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Is meditation difficult or easy?

Dear Integral Meditators,

Should you expect meditation to be difficult or easy? In my article below I outline a away of understanding meditation why it could be considered to be both difficult and easy, and also neither. It also shows how you can make meditation something that is not separate from your daily activities and experience.
Last call for this weekends Breathwork Masterclass & Mini-Retreat– Improve physical immunity, wellbeing and inner peace though deep breathing. Also, heads up for next weeks Live & Online Monthly Full Moon Meditation & Manifestation Session on Tuesday & Wednesday evenings.

In the spirit of energy,


Is meditation difficult or easy?

Meditation – the point between relaxation & focus, concepts & inertia
There are many different ways of practising meditation, what I want to explain in this article is the space that meditation occupies. If we can identify it clearly, then we can start to see the commonality of different meditation practices despite their differences. This in turn makes it easier for us to start to put together combinations of different meditations together in an integrated, complementary manner, without feeling they are contradicting each other.
Focus and relaxation – All meditation states involve a combination of focus and relaxation. In order for our attention to settle on something, we need to be relaxed enough and focused enough. Too much focus leads to the tension of over-exertion, whilst too much relaxation leads to our attention wandering away anyhow.
Conceptualization and inertia – Meditation occupies a space where we are experiencing something, and we are aware of that experience. If we start to conceptualize or think, our mind moves away from direct experiencing, getting lost in thought, and in the world of ‘past’ and future’. If we start to fall asleep (inertia), our mind also loses its grip on the awareness of its experience in the moment, and away from meditation.

Both difficult and easy?

So, from this point of view then, meditation seems simple. If I want to meditate on my body, I just need to pay attention to the sensation of my body, and be aware of that experience. If I do that, I can say I am in a state of awakened meditation in the moment. If you try that, then you also start to see that although the injunction is simple, it is not always so easy to do. Our attention keeps veering towards thinking on the one hand, and sleep on the other, toward trying too hard and over focusing, and relaxing too much. This simultaneous difficult-ness and easiness is captured quite well in the story of Layman Pang, as Zen Master living in the 8th century, and his wife and daughter, who were also realized masters:

Laymen Pang complained: “How difficult it is! How difficult it is! My meditation is like drying the fibers of ten thousand pounds of flax by hanging them in the sun.”
His wife replied: “Easy, easy, easy. It’s like touching your feet to the ground when you get out of bed. I have found the teaching right in the tops of flowering plants.”
His daughter, Ling-chao, hearing both outbursts, showed them the truth: “My meditation is neither difficult nor easy. When I am hungry I eat. When I am tired I rest.”

You can practice meditation right now simple by pausing from what you are doing, and becoming aware of what you are experiencing in the moment. That’s meditation. If you can sustain that awareness, then to that degree you spend more and more of your time in an awakened state. But that’s not easy. But it’s not difficult either, and the next step is always the one in front of you. Hence Ling-Chao’s classic Zen quote above “When I am hungry I eat. When I am tired I rest.”

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2021, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website   


Saturday October 16th & 23rd – Breathwork Masterclass & Mini-Retreat– Improve physical immunity, wellbeing and inner peace though deep breathing

In a sentence: Learn unique Taoist breathing techniques to improve your immune system, energy level, psychological wellness and improve your meditation.

Overview: According to the ancient Chinese view, the vital force provided by air through breathing is even more important to health and longevity than that provided by food and water through digestion. The way in which we breathe is also a direct reflection of the levels of stress that we are feeling; when we feel calm our breathing becomes deep and regular, when we feel stress our breathing becomes shallower and quicker…read full details

Tues 19th & Weds 20th October – Live & Online Monthly Full Moon Meditation & Manifestation Session

About the meditation: We all live our life within an environment that consists fundamentally/experientially of the Earth, Moon, Sun and Stars. The monthly lunar cycle describes our relationship to the Moon, and the powerful influence that it has on our life. In the physical world we see this influence most obviously in the tides of the sea. In our inner life we experience it as the coming and going of energy, moods and emotions within our psyche. This meditation, done on or around the full moon capitalises on the heightened lunar energies at this time of the month to…read full details

Starts Monday October 25th – The Men’s Group – The path of conscious manhood

How can you move from coping to thriving in your life as a man?

Much is asked of men in their traditional roles as fathers and sons, partners and husbands, students and teachers, employees and employers. The men’s group is a professionally moderated and confidential forum for men. A forum is a safe place for exploring, learning and sharing the successful perspectives, skills, and strategies needed to address and manage the unique issues, problems, and triumphs in our community…read full details

Tues & Weds 26&27th October – Samhain Meditation (Live & Online) – Acknowledging the gifts and wounds of our ancestors

Samhain (Aka All hallows eve, or Halloween) is the time in the northern hemisphere when we enter the darker months of the year & winter. Traditionally it is said to be the time when the veil between the world of the living and the inner world of our ancestors is said to be thinnest. Consequently, it is an ideal time for us to commune with our ancestors in meditation…read full details


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby

Life Coaching and Meditation coaching 3-6month packages are on a 15% offer up until Weds 20th October. If getting some coaching is an idea you have been contemplating, then this is a good opportunity to get it and save some money on the price. 

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
Read full details

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Begins Tues 14/Weds 15th September – Integral Polarity Meditation – Exploring Earth, Lunar & ‘Vertical’ Polarities

Saturday October 16th & 23rd, 10am-4pm – Breathwork Masterclass & Mini-Retreat– Improve physical immunity, wellbeing and inner peace though deep breathing

Starts Monday October 25th – The Men’s Group – The path of conscious manhood

Tues & Weds 26&27th October – Samhain Meditation (Live & Online) – Acknowledging the gifts and wounds of our ancestors

Friday 5th November 7.30-8.30pm – Online New moon beginners mind, health visualization & envisioning session



Integral Meditation Asia

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