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Big Enough, Specific Enough (Dealing with spiky minds)

Dear Integral Meditators,

What can you do when your mind feels spiky, insecure and uncomfortable? The article below explores a contemplative approach that involves working consciously with the scale of your mind.

In case anyone missed it, you can see the schedule of live classes in May at Integral Meditation Asia HERE.

In the spirit of being comfortable with spikiness,


Big Enough, Specific Enough (Dealing with spiky minds)

One of the simplest ways to change the way you experience a difficult or challenging state of mind and emotion is to make your mind bigger.
To use an image; if think about your difficult of challenging minds as being like number of spiny sea urchins (sea picture). If your mind is small, let’s say like the size of your average black bin liner, and you put the sea urchins in there then it is going to feel extremely uncomfortable. Because of the smallness of the space, it feels like you can’t move around in your mind without getting a painful spine sticking into you somewhere. However, if you make your mind as big as you can, say big like the ocean, then you can accommodate the ‘spiny sea urchins of your mind’ very comfortably. This is not because you have changed them in any way; it’s just that your mind is so much bigger that it can happily accommodate the sea urchins without experiencing any discomfort. This is in the same way that there are literally millions of actual sea urchins in the ocean, but they don’t cause the ocean discomfort in any way.

A practical perspective
So, lets’ say over the last week I’ve been feeling uncomfortable about traditional human concerns; financial worries, ageing, career uncertainty, romantic insecurity. Using the approach I have described above I would not try and overcome the inner issues I am facing by changing them per se. Rather I would focus on making my mind as big, relaxed and expansive as I can, so that I experience the scale of the spiky thoughts as being really very small in relation to the total size of my mind. I don’t really need to change them per-se because they don’t really bother me; they just come and go in the big space of my mind.

So the basic principle; get out of the bin-liner of your head and get into the ocean of your mind!

Balancing this approach with specificity
The danger with the above approach is that it can become a bit abstract; whenever we get an uncomfortable mind we just up the scale of our mind, problem solved. But sometimes we need to do something about the issues that our spiky minds are worrying about. To ensure that we are keeping our feet on the ground, we can identify one of the issues that our spiky mind is fixed on, let’s say romantic insecurity. With this issue in mind we can work on a practical solution by completing the following sentence in 5-10 different ways in writing as fast as we can:
One of the practical things that I could do in order to improve my experience of romantic relationships might include –
If you complete this sentence several times in the way described, you may be surprised at how many creative ways you can come up with to work on your experience of romance for the better in an entirely practical, specific and down to earth way.

Make your mind big, make your approach to your problems specific, tailored and practical.

© 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 Tree of Personal Inspiration

Dear Integral Meditators,
As an artist and a meditator, I have a healthy appreciation of the power of the imagination to affect the way we expereince our reality in very real and tangible ways. The article below explores a fun and imaginative method to receive inspiration through meditation and visalization. Enjoy!

The program of events in May is nearly finnished, see beneath the article for diary dates.

In the spirit of inspiration,


Your Tree of Personal Inspiration

Back when I was a monk one of our visualizations we used to work with was a wish-fulfilling tree which grew up from the centre of a lake (which in turn was in the centre of the world!) Upon the leaves and branches of this tree sat all of the enlightened beings you could imagine. We would visualize them in this way in order to create a connection to them, build a relationship to them and receive their blessings.
One variation on this that I have developed since then is as follows:
I visualize my own ‘Tree of Life’ (you can visualize this tree in any way you choose). On the leaves and branches of this tree are all the people and living creatures from which I derive inspiration and strength. This includes people I know personally, those from the public sphere as well as those who may be from stories, myths and so on.
After visualizing this tree in general, I then set my intention to connect with those on my tree who it would be particularly appropriate at this time in my life, in view of the present circumstances and challenges that I am facing. I then let my ‘imaginative eye’ wonder over the tree and pick out one (or two or three) people or living beings that fit this description.
I then spend time just connecting with them, feeling inspired by their energy, perhaps having a bit of a dialogue with them about an issue I have or choices that I need to make. When I have finished the communion, I bring the meditation to a close.
This is a simple technique that I use that can be very useful for finding inspiration when you need it, as well as developing your visualization, imaginative and intuitive skills. The figures that I connect to change often; sometimes they are ‘enlightened’ figures, other times they are just those who have particular qualities that I may have a need of. It is also an organic and relatively free form way of connecting to the powers of inspiration that do exist in the inner world, and that we can access through meditative awareness.

Related Articles: Meditating on the Power of Your Creative Imagination
When Your Energy Level Follows Your Mind and Imagination

© 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

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in May:

Friday 8th May, 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre – Stillness, Energy, Positivity and Relaxation -A grounding in the basics of Integral Meditation

Saturday 16th May, 9.30am-12.30pm – Growing Your Mindful Freedom – The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Three Hour Meditation Workshop

Saturday 16th May, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditations for Activating, Healing and Awakening our Ancestral Karma

Wednesday 20th, 7.30-9.30pm – Going Beyond Happiness (and resilience?) – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfilment and Wellbeing in Your Life

Friday 29th May 7.30-9.30pm –  Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre – Travelling deeper into the present moment through integral meditation

Saturday 30th May, 2.30-5.30pm – Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release from Stress

Integral Meditation Asia


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Defence Against Bliss

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sometimes it is tough to accept pain, sufffering and disappointment, but wierdly it can be equally tough to accept bliss, love and wellbeing. The artlcle below offers a personal reflection on why this can sometimes be so.

Beneath the article there is some information on the Schumman Holophonic Meditationfrom I-Awake. It is the original track that got me into meditation technology of this sort. It is on special offer at the moment, and I recommend it throughly!

Beneath that are the dates for your diary for classes and workshops in May, full details to follow shortly!

In the spirit of accepting bliss,


Defence Against Bliss

When I was a few months away from being ordained as a Buddhist Monk back in the early 90’s I had a peak ‘love’ experience in my meditation. It started out in a sitting session as a feeling of overwhelming and impartial warmth and affection  for all living creatures, and then stayed with me for the next few days as a heightened awareness where my heart felt like it was completely open, my body felt full of blissful energy, and the world around me felt ‘alive’; the grass and the trees seemed to sing, simply sitting on a park bench felt like a heavenly experience, animals seemed to smile at me and so on…It was kind of a classical peak love experience.

Coming out of this peak experience I travelled to Seattle, Washington in the US where was going to a Buddhist festival of sorts. By the time I landed at the airport I was feeling fairly ‘normal’ again, but the feeling of bliss in my body and heart had been replaced by a kind of claustrophobic sense of darkness, I had the song ‘Don’t box me in, which is a kind of brooding young man’s song of anger and discontent playing in repeat in the background of my mind. It felt as if there was a part of me that resented the blissful experience of love that I had had, that felt threatened by it, and that wanted to destroy it. This experience persisted for the duration of the festival, four or five days.

Over the next couple of years it felt as if there was a ‘dark’ part of me that was fighting against a ‘light’ part of me; a limited small self against an open, bright self. One of the main take-aways of this experience for me was that it is actually as difficult for us to accept expanded states of bliss, happiness and joy as it is for us to accept suffering, disappointment and sadness. BOTH are as much of a threat to our limited ego and everyday self as the other. As a result our established ego seeks to defend itself against not just suffering but also from too much happiness, joy, pleasure, bliss, as these things threaten our inner status quo, challenge our perception of reality quite as much as pain does.

Be aware of the bliss that is available to you and what it offers
So then an awareness practice that you can use to explore your own experience of bliss, love and pleasure if you like; just ask yourself the question ‘What bliss, happiness, pleasure is available to me right now, in the present moment?’ Investigate what bliss you may be able to find in your body, you mind, in your feelings, your relationships. Then ask yourself the question ‘What is preventing me from accepting and enjoying this bliss?’ See what answers come back to you.

It’s is not either the small or the big self
How did I end up resolving my inner battle between my small ego and my bright, expanded self? Essentially by understanding that I could integrate them both together; The small self felt threatened by the big self, so I needed to re-assure and acknowledge it. I spent time letting  it know that it was still valued, still had a purpose and function within me. Once it understood that it could still exist within the context of this new and expanded blissful state, then the conflict subsided. Now on the whole I think they get on very well together! The principle here is that when the different parts of self communicate with each other effectively most inner conflicts can be resolved harmoniously.

Related articles:
Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow
Re-Awakening to Your Bliss
Nine Factors to Connect to Bliss and Ecstasy in Your Relationships

Shadow 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


For a Centering, Grounding, and Refreshing Meditation
 25% off In celebration of Earth Day, feel the pulses of Earth and the Schumann Resonance
Discount Coupon Code: (apply during checkout) NEWSAPR25OFF
Good until April 30, 2015

Dates for your diary in May (Full details shortly)
Friday 8th May, 7.30-9pm
– Integral Meditation Class – Focus, appreciation and awareness -A grounding in the basics of Integral Meditation

Saturday 16th May, 9.30am-12.30pm –  Exploring the Roots of Mindfulness – The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Saturday 16th May, 2.30-5.30pmMeditations for Activating, Healing and Awakening our Ancestral Karma

Wednesday 20th, 7.30-9.30pmGoing Beyond Happiness (and resilience?) – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfilment and Wellbeing in Your Life

Friday 29th May 7.30-9.30pm – Integral Medi classes – Travelling deeper into the present moment

Saturday 30th May, 2.30-5.30pm – Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release from Stress

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *
Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology
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Your Long Term Self-Confidence

Coconut beach

You can build your confidence in the short term by surrounding yourself with the familiar and the known; by surrounding yourself with friends who are like you and affirm your world view; by doing something you are already good at; by staying with the job or activity that you know well; by acting in ways that you know will earn the praise of others. There is nothing inherently wrong with this as an approach, but it becomes limiting and debilitating if it is the only approach that we have to building our self-confidence, because it also inherently limits our growth and what we are capable of. Long term self-confidence building involves a different approach. It involves deliberately looking for the areas and activities of your life where you are uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It means consciously engaging in those spaces where you do not feel a sense of easy or established confidence.

In doing this the short term experience is an absence of assured confidence; a sense of being ‘lost’ or out of your comfort zone; a sense of being separate from familiar markers in our surrounding reality. By repeatedly taking yourself into unfamiliar territory and becoming competent in that space you establish a much greater and deeply rooted self-confidence than you could ever develop simply by surrounding yourself with the familiar and the known, and by continuing to engage only in the things that you are good at.

A couple of examples:
In my own experience establishing my own business after having been a monk and an artist for many years was a source of feeling lost, inconvenienced and way out of my comfort zone for many years in many different ways. However, by persisting in my pursuit and understanding of business (as it serves my purposes as a meditation and mindfulness teacher) has over the years become a major source of my own deeper self-confidence as I have moved repeatedly from incompetence to competence in the domain of business.
Similarly, after leaving my life as a monk where I had been surrounded by a lot of ‘spiritual’ people who shared at least in part my worldview, and going back onto the ‘secular’ world where I had to build relationships and ways of communicating with diverse groups of people who often did not share my world view was initially uncomfortable and inconvenient. However in the long term it because a source of confidence as it built within me a sense of being able to go into any situation and adapt to the ‘cultural language’ that was being spoken there.

The relationship between happiness and confidence
Building your short term happiness leads to the experience of being temporarily happy in environments where you are familiar. Mindfully building your long term confidence leads to a sense that you can be happy anywhere, in almost any circumstances because you have built a deep confidence in your own adaptability and a trust in your capacity to engage successfully with whatever comes up.

Its ‘both/and’ not ‘either/or’!
As with other aspects of integral mindfulness and meditation we are aiming for a win-win relationship in the development of our confidence. We can regularly connect to short term sources of self-confidence in order to re-assure and orientate ourselves, combining this with regularly and mindfully pushing ourselves to engage in areas of our life that make us uncomfortable, and seek to build our long term confidence by getting confident in these areas.

It begins today if you want it to
What is it that you can start doing today in order to build your deeper, long term self-confidence?

© 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

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

This Tuesday 21st April! 7.30-9.30pm –  An Evening of Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation

Friday 8th & 29th May, 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre

Full schedule of May classes to be posted shortly…

Integral Meditation Asia


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How to Mindfully Develop Your Self-Confidence

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below focuses on how you can develop the art of mindful self-confidence in a systematic, multi-faceted manner, I hope you enjoy it!


How to Mindfully Develop Your Self-Confidence

Why focus on self-confidence?
How many things in your life would you be doing differently if you were thinking and acting from a place of deep self confidence? The capacity for authentic self-confidence offers many benefits, for example we become more creative and expressive, we find access to greater capacity for focus, mental stamina and energy, we experience greater peace of mind, we experience life as fundamentally enjoyable and playful.

What is self-confidence?
We will all have our own ideas of what self-confidence is, but the definition I normally work with (following Nathaniel Branden’s definition of self-esteem) is that self –confidence consists of two distinct parts:

  • Self-worth – The belief that I am worthy of happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, wellbeing, success & so on and
  • Self-efficacy – The sense that I have the capacity be successful in the face of life’s challenges. Even if I currently lack the skills to be successful in a particular task, self-efficacy is a confidence in my ability to learn those skills as and when necessary

If you lack a fundamental sense of your self-worth or your capacity for self-efficacy, then your self-confidence is going to be built upon shaky ground!

Mindful methods for developing your self-confidence
With the above definitions in mind, we can then start t adopt a multi-faceted approach to developing self-confidence, here are a few suggestions:
1. Connect and nourish your present self confidence – No one completely lacks self confidence, look for times and places in your life where you have felt and experienced self confidence. Revisit them mentally, take an inventory of them, recall how it felt. Then look at how you can translate those experiences into feelings and attitudes of self-confidence in the face of your present life challenges.
2. Know what self-confidence feels like in the body – Practice holding your body and feeling it in a way that communicates confidence and self assurance to your mind. Our posture is often communicating all sorts of messages to us psychologically, so we need to take advantage of this rather than being victimized by it!
3. Make friends with the parts of you that are not self-confident – As the famous gestalt therapist Fritz Pearls said ‘As long as you fight a symptom it will get worse’ (I recommend meditating on that sentence for a looong time!) Open to and get intimate with your fears, your vulnerabilities, the parts of you feel fragmented. Care for them, experience them, open to them, allow them to become the basis of your self-confidence, rather than the things you are trying to escape from by developing your self-confidence. This needs careful thought, reflection and experience to understand, but it is super-important to get right!
4. Find role models for your self confidence – Find real life examples of people who are appropriate and inspiring role models for the type of self-confidence you want to have. Study them carefully and draw conscious inspiration from them.
5. Do something each day to engage your self-confidence – Do something manageable each day to test and develop your self confidence experientially and in real time.
6. Practice mindful framing – ‘Last month I was depressed, and this month I’m still depressed’ sounds like a bit of a failure. ‘Last month I was very depressed and although this month I am still depressed I feel less depressed, and there have been days when I have actually felt good’ Sounds like progress and a cause of boosting our self-confidence. How we frame what happens to us mentally is crucial in terms of whether we experience something as supporting our self-confidence or not!

If you wanted to make this article a practical exploration, you could take one of the above six suggestions per day as a point of mindful focus for the next three weeks or so (taking one day off to give you three rounds over three weeks). See where it takes your own experience of mindful self-confidence!

Related articles: Choosing to be on your own side
Trusting your mind
Free audio meditation on self-trust

Stress Transformation Coaching with Toby

Tuesday 21st April, 7.30-9.30pm – An Evening of Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation

© 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

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *
Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology


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The Dynamic of Personal Evolution   



A seed is destroyed in order for it to become a plant. For a caterpillar to become a butterfly its old body must be destroyed.
Our own personal growth is often like this too; in order for us to move from our current level of consciousness to the next higher or deeper level of consciousness, the patterns of the old level must be destroyed or broken apart.

When this happens you can find yourself feeling lost, uncertain and vulnerable. Your relationships with other people may start to change, even dramatically. You can even feel as if there is something going deeply wrong with you. Old emotions that you thought you had left behind a long time ago seem to come back with vigour.
The reason for these experiences is that you truly are emerging into a way of going and being that you have never experienced before:

  • You are feeling lost because you are in new territory
  • You are feeling vulnerable because you have been ‘born anew’ and have to find your feet in this new environment
  • You feel uncertain because you literally don’t know what is going to happen, it is an experiment!
  • Old difficult emotions can come back to you either because they are threatened by your new, emerging self, OR because they have a new and vital role to play in your life now that you have the capacity to look at or experience them in a new way (eg: anger may be ready to be re-understood and re-directed as personal power)

One of the things that a regular meditation and mindfulness practice does is to stimulate the evolutionary impulse of your mind; to stimulate its growth from the level of consciousness that you at to the level beyond it.
Consequently, while your mindfulness practice will occasionally take you to places of deep peace and wellbeing, it will also and equally take you to places of acute discomfort and confusion when you are going through a developmental shift such as the one I describe above.
When this happens it is important not to panic – try as far as you can to relax into the process of change; let the old self be destroyed with thanks as the new self within you emerges and starts to find its feet.

© 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

Integral Meditation Asia

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Mastery Follows Acknowledgement (Plus Integral Meditation & Self-Healing Videos)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to acknowledge the things that we become aware of within ourselves, yet without this first step it is almost impossible to achieve any genuine self-mastery. The article below explores this theme.

Final reminder for the Workshops on Integral Meditation Practice and Meditation For Self-Healing and Self-Energizing this Saturday of you are in Singapore.
I have also created two new short videos, one on Integral Meditation Practice and one on Self-Healing meditation. To view them just click on the workshop pages above, or you can view them on youtube directly HERE (Integral Meditation Practice) and HERE (Self-Healing Meditation)

In the spirit of acknowledgment and mastery,


Mastery Follows Acknowledgment

You can’t master a challenge or a part of yourself that you don’t admit you have.

When I was a young man beginning my meditation practice I had a lot of repressed anger that I was not really aware of. Meditation was an exciting new skill for me at the time, and I immersed myself in the ‘spiritual’ aspect of the mastery of meditation for the next ten years. I worked very hard in a very disciplined way at my meditation and as a result had a lot of peak experiences, genuine ‘enlightenment’ experiences, states of expanded awareness and so on. However, in those ten years I never really came to terms with my anger. In a certain sense you could say that I used my meditation as a way of escaping from my anger, avoiding it, not really looking it in the eye, so to speak.
As a result after ten years of meditation I found myself i many ways still as lost and unfamiliar with how to deal with my human anger as I was before I began my spiritual path.
The beginning of me mastering my anger started with being able to look at myself, my emotions and my inner self and say ‘I have a lot of repressed anger that I need to understand how to work with’. This initial acknowledgment was then able to act as the basis of my mastery of anger, which had and still has (it is an ongoing process) three main stages:

  1. The acknowledgment, exploration and acceptance of my anger
  2. The constructive engagement with that emotion and its  causes, followed by the
  3. Redirection and transformation of that angry energy into something constructive and worthwhile

So, my basic point here is that there is no way you can master an aspect of self that you don’t admit that you have. This is why a genuine and sound mindfulness practice begins with an investigation into and acknowledgment of what is really there, and proceeds to work on mastering what it finds based around the reality of what you find.

If you can make this first step of acknowledgment well, which generally involves some discomfort, insecurity, a sense of ‘failure’, and humility (not to mention a bit of a knock to your ego), then truly your potential for inner growth knows no limits!

A final point here, when you begin practicing meditation or mindfulness (or any path of inner growth) there are literally many aspects of yourself that you can’t see, and that only start to come out as you progress. So the process of acknowledgment and mastery continues to unfold as time passes by and your knowledge of yourself continues to grow.

Related Articles: The Four Essential Stages to Transforming Negative Stress into Positive Energy
The Self-Healing and Self Evolving Power of the Mind and Six Tips For Releasing the Shadow Self

Related Online Course: Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment

© 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

Integral Meditation Asia

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Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology
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Making it Beautiful

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if instead of seeing yourself as a consumer of beauty, you focused upon becoming a source and creator of beauty in the world? The article below examines how we might go about doing this…

There is a special 2 day Easter sale on at Integral Meditation Asia, with two of the online courses being offered at a 30% discount! Scroll down to the ‘Upcoming Courses’ section below to find out more!

In the spirit of the mindful journey,


Making it Beautiful

There is a rubbish bin at the bottom of my block of apartments next to the lift. Some of the local school kids have painted with the message ‘Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful’.
To me this is a great mindfulness saying, and communicates a lot about the power that each of us has as human beings to use our creative energy to create beauty in the places, circumstances and situations we find ourself in.
Often times and without really thinking about it too much we are passive in our experience of our life; we are looking for someone else or something else to provide us with experiences of beauty, or positivity, or empowerment, or solace, or wellbeing. What would your day look like if you started it by saying something like:

  • ‘I am here to appreciate beauty but also to create it where there is none’
  • Or ‘I am here to enjoy the good energy of others, but also to create good energy and give it away to myself and others’
  • Or ‘If I’m finding it difficult to find fulfillment in what I am doing right now, what can I do to create fulfillment within the same circumstances?’

If everyone made a mindful choice each day to make things beautiful we’d be living in quite a different world. We can start making the world a little bit more beautiful today by making the choice ourselves.

© 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

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in March:

Sunday/Monday April 5th&6th – Easter Sale save 30% on the following Online Meditation Courses – 
Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm into Your Life – A Four Module Online Course

Taking Control of Your Life Through the Practice of Mindful Self-Leadership – A Five Module Online Course

Live Workshops:

Saturday 11th April, 9.30am-12.30pm – Integral Meditation and Mindfulness: Optimize Your Inner Calm, Strength and Energy – A three hour workshop

Saturday 11th April, 2.30-5.30pm  Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy

Tuesday 21st April, 7.30-9.30pm –  An Evening of Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation

Integral Meditation Asia



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The River of Concentration

Dear Integral Meditators,

Ever sit down to meditate but just get completely overwhelmed by your distractions? The article below explores an image that I use myself to gradually move from busyness to stillness in meditation, not trying to get there too fast.

If you are in Singapore, do check out the Integral Meditation Class on Developing Focus and Concentration that I will be leading this Friday at 7.30pm, and the Integral Meditation Workshop on Saturday the 11th.

In the spirit of the river of concentration,


The River of Concentration

One of the challenges that we face in meditation is that when we sit down to try and calm our mind we become discouraged when we cannot move it from a busy state to a state of stillness. One of the reasons for this is that we try and do it all at once, like going from running to standing with no ‘slowing down’ period in between. In this article we use the stages of a river as an image that we can use to gradually and incrementallyslow our mind down in meditation, moving from activity to stillness in four stages. In this analogy we take as our object of meditation the body and breathing in combination with the stages of a river.

The highland stream
When we first sit down to meditate at the beginning of our session, our mind is often busy and fast moving like a highland stream coming down from a mountain. The gradient creates a natural momentum that means the water moves fast. At this stage in our meditation we expect the mind to move quickly away from our point of focus, and for us to have to bring our attention back to our body and breathing again and again. This is natural, normal.

The lowland stream
As we get a few minutes into our meditation, we can consciously start to relax and slow down our mind so that it becomes like a lowland stream or river; we can still feel the flow, momentum and activity, but it is not as fast as previously. Our efforts to keep our attention on the breathing and the body are easier and we achieve more consistency.

The valley river
In this third stage we consciously slow our mind down another small increment so that it becomes like a valley river; the movement is slower, more consistent, more predictable. Even though the movement is there, we can hold our attention on the body and the breathing relatively easily and consistently, and when we get distracted we can bring our attention and focus back comparatively easily.

The estuary river
Deeper into out session we now slow down our mind another increment, it becomes like an estuary river; a river flowing at its slowest and deepest. Here we sense our concentration deepening and moving toward stillness. The distracting currents are less and less, and the efforts to keep our mind focused on our body and breathing are easier. The main distractions we face here are relatively subtle ‘daydream’ type movements of the mind that come from the sense of mental comfort and subtlety that we are experiencing. We can feel our mind moving towards a ‘merged’ state; in the same way that the estuary river merges with the great openness of the ocean, we can feel our mind and concentration moving us toward a unitive state of inner openness and spacious awareness.

Outside of meditation
Outside of meditation you can bear the above analogy in mind; when your mind feels like a highland stream, gently slow it down so that it becomes like a lowland stream in order to reduce your stress. Whatever the ‘speed’ of the river of your mind, at regular intervals during the day just mindfully slow it down to the next stage when you need to be a little more reflective and mindful.

Related Articles: The Inner Weather of the Mind
Shifting Down the Gears – On Meditation and Power Napping
How Much Energy Should You Focus on Focus on Being Focused?

© 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

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *
Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology