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How Much Happiness Are You Prepared to Tolerate?

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if happiness were easier than we think, and the only thing getting in the way was that we often find being happy profoundly uncomfortable?

This weeks integral meditations article is in the form of a series of questions that invites us to look a bit deeper into the real causes of our lack of happiness.

I’m in the process of setting up the rest of the meditation program for the rest of 2013, you can see the dates below, full details will be out by next week.

Yours in the spirit of uncomplicated happiness,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Starting Sunday October 7th  – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and Removing Your Inner Stress – A Four Class Series

19th & 24th November – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen Levels 1&2 (full details next week)

October 27th, Dec 1st – Shadow Meditation Levels 1&2 (full details next week)

How Much Happiness Are You Prepared to Tolerate?

What if happiness was easy?

What if the obstacle to happiness was not the fact that it was not available to you each day, but rather the experience of being unconditionally happy was something that you had a very low tolerance level to?

What if being happy actually caused you anxiety on a subtle and unconscious level, life surely could not be this good?

What if you are actually avoiding being happy because a large part of you actually prefers being unhappy, struggling with life?

What if the idea of working towards happiness as a future goal seems attractive to you, but accepting happiness as it exists in the present moment is something that makes you genuinely uncomfortable to the extent of avoidance?

The word meditation and its applied practice really means to ‘ponder deeply upon’, or ‘to look deeply into’. This week your meditation practice is to ask yourself the above questions and the one question below, to ‘penetrate the question’ so to speak.

What if real genuine happiness was available to you right now and the only thing standing in the way of it was your acceptance of 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

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Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you have had an interesting and insightful week, and that your life journey has been unfolding smoothly!

This weeks article takes a look at the often quite subtle difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current in life. It is a subtle difference but a crucial one, and I hope the article is able to shed a little light on how to tell the difference…
The article below is a complementary one to last weeks  offering; “When you have to go against the flow”.

Yours in the spirit of the strength of flow,

Are You Going With the Flow or Just Drifting With the Current?

Going with the flow is seen as a desirable quality; a relaxed leaning into the process of life that enhances our happiness and wellbeing, helps us to achieve more by doing less and allows synchronicity and other larger powers to function more freely in our life.
In contrast, drifting with the current means allowing ourself to drift unconsciously with whatever currents there are in our life without distinguishing whether they are good or bad; we just allow ourself to be moulded by circumstances, habits, fears and so on.

So, what is the difference between going with the flow and drifting with the current? The challenge is that they can look and feel quite similar, and as a result it can be pretty difficult to discern which is which. Let’s take an example:

Drifting with the current
Let’s say I have an issue with my partner that I am feeling emotional about. We sit down to dinner one evening and there comes a natural space in the conversation which would be an ideal place for me to bring up the issue that I wish to talk about. However, because I feel uncomfortable and apprehensive about the subject matter, I simply allow myself to direct the conversation toward another less challenging topic, thus avoiding the discomfort of bringing the issues (that I need to talk about) into the open. This is an example of drifting with the current; I allow my fears and apprehensions to steer me away from that which needs to be said in order to avoid the short term discomfort.

Going with the flow
Now let’s take the same situation; I have an emotional issue that I wish to talk about with my partner. We sit down for dinner, and the flow of the conversation creates a natural space for me to bring up the issue I am concerned about. As this space opens up I feel the discomfort within myself, the fear and resistance to bringing up my emotional vulnerability. However, instead of allowing this discomfort to make me drift away from what needs to be said, I consciously flow with the discomfort and bring up my emotional issue with my partner and we talk it through.

From this we can see that going with the flow does not mean that we avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, rather it means that we flow with what is there, and consciously direct that flow toward a benevolent end.
Going with the flow can be a way of gently confronting the difficult challenges in our life. It is not simply avoiding anything in our way that seems difficult, or allowing our fate to be determined by outer circumstances; that is drifting with the current.

A practice: “Am I going with the flow or just drifting with the current?”
Over the next week or so ask yourself this question a couple of times a day, or whenever you face a choice in your life. Are you using the gentle strength of going with the flow to move forward in the direction you want to go, or are you just drifting aimlessly with the currents in your 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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When You Have to Go Against the Flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

Life is not so tough when everything is flowing in the direction that you want it to, but what happens when you find yourself having to go against the flow of energy? This weeks article explores that space and how we can use meditation to help.

In the article I use as an image derived from landscape and nature as a main method for developing the ability to go against the flow. In the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course  beginning this coming Thursday 19th September I will be using quite a lot of this type of landscape imagery as a way of connecting to the energy of calm, so if you like the article below then this is a course that you might enjoy!

Yours in positively going against the flow,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Beginning Thursday 19th September – Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! ClickHERE to read the full details of the course…

When You Have to Go
Against the Flow

Often times in life we find ourself having to go against the flow. For example:

  • We can find ourself going through a phase in a friendship, work or romantic relationship where it all seems like hard work and nothing is flowing easily
  • In our work business can seem slow, and a lot of effort seems to have to go into generating a relatively small success
  • When an idea that we are deeply passionate about is not taken up with interest by others, or they are even judgmental or negative about it

There are infinite numbers of situations we may find ourselves in that require the life skill of going against the flow, particularly if we are working with ideas that are new or pioneering.

How meditation changes our experience of going with the flow
When we practice meditation we are developing the capacity to “go with the flow” and relax more in our life, but a solid meditation practice will also give us the patience and perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other (literally or figuratively) in order to accomplish a goal that is important to us but that is difficult to achieve because we are having to go against the flow.

A meditation image for going against the flow
In Asia I have visited several rivers that have rapids in them. What I like to do when I visit such places is to use the rocks in the water to hop upstream, going against the flow of the fast moving water. Standing securely on a rock surrounded by fast flowing water I relax and look for the next rock to leap onto. I jump from one rock to the next, gradually making progress upstream again the current of the water all around me.
Often when I am in a daily situation where I am having to go against the flow, I use this image of hoping up a river on the rocks as a way of keeping patient, persevering and gradually keep moving forward. The image describes perfectly for me the mindset that I am using to prevail.

Questions for your own practice of going against the flow

  • What situations in your life do you find yourself having to go against the flow? As you are reading this article, try and think of two or three concrete situations where you yourself regularly have to go against the flow in your life.
  • What images communicate for you the essence of awakened “going against the flow?” In the above article I have suggested an image from my own experience that you are most welcome to use as a way of developing your own “going against the flow” mindset. However, there may be images from your own direct experience that describe very well to you the patience and perseverance that you need to go against the flow and that will work perfectly for you as an image for this type of meditation.

© 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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Is Spirit a Place of Light of Dark?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of experience it is.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,


Is Spirit a Place of Light or Dark? 

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.

© 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


When You Empty Your Mind of Thoughts, What Does it Fill With?

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article takes a look at what happens when we empty our mind of thoughts, and offers a simple technique that will enable you to practice emptying your mind in order to fill it with that which flows into the empty space!

I’m going to be holding the early bird offer for the Integral Insight Meditation Workshop until the end of Monday, 2nd September, so if you are in Singapore, wish to attend and want a reduction in the price, do make your booking and purchase by then. Click on the link for full details…

Yours in the spirit of empty fullness,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Coming up on 7th  September:  Integral Insight Meditation – Discovering the power of awareness to heal and maximise the potential of your body, mind and emotions
Special early bird offer of $80 for all who sign up for the Integral Insight Meditation Course before Sept 2nd! Full cost of the workshop is $95

Online course in September – The Power of Deep Calm – full details up shortly!

When You Empty Your Mind of Thoughts, What Does it Fill With?

In meditation one of the ‘basic’ (but not quite so easy) skills that we focus on is being able to empty the mind of thoughts temporarily. We can readily understand that emptying our mind of thoughts is relaxing, but what beyond that is it helping us to do?

When you empty your mind, that emptiness starts to fill with something. What is that something? Awareness.  Awareness is the experience of being. When you empty your mind of thoughts, awareness flows in naturally to fill the space. Sitting in a state of awareness has many benefits, here are a few:

  1. It helps us to develop and improve the quality of our mind – By dropping our thoughts and simply being aware we develop our capacity to witness our life objectively and in the 3rd person. This development of a stable 3rd person perspective helps us to develop the quality of our rational mind in an holistic and balanced manner. By temporarily dropping the mind, the mind itself improves.
  2. It takes us beyond our mind – When we sit in a state of fullness of awareness and emptiness of thoughts we realize that we are not our thoughts, that there is something beyond our thinking mind that we are. The essential sense of ‘I-ness’ that we have is retained when we stop thinking. Thus we gain the ability to go beyond our experience of self as the thoughts in our mind, and move into a sense of self that is the possessor of our mind and yet something more than the mind. So you could say that instead of “I think therefore I am” it becomes more like “I am (aware) therefore I think!”
  3. It allows our body and mind to rest and regenerate themselves deeply, accessing a deeper level of healing energy that flows from a deeper level within our being.
  4. It gives us a sense of something bigger than ourselves – A sense of a mind, identity, intelligence and order in the universe that is bigger than ourselves, that you might call spirit, but you might equally call it something else. The point is that in a state a pure awareness you start to feel it experientially.

“Pulling the plug”

Here’s an exercise that you can do to help you empty your mind:

  • Imagine your mind is a bath and the thoughts in your mind are like the water.
  • Imagine you “pull the plug” in the bath; see and feel the water of your thoughts draining away down the plug hole, leaving the bath of your mind empty. Rest in that empty space.
  • Now feel the bathtub of your mind filling with awareness. If your mind is empty you will feel the awareness flowing in quite naturally.
  • What does this awareness feel like? Rest and relax in this state of empty mind/full awareness for as long as feel appropriate. Centre your being, your sense of self in this full empty space.

You can pull the plug anywhere you like, for as long as you like. This week you might like to try integrating into your routine it as a short daily exercise to help develop your experience of the true fullness of an empty mind.
© 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