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Engaged Equanimity

Dear Integral Meditators,

The new year beckons, and this is the new year edition of the Integral Meditations newsletter!

The new year beckons, and this is the new year edition of the Integral Meditations newsletter!

2012 has certainly been a deeply transformative year for me, and looking forward to 2013 the promise does seem to be that this will continue. When thinking about the qualities that I would most like to have, and I would most wish for you the readers, I came up with engaged equanimity. Whatever the specifics of 2013, the likelihood remains that life will continue to throw its mixture of blessings and curve balls at us, and the ability to keep caring deeply, whilst remaining strong and stable are qualities that remain always valuable and useful.

Wishing you happiness, growth, insight and love for 2013!


Engaged Equanimity

To practice engaged equanimity is to attempt to combine the qualities of even-mindedness and inner stability with the qualities of deep caring and a commitment to engage in life fully and passionately without holding back.

A dualistic approach to life often sees equanimity and caring as mutually exclusive, or even opposed to each other. If we are practising equanimity and even-mindedness it seems to imply that we have to be detached and un-involved. If we are practising deep caring it seems to imply that we are committed to a roller coaster emotional ride where our peace of mind and equanimity are largely sacrificed.

A commitment to regular, balanced meditation practice should gradually and naturally give rise to the ability to practice engaged equanimity. As we progress in our practice we discover that it is possible to be fully committed to our life and experiencing intense emotion, whilst at the same time experiencing a part of our mind and awareness that remains relaxed, an observer and witness to what is occurring, abiding in a state of even mindedness and equanimity.

What I want to outline in the remainder of this article is four simple practices that can be put together in order to consistently develop the practice off engaged equanimity. The first three focus on the development of equanimity, the final one focuses on engaging care.

The instructions are deliberately minimal, allowing enough detail for you to experiment and explore them in your own personal experience.

1. Allowing pain and anxiety, happiness and joy to flow through you.
Observe the feelings, emotions and experiences that you normally cling to, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant. Consciously relax your heart space/central chest area and allow your moment to moment experiences of pleasure and pain to flow through you, like a broad river flowing in and flowing out of your awareness. As you breathe in feel these feelings flowing into you, as you breathe out feel them flowing through you, let them go without holding onto them.

2. Make friends with impermanence
Be aware that everything that you are experiencing right now will change and is changing. As with practice 1, be aware of this with both the good and bad in your life. Whatever you wish to remain in your life, and that which you wish was already gone is changing, even in this moment. As you practice awareness of change and impermanence, smile at it, make it a friend and not an enemy in your life.

3. Drop your self
Spend periods of time where you deliberately forget who you are, what you do, what your life history is. Practice experiencing that which is in your outer and inner awareness without your “self” as the centre of the experience. Cultivate the recognition that life works in many ways perfectly well, and sometimes even better when an intense and central experience of “I” is taken out of the equation.

4. Commit to caring
Based upon the above three practices for developing equanimity and even mindedness, the fourth practice is then simply to commit to caring in your life and making a difference in the world in whatever engaged way you feel guided and are capable. With equanimity and even-mindedness as your underlying basis, choose to participate and get your hands a little dirty, choose to be (appropriately) vulnerable and fully alive. Of course this involves risk, and maybe (probably) getting hurt and burned on occasions, but with equanimity as the underlying basis we discover, sometimes to our surprise, that we can take it, and that it is worth it.

© Toby Ouvry 2012/2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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Meditation at Christmas – Mindful Eating

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


Mindful Eating As Your Object of Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your food!
© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Please feel free to share this newsletter with people you think may enjoy it. The only thing we ask of you is to please forward the entire newsletter including the contact and copyright information. Thank you.

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Energetic Self-Healing

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

Yours in the spirit of integrated energy healing,


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

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

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

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

To register or for further enquiries: Email, or call 65-68714117

Energetic Self-Healing

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation

Hi Everyone,

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


Happy meditating!


Taking Light-Heartedness as Your Object of Meditation

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

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

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

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

How to meditate on light-heartedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing?

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

Yours in the spirit of non-doing,


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

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

The Benefits and Purpose of Non-Doing:

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

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

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

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

How to Practice the Meditation on Non-Doing

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

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

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

Relax, be and pay attention to that experience fully.

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

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website