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Establishing Your Basic Mindful Flow State

Dear Integral Meditators,

Meditation and mindfulness are about developing flow-states. The article below shows you how you can build your basic flow state from the ground up into a stable, diverse and enjoyable mindfulness practice.

In the spirit of flow,



The Warrior and the Lover – Establishing Your Basic Mindful Flow State

Effective meditation and mindfulness depends upon developing your capacity to connect to and sustain flow states. Flow states consist of two basic factors; focus and relaxation, or concentration and relaxation. Whatever you are trying to meditate upon or be mindful of, you are trying to do so with a quality of attention that flows in a state of consistent focused relaxation for the duration of your mindful activity.

How to create a basic flow state
Sit down and repeat this basic pattern a few times; firstly for 3-5 breaths try and focus as single pointedly as possible on your breathing without distraction. Then spend a short while simply relaxing your body, mind and heart as deeply as you can.
Once you have followed this cycle a few times, continue the same basic pattern but now :

  • As you are focusing intensely on the breathing, try and make the quality of you focus relaxed as well as intense
  • When  you are in the relaxation phase, try and make the quality of your relaxation focused and present as well as leisurely

In this way you start to bring together the qualities of focus and relaxation into a single experience or flow state.
Once you are comfortable with this second stage, you can simply practice focusing on the breathing in a state of relaxed concentration, practising this basic flow state. It should feel comfortable and relaxing whilst at the same time sharpening your mind and senses.

Doing this three stage exercise for a few minutes each day will give you the basic skills, as well as being a fundamentally pleasant, stress releasing experience.

Applying your flow state to other areas of your life
Once you have a feeling for your basic mindful flow state, you can then start applying it to different areas of your life; when you are engaged in your work, listening to/talking with a friend, thinking about something that is important to you, playing a sport, making love, engaging a challenging emotion and so on…If you practice like this then you can start to make more and more of your life an experience of playful mindful exploration.

The Warrior and the Lover – Bringing your flow state alive
To give a bit of colour to your flow state, you might like to imagine the focus aspect of your flow state is like your inner warrior; disciplined, intense, strong, and always ready. Therelaxation aspect of your flow state is like your inner lover; bringing the qualities of sensuality, curiosity, and engagement to the experience. Together these two make your basic flow state an experience of engaged detachment, or playful seriousness.

© 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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Soul Portraits

The Theme of Harmony; Another recent soul portrait

Here is another receont portrait that I did. You can see one of the principle themes here is that of harmony and flow, with the ‘fibonacci-like’ spiral in the forground, a lot of flowing blue-green forms as well as the polarity between the sun & moon/night & day. Click on the image to see a full size version!

Please note that there is a special 15% discount on all soul portrai orders from now until Monday 7th december. For full details please go to my soul portrait page .


Soul Portrait Nov 2015 - name cropped

creative imagery Soul Portraits

The Creativity of the Soul; Reflections on a recent soul portrait

Here’s a soul portrait that I did recently, one of the main themes of this one is creativity; you can see that in the center there is almost what looks like a pine cone from which are emerging many spirals of light, like a mind giving birth to countless ideas an inspirations! Click on the image to see it full size.

For more information on my Soul Portrait service just click HERE.


Soul Portrait Oct-2015

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Four Levels or Dimensions of Conscious Self Love

Dear Integral Meditators,

Our relationship to ourself is the basis of our relationship to the rest of the world, this weeks article looks at how we can consistently improve that relationship by working with four levels of self-love.

In the spirit of celebrating self,


Four Levels or Dimensions of Conscious Self Love

Self love and the challenges associated with it remains one of the most consistent themes that I hear coming up in my 1:1 coaching practice, so I thought it might be interesting to outline four basic levels of  mindful self love practice that you can start working with on a practical level. Generally each of us has each of these four levels within us, and we oscillate between them (and the ‘pre-level) during the day.

Pre-level 1Unconscious self hatred or dislike:All of us have parts of ourself that we dislike, hate or fear. Many people remain unaware of their self-dislike because either they have buried it within their mind to the point where they really are unconscious of it, or they know about it peripherally, but they choose not to look at it because it makes them feel uncomfortable . At this level our self-dislike influences a lot of our behavior, thoughts and feelings, but we are not really aware of it.

Level 1 – Conscious self hatred or dislike: At this first level then we commit to becoming mindfully aware of all the ways  in which we negatively judge, reject and dislike ourself. We commit to caring about ourself, to acknowledge the wounds in our relationship to ourself, and bring them into the light of our conscious awareness. This then starts to offer us a choice as to how we are going to act upon or respond to these wounds.

Level 2- Self acceptance: So from level one we then go to level two, where we consciously work upon accepting ourself in general, and in particular working with accepting the parts of ourself that we habitually reject, dislike or alienate. Self acceptance implies a tolerance of ourself, not yet a liking, but nevertheless an ability to look ourself in the mirror and accept what we see open heartedly without looking away.

Level 3 – Liking & embracing self: Self acceptance then builds the basis for level three, where we move toward enhancing the healthy self love and like that we have from ourself to ourself, and actively embracing and loving the parts of ourself that we previously rejected.

Level 4 – Celebrating self: Liking and embracing self provides the basis for level four, where our loving and liking of ourself invites us to start expressing that self in creative ways that celebrate, grow and enhance our experience of who we are and what we do in the world. On this level we are enjoying playfully engaging ourself in the world. This fourth level is not the same as negative egotism. Negative egotism sees itself as more important than anyone else in the world; to celebrate self means to embrace and enjoy expressing who we are, which does not mean we are degrading or diminishing others. Indeed it might be said that it is only when we are celebrating ourself that we can truly say we are nurturing and cherishing others, and encouraging them to celebrate themselves.

Closing points
So there you go, four levels to be aware of and practice, levels 1&2 provide the ‘bottom of the self love pyramid’ so to speak, which then enables us to enjoy the higher levels and peaks of levels 3&4 consistently and safely. If you can apply these four stages to yourself, you will also find that you can start mindfully applying them to your relationship to other people…

Four Mindful Self-Love Questions
Which parts of myself to I hate, fear or reject?
If I were to practice 10% more self acceptance today, what might change?
How difficult or easy do I find it to connect to myself with warmth and affection? Can I find that connection now?
What way can I celebrate and enjoy who I am today?

© 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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The Dance of Mindful Supression and Repression

Dear Integral Meditators,

Meditation and mindfulness encourage states of mental and emotional flow, but achieving these states consistently is tough if we are habitually supressing and repressing the content of our consciousness in an unhealthy way. The article below looks at how we can mindfully grow a positive relationship to suppression and repression, so that it is helping us in our inner journey, rather than getting in the way!

In the whats on section below you can see that the workshop events are all on the Saturday 21st this month, with mindful inspiration and flow of the present moment being the themes. Click on the links for details.

In the spirit of conscious and benevolvent supression,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia 

Every Wednesday, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday November 21st, 2.30-5.30pm – Connecting to Your Sources of  Mindful Inspiration – A 90minute Seminar

Saturday November 21st, 2.30-5.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment

The Dance of Mindful Supression and Repression

Psychological suppression is when you consciously block a thought, emotion or part of self from arising or developing within your mind. Let’s say I’m getting angry with someone, I am aware I am getting angry, but I block it, I don’t allow it to manifest as speech or behaviour.

Suppression is different from repression, which is when I unconsciously block a thought, emotion or aspect of self. Taking the same example, let’s say I’m getting angry with someone, but I’m not consciously aware that I’m getting angry, I reflexively repress the anger, pushing it down into my unconscious mind  without even realizing that I have done it. I now have the energy of repressed anger contained within my body-mind, but I am not aware of it.

Positive suppression is when I exert self control over myself for a positive purpose:

  • I find myself getting annoyed with a client, but I purposefully suppress that anger and remain pleasant, which enables me to complete a business transaction I want
  • I know I am feeling afraid or insecure, but I put on a brave face and smile  for the child I am with so that s/he will feel reassured and safe in my company

If I suppress something in this way, I am doing so for a definite purpose, and I know that later on I will have to come back to the thing in my mind I have supressed in order to look after it and de-suppress it appropriately.

Negative suppression is – When I deliberately turn away from an emotion, thought or aspect of self that I really need to pay attention to:

  • I know I feel guilty about something I have said to my partner, but I’m still resentful of her, so I block the guilt and just let it fester unattended
  • I know my business needs to change its marketing strategy, but I am afraid a new, untried strategy might make things worse, so I just suppress what I know, and keep on doing the same marketing as before, thus guaranteeing my business remains in a rut

Integrating suppression and repression into your mindfulness practice
Sit quietly and let your mind travel back, event by event over the last 24 hours of your life. As you do so take note of the places where you notice there is still an emotional charge within you around what happened. When you come to each of these places, take a note of the thoughts, feelings nd parts of self you may have:

  • Deliberately set aside (positive suppression)
  • Suppressed due to fear or laziness (negative suppression)
  • Unconsciously repressed, for example simply because you were not aware of the feeling arising at the time due to the busyness of what was going on around you

Take the time to become aware of, acknowledge and release these  aspects of self, so that you do not end up with an ever increasing back log of suppressed and repressed parts of your mind, heart and body that get in the way of your mental clarity, your emotional balance and physical health!

© 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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Mindfulness – Facilitating Your Own Experiential Learning

Dear Integral Meditators,

This week I have led a couple of mindfulness workshops and discussions where I have defined mindfulness as an activity that facilitates and enhances your own experiential learning. In the artile below I explain a bit about how this works.

In the spirit of the journey,


Mindfulness – Facilitating Your Own Experiential Learning

Mindfulness means placing your awareness and attention on a particular aspect of your life in order to get to know it better. By paying greater attention to what you are actually experiencing in that area, you start to observe the process of cause and effect that is going on, and learn from it.

An example: engaged mindfulness with regard to resilience
So, let’s say I want to develop my experiential learning around the subject of resilience. Here is a short engaged mindfulness process I (and you) can work with to do so:

Step 1: Write a short paragraph in response to the following three questions in turn. Write reasonably quickly and without editing your response too much:

  1. Resilience to me means –
  2. I feel most resilient when –
  3. Times when I notice I lose my sense of resilience include –

Having written your response to each question then sit quietly and, based around your answers to questions 1&2, build a feeling of resilience in your mind, body and heart based around the definition that you have created and the past experiences of it that you have had. Breathe the energy of this resilience into your body, so that you can feel it as a tangible energy as you are sitting.
Before you conclude, you may then like to consider your answer to question 3; recalling a time where you tend to lose your sense of resilience. Recall this situation strongly enough that you can feel the stress of it threatening to break down the feeling of resilience that you have been building in the exercise up to this point. Practice consciously retaining your sense of resilience even when it is under pressure in this way.
Finally, before you finish the exercise think about the next 24 hours and select a particular situation you know you will be experiencing where you are going to deliberately practice the mindful resilience that you have been building in the exercise.

So there you go, a simple engaged mindfulness practice that you can use to facilitate and accelerate your experiential learning around the theme or resilience. Actually you can use the exercise above to mindfully develop any quality you like, simply replace the word ‘resilience’ with the word you want to explore and off you go!

© 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 Every Wednesday, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday November 21st, 2.30-5.30pm – Connecting to Your mindful Inspiration (Full details out shortly)

Saturday November 21st, 2.30-5.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment

Integral Meditation Asia