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Honesty, Release and redirection -Three Levels of Non-Judgment

Dear Integral Meditators,

Non-judgment is a word that it often used in mindfulness and meditation circles, but what does it really mean? I give my own thoughts on this below.

In the spirit of non-judgment,


Honesty, Release and redirection -Three Levels of Non-Judgment

Within certain types of mindfulness and meditation practice a lot of emphasis is placed on the practice of non-judgment, that is to say observing what we are seeing or experiencing without making a snap value assesment about it. Here are three levels to consider in any practice of non-judgment that will afford a slightly deeper and more complete experience of it, as well as avoiding a few of the pitfalls that it is easy to make.

Stage one: Recognizing you have made a judgment
Before you let go of a judgment, you need to admit and acknowledge you have actually made a judgment. Spelling out judgments that make us uncomfortable is often not easy;

  • I feel guilty because I am angry with my partner or child
  • I have a racial or cultural prejudice against this person
  • I’m scared and covering it by being aggressive
  • I am jealous of my colleague and their success

If you try and jump to a non-judgmental space before this first stage, you can easily simply use the practice of non-judgment as a way of denying or repressing your judgments, which will actually decrease your capacity for self-awareness and your ability to release and transform your judgments.
You might call this stage honesty, as this stage entails looking nakedly at what is there and admitting what we see and find.

Stage two: Non-Judgment
Having fully acknowledged the judgments that you actually have, you can then spend time accepting and releasing the judgment:

  • I accept and release my guilt for being angry with my partner
  • I accept the reality of my cultural prejudice, and let it go
  • I note and release my aggression and insecurity
  • I note the jealousy that I experience toward my colleague, and whilst acknowledging and owning that feeling, I note that my deeper identity is not that feeling

You might call this stage release, as it involves the actual experience of letting go of the judgment.

Stage three: Better judgment
The experience of non-judgment is a very worthwhile experience in and of itself, and it can lead to some very relaxing states of mind in meditation (See my recent article on the Man or Woman of No Rank), but I believe that one of the main functions of practicing non-judgment is so that we can then replace our habitual and unconscious judgments withbetter conscious judgments. Better judgments come from questions such as:

  • What is a better way to work with my anger toward my partner or child?
  • What perspectives can help me I evolve beyond my cultural prejudice?
  • Can I find a creative, non-destructive use for my insecurity?
  • Can I care deeply about my own professional success without being automatically jealous of my colleague’s achievements?

You might call this stage redirection, as the practice of better judgment leads to the redirection of energy previously caught up in negative judgments into new and life-affirming directions.

As we move towards the new year, what are the judgments that you would like to practicehonesty, release and re-direction around in your life?

© 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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Keeping the Magic

Dear Integral Meditators,

From myself and Integral Meditation Asia here’s wishing you all the very best for the Winter Solstice and Christmas seasons!


Keeping the Magic

I’m sitting in my parents’ house writing this article the day before Christmas eve, I’ve spent the afternoon with my daughter and her cousins around me getting excited about the presents under the Christmas tree, the old debate as to whether Santa Claus is real has been aired, the attempt to co-erce the parents into disclosing the contents of the presents has been attempted and resisted.
For the kids the world is still magical, wondrous, exciting, enchanted, but what about the adults? For myself my mind is full of the challenging contents of the past year and how it will continue into the next, there is always the temptation to feel jaded, ordinary, worn out. How can we keep the magic in our life, the sense of excitement, the wonder and the youngness of our mind as our bodies gradually get older? Here are a few things that have kept me in touch with the magic and wonder over the last week or so.

  • Firstly I have understood from the Big history project that the entire content of our universe (which is still expanding at the rate of light years per second) originated from a space smaller than the size of an atom. If that isn’t magical and mind blowing I don’t know what is.
  • When I look into the eyes of my friends, my family, people I have known for a long time and people that I meet only momentarily, I realize I am staring into a warm, living space of immeasurable depth and mystery. Sure I experience it most deeply with people I love,  but it never ceases to surprise me how it happens with people I connect and exchange a smile with just once, a momentary exchange of goodwill and humanity
  • When I reflect on the last year in with friends I am drawn back again and again how the difficulties that I have faced have been the platform for my greatest learning’s and growth. There is something retrospectively magical and hilarious about how all the things that I resist and wish away as they are arising change magically into things that I am glad happened/are still happening and feel grateful for
  • There are always opportunities to experience deep, personal love, to give it and receive it, it is always magical and it makes all the difference

What are the experiences, reasons and things that help you keep connected to the magic and the wonder in your life?

Related article and meditation: Renewal

Check out the Upcoming workshops and events at Integral Meditation Asia
© 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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Mindful of Our Conflicting Desires

Dear Integral Meditators,

These days I enjoy my desires a lot, but I didn’t always do so, because they have the power to make me so uncomfortable. The article below explores how you can mindfully explore the challenge of your desires; how to become more comfortable with them and start to tap their potential.

In the spirit of clarity around desire,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :


Sunday 11th January 9.30am-3.30pm – Regenerating Your Inner Self – Integral Meditation Day Retreat

Sunday 18th January,9.30am-12.30pm – Meditations for Connecting to the Green World – An Introduction to the Path of Nature Mysticism

Mindful of Our Conflicting Desires

Wanting both excitement and security,

Stability and creativity,
Riches and a simple life,
Success and the easy life,
Deep love without pain,
To do what you wish to do in life but not wanting to be judged by others,
Freedom without responsibility.
A lot of the conflict that we experience in life comes from the fact that we have conflicting or contradictory desires that create lot of inner confusion; we cant let go of either desire, so we end up not enjoying either of the options. For example we may want the pleasure of a deep loving connection, but feel anxious about the way in which it makes us feel vulnerable and open. If we open to the love we don’t enjoy it because the anxiety kills it, but if we don’t open to it, we feel miserable because we are unfulfilled. It can feel like a lose-lose situation.

When I was being trained as a monk, the received wisdom seem to suggest that the solution to this was to simply give up desire, which can give rise to a certain amount of inner peace, but it also feels like a bit of a cop-out. To give up desires for temporary periods can be very healthy, but to give them up altogether is surely an avoidance of both our responsibilities, and much of the meaning and pleasure of a human life.

Another way is to be mindful that each of our desires has a challenge associated with it, and to open to that challenge.

Because I wish to love I have to navigate and accept the anxiety that comes with that open heartedly.
Because I wish to be successful in a certain endeavour I will have to accept the hardship, effort, fatigue and short term failure that may come with it.
Because I wish for a more creative life, I have to open intelligently to the relative lack of certainty that this involves.

Choose and commit consciously to the desire that you truly want. Accept the challenge and burden that comes with it. Enjoy both.

© 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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The Man or woman of No Rank

A lot of the suffering, pain and confusion that we experience in our lives comes from the attachment that we have to the roles that we habitually play in our life. The man or woman of no rank is a meditation technique that allows us to:

  • Become more aware of this attachment and over-identification we have with roles
  • Enables us to let go of them and see that we are not these labels
  • Helps us use these labels and identities effectively and appropriately in our life

You can do this contemplation in a formal meditation, or you can do it just sitting casually on your sofa or any quiet space…

Think about the roles and identities you play in your work, observe your identification with them for a while, then set them aside, temporarily let them go, realize you are not this role or label.

Extend the same process to:

  • Yourself as a partner, husband, wife
  • Yourself as a son or daughter
  • As a father or mother
  • As a person from this country, or area
  • From this social class
  • From this level of education
  • From yourself as a man, or as a woman
  • Explore any other areas where you have a strong identity to a role; ‘big strong guy’, ‘the shy type’, ‘the peacemaker’, the ‘fortunate one’ or ‘unfortunate’ one, and so on; any place where you see that you are attached or very identified with a role or label.

Step by step strip away your roles and labels. Rest in the space where you are simply a man or woman of no rank, just a person, not better or worse than anyone else, equal with the highest and the lowest of them all. Sit in a space where you are just a human being, maybe even just a ‘being’. Live this space deeply for a while.
When you return to the world, of course playing roles is inevitable, but if you practice being the man or woman of no rank you can liberate yourself from these labels, and the discover that you can use them consciously to explore and fulfill your own potential, be of service to the people around you and the world.

© 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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The Four Subtle Experiences in Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at the path of meditation in three stages, focusing in particular on the second stage, developing and engaging subtle experiences. It is useful to know about these ‘intermediate’ levels of the meditation experience because it enables us to appreciate and explore them without the danger of thinking that they are the end of the journey.

Yours in the spirit of the meditation journey,



The Four Subtle Experiences in Meditation 

In meditation generally there are three stages:

  • Balancing, stilling & harmonizing the body-mind
  • Developing and engaging subtle state experiences
  • Moving into or exploring  the formless/timeless dimension of consciousness

In order to get to the second stage of engaging subtle state experiences, you need to first need to still and unify your body-mind through relaxation, calming and stillness. You can read more about this first stage of meditation here: The first task (and achievement of meditation).

If you can achieve this, then you then naturally start to move into the subtle level of meditation which comprises of four main types of experience:

The intuitive /ideational – This is where your mind starts to come up with ideas, insights and intuitions, quite spontaneously and effortlessly. These ideas may be quite abstract, or they may be entirely pertinent to very specific life situations that you are going through. They are often characterized by their capacity to see patterns, meanings and relationships in apparently random and disparate experiences.

The subtle energetic – This is an awareness of subtle energy flowing through our body and mind in ways that we would not be ordinarily conscious of. This dimension of meditation experience is explained in various ways, in terms of the movement of energy through the energy meridians, the chakras and kundalini, the microcosmic orbit and so on.

The expanded emotional – This is the experience of emotions that go beyond our ordinary every day personal range of emotions, and includes experiences such as

  • Causeless and spontaneous joy
  • Unconditional affection and love
  • Openhearted compassion for all living beings
  • Deep equanimity

The visionary – This means an awakening to spontaneously received visual images of people, places things and sometimes even entire inner worlds. It is a little bit like dreaming, except the images are experienced whilst in full consciousness, and they are distinct from our imagination, that is to say they have an objective quality that is separate from the random images arising from our everyday thinking and imagining mind.

These four subtle types of experience will then give way to the third stage of meditation experience:

The formless – This is the experience of the formless timeless domain of the mind and consciousness that lies beyond both our sensory awareness and our thinking mind. Initially our experience of the formless simply an open spacious experience of awareness with no thoughts in it. However, after a time this deepens, giving rise to various forms of experience of deep unitive and non-dual experience where we experience ourself as ‘one’ with our world and universe, and where our experience of the subject-object, doing-being  divide disappears into a pure experience of is-ness.

So, once you have settled down into your meditation, and your body-mind are feeling a calm and relaxed, these are the four major subtly meditation experiences that you can start to identify, work with and build your experience of: the intuitive/ideational, the subtle energetic, the expanded emotional and the visionary. These in turn will gradually give way to experiences of the formless dimension of meditation experience.

© 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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What Real Power Does Mindfulness Give You?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of mindfulness, do you think of power? If not the article below explains why you should!


What Real Power Does Mindfulness Give You?

We talk about mindfulness in terms of relief from stress, bringing more presence to our life and so on, but what about power?
One way mindfulness (when well practiced) gives us greater power is by giving us awareness of choice. The more consciousness we bring to any given situation, the larger the number of choices we will be aware of regarding how to act, how to feel and how to approach the situation.  Conversely, the less conscious awareness that we bring to a situation, the fewer the choices that we will have, and therefore the less power.
Without mindfulness we are essentially limited to our instinctive and habitual patterns of reacting and responding to our life’s challenges (and joys), with mindfulness we can even innovate choices, options and possibilities that we have never considered before as we actively bring our intelligence to bear upon the situation fully.

Our mind is basically our primary tool for surviving, adapting and thriving in the outer world of our career and relationships, and the inner world of our relationship to ourself. Mindfulness is the practice of learning how to use and apply the potential of our mind in daily life. Looked at in this way there is nothing more powerful and valuable than mindfulness. Do you have time for a little now?

Related articles:
You Always Have a Choice
Six Mindful Questions for Effective Decision Making

Check out the Upcoming workshops and events at Integral Meditation Asia

© 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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The Easiest Way to Avoid Death


Dear Integral Meditators,

What does it mean to live like you are alive? That could have been another title for the article below.

Yours in the spirit of being alive,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in December:

Sunday December 14th, 9.30am-12.30pm – An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of  Zen

The Easiest Way to Avoid Death

…is to avoid living. If you just fit in, do what others are doing, stay out of (too much) trouble, forget about what your real, deepest and most visceral desires are, and generally anesthetize yourself from the reality that you are alive, then the pain and anxiety of the inevitability of death won’t worry you too much. If you anesthetize yourself from life, your feelings and your reality, then you can arrive at death and act with genuine surprise, “Hey, how can this be happening to me, this isn’t fair!”

If on the other hand you commit to life, to being alive, to bringing as much consciousness, value and feeling and vibrancy to each moment of your life, then inevitably you are going to become more and more aware that your life is fleeting, impermanent, and that it will inevitably end, sooner or later (we don’t know). To be vitally aware that we are alive is to invite awareness of death and impermanence, and to feel the anxiety and challenge of that awareness.

The thing is that, by committing to be alive now, and feeling the anxiety of our transience, we are truly and urgently in a position to make use of the opportunity to be alive, to make a difference, to communicate values and meaning whilst we can.

Or we can sleepwalk through life and then act angry when we are about to die.

It is our choice, today, each day.

© 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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The Gifts and Wounds of Our Ancestors

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below explores how we can consciously bring to light the way in which our ancestors have played a role in who we are and what we experience today.

Yours in the spirit of gifts and wounds,


The Gifts and Wounds of Our Ancestors

Living as securely, affluently as we do to today, and having the choices that we have has a lot to do with the efforts of past generations. Specifically to us as individuals, our immediate ancestors, parents, grandparents and great grandparents have a lot to do with the opportunity we have today to lead a happy, fulfilling and creative life today. You could say we are the inheritors of their gifts.

Conversely we are also an inheritor of their wounds, their unresolved inner conflicts, their vulnerabilities, their struggles, their blindspots & their burdens. Quite often the gifts and the blindspots of our ancestors are interrelated. For example:

  • I am aware of the gift of freedom that I was given from my Grandfathers in their fighting, surviving and perhaps killing in the two world wars. I am also aware of the emotional wounds and handicaps that come with such a sacrifice.
  • I am also aware of the gifts of my Grandmothers as women; their sacrifice and their patience. I am also aware of the wounds that they carry from playing this role and the limitations that it placed upon them.

Thematically, many of the issues that we may now be facing in our life are a continuation of the patterns of previous generations. For most people this goes on quite unconsciously, but by bringing mindfulness and reflection to our relationships to our ancestors we can develop the capacity to consciously guide and direct the energy that flows into us from our ancestors, and thus make better use of it.

A mindful reflection on your ancestors
Take the image of an ancestor that you wish to connect with and reflect upon, perhaps from an old photo. Visualize this image in front of you and allow your mind to mindfully free-associate for a while; notice the feelings, images and memories that may come up.
Now ask your ancestor (as if they are actually present) three questions:

  • What are your gifts to me?
  • What are your wounds?
  • What is it that you wish to communicate with me at this time?

Listen for the answers that come back, and dwell for a while in a state of:

  • Appreciation for gifts received
  • Healing and release of wounds inherited
  • Clear understanding of their message from them to you at this time in your life

We are the ancestors of future generations
Another question that we need to ask ourselves regularly is of course; what are the gifts that I wish to pass onto future generations, and what are the wounds they will have to deal with if I remain the way I am currently?

© 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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Caring For Your Life-force Through Meditation: Four Levels

Dear Integral Meditators,

I’ve been focusing in my own practice over the last week on taking care of my life-force or libido through meditation. The article below is really some thoughts I have put together as a result. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours  in the spirit of the journey,


Caring For Your Life-force Through Meditation: Four Levels

Your life-force (as we will be defining it in this article) is your ‘psychic energy’ or ‘libido’. It manifests on the physical, psychological, soul and spiritual levels of your being.

Simply put if your libido or life-force is healthy then it will manifest as a healthy ‘appetite’ for life. If your libido is low then your appetite for life diminishes correspondingly.
Here is a brief resume of the way in which our life-force manifests on the four levels (the soul and spiritual level being counted as one):

Your life-force on the physical/biological level – On this vital level of your being a healthy libido manifests as appetite for food, drink and sex/sensuality, and healthy emotions. It can be sustained by the appropriate engagement with these basic activities (eating & drinking healthily, enjoying sex and sensuality appropriately, feeling emotions fully). Correspondingly it can be damaged by eating and drinking unhealthily, over indulging in sex (or unhealthy expressions of sex) and negative emotions.

Your libido & life-force on the psychological level – On the level of your ego the libido manifests as striving, desiring and willing (to use the Jungian terms). From this we can see that to maintain a healthy psychological libido we need goals to strive towards, and a healthy pleasure in striving for and achieving those goals. Correspondingly our psychological ‘appetite’ can be damaged if we lack motivation, goals and objectives to strive for in life, or if our self-esteem & confidence are low.

Your life-force & libido on the soul& spiritual level – This level of libido is really the psychological level expressed at a deeper level of our being. It involves the pursuit of “the true, the beautiful and the good” as we feel compelled to explore and express them in our life. One way of understanding our own ‘spiritual path’ is how our psychological process of striving, desiring and willing evolves and transforms toward a creative expression of truth, beauty and goodness.

From this we can see that looking after your life-force is a multi-disciplinary activity, ranging from physical diet to psychological motivation to a deeper contemplation of the meaning of your life. Each one of these levels has something to offer you in terms of the overall experience of your life-force and the power of its energy.
Moreover, our life-force can shift from one level to another and back again. For example we can find a new lease of psychological motivation as a result of a changed diet, or we can find a renewed enthusiasm for emotional or sexual expression as a result of finding a deeper level of meaning on the soul level of our being.

Healing, balancing and renewing your life-force thorough meditation.

One very simple way in which you can use meditation as a way of enhancing your life force and libido is to just take the discipline of sitting still and relaxing in a focused, aware way for a certain period of time each day. This will:

  • Enable your physical body to relax and begin regenerating its biological life-force
  • Enable your psychological being to relax and begin regenerating its motivation and energy
  • Enable your soul to become receptive to spiritual and intuitive inspirations that inspire it toward greater meaning and creativity.

You can further enhance this function of meditation as you are sitting and relaxing by:

  • Deliberately imagining and encouraging your body to move into a state of deep, regenerative relaxation
  • Deliberately not pursuing thoughts and discursive thoughts in the mind so that your psychological being can regain its clarity and focus
  • Consciously inviting, being receptive to and noting intuitive inspirations & idea  that arise whilst you are enjoying the process of relaxing your body and mind

This very simple process of meditation, sitting in a state of receptive awareness in the way I have described is not the whole story when it comes to looking after and increasing our life-force on the physical, psychological and soul/spiritual levels, but it will help all of the other efforts that we make to do so!

Two more thoughts: Enhancing your life-force meditation a little further:

1. There are certain simple ways of directing the energy in your body-mind that can enhance and increase the flow of life-force. You can see a couple of simple examples from my qi gong blog here:
Building and strengthening your Qi/Light Body by connecting to Planetary Qi
Qi gong standing exercises 1: Light body standing form/Earth light standing form

2. You can use bio-field and neuro-flow technology to achieve a more rapid and deeper entry into a regenerative state of mind. The one I’m using a lot at the moment is called Harmonic Resonance Meditation, if you’re interested you can scroll down to see the coupon code to get 25% off any of the products at I-Awake technologies.

© 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 

November 26 – December 2,

25% OFF ALL iAwake Products

25% OFF Discount Coupon Code: