Essential Spirituality Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology

Five Inner Skills we develop Through Meditation

Dear Toby,

What skills are you trying to develop as a meditator, and how would you measure your meditation practice as successful or not? In the article below I outline five fundamental skills that need to be developed equally in my opinion in order to make our meditation practice successful and qualified.
Although it is only my opinion, these five skills are those that I have observed are common to virtually all forms of meditation school, and hence they can act as a kind of template for building our own meditation practice making it as balanced and rounded as possible.



Five Inner Skills we develop Through Meditation

This weeks’ article is kind of the companion version to last weeks on theFive Stages of Meditation Practice . Whereas the five stages focuses on the general development of a meditation practice from beginners to advanced, the five skills outlined below are generally developed together in tandem with each other as one progresses through different levels of meditation practice.

Skill 1: Stilling and focusing the mind
This is perhaps both the first and the last of meditation skills; learning to still the thinking mind and moving into a space of inner stillness. From this stillness we can then move into a state of focused activity in meditation. Stilling the mind forms the basis of any subsequent meditation practice and gives us access to temporary peace of mind whenever we wish to find it in our daily life.

Skill 2: Developing ones creative imagination skills
This means developing the ability to consciously and deliberately create and visualize meaningful images so that we can see, feel, smell hear and taste them within our inner vision.
It also means sensitizing our inner vision to any spontaneous images, thoughts and information’s that  may start to pop into our mind during meditation that have some form of meaning. This second aspect of developing our creative imagination means learning to distinguish between random, meaningless distractions and images that have meaning and value.

Skill 3:  Healing and regeneration
This is the skill of being able to connect to that which is wounded, damaged and in need of healing within ourself and help it to become well.

Skill 4: Directing energy
This is the skill of learning to be sensitive to the subtle energy in our own body and within our environment. By becoming sensitive in this way we can gradually learn to consciously direct this energy in ways that is beneficial to ourself and others.

Skill 5: Mediation
This skill means developing the capacity to connect to ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ energies within our consciousness and learn how to mediate that deeper positive, creative energy into the outer world through our own body-mind.
Actually, we are all mediating some form of energy into the world all the time (positive or negative according to our mood, emotional state, use of words etc…). Meditation gives us the capacity to start mediating energy in a conscious way from the inner world into the outer world by learning to embody certain primal energies, for example love, creativity, wisdom and so on…

All of these five skills start by being developed formally in our sitting meditation practice, but over time they increasingly become a part of our everyday awareness. As we go about daily life we

  • Remain in touch with a sense of stillness even when active
  • Make conscious, positive use of creative images
  • Act to heal and regenerate that which is damaged within ourself and others
  • Direct subtle energy appropriately and mediate positive energy into the world through our conscious daily activity with others

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Motivation and scope Primal Spirituality spiritual intelligence Uncategorized

The Five Stages of Meditation Practice from Beginners to Advanced

Dear Integral Meditors,

With so many different types of meditation practice around, how do you identify what the stages of meditation training common to all systems really are? This weeks article is an attempt to answer that.

At Integral Meditation Asia I am trying to develop systems of meditation that are easy to follow and practice, and yet include ways of developing these five stages in authentic ways. This article is basically a map that, if you have it in your head as a template you can learn to recognize these stages as your practice develops.



The Five Stages of Meditation Practice from Beginners to Advanced

Meditation and mindfulness practice covers a large and diverse spectrum of activity, from simple stress management to the quest for spiritual enlightenment. What I want to do in this article is outline five stages of meditation practice that covers this whole spectrum of meditative activity in a summarized but hopefully practical format.
These five stages are perennial in nature. That is to say that they are common to all traditions of meditation, eastern or western. In any particular tradition (Buddhist, Kaballistic, Hundu, Christian etc..) the particular form and explanation differs, but these stages exist just the same.

Stage 1: Balancing the gross body-mind
When we begin meditation the first task is to bring our everyday body and mind into a state of balance and focus, so that they can function effectively in daily life to give us greater happiness, enhanced focus in our tasks, greater appreciation of our enjoyments, as well as improve our awareness of emotions and relationships.
Even at this first stage there are many levels, but they are all centered around developing calmness, focus and self-knowledge on an everyday level (for more info on this stage see my article “The First Task of Meditation”)

Stage 2: Balancing and activating the subtle body-mind
After meditating for a while we start to become more and more aware that there exists within us a subtle level of bodily and mental energy that lies behind our physical body and everyday thinking-mind. Working with awareness of this subtle, deeper level of our body-mind leads gradually over time to the  activation of  the abilities of our subtle body-mind, such as greatly enhanced intuition, greater empathy and compassion, psychic sensitivity, capacity for energetic healing and so on…

Stage 3: Recognizing and resting in the formless-timeless dimension of existence
After developing competency at stages 1&2 we start to become increasingly aware of a formless-timeless dimension of awareness that lies behind, around and within our body, mind and world.
Initially we sense this as a kind of witnessing awareness. Then, over time as we move deeper and deeper into this formless-timeless dimension it acts more and more as a state which we identify as our deeper self, or true self; a place where we can go to rest and regenerate our energies at any time, and that is a source of both deep inner peace and almost infinite creativity.

Stage 4: Developing ones inner-world communication skills
The “inner worlds” are the subtle worlds of energy and intelligence that lie beyond the physical, everyday world. Having developed stages 2&3 in our meditation practice we start to develop greater conscious awareness of how we are interacting with this inner world.
In our outer word we have work colleagues, friends, places we visit to relax and so forth. In a similar way at this level of meditation practice we start to build a network of working partners, friends and connections that are the equivalent on the inner world level.

Stage 5: Developing and integrating a non-dual experience of stages 1-4.
Having built our experience of stages 1-4 in our meditation practice eventually when we sit down to meditate we experience all four dimensions of our meditation as an organic and integrated whole. For example as we rest in the formless-timeless dimension (stage 3) we may be aware of how our gross and subtle body-minds are coming into a state of energetic balance and harmony (stages 1&2). Occasionally we may have flashes of insight and creativity that arises in our mind stimulated by some form of inner world communication (stage 4).
At the level of stage 5 we are comfortable with all the preceding stages, and our meditation mostly “does itself”. As the Thai teacher Ajahn Chah said, our mind becomes “Like still water that moves, and like moving water that is still”.

A martial arts analogy:
If you think about progressing to basic mastery of levels 1-4 in meditation as being like becoming a black-belt at Aikido, you become a basic level meditation master.
After you achieve your black-belt in Aikido there are a further seven “dans” or advanced levels that you then start to work on. So if you imagine stage 5 is the meditation training equivalent of working on your “dans”; you are focusing on turning your basic mastery into a fully integrated, fluent functional whole.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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 Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Presence and being present

The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

At its best meditation is a practice that leads over time to a personal, direct and stable experience of enlightened awareness that is not defined by any religion, theory or philosophy. This weeks article explores the first step…


The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

The first task and result of a decent meditation practice is to create a unified body-mind. This means to become aware that our mind and body are in continuous relationship with each other. When we have a thought in our mind, this translates into a physical energy and posture in our body. For example when our body feels tired or refreshed this easily and often affects the dialog that we are having in our mind.

For most people this relationship, whilst intellectually understood is not seen and experienced in reality; when we are caught up in our mind we become unaware of the posture and energy of our body. When we are focused on our bodily feelings our mind often gets left out.
So then the first task of meditation is to use awareness and mindfulness to see how our mind and body affect each other and to help them to communicate and work together as a single unit or partnership, rather than working against each other and causing each other friction.
When through awareness and meditation we are able to create a unified body-mind then two positive results come:

  1. Our unified body-mind starts to perform at a level that is far greater than our body and mind could ever do as individual units. As a result our capacity for creative growth in all areas of our life increases. Whether in our work, our relationships, sports or spiritual development the capacity to develop and maintain a unified state of body-mind dramatically increases our potential and performance.
  2. The harmony created between our body-mind creates a space of concentrated stillness.  This stillness and harmony gives us a deeper inner peace and stability within which we can start to access higher, deeper and more subtle levels of consciousness that lie beyond our everyday body-mind. Thus it acts as a doorway to the next level of meditative or consciousness development.

An image of the unified body-mind
In integral literature the unified body-mind is sometimes called the Centauric level of development. A centaur is a mythical creature with a human head and torso with the lower body of a horse, half animal, half human. Thus the centaur symbolizes the unity of our animal body and rational mind, our instincts with logic, our conscious mind with our unconscious mind.

How to work on unifying your body-mind each day.
Take a topic in your life. It could be to do with work, relationships, any area you want to investigate.
Bringing to mind the subject and allow in your mind to explore it with thought and emotion. Observe the principal patterns of thought/emotion that arise.
Now turn your attention to your body. Be aware of the energy that arises in your body whilst you have been generating the thoughts and emotions in your mind together with the posture that your body has adopted. Observe how thought and emotions create a language of feelings and postures within the body.

Finally, observe with awareness the co-arising of thoughts/emotions in the mind together with feelings/posture within the body. See how they are a single, unified, symbiotic experience. Take this awareness of your unified body-mind as your object of awareness for the remainder of the time you have set aside.

Working with this exercise even for a short time each day over a period of time will help you to instinctively start to view the body-mind as a unified entity and to experience the benefits that result.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website


creative imagery Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Presence and being present Uncategorized

The Conscious Self in the Landscape of the Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope the first few days of the new year have been good for you, and that as you gaze into the landscape of 2014  you can feel the potential for new levels of growth and connectivity within your inner and outer life. This weeks article is a contemplation on the power that each of us has to mold and define  our daily experience using the power of our conscious mind.

Yours in the spirit of the courage of consciousness,


The Conscious Self in the Landscape of the Mind
Imagine yourself in a landscape. It could be within wild nature, it could be in a cityscape,  it could be a mixture of both. Feel the largeness of the sky above you and the landscape around you. Sense the relative fragility and smallness of your physical self in relation to the landscape around.

Now imagine that the landscape around you is the landscape of your mind and consciousness. The sky above is the infinite vastness and (relative) abstraction of your spiritual being. The monolithic structures around you such as mountains, oceans and skyscrapers are well established structures in your subconscious mind. The weather and the coming and going of people and creatures are like the thoughts and emotions that come and go in each moment and in each day. Within the landscape of your mind your conscious self is like the tiny, seemingly fragile physical body.

To be a meditator means to build the power of your conscious mind in the face of forces that seem much larger than it so that it becomes the difference, the defining factor in all your experiences.

Building the power of your conscious self means that in the face of past trauma, physical or mental sickness, difficulties in building a future, temptation, peer pressure, overwhelming emotion or any other challenge it is YOU, small and sometimes insignificant as you may feel remain the chooser and the master of your inner landscape.

The path of meditation and the path of courage are not too different.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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 creative imagery Enlightened love and loving Enlightened service Gods and Goddesses Inner vision Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditating on the Self

The Mothers of God

“We are all meant to be mothers of God…for God is always needing to be born.” ― Meister Eckhart

Normally in meditative literature we are used to seeing ourselves being compared to children, and the Divine being compared to a mother or father figure. But what if we, as Meister Eckhart does in the quote above, reverse that and instead think of God or the Divine seeking continually to be born into the world and express itself through us?

What if we think of ourselves as the Mothers of God? How does this change our perception of who we are and what we might be capable of?

The question to then enquire in our meditations and contemplation’s for the beginning of 2014 and beyond is

  • “What is it that I feel within me that is seeking to be born and express itself through me at this time?”
  • Or alternatively “What will be my labour of love this year?”

Sit down for a few moments, see yourself as a mother of the divine. Go deep within yourself and see what the Universe has placed there there waiting to be born, wanting to be birthed.

Wishing you all the very best for 2014!