Enlightened love and loving

Meditating on Enlightened Love the Easy Way

Dear Integral Meditators,

The weeks article looks at the simplicity and ease of the deep forms of meditation, such as meditating on enlightened love. The nice thing about this type of meditation is that anyone can practice on the level that they are at, but it remains deeply relevant and satisfying as our meditation practice develops and grows over time.

Yours in the spirit of awakened love and loving,


Waterfall - Punch Bowl Falls, Oregon Columbia River GorgeMeditating on Enlightened Love the Easy Way

The recipe for easy meditation on enlightened love is as follows, you will need:

  • A good practical working definition of love in its most universal sense
  • The ability to relax your body and mind fully without losing a basic degree of mindful awareness, or put another way, the ability to keep your mind simultaneously relaxed and yet focused at the same time (a basic meditation skill that we develop gradually through consistent practice)

What is enlightened love, and why is it different from everyday love? Enlightened love does not discriminate; it shines its light and energy on anyone and everyone regardless of their deeds, intention or nature. This is different for example from love as we normally experience it in our mind, emotions and body, where we easily feel love for some people, withold it from others, and feel pretty much indifferent to those that we do not know.
So you could say that enlightened love is a bit like the sun, shining its light on all, sharing its energy with all.
The benefits of developing our experience of enlightened love is that is gives us a very stable and deep rooted base from which we can experience all of the other types of love in our relationship to ourself and others, and as we express it within our body, mind and emotions. To connect to enlightened love is to connect to love in its primal state, and learn to draw on the inexhaustible nature of this primal energy in order to facilitate a happy and deeply considered life.

Step 1: A working definition of love:
This is a definition from Ken Wilber’s work, and one that I find very useful. In his work Wilber defines love as “the tendency of the individual parts of the universe to come together in order to form greater and greater wholes”. This goes all the way from the basic building blocks of the physical universe up to the most complex relations between humans. For example:

  • Atoms come together to form molecules
  • Molecules come together to form cells
  • Cells come together to form bodies (plants, animals, humans etc…)

Each of the individual units come together form greater and greater units of wholeness. This tendency to come together is love. Another example:

  • Humans come together to form families, families evolve into tribes, tribes into nations, nations into world communities (the UN etc).

Individual humans come together to form progressively bigger and bigger states of wholeness and unity.
Love then is this universal force within all of us that drives us toward relationship, co-operation, connectivity and wholeness.

Once you have gotten a decent understanding of what love is conceptually, you are then ready to meditate on love, and cultivate an enlightened awareness of it.

Step 2: how you then meditate on love:

  • Sit quietly and relax your mind and body as fully as possible, allow them to become as open and spacious as you can.
  • Tune into the essential life-force that you feel within our body-mind. Feel its presence and flow within you.
  • Identify this essential life force within you as being the universal energy of love, the impulse of the universe toward greater and greater levels of unity and wholeness.
  • Rest in this experience of love and wholeness in two ways; firstly receiving it deeply into yourself as you rest in a state of deep relaxation. Secondly, experience it as yourself, be the love, recognize that it is who you are in your most essential state.
  • Rest in this awareness with as little mental activity as possible, just resting in, receiving and being love.

When you going about your daily life, try and stay connected to this state and feeling of receiving and being enlightened love. Without losing our discernment, practise shining the light of love on the people around you however you may feel about them, or whatever mental judgments you may be tempted to have about them.

A practical reflection
Today I had a one hour bus ride with my daughter, both to and from our destination. For some of that time we were talking and reading, but for quite a lot of the time I simply closed my eyes, relaxed into a state of lucid, open concentration (kind of like sleep but not being fully asleep) and focused on receiving and being love in the way just described. The result was that I had the benefits of having had a bit of a nap, but as well as that I connected deeply to a state of being where universal love felt totally real, a direct, moment to moment part of my real experience in the here and now. The effort involved was no more than simply deciding to have a nap and rest my mind, but the effect was very different.

So there you go, the easy path to enlightened love! A final point is that simply connecting and developing your experience of enlightened love will not solve all your problems regarding love and its expression in your everyday psychological self, or in your relationships. However it makes the journey toward wholeness on the psychological and relational level so much more enjoyable and easy, and it also gives us the strength to make the difficult calls in our journey toward love in daily 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

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Love as the Journey Towards Wholeness; Three Awareness Perspectives

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you have had a good week, the last few weeks for me seem to have been a period of adjustment making on different levels, and challenges that reflect those adjustments. Of course adjustments, changes and the challenges that go with them are all a fundamental part of the fabric of our life. One thing that I find with a daily meditation practice is that it really helps me to negotiate these periods of change and adjustment in an energetically ergonomic way; one learns to expend enough energy to meet the demands of the situation, and enjoy the learning that comes from it, without chasing ones tail unnecessarily and getting exhausted…

This weeks article focuses on love as the journey toward wholeness, I hope you’ll find that it treads the line between looking at “big”ideas and staying grounded and practical!

Yours in the spirit of wholeness through love,

Love as the Journey Towards Wholeness; Three Awareness Perspectives

There is a close relationship (ideally) between the experience of love and the practice of meditation. If we say that love is essentially the journey toward the experience of wholeness within ourselves, and define meditation as a practice that takes our mind from the experience of distraction and diversity toward a state of unity and oneness, then I think it is not difficult to see how they support and enhance each other:

  • Whenever we experience love (for example toward another person), our heart and mind expand, connect and unify in a way that closely resembles a relaxed, open, meditative state
  • Whenever we focus the mind in an un-distracted, unified state in meditation, we can begin to feel the flow of love and life-force in our body

In this article I want to look at three ways in which we can use meditation and mindfulness as a part of our journey toward wholeness and love.

Meditation as an inward journey toward love and wholeness
The first way in which we can experience love through meditation is by journeying deeper into the true nature of our own consciousness. If we go beyond the awareness of ourself as a physical body, and then beyond our awareness of oursef as a psychological collection of habitual thoughts, feelings and images, we discover the formless, timeless, witnessing dimension of self that lies beyond.
This formless, timeless self is referred to in the great wisdom traditions as the True Self, so called because it is the self within us that remains constant and unchanging through-out our life. It is also called the Universal Self, because the formless, timeless, witnessing self within me is exactly the same as the formless, timeless, witnessing self in you, in all human beings, animals, plants and indeed anything that possesses consciousness. So, by connecting to the formless, timeless self we connect to a dimension of our being that is constantly and experientially in a state of oneness, wholeness and love with everything else in the Universe.

Meditation as an outward journey toward love and wholeness
The second way in which we can experience love and wholeness through meditation is by making the effort each day to expand our circle of concern so that it becomes progressively larger and larger. We start by extending love empathy toward ourself, then our family and friends, then people we don’t  know, then people we may not like, expanding ever outward to include all living beings (yep, animals and plants too).
To experience love in this way is to be mindful that everyone matters, and to make our decisions based around this recognition. Of course we can’t avoid making decisions that hurt others at times, or that will harm them one way or another, but to live in a state of love means to live in a state where everyone is included, and we make our decisions based around an awareness of this inclusivity.

Opening the heart; facilitating the ongoing giving and receiving of love in our life
The third way we can grow our love each day is to make sure that our heart is energetically open to the giving and receiving of love. You can feel whether your heart is energetically open right now by tuning into the centre of your chest-space. Is this area of your body open and dilated, allowing energy to flow? Or is it contracted and closed, unable to give or receive love or life energy? If you spend most of your time with your heart energetically closed, then you will end up like so many of us do feeling starved of loving energy and feeling isolated and  alone even when surrounded by others.
Yes, when you open your heart to the world you may feel more vulnerable, and yes it does take courage (and discernment), but if you take that risk then you will feel alive each day with the energy of love, and allow your life to be informed by that love. The alternative is to live in a mental “ivory tower” heart closed, risking nothing but gaining nothing. You can deaden the pain in your life by closing your heart, but by doing so you cut yourself off from the flow of love, which is a high price to pay indeed.

One Minute Mindfulness for Practically Integrating the Three Above Techniques:

  1. Spend a minute dropping your mental baggage and resting in the formless, timeless, witnessing dimension of your consciousness, recognize that on this level of your consciousness you are actually and literally always in a state of oneness and wholeness with all other living creatures, and the whole living universe. Rest in the love baby!
  2. Take a minute each day to care about someone (human, animal, plant) that would normally be outside of your circle of concern. Make the effort each day to include more and more living things in your circle of love and wholeness
  3. Through-out the day be mindful of your physical heart space. Is it energetically closed, defended and dead, or open, alive and flowing? Try and consciously increase the amount of time in your day that your heart is in a dilated, open state of giving and receiving love.

© 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

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Yoga and Meditation Should Make You More Peaceful Right? (Reflecting on Kundalini Awakening)

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on the issues arising from the increased power that can come from meditation and yoga practice, in particular looking at the effects kundalini can have our consciousness. I think this is an important area to be aware of in terms of negotiating it appropriately, and recognizing that it as a natural stage that we go through as meditators.

Yours in the spirit of balanced inner power,

Yoga and Meditation Should Make You More Peaceful Right? (Reflecting on Kundalini Awakening)

In my final year of University I reduced my “hard exercise” routine and took up yoga for the first time in order to make more time and energy for my studies, and to rest my body a little which was getting tired from me throwing it around all the time. The book around which my yoga practice was based (which I did religiously for between 30mins to 1.5 hours a day) was a set of asanas such as you would find in a lot of common yoga classes. So I just did these poses as well as I could, and felt better for it.
On the final page of the book there was a short description of what it felt like when your kundalini, or life force energy got activated by the yoga poses; how it felt like a snake curling up the spine from the base toward the crown of the head. I read this and did not think about it too much, but duly after a few months of practice I could feel it rising from the base of my spine at the end of each session as I lay on the floor relaxing.
There were three principle effects of this initial stimulation of my kundalini:

  1. My Sex drive increased fairly dramatically (when the kundalini rises the first chakra it rises into is the sacral chakra, which is the sexual/emotional centre)
  2. My awareness of inner and outer conflict, and feelings of superiority/inferiority with regard to others in social situations was substantially and not very pleasantly increased (the second chakra that the kundalini moves into when it rises is the solar plexus chakra which is to do with ego and the power drives of the personality)
  3. I started to experience regular and consistent “expanded” states of transpersonal awareness (a result of the kundalini hitting the higher energy centres from the heart level upward)

With regard to the fist effect I was relatively lucky in that I had a compassionate and frankly very tolerant girlfriend at the time who was able to absorb that part of my personality change with somewhat bemused amusement.
The second effect, the increased awareness of (perceived) conflict or negative emotions around other people made me rather more reclusive and more reluctant to engage socially, as the experience of doing so was not all that pleasant in the face of the energy changes in my body and the effect that it has on my mind.
The third effect, that of expanded states of awareness (I had not done ANY meditation at this stage of my path) was that I became even more of a space kadet than I had been before! Quite fun, but not exactly enhancing of my fundamental inner peace OR my functionality as a person…

So, my first basic point here is that when yoga and meditation really start to awaken our inner powers (through kundalini and other factors), the effect can actually be quite volatile, and needs careful thought and awareness to negotiate. In the long term, and treated in the right way, increased sexual energy, a sense of power at the personality level, and access to expanded awareness have the potential to make our life far more happy and fulfilling. However there is also a lot of potential for any one of these factors to go wrong, and start causing problems on one level or another…

Dealing with Kundalini Awakening in Meditation
Subsequent to my initial kundalini awakening described above, I then did actually start meditating, and periodically found myself grappling in my meditation either with sexual imagery that would NOT go away, or with powerful images of conflict, sometimes violence. Initially I found it quite perplexing, but in the long term I found that the best thing to about it was nothing much. When I sat down in meditation and started to focus my mind, my kundalini would naturally start to rise into my sacral chakra (cue sexual images; “Hello ladies!”). If I then left these images alone and relaxed, the energy would continue to rise up into my third, or solar plexus chakra, often giving rise to images of conflict and power struggle (“Hello violent, sweary people!”), but again if I just left them alone (not feed them or fight them) then the kundalini would just continue to rise up to my heart and the higher energy centres, and by the 5th minute or so if my meditation I was up and running in a state of expanded awareness. Eventually over time this process became reduced to

  • an initial strong feeling of sensual bliss shortly after sitting down
  • followed by and enhanced feeling of power in my personality
  • followed by a release into a consistent state of formless meditation, nice simple and minimal.

I feel like a bit of an old man taking about this now, as this stage of my practice was a long time ago, but I think it is a stage that we all go through as we practice (with different subjective experiences resulting), and it is important to negotiate it well…
Of course you still have to learn to deal with sex, power and expanded awareness as it applies to your daily life and relationships (bit more complex as you can imagine), and get it right on that level. But that is a subject of another time!

© 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

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Your Meditation Practice May Not be What You Think (Old Men Who Spit and Throw Stones)

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article features a reflection on a period of my own meditation practice in the year immediately following my ordination as a Buddhist Monk. Our life challenges come in a variety of different ways, sometimes they come in ways we can anticipate and other times not so much!

This coming week has two events, the first is the Integral Depth Meditation Classeson Wednesday 10th, and the Introduction to Walking Meditation on Sunday 14th. You can click on the links below for full details.

Yours in the spirit of the journey,



Your Meditation Practice May Not be What You Think (Old Men Who Spit and Throw Stones)

In the mid-nineties I returned from a Buddhist festival the Newcastle, England having been newly ordained as a young Buddhist Monk. One main reason I thought I had gotten ordained was to make sure that I had plenty of decent open space in my life for meditation practice, and I was looking forward to getting onto my meditation cushion and making some serious progress that year.
The place where I was staying at the time was not actually a meditation center  it was the spare room of a friend’s flat in an inner city council estate with a lot of poverty, and a lot of substance abuse all around. Our little meditation group had recently moved out of our previous residential space, and were looking for somewhere to buy. So, in the meantime I was holed up in this small room with a bed on one side, a meditation cushion in the middle, and all the furniture and other materials from the meditation center piled up to the ceiling all around me.
The circumstances weren’t ideal for meditation, but nevertheless I was anxious to sit down and get started. However, as soon as I sat down a pattern of occurrences happened that lasted for a whole year. Basically it would be like this:

  • I would sit down to meditate, close my eyes, start setting my motivation and begin my pre-practice prayers
  • Simultaneously in my mind’s eye (not physical eye please note) I would see a bunch of wrinkly, sour faced old men assemble in a circle above my head. Some of them were dressed in old police and military uniforms, some had big sticks in their hands, others stones.
  • As I would start my prayers they would start shouting, spitting on me, chucking rocks down and “hitting” my head aggressively with their sticks (again please note this is in the subtle realm, not the physical one!). Then basically they would stick around for the duration of my meditation, making life as difficult as possible, and then just as I was about to finish they would go away cracking smiles and patting each other on the back!
  • I would then emerge from my meditation session rather disturbed, disoriented and confused, and with something of a headache!

After a couple of weeks of this as I’m sure you can imagine I was pretty sick of this, and it really was not much fun. Nevertheless I kind of hoped that it would last a month or so and then they would leave me alone. Unfortunately not, this basic pattern repeated itself for the year that I was living in that small room. Every time I sat down to meditate I had to endure a shower of psychic abuse from these weird old men. I tried to pray them away, do protection circles, to call on the Buddha’s for help, all to no avail. It seemed like it was just up to me to face off with this every day (and often it persisted during the night and when I was out walking etc…) and take what it was teaching me. What did it teach me? Well, that open to debate really, but here are a few things that occur:

  • To endure and to be very resilient. Sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it did make me mentally tougher to sit myself down for hours at a time knowing that basically I was going to get a lot of abuse and very (very) little bliss
  • To direct compassion and care toward myself. I was alone for long periods of time in this rather hostile location, and if I was not going to direct care and compassion toward myself to deal with the trauma, it was not going to come from outside
  • To appreciate the friends I had. I was not able to talk about what I was going through with anyone, it just felt a bit bizarre, but I did learn to deeply value the basic human warmth and care that I received periodically from people I learned from, taught and who otherwise shared my life.
  • The equanimity of a big mind. I could not control what was appearing to my mind (which was all pretty horrible) but I could be aware that all that was happening was happening in the context of an infinitely large experience of spacious awareness that was always the same, always tolerant, always reliable.
  • A deeper sense of trust: I struggled with the feeling that, despite my belief and experience of benevolent higher powers, they basically seemed to have left me literally and completely to the dogs. Over time I came to see that the skills and insights that I was developing in such a hostile environment were actually ones that could not be developed in other ways. So I (not without a certain amount of chagrin) accepted and trusted what was happening as part of a bigger process.

I just want to say that if you take up meditation it is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THAT ANY OF THE ABOVE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU! And if you come to one of my meditation classes the environment is conditioned to be conducive to developing states of inner peace and wellbeing.
However, I thought it might be interesting for me to share a bit every now and again about my own (somewhat eccentric and off the main road) personal path and process.
…and finally to point out the title theme of this article, that your own personal meditation practice, which is to say your own path to genuine inner liberation and enlightenment (in whatever way you understand it) may not be quite what you think it is going to be.

© 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