core body meditation offers a technique for being able to “take back” control of these areas of the body energetically speaking, and thus gain greater volitional control of how you think and feel when under stress.

2. In general meditating on the core of the body enables us to develop the skill of moving energy from the core of the body to the surface of the skin and then back again to the core in a gentle, flowing movement that enables us to rapidly re-balance the qi or prajna within our subtle body, and release any energy blockages that there might be there.

3. Speaking a little more esoterically, the spiritual energies of our being are said to run inside a ‘central energy channel’ along the core of the body, from the top of the crown to the perineum. By meditating upon the core of our body we develop the ability to move our awareness into this subtle energy channel, which in turn enables us to develop deep spiritual states of awareness more readily and easily, though of course it takes regular practice!

Meditating on the core of your body
The nice thing about this meditation and breathing form is that it can be done either as a very short 1-5 minute meditation, or extended out to 20-40 minutes, or whatever time you have available. You simply divide your meditation time between the three steps below

Stage 1: Finding the core of your body
Sit in meditation with your hips, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders aligned in a comfortable straight line. Visualize a line of light and energy going from the crown of your head down through the dead centre of your torso, ending at the perineum, the point between the middle of the legs. The line of light can be visualized as being about 1-2cm in diameter.
Rock your body gently from right to left to get a sense of this line of light being exactly in the middle of the right and left halves of your body. Then rock your body gently forward and back to get a sense of the line of light being exactly in the middle between the front and back halves of your torso.
You can either focus on the core of the body all the way from crown to perineum, or you can shorten your point of focus so that it includes the core from the level of the lower abdomen up to the collar bone.

Stage 2: Core body breathing
As you breathe in, feel the subtle energy (qi) of your whole body flowing from the surface (ie: the skin) into the central core of the body. As you breathe out feel and visualize the qi flowing from the surface of your body into the core. Do this in a focused, gentle manner for a few minutes.
(If it feels more natural, you can reverse this breathing technique, meaning as you breathe in you visualize the energy flowing from the core of your body to the surface, and as you breathe out it goes from the surface to the core, this is a matter of personal preference).

Stage three, focusing your energy within the core of your body.
Now either at the level of your heart (middle dan tien),or your lower navel (lower dan tien) see a point of particularly bright light within that section of your body’s core. Allow your awareness to absorb and rest within this point of light within the core of your body, letting go of conceptuality and mental activity as much as possible. Remain in this state of letting go for as long as you wish.

Awareness of the core of your body in daily life.
Once you are familiar with the basic aspects of the core body meditation form, you can use the core of the body, and core body breathing as a way of centering yourself wherever you are at any time.

© 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