Integral Awareness Meditation techniques Mindful Self-Leadership Motivation and scope Uncategorized

What is Self-Awareness?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Self awareness is one of the foundation tools for both mindfulness and meditation in general, and Mindful Self Leadership in particular. As the article points out, self awareness is relatively easy to understand, not quite so easy to do!

Yours in the spirit of self awareness,


What is Self-Awareness? 

Self Awareness is a commitment to be aware of your reality; that is the world of your feelings, needs, desires, ideas, evaluations and behavior. Self awareness acts as the foundation for mindful self-leadership because if it is only by becoming aware and getting to know yourself thoroughly that you will be able to lead yourself effectively by engaging in authentic decisions and actions that will lead to your self-fulfilment.

Self awareness is a challenging task for most of us because we have been training ourselves to see only what we want to see about ourselves for a very long time. We have invested deeply in NOT seeing the things that make us uncomfortable about ourself and/or that threaten our self-image. Examples of what we choose not to see might be:

– If I have a feeling that I have been taught from childhood is ‘bad’ (eg: jealousy), then I will have been training myself not to see my own jealousy for a long time, because to admit to being jealous would to be to admit to being a bad person
– If I have been taught that in order to fit into my social group I need to ‘sacrifice’ my needs for the needs of others, then I (often unconsciously) train myself to deny and not see some of my deepest desires for self fulfillment
– If I lack confidence in myself I may discard or deny my own opinions in favor of what someone else says; I will not value or trust my own perception, instead I will turn away from awareness of it.

So self awareness is about ‘standing naked’ in front of the mirror of your own awareness and accepting all of the feelings you have, as well as the needs, desires, creative power, behaviors and ideas that you have without editing.

Questions for beginning the process of self-awareness

If I am more honest with myself about the way I feel about X (pick your own subject) I might realize that –
If I look more openly at the way I behaved today when X (pick your own life situation) I can see that I –
If I am honest with myself the thing I desire most in my career, relationship, X (pick your own life situation) is –

Sit for a while with any of these sentences. Try and listen to all the answers that come back in your mind without editing or judging them. If you like you can actually write them down. Notice that some of the answers that come back you will feel comfortable with, some very uncomfortable. Sit with them both, sit with them all; be aware of the totality of your experience of your feelings, behaviors or desires.

What might be the consequences of what you discover through self awareness?

© 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

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Enlightened Imperfection

Dear Integral Meditators,

Are you on a quest for enlightened perfection? This weeks Integral Meditations article explores what enlightened perfection looks like (or doesn’t look like) and how we can start to use it to embrace our own imperfection and the imperfection of the world.
It is kind of a complementary take to the midweek article on “That Which Solves All Your Problems and None“.

Yours in the spirit of the perfectly imperfect,


Enlightened Imperfection

There is a lot of confusion around the idea of perfection and enlightenment. Many people seem to think that, when you attain a ‘spiritual’ enlightenment you become in some way perfect. Actually, what the realization of enlightenment points out is that there is a part of ourself that is already perfect, they always have been and always will be.

When we realize enlightenment we also realize that all things including ourself are totally imperfect and not just that, they always will be.

Let me explain what I mean, starting with what spiritual enlightenment is. There are three domains or aspects of our moment to moment experience:

  1. Our outer physical and sensory experience
  2. Our inner mental experience based around thoughts and images
  3. The experience of awareness itself which is the formless timeless ‘ground’ upon which the rest of our outer and inner experience is based.

To become spiritually enlightened means to gain practical experience of this third domain of formless timeless awareness, and base our core identity around this experience. Thus, enlightenment has nothing to do with what one believes or philosophizes about, and everything to do with what one discovers through meditation and other related practical methods of investigating our moment to moment experience.

In the state of formless timeless awareness (that is number 3 of the above list) there is perfection and only perfection. This is because in such a state of no-form and no-time there is no-thing that could possibly be imperfect. It is the dimension of each moment of our experience that is perfect, pristine, and flawless. You could be blind drunk, be in the middle of nuclear war or have just married to the person of our dreams, it doesn’t matter; the part of that moment that is simply formless timeless awareness is perfect and always will be.

Classical spiritual enlightenment is a discovery you make about this pristine, formless, timeless state that is already there. You don’t create it, you discover it, and it is absolutely perfect.

As for the rest of you, your life, and the rest of the world, it is completely imperfect. Not just that, it always will be. In the physical world and in the world of our everyday mind there is always imperfection, there will always be difficulties, there is no point of final perfection; there is just a changeable present and future extending to the end of our life, to future generations and to infinity.

To be enlightened is to stop looking for perfection in your life, because you understand that it is already there.

To be enlightened is also to commit to responding to the dance of imperfection in your life in the best way you can with curiosity, courage and care. It means not being afraid to make mistakes, to be vulnerable, and to occasionally and when necessary be seen as a bit of a fool.

Enlightened perfection is not something that you can achieve, it is something that you come to know and recognize. From this space of ‘already perfect’ the challenge is then to launch yourself into the imperfection that will always be there, and commit to making it better.

Over the next week or so if you want to start working with this idea, you can try this:
Simply focus on the statement ‘Everything is already perfect’. Allow your mind to rest in this recognition for as long as you wish. Just relax, let go and feel your way into a space of timeless awareness where everything is always perfect, immutable, pristine. Allow yourself to regenerate your energies in that space.
Now bring your attention back to yourself, back to your world, back to the endless beautiful and tragic imperfection. Now smile to yourself, open to your imperfect reality and commit to participating in the most enlightened way you can.

© 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

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That Which Solves All Your Problems and None

Dear Integral Meditators,

All of us crave a final solution to all our problems, a place where we can go and find true peace. The good news is that such a solution it always available to us in each moment.  The challenge is that after we have solved all our problems in this way, we still have to solve all our problems. You’ll see what I mean below.

I’ll be doing a free talk on Mindful Self-Leadership on the 4th May, full information can be found HERE.

Yours in the spirit of problem solving,


That Which Solves All Your Problems and None

One of the fundamental insights from the enlightenment experience induced by meditation is that, behind every tangible experience that we have there is an experience of formless, timeless awareness which embraces, enables and transcends that experience.

The interesting thing is that, whereas the experience itself may give rise to pleasure and pain, dilemmas, anxiety, elation, depression etc, this formless timeless dimension that lies behind the experience is simply and continuously present to what is arising, witnessing what is going on with both benevolent intimacy and (to our perception), terrifying indifference.

Whereas I, Toby as a body-mind am a distinct person on a personal (hopefully developmental) journey through life, the part of me that is simply formless timeless awareness is already at the destination to that journey, and at the same time has never begun that journey in the first place.

Whilst the Toby in this world works to develop a business, become a better, kinder person, work off the weight that the Easter eggs have put on his waist line, sets goals, suffers, and has successes, the formless timeless Toby has no ambition to develop or to achieve because from its perspective everything has been achieved already, and ultimately there was no-thing to achieve in the first place.

While the Toby in time and space craves resolution to his problems, anxieties and dilemmas, as well as the fulfillment of his deepest wishes, the transcendent Toby has no problems, and even if he did (which he doesn’t) they would be solved instantly in the experience of the timeless present.

So, as I think you can start to see spiritual enlightenment, that is a living connection to the formless, timeless, ever present dimension of reality solves all of our problems ultimately, but in the mean time it solves none of them at all! We are still challenged to face off with our challenges in time and space each day with curiosity, courage and care, and do the best we can.

There is no doubt that many people come to meditation and spirituality as a means of escaping from a seemingly intractable, chaotic and painful world, and it is an easy trap to fall into. I however like to think of the peaceful, problemless space of the timeless present as an invitation to get our hands dirty in the world of time and space, to participate fully, to play the game.

As an exercise for this week if you choose, simply sit quietly and think to yourself “Ultimately all of my problems are solved”. Enter, sit with and breathe in this space where everything is well, and all problems never existed. Recognize this space, let yourself go into it.
As you reach the end of the exercise, let your mind full up again with the intractable messiness, imperfection and vulnerability of your life.

Now, go and solve your problems.

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Curiosity, Courage and Care – Cornerstones of the Mindful Encounter

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is an exploration of the mindful encounter – what it takes to stay truly alive and curious to our own life path each day. I hope you enjoy it! The article also explores three of the core components of Mindful Self-Leadership.

Wishing you all the very best for the Easter weekend,


Curiosity, Courage and Care – Cornerstones the Mindful Self-Leadership Encounter

What qualities are going to enable you to successfully encounter and lead yourself through the challenges of your life with success in the terms that you (not somebody else) define it?

What qualities will encourage a living (rather than mechanical) experience of encountering your life, and encourage you to live your own life story in a meaningful and engaged way?

The cornerstones of this type of ‘mindful-encountering’ are three; curiosity, courage and care:

Curiosity – To practice mindful curiosity means to be committed to being deeply interested and thoughtful about what is arises in your life. This applies not only to the things that are pleasant and desirable, but also the things that make you feel vulnerable, uncomfortable and afraid. Curiosity means a full blooded commitment to being aware of everything that comes into the field of your awareness in each moment and to stay with that awareness throughout the day.

Courage – To sustain a commitment to conscious awareness in your life, to be ‘naked’ to what is arising without editing, armouring or avoiding takes courage; it takes courage to be curious and to be courageous means to engage in our life with constant, unwavering curiosity.

Care – Many of the realities of our mind, of our feeling and of the world around us can encourage us to anesthetize, insulate or armour ourself from our reality, to cut ourself off from it, to not feel it, to look away from it. So the third quality of the MS-L encounter is care; to commit to caring, to not cut ourself of from, to not turn away from that which comes into the field of our awareness.

What are the consequences of not engaging in the mindful encounter?

If you are not prepared to be deeply interested and curious about your life, your wants, your needs, your direction, your meaning, then why or where would you expect to find someone else who is?

If you are not prepared to have the courage to face what needs to be faced in your life, why would you expect someone else to do it for you?

If you don’t deeply care about your life, yourself and the people you share it with, no one can create that experience of caring for you; it comes from committing to it.

If you care, have courage and are deeply curious in your life, significant people around you will tend to see that and respond by giving their own curiosity, courage and care to your endeavors. And even if they don’t, you will have found something that no one can take away from you.

A Meditation Image for the Mindful
Self-Leadership Enc

I found the image for this image on pinterest.  It is of a baby being held by a rescue worker during the London blitz.
Your life is like the baby, it is vulnerable and needs someone to be curious, care for it and have the courage to do what needs to be done to keep it safe and take it in the direction it needs to go.You are the rescue worker holding the baby; it is your job to save the baby and take it to where it needs to go to grow up safe, happy and fulfilled.
There are no other rescue workers; you are the rescue worker of your own life. Other people; parents, coaches, friends, partners can assist but cannot do it for you.
You are in charge of your own mindful self-leadership encounter.

© 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


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Leaping Like a Tiger: Mindful Self-Leadership

Dear Integral Meditators,

What sort of ideas spring into your mind when you think of the words self-leadership? Integral Meditation Asia is excited to bring you three opportunities to learn about mindful self-leadership this May!

Before I talk more about that, just a quick reminder for anyone interested in the‘Meditating with the Tree of Yoga – A Twelve Module online Course’ the special price offer of $39 will be coming to an end this Thursday 17th April. So if you are interested, do make sure you get it before then!  

Back to Mindful Self-Leadership: You can read the full details of the courses on MS-L below, and I have created a five minute video Leaping Like a Tiger – Mindful Self Leadership which you can view here:

Yours in the spirit of leading and leaping,


Mindful Self-Leadership: Take Control of Your Life Direction and Wellbeing Through Awareness, Curiosity, Courage and Care.

A Free Talk, a Workshop and an Online Course

In a sentence: Learn how you can develop deep confidence in yourself, take benevolent control of your life, overcome inner inhibitions such as fear and invite fulfillment and wellbeing into your life through the practice of mindful self leadership.

Overview: The best place to learn how lead is within yourself. Do you agree?

Developing your Mindful Self-leadership is about how you can:

  • Feel increasing levels of comfort and confidence in your relationship to yourself, your life and in your ability to take your life in the direction that you truly want it to go
  •  Develop your self-knowledge and self-understanding so as to find out what will really make you most happy
  • Find ways of being making use of the challenges that you face, by taking responsibility for them and leading yourself to the best solutions to those challenges
  • Learn to communicate with yourself and others in a way that encourages you to express your deeper values in the way you think feel and act
  • Develop a capacity for self-leadership that will be an inspiration to others and encourage them to develop their own self-leadership skills
  • Do all of the above using a set of mindfulness practices that enables you to drop into states of mind that are relaxing, peaceful and regenerative, and that will help you dramatically reduce the amount of negative stress and anxiety in your life.

If you have been answering ‘yes’ to the above points then the course in mindful self leadership is for you!

This course is suitable for:

  • Those who may be new to mindfulness and who want to learn it in a way that cultivates the self-leadership skills outlined above.
  • People who are already familiar with mindfulness and meditation practice and wish to learn how to use it in a leadership context.

There are three opportunities to participate in the Mindful-Self Leadership training:

  • Attend a free introductory talk on Mindful Self-Leadership at 10-11am  on Sunday 4th May the  at Basic Essence
  • A three hour Mindful Self-Leadership workshop in Singapore in Sunday May 18th at Basic Essence. For full information see details below.
  • A Five week Mindful Self-Leadership online course that will begin on Thursday 22nd May see below for full details.

What does it cost?:

  • The Introductory talk on 4th May is FREE
  • The three hour Mindful Self-Leadership workshop on 18th May is Singapore$130
  • The five week Mindful Self-Leadership Online Course is Sing$200 ($180 before May 8th)
  • You can participate in both the Mindful Self-Leadership three hour workshop AND online course for a combined price of $300. In addition to this you can get an early bird price for both the 3 hour WS of Sing$285 if you book and make payment before Thursday,  May 8th




Free Talk on Mindful Self-Leadership

Date: Sunday 4th April
Time: 10-11am
Location: Basic Essence, (For location Map click HERE)


Details of the Mindful Self-Leadership Three Hour Workshop:

Date: Sunday May 18th
Time: 9.30am-12.30
Location: Basic Essence, (For location Map click HERE)

This three our workshop introduces four fundamental mindfulness practices that you can take into your daily life in order to develop your capacity for confident self-leadership. These four practices are as follows:

  1. Encountering – Developing your foundation for mindful self–leadership by increasing your capacity to encounter ALL of your reality without being intimidated by it
  2. Accepting – Mindfully accepting all of whom you are in order to lead yourself beyond who you are
  3. Envisioning – Connecting to the values of your personal self-leadership style
  4. Empowering – Taking responsibility for respecting who you are and expressing it appropriately in your life

Each of these practices invites the ongoing development of your own personal self-leadership style and understanding of how it can be integrated into your daily life.
As well as guiding these exercises Toby will here will be giving talks on each of them, and there will be time for exploration of the practices through Q&A.

In addition to the workshop you will receive:

  • MP3 recordings of the practices and talks that are done during the workshop
  • Full workshop notes with all of the mindful self leadership exercises included as well as other relevant articles and materials.
  • All in all you will have a very clear idea of how you can continue your mindful self leadership practice in your daily life after leaving the workshop

Taking Control of Your Life Through Mindful Self-Leadership – A Five Week Online Course

Start date: Thursday May 22nd

Course Outline: This five week online course is an in depth exploration of how you can develop your mindful self-leadership style in order to:

  • Develop increasing confidence and self-direction in life
  • Align yourself with what will really make you inwardly fulfilled
  • Take advantages of your challenges in life to further self-knowledge and discovery
  • Assert values and actions in your life that are congruent with who you are
  • Become the leader you want to be when he going gets tough in your life
  • Combine self-leadership with the daily cultivation of inner peace and wellbeing

Module titles:

Module 1: Getting started; a outline and overview of the elements of mindful self-leadership and how to start cultivating your experience of it on a daily basis
Module 2: Accepting who you are in order to go beyond who you are – Exploring the paradox of mindful self-leadership
Module 3: You can’t practice self leadership if you don’t know where you want to go – Getting to grips with what you really want in life
Module 4: You know more than you think you know – Accessing your inner guidance for the purposes of mindful self-leadership
Module 5: The long leadership journey to where you are – Exploring the spiritual dimension of self-leadership

How it works: Upon registering for the course you will be sent the link to the course webpage together with the password to access it. This will be the place you can go in order to access, listen to and download the course materials. Each week during the five weeks of the course you will be notified when the latest module has been uploaded.

For further details: Please contact



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Enlightenment, Persistence and Knowing What You Really Want

Dear Integral Meditators,

Do you really know what you really want? This weeks article offers a few points for contemplation on this subject.
In case you missed the midweek article, you can click here to read about:  Meditating with the Tree of Yoga – A Twelve Module Online Course for just Sing$39! (Limited time offer) The offer is valid up until this Thursday, 17th April.

I’ve also created a page on the IMA website devoted to Meditation technology to support your practice. I’ve recently affiliate Integral Meditation Asia with I-Awake technologies, and this page explains a little bit about why and what the benefits are.

Yours in the spirit of wants and desires,


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia 

Coming soon: Mindful Self-Leadership

Enlightenment, Persistence and Knowing What You Really Want

Meditating each day on the question “what do I really want” is a really important practice. If you don’t know what you want, then what you think you want will almost certainly be determined by factors such as:

  • What your society and culture thinks you should want
  • What lifestyle advertisements and marketers think you should want
  • What other people around you want
  • What you think your parents would approve of you wanting to want
  • What it is good to want in order to get the approval of significant others in your life’
  • What is easy
  • What will not piss others off
  • Ect…

The list goes on, and so you can see it is actually not a neutral space, if you don’t know what you really want then it is going to be decided for you. So what do you really want??

One way (not the only) way of carving up our wants and desires is into three:

  • Ego or personality level desires that wish to find fulfillment in relationships, work and tangible achievements in our life
  • Soul level wants and desires that tend to centre around the expression of deeper meaning, goodness, beauty and truth in our life
  • Spiritual happiness which here I am going to say centres around a connection to a state of being where all wants and desires are released and simultaneously fulfilled at the same time. That’s enlightenment baby.

All of the above types of wants and desires are valid on their own level, and each of them has their place in our life.

What you want has consequences
When you know what you want, following that will have consequences and sacrifices associated with it. But, life has consequences and sacrifices that will happen anyway, whether they are happening on your terms or not. At least if you know what you want and you go for it, then when the challenging consequences come you can say without conflict or bitterness “I chose this, this is what I want, I accept the consequences”.

When I left University I chose to spend a decade training in meditation and with no regard for conventional career, finances or fitting in, because I wanted spiritual enlightenment. Spiritual enlightenment is what I got, but coming back into the world age 32 I realized that my decade sabbatical had profound consequences in terms of my career, finances and outer freedom. The consequences were real and substantial, but I was happy to take those consequences because I knew what I wanted and the price was worth it (at the end of the day).
Now I run a business, Integral Meditation Asia because I want to teach the path of integrated enlightenment. There are plenty of easier ways to make money and gain recognition in the eyes of others, but I will take that consequence because I know what I want.
The thing is, if you know what you want, you will tend to persist, and if you persist intelligently and wisely, there is a good chance you’ll get what you want

A meditation image for focusing on what you want
Once a week I run up and down the stair well of a local HDB flat a few times (Europe or America, read council or public housing). It is 13 stories high. As a practice to remind me to keep focused on what I want without getting distracted here is what I do; as I am running up the stairs I don’t allow myself to look at the story number as I am going by. As I go higher I can feel my lungs straining and my legs hurting, and I want to distract myself by looking at the numbers, I want to know how much farther to go before the pain stops. But I don’t look; I just keep my head down, keep steady and let the top floor come when it comes. During my week when I feel like getting distracted, doubt myself or am getting (mostly well meaning) but contradictory advice from others, I bring my mind back to this image, clarify what it is I want, and keep going.

The curve ball: What if I don’t know what I want?
Then you know something important. If you don’t know what you want you need to know that, and keep asking the question until you get clarity. The tendency can be if you don’t know what you want is simply to drift and let your desires get filled up with other people’s ideas of what you should want, and then you will be lost.

Every day ask the question, “What do I really want?” and persist.
© 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

Support for you Meditation Practice 

If you enjoyed the article above, and are interested in sound technology that can help you actively pursue the question “what do I want? the following two tracks may be worth considering:


Meditating with the Tree of Yoga – A Twelve Module Online Course for just Sing$39!

Dear Integral Meditators,

This midweek message has two elements to it:

Firstly I’m excited to be offering a twelve module online meditation course on the Tree of Yoga, you can find full details below.

For one week I am offering the course at the great price of Sing $39! After that the price will go up to Sing$55. What’s more, you can listen to the first class in the series for free by clicking on this link: Tree of Yoga Class 1 – An Introduction to Meditation on the Tree of Yoga

Secondly I have placed beneath the course information links to some meditation technologies from I-Awake called the Inner Alchemy series, which I have found to be particularly complementary to the Tree of Yoga theme.

Enjoy Listening to the free class!

Yours in the spirit of the World Tree,


Meditating with the Tree of Yoga – A Twelve Module Online Course for just Sing$39! (Limited time offer)

One sentence summary: A meditation course explaining meditation from the perspective of the Tree of Yoga. This course offers a contemporary take on an classic system of meditation.

Cost of the course: For 1 week only you can get this 12 module course for justSing$39! (offer ends 17th April, after which the price will rise to $55)


Course overview: The ‘World Tree’ or ‘Tree of Life’ is a mythical theme and archetypal image that is found in all spiritualities and religions throughout the world.
In this 12 module series of classes we meditate on the World Tree from the perspective of the path of yoga,  seeing how we can incorporate its gifts and wisdom into our daily life and path of integrated mastery. Please note that this is not a class that will involve physical yoga postures. It is a meditation class based around the themes of the Tree of Yoga!
Each module lasts approximately 50-60minutes and consists of a meditation, a talk and ends with another short meditation. All you need to do is download the course and listen to it in the comfort of your own home!

Note from Toby: “This is a live course that I recorded live in 2009. The original inspiration for the course was my own love of trees combined with reading and meditation upon the classic BKS Iyengar book The Tree of Yoga. It’s a great course in that it combines a very solid structure for meditation practice with the naturally relaxing and healing energy and images of nature and trees.”

How does it work? If you purchase the Tree of Yoga Online course, you will then be sent an email with a link to the course page and a password. You can then listen to and download the course from there!

Interested? Listen to the first class free by clicking below! 
Tree of Yoga Class 1 – An Introduction to Meditation on the Tree of Yoga

Full titles of each module:

Class 1: An Introduction to the Tree of Yoga
Class 2:  How to communicate with trees and with the Tree of Yoga in particular
Class 3:  Growing and deepening the roots of the Tree of Yoga
Class 4:  Strengthening the trunk of the Tree of Yoga
Class 5:  Growing the branches of the Tree of Yoga
Class 6:  Unfurling the leaves of the Tree of Yoga
Class 7:  Developing the bark of the Tree of Yoga
Class 8:  Cultivating the sap of the Tree of Yoga
Class 9:  Nurturing the flowers of the Tree of Yoga
Class 10: Tasting the fruit of the Tree of Yoga
Class 11:  Tree of Yoga and health
Class 12:  The Tree of Yoga and meditation


Any further questions about the course? Contact

Inner Alchemy for your meditation practice

Inner Alchemy is a series of three special meditation tracks created by I-Awake technologies. They each consist of a combination of Brainwave Entrainment and Biofield Technology that is specifically designed to help you move easily and effortlessly into a state of deep meditation and relaxation. The three tracks  in the Inner Alchemy series are:
Meditative Ocean

and World Spirit
They can be purchased as individual tracks, or they can be purchased as a bundle for just US$47 and get a feel for how good they are

You can click on the individual links to listen to the free sample tracks and get a feel for how good they are! As I mention above, these three I think are particularly appropriate for the whole Tree of Yoga energy and theme, but they are a great accompaniment to any meditation practice – Toby

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Does God Exist? A Meditators Perspective (and what to tell your kids)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Many spiritual paths and religions and  take “God-realization” as their object of attainment, but what if you can’t find God? This weeks article takes both a playful and serious look at this issue. Complementary reading would be  the article on “The Four Less-nesses of Enlightenment” that I wrote a few weeks back.

Yours in the spirit of the God beyond God,

Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia 

Coming soon

Does God Exist?  A Meditators Perspective (and what to tell your kids)

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Sasha (8yrs) asked me “Does God really exist? After all you can’t really see him or prove he does”. This is a classic response from a child developing her rational faculties and for whom the previous concept of a creator in the sky, a little like a big father or mother, becomes obviously and patently untrue.
For many of us as we move into adulthood it seems like we are faced with a dilemma; either we accept an unseen, unknowable God on faith, or we decide that he does not exist and that there is no God.

The path of meditation offers a second, non-philosophical perspective on the existence or not of God which is put succinctly in the modern day Zen saying:
There is no-God and he is your creator

The way I answered to my daughter was as follows:

  • God exists in a place called no-thing, and no-thing is the place where everything comes from, so you can find God in everything.
  • God lives in a place called no-where, and no-where is the place where somewhere comes from. So because God is no-where he is the only person you can find everywhere.
  • Gods’ identity is in a place called no-self, which is the place where all selves arise. So at the heart of every self there is no-self, which is where you find God.

So, the idea with these three sentences is that they invite a person enquiring after the existence of God to go beyond the world of ideas, philosophy or theology and move instead into a space of experiential, non-conceptual investigation and curiosity.
With these sentences you just need to read them, and then ‘drop-in’ to the space that they invite you into and to be with that space, to be present to something that lies beyond your mind, beyond rationality, beyond ideas.

  • God is un-findable in the world of things, so if you drop into a space of no-thing, that is where she will be, although of course that would be non-be
  • There is no place where God ‘lives’, so if you go to nowhere, that is where you will find him
  • God does not have a self, so if you let go of your own self completely, then you will find God there

To the cynic this can just sound like word games, but as I say the idea is to use the words to go beyond the words to a non-conceptual, living experience that you then hold and rest in.

After finishing this article I then asked my daughter “So what did you think of those definitions of God that I gave you?”
“Good” she said, not looking up from her book.
“Really I said? Stop reading and come here for a moment”
She stood up and came over to me. I asked her the same question
“So what did you think of those definitions of God that I gave you?”
She looks at me, smiles and said “Excellent!”
Then she rolls her eyes, puts on her most ironic face, then sits down to read again.

I think that is what you call approving non-approval.
© 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

Support for you Meditation Practice 

If you enjoyed the article above, and are interested in sound technology that can help you more easily get into deeper states of meditation, the following two tracks work well with cultivating formless, timeless meditations:

Beginners Mind

Audio Serenity

A Mind of Ease Biographical creative imagery Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Presence and being present Shadow meditation Stress Transformation

Melting the Ice of the Heart, Cooling the Inferno of the Soul

Dear Integral Meditators,

One of my main inspirations Ken Wilbur was once asked what the process of growing and evolving is like. He answered simply “You laugh more and you cry more”. I’ve found that to be true, and this midweek article is something of an exploration of that.

Yours in the spirit of ice and fire,


Melting the Ice of the Heart, Cooling the Inferno of the Soul

Last week was one of those weeks where there was a lot of tension in my life professionally, personally and physically I found and felt myself to be under an unusual amount of pressure. As a meditation and stress transformation coach I know the signs that I am not coping too well with pressure, for example:

  • I could feel my body armoring itself from the psychological pressure by becoming physically tense
  • I could hear my language with my family becoming abbreviated and sometimes harsh
  • Listening to the inner conversation in my mind I could see how reactive it had become
  • My the centre of my chest or heart space felt like a place where I could not go , it felt inhabited by an energy that was not under my control

In short it felt like my body and soul had simultaneously turned into fire and ice, where there is the quality and heat of anger and frustration, together with the coldness and detachment that comes when you start to feel alienated from your reality through resentment and fear.

At this point I started to feel a little bit like I was having to start my mind-training all over again, like I had to re-learn to mindfully transform my stress. What was the quality that I found most helpful to negotiate my way out of what was happening and find meaning?


That is to say I did not try and resist any of the things that I was experiencing, or try to change the person I was in that moment. Rather I just tried to become curious about myself and what I was going through, to be interested. To be curious carries a balance of the qualities of observing objectively with caring subjectively. As soon as I started to become mindfully curious about myself

  • I could feel a window for self compassion opening up in my heart
  • I could feel a deeper part of myself becoming present to what I was going through
  • I saw the inner dialog in my mind become slower, kinder, more relaxed
  • There seemed to be a space where a calm me could co-exist without conflict with the part of me that was wounded and upset
  • I felt the tangible presence of hope
  • Despite the feeling of emptiness in my heart I found myself smiling quietly to myself

So, the next time you feel in a fix and your soul is on fire whilst your heart has shut down, perhaps you can invite curiosity into the situation. Sit quietly, relax your judgemental mind and enquire of yourself

  • How are you?
  • What an interesting experience this is, let’s see what we can notice about what is going on
  • We may feel pretty terrible right now, but were still worth paying attention to in a caring way, let’s do that and see what happens

Allow your curiosity to lead the way toward self understanding and compassion.

PS: Curiosity is also a theme I explore in my recent article on Applying Mindful Curiosity to Your Relationships.

© 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