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Egotistic or Strong Ego?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When we tell ourselves to ‘get over our own ego’ what exactly do we mean by that? Its an area that it is very easy to get mixed up and confused around! The article below explores the difference between egotism and a strong ego. We really need one, we really need to drop the other.

In the spirit of inner strength,


Egotistic or Strong Ego?

‘There’s a tremendous difference between a strong ego and an egocentric ego; the latter is always weak. Individuation, that is the attainment of ones potential, can’t take place without the strong ego’ – John A Sandford

The Ego is
…the unifying centre of our awareness, it is the sense of self that ties together the disparate collection of physical, emotional and mental habits and characteristics that together makes us a unique human being. A strong ego is vital for success and happiness in our life; it has characteristics such as confidence, self-esteem, ethical awareness, competency and capacity for enjoyment.

To be egotistical is
…to believe and act as if we were more important than others, as if we were the central fulcrum of the functioning universe, and/or without adequate concern or empathy for the happiness or wellbeing of others

Ironically a lot of egotistical behaviour is stimulated by having a weak ego. If I feel inadequate, incompetent or inferior it can be very tempting to try and compensate for that feeling by asserting myself unskilfully, selfishly and or inconsiderately. Conversely if I have a strong ego I can have people behaving selfishly, unskilfully and/or inconsiderately around me, but because I have a strong sense of ego, of who I AM it can be relatively easy to remain in my own integrity and not be influenced by my company.

Experientially knowing the difference between a strong ego and being egotistical is a great mindful journey in itself, and it is an area that many people are deeply confused about.

Take a moment
To imagine yourself with a truly strong ego; confident, trusting in yourself, liking whom you are, able to forgive yourself for your flaws whilst at the same time holding yourself accountable for them, centred and balanced in your sense of whom you are. Strong enough to be vulnerable and take chances, socially aware, aware you are no more important than anyone else, but also and crucially that you are no less important than anyone else. That’s a strong ego.
If you stay with this sense of having a strong ego you’ll find it is quite a lot easier and more natural to behave with benevolence & consideration for others as well as to be playful and creative in your life, even when under pressure. Sound like fun? It is!
Does that last paragraph sound like the opposite of an egotistical selfish person? Yup, pretty much.

To transcend your egotism, first begin by mindfully building your strong, functional and creative ego.

Related articles: Balancing the development of your ego and spirit

Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of SpiritHandle Stress and Have Peace of Mind – Personal Coaching with Toby

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 


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Your Inner Fitness Trainers

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen if you treated the most difficult people and circumstances in your life as ‘inner fitness trainers’? This weeks article explores this theme and mindfulness practice.

Yours in the spirit of the useful in the difficult,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

March courses nearly ready!!

Your Inner Fitness Trainers

The function of a good physical fitness trainer is to push you to the limits of your physical flexibility, strength and stamina in a safe and secure way by giving you specific physical tasks and challenges to focus upon.
If we are serious about our own inner mindfulness training, then we should be looking at the people or circumstances we find most difficult and challenging in our life as being like our inner fitness trainers. Their function is to push us to the limits of our mental, emotional and spiritual flexibility, strength and stamina by giving us specific challenges that push us to those limits.

But the people and circumstances in life that are hurting me aren’t trying to help!
When you are being trained by a (good) coach physically you engage in the exercises they set for you because you understand that they are trying to help. But people giving you a hard time in my life aren’t trying to help, nor is the illness that you have! So there is a conscious choice that you are making here to adopt people and circumstance as your trainers, despite their bad intentions, or despite the unfairness of the circumstances. It is a personal, empowering choice you make based around a recognition of the benefit that can be gained from adopting such a perspective.

Get clarity – How and for what are these people/circumstances helping me?
Pick the top three most difficult and/or unpleasant circumstances that you are going through right now; the ones that make you manifestly uncomfortable, or inwardly scream at the unfairness of it all. List them and then answer these two questions with regard to each one:

  • How is this person or circumstance helping me to develop, expand and strengthen  my mind and consciousness?
  • What is the specific approach and perspective that I need to keep in mind when I am with this person or dealing with this circumstance that will help me transform them into an ‘inner mind trainer’ for me?

The answer to these two questions gives you your basic mindfulness practice for each of your specific challenges. If you focus your awareness, intention and attention mindfully upon these questions, you may be surprised at how quickly and creatively you can come up with approaches that you can start to work with right away.

Feeling thankful
These days most of us have heard of the idea of a gratitude log or journal; a notebook where we keep a list of all the things that we appreciate and feel grateful for in our life. If you can start integrating your ‘inner fitness training’ into your daily mindfulness practice, then you may find yourself able to add the worst people in your life and the most difficult challenges that you face to your own gratitude log!

Find out about Toby’s Stress Transformation Coaching

Related Article: A Butterfly in the Wind

© 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 Absence of Resolution

Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens if instead of trying to solve your problems all the time you simply try and experience them mindfully?  The article below explores this idea and practice.

Final reminder that the special offer on the online course ‘The six stages of love – romantic love as a path to healing and enlightenment‘ lasts until the evening of Thursday 19th Feb. Click on the link to find out more and listen to the free meditation….

In the spirit of the journey,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

Courses for March coming Shortly!

The Absence of Resolution

To practice the absence of resolution is to temporarily stop seeking to resolve the issues that we face in our life, and instead sit with the emotions and thoughts that we are experiencing in the moment around these issues. We focus upon experiencing and witnessing them rather than trying to solve them.The aim of practising the absence of resolution is (amongst other things):

  • To make us inwardly stronger and at the same time more tender and sensitive to our life experience.
  • To learn how to sit with our experiences and feelings long enough to see them clearly and deeply without flinching or running away from what we see.
  • To feel more deeply and intimately in touch with life as it arises from moment to moment, thus improving the quality of our life.

Why we need to practice the absence of resolution
There is never a time when all our problems are solved;

  • If we are lonely we solve the challenges of being lonely by getting in a relationship, which in turn leads to the challenges of being in a relationship
  • If we are without a job we have the challenge of a lack of income, but if we get a job to solve this, then we suddenly find ourselves with the problem of a relative lack of freedom and of time scarcity
  • Getting away from temptation and excitement can lead to the  challenge of boringness and predictability

If we spend every moment of our life trying to solve our problems, no time is spent relaxing into and enjoying life as it is, imperfections and all.

How to practice the absence of resolution
Sit mindfully with a situation in your life where you can feel your anxiety calling you to come up with a solution NOW. Let go temporarily of trying to find a solution, focus instead on seeing and experiencing the feelings, thoughts and emotions that you have in and around your circumstances. Don’t try and solve anything, simply sit and be present with what you find.

How the absence of resolution helps you resolve your problems
Often in the rush to ‘solve’ our problems we fail to see clearly what it is that we are actually facing and experiencing. By temporarily stopping our ‘solving’ mind, and sitting with what we are actually experiencing, we start to see it more clearly. Because we see it more clearly, we can then start to see what really needs to be done in order to resolve it successfully in a balanced manner.
In this way practising the absence of resolution in the short term actually increases our capacity to find long term solutions to our problems.

Related article: The Absence of Reference Points

© 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 Absence of Reference Points – The Evolutionary Advantage of the Meditator

Dear Integral Meditators,

Every day we look for reference points, markers in our life that give us security, familiarity, a feeling of safety. The article below explores the process of meditation as learning to get comfortable with an absence of reference points, and the freedom that it gives.

This Saturday afternoon; Meditations for Creating A Mind of Ease Workshop, final reminder. Also, last two days of the special offer on the Online Mindful Resilience Program. Finally, for those interested in using technology and sound to develop your inner resilience, check our the Transformational Resilience Program 1.0 from I-Awake.In the spirit of the journey,Toby

The Absence of Reference Points – The Evolutionary Advantage of the Meditator

Meditation as the absence of reference points
One way of describing meditation is to say that it is about getting comfortable with the absence of reference points. It is about learning to sit in an open, empty space where we temporarily let go of our sense of self, our sense of trying to control, our sense of structure. It is about relaxing deeply into that place of pure awareness that lies beyond our physical body and senses, and beyond our thinking and feeling mind. It is about relaxing into formlessness.

Sometimes people don’t stick with meditation because
Temporarily and for a short time relaxing into the empty space of awareness can be pleasant and relaxing, but if you do it for an extended period of time it starts to shake up your idea of who you think you are, of how your world functions. It exposes you to the exiting possibility and profound discomfort of real personal transformation and change. Sometimes when we stop our meditation practice we tell ourself  it is because we don’t have time or energy, or that it is too much effort. But the real and underlying reason is that we have become uncomfortable with the absence of familiar reference points as we sit in the open space of meditation, and the freedom & responsibility that this absence of reference points gives us.

The increasing absence of static outer markers in our life
In these days of the information age and the impact that it is having on our work and leisure, we can see the world is changing at an ever faster rate. There is an ever receding number of reliable outer reference points around which we can securely base our life.

The evolutionary and creative advantage of the meditation
A meditator who is making a little bit of effort each day to get comfortable courageously sitting in an inner space without reference points is naturally going to start feeling more comfortable with the reality of outer change in their life. We can start to get comfortable with the continuous change that surrounds us, to enter into the flow of it, to embrace it, and take advantage of the opportunities that arise from it. This gives the meditator a creative advantage over others, both in terms of his/her personal happiness, but also in terms of the other aspects of their life, such as when going through relationship changes, or in professional or business development.

Try sitting for a while each day and deliberately connect to that part of your mind that is open, spacious and without reference points. You don’t have to get rid of your thoughts, or even close your eyes. This open spacious place is present in the here and now, whether your mind is full of thoughts or not. Relax into that open space, allow yourself to get lost for a while, forget who you are, forget where you come from. Get comfortable with that part of you that is and always has been liberated from the limitation of reference points.

Related article: Six Kinds of Loneliness by Pema Chodron

© 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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Happiness is Getting What You Want?

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below explores the idea of mindfulness in relations to our wants and desires and how being mindful of what we want can make a huge difference in relation to our personal happiness.

Yours in the spirit of getting what you really want,


Happiness is Getting What You Want?

What is it that makes you happy? You can read a lot of books on this topic, but from a mindfulness perspective the best way to investigate this is to observe from your own experience the things that make you happy and the things that make you unhappy, and then proceed to do more of the former and less of the latter.
But it goes a bit deeper than that; as Zig Zagglar said “The chief cause of unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now”. From this we can start to understand (and see from our own experience) that getting what we want in the short term can be a huge obstacle to getting what we really deeply want in the long term.

  • We can put off the difficult conversation with our partner/spouse because we want peace in the short-term, but the long term consequences of doing this repeatedly will leave us with (and possibly stuck in) a relationship that we don’t want to be in
  • We can take the job that brings us cash in the short term, but it takes all the time and energy that we need to start the business that we really want to do in the long term
  • We want and desire to change our body weight/shape/fitness, but we continually become distracted from our long term desire by our short term appetites for unhealthy food
  • We deeply want to find a relationship, but we keep giving into our short term desire for safety and non-embarrassment, so we never ask someone out

And so it goes on….

Focusing on what you want and desire as a mindfulness practice
So a really good daily object of mindfulness is the question “What do I truly, deeply want and desire in my life?” Sit with this question for a minute or two. Maybe write down the answer.
Then ask yourself the question “What step, big or small can I take today to move toward that goal?” Follow up your answer to this second question. If you like do this exercise for a month, see what changes.

Each day in unconscious and imperceptible ways we sacrifice our deepest long term desires and wants for short term convenience and small time wish-fulfilment. If you practice being mindful of what you really want, and honour the wisdom that starts to come forth from your heart when you do, you will find that your life will become happier. Not easier, happier.

Related article: Mindful of our conflicting desires

© 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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Acceptance: Expanding Outward

Dear Integral Meditators,

Meditation can be an act of turning inward, but it can also be a way of turning outward, a way of expanding graciously into our world, and by doing so transforming our experience of that world. The article below explores this theme.


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Acceptance: Expanding Outward

Meditation means turning inward, away from the busyness of the world, right?
Often meditation is thought of and practiced as a way of turning inward, away from the busyness of the world and the harshness of our outer reality in order to find a peaceful inner space where we can go in order to gather ourselves, to focus, to relax and heal.
This is all well and good, but one thing that we may find over time (if this is the only approach that we have to meditation) is that there emerges a division between our inner, quiet meditative world and our harsh, challenging outer world.
Unless we are careful our meditation can become a contraction away from the challenges of our daily reality, a way of avoiding the things that we find difficult to accept in our lives.

Accepting the world to find a different form of peace
One way in which we can turn this around is by practising meditation as an opening to our daily reality; an acceptance of what is there, whether it be comfortable or uncomfortable, pleasurable or painful, easy or difficult.
To start practising this form of meditation now, sit quietly as you would do in an ordinary meditation, and focus on your heart space. Rather than going inward into your heart space, open it outward to an awareness, acceptance and embracing of the reality that you are experiencing right now; your physical surroundings, the emotions of all kinds flowing through you, the happiness and the conflicts in your relationships, the state of the world. Open to everything that comes into your awareness, turn away nothing. Note and gently resist any impulses that you have to turn away from what comes into your awareness as you are doing this.

Embracing the reality of form
The technique that I am describing above, movement outward accepting all that we find can be quite uncomfortable at first. It brings us into a confrontation with all of the things that we fear or are worn down by in our life. However, if we continue opening to what we find we start to find a new form of peace and inner strength. It is a form of peace that does not rely upon turning inward or away from the world, but accepting and embracing everything that we find in our life and experience, all the mess and the untidiness, the highs and the lows, the romance and the tragedy.

If you like, over the next few days or weeks you can try this. When you sit down to meditate, rather than going within, practice accepting and opening to everything that is in your life right now; make your heart so big that nothing is turned away or left out. Don’t turn away.

Related article: What is it that is keeping me from relaxing in the present moment?

© 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 

Introducing: Deep Delta
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Special Introductory Rate (20% Off) thru February 8th Only.
Learn More & listen to the sample track:




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The Mind in the Heart

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below explores the idea and experience of the heart as a mind, and how to listen to it mindfully. I have found it a really important practice for getting and staying in contact with my inner self.
Yours in the spirit of the heart-mind,

The Mind in the Heart


Where is the mind?
Where is your mind? Before you read on, just spend a few moments checking where you yourself experience your mind right now; in the head? Throughout the whole body?
The contemporary person tends to think of the mind as being located and associated with the brain (it is the physiological organ of thought right?) but this has not always been the case. For example I have been practising Qi-gong for many years, and within Qi gong and Taoist philosophy the mind energy is said to be located in the heart, with our spirit energy located in the head and our vital energy down in the solar plexus.


The thoughts in your heart
If you think about your mind as being in your heart right now, and ask yourself the question “What are the thoughts arising from my heart-mind” I think you will see that there is definitely a mental language that our heart is speaking to us at all times, a language that is different, perhaps deeper and more direct than our ‘head-speak’.


Awareness of the heart and chest
The other thing about the thoughts in our heart is that they speak very directly of and from the way we really feel. With our ‘head language’ we can deny, repress and rationalize away the way we are feeling, but with the language of our heart the feelings are always right there and if we listen we cannot turn away from them.


Courage as the root of all mental virtues?
When we are not in touch with the way we feel, then it is possible for these ‘hidden’ feelings to twist and falsify our thoughts. It takes courage to listen to the thoughts within our heart, because it often speaks from a space of emotions that we are uncomfortable, wary or scared of. But if we are to think truly and clearly (with both our heart and head) then we need to be deeply congruent with the way we are feeling at all times. Because this takes courage, or ‘Lion-heartedness’  it is possible to think of courage as the root of all virtues. As Winston Churchill famously said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”


Listening to the voice of your heart-mind
If you would like a mindfulness exercise to explore this over the next few days (weeks/months/years, it is a deep practice!) then simply sit down and tune into the voice and energy of your heart-mind, listen to what it is saying to you, to the feelings that it is speaking from. Listen to the unified voice of your mind and feelings together. It is not always and unconditionally ‘right’ but it is almost always speaking from a place of truth.

Related article: If you feel properly, you will think clearly

© 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 


Introducing: Deep Delta 
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Special Introductory Rate (20% Off) thru February 8th Only. Learn More.

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