Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Shadow meditation Uncategorized

Soft Forms of Psychic Self Defence

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

Yours in the spirit of strength in softness,


Soft forms of Psychic Self-Defence 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pattern of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

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

Yours in the spirit of healthy patterns of consciousness,


The Pattern of Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditation and Psychology Presence and being present Primal Spirituality

On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Dear All,

This weeks article looks at ways in which we can encourage ourselves to get out of the ‘ordinary appearances’ that so often prevent us from living a full and vibrant life.

Quick reminder of this coming Wednesday’s  “Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen” . There are maybe three or four places left, so if you do want to come I do need to know, thanks! If you can’t make the Zen class physically, but are interested in the MP3 recordings of it, then it is available in this format.

Wishing you a week of non-ordinariness,


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

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

On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Ordinary appearances
From the perspective of Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practice, one of the main obstacles to us breaking free of our patterns of suffering and pain, and living in a truly creative and liberated state is ‘ordinary appearances’. Put very briefly this means that we see what arises in our daily life as the ‘same old same old’, rather than the reality (from a tantric perspective), which is that each moment of our life is a living encounter and dialog with the divine who/which is in each moment encouraging us to recognize our own inner creative nature, and encouraging us to dance and sing our way through life, rather than remaining stuck in the banal, the unthinking mainstream, the unexceptional and often actually being afraid to connect to and be “who we really are”.

Things that take you out of the spell of ordinary appearance
Some afternoons I jog down the canal to an exercise station to do a little bit of fitness work. Often at about that time there is another guy there, maybe in his 50’s. He has a kind of David Beckham mid-90’s hair cut, with red highlights, and he jogs down with his dog, a Chihuahua that last week was carrying a daffodil in its mouth as it trotted along beside him. I think he must be some kind of night club owner or something, but the thing that strikes me about him is that he is clearly entirely comfortable with his lack of conventionality. We normally have a friendly chat about man-stuff (actually mostly sound approximations, his english isn’t that good, and my mandarin is similarly limited, but with man-talk it is mainly about making the right primal sounds to let each other know that it is one ‘real man’ talking to another, right guys?) before we go off and sweat away in our own corner of the playground.
For me, seeing this slightly eccentric but entirely ‘comfortable in his own skin’ guy, within his flower carrying dog reminds me that life is not ordinary. Seeing him each week makes me smile and laugh a bit, and encourages me to keep on pursuing my own ‘out of the ordinary’ path with humour, enthusiasm, care and creativity despite the obstacles that come up.

Breaking the consensus of ordinary appearance in the world
Like me I am sure that you to have some slightly out of the ordinary people, sights and happenings that occur in your life each week, or if you think you don’t, then have a look out this week and see what you can find. You can use these encounters if you want just to consciously jolt you out of your ordinary, mundane perception of your life, and see your life as an opportunity to dance a little (inwardly or outwardly) to the tune of the divine, and to connect creatively, fully and with care to who you are, who you meet and what you are doing.

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

Awareness and insight Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Presence and being present Primal Spirituality Uncategorized

The Inner Sharks of the Mind

This weeks article takes an example from nature as a way of gaining insight on how to deal with the disturbances in our mind that we might normally try and run away from. Sometimes an image really does speak a thousand words, and I find this particular image very helpful in both dealing with my own issues and also trying to communicate to others how to work with inner challenges in a more meditative and watchful manner.

Yours in the spirit of staying on the tail of the shark,

The Inner Sharks of the Mind

There is quite a famous nature documentary sequence where a seal is being attacked by a white shark. Having escaped from the shark’s jaws one time, rather than making a run (or swim) for it, the seal instead stays behind the sharks tail, following it very closely, until it gets close enough to the land to quickly leap on shore. Rather than running away or confronting the shark the seal dealt with the threat by staying close to the shark, watching and following it very closely.
I find this image an extremely useful one when thinking about how to deal with imbalances, fears, attachments and other negative or volatile forces in our mind. The temptation can be when we sense a threat to our inner well being is either to run away from it (or go into denial), or to get into a confrontation or battle with it. Both of these techniques take a lot of energy and sometimes the act of confronting or running actually creates even more damage.
A more meditative and energy effective method is to act like the seal. When we sense the imbalance or negativity, try to get as close as you can to the experience. Rather than pushing it away, observe its movements closely with as little judgment as you can. Follow the negative emotion, energy or feeling like the seal staying on the tail of the shark; don’t confront or run away from it, just be behind it and watch its movements very closely.
The interesting thing about this technique of watching and following is that quite often the act of watching and following the disturbance will actually act to dissolve away the tension that has been created. By following the thoughts and fears that you are afraid of they actually seem to dissolve away.

Practical Technique

Step 1: Pick a difficult mind that you regularly run away from or get inwardly “beaten up” in a confrontation with. Name it and decide that you are going to try this new technique on it. For example you might think “I am now going to follow the shark of my insecurity, staying on its tail”.

Step 2: Watch your (continuing the example) insecurity, don’t run away from it or confront it, just be with it, relaxing and going with its movements.

Step 3: After a while you may notice that the power of the hold that your insecurity has over you has decreased. When you are ready, simply let go of the insecure mind and let it dissolve away. Then spend a short while resting in a state of non-conceptual awareness and enjoy the feeling of relaxation that arises from temporarily having liberated yourself from one of your persistent fears.

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

Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

Hi All,

This weeks article looks at the difference between being a product of outer time, the a subject of your own sense of inner time. Another way of putting this is how can we deal effectively with the outer forces impinging upon our life, whilst at the same time honoring that which is arising from our own sense of individuality?

Yours in the spirit of the harmonization of inner and outer time,


Article of the Week:

Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

To be a product of the times is simply to be a product of the prevailing cultural, social, biological, economic and other environmental forces that happen to be dominant during the era when you are alive. It basically implies that you as an individual are less powerful than the forces that surround you, and hence it is the surrounding forces that mold you as a person, and not your sense of own inner direction.

To be the subject of your own inner time means to have a sense of your own “inner compass” so to speak, or inner direction, and to be prepared to make your life a product of that inner direction and compass, rather than a product of what you are being told to be from the outside.

Another way of putting it might be that, when you are the subject of your own inner time you become self determining. You can go against the flow within the society within which you live, even if it means a degree of isolation, hardship or unpopularity.

So, to be a product of the times means to be created or formed by forces outside yourself.To be the subject of your own inner time means who you are is more a conscious articulation of that which is inside you.

As meditators, or as people who aspire to conscious and creative living (one definition of a meditator?) two of our main jobs are:

  1.  To be aware that inevitably you are, to a greater or lesser degree a product of your times, and to think carefully about this. What aspects and energies of your times are positive and worthwhile participating in, and which are best not identifying with and working to not participate in? To give an example of this one prevailing energy of our time is that of inter-communication and inter-connectivity. There are lots of positive ways in which we can participate in this, by using the Internet to become well informed and to establish relationships with worthwhile people who can help us grow. However, we would be well advised not to participate in neurotic over-communication and email/sms addiction that so many people seem to have become thoughtlessly caught up in these days.
  2.  To be aware of our sense of inner or subjective time, and regularly ask ourselves “What is it within me that is creatively emerging and wishes to express itself in the outer world?” 

The challenge about that which is emerging from within your own sense of subjective time is that it takes acts of creativity, energy and courage to bring it into the outer world and express, there are no guarantees that people will like it or approve of it, maybe they will even completely ignore it! I often think of Vincent Van Gough as an example of this. During his lifetime he sold only one painting (and his brother owned an art gallery, so he really was totally ignored and under appreciated by the public) and it was only after his death that people gained an appreciation and understanding of what beauty he had created.
So, when you start following your own inner compass and bringing forth that which is within you then hopefully you won’t be completely ignored like Van Gough was, and indeed many people become very appreciated when they start acting appropriately and creatively on their inner urges.  But it may well be that, at least in the beginning you are.
The interesting thing is that if you really are the subject of your own inner time, then even if no one else cares, you’ll do it anyway, and you will enjoy it!

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