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The nuance of mindful goal vs process orientation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on how to increase the quality of your output by increasing the quality of your attention to process, there is a lot to gain from understanding the nuance of the technique!

New Meditation class series starting 14/15th June The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance.

And dates for all events in June are in the ‘Upcoming classes’ section below

In the spirit of process,



The nuance of mindful goal vs process orientation

How can proper mindful application to process improve your capability, confidence and efficiency? And how can you really pay attention to what you are doing, instead of thinking you are paying attention, when in fact you aren’t? This second part sounds funny I know, but you will see what I mean when we get into the examples, it’s a technical problem that means we are focusing, but we are focusing at the wrong point of our process, which sabotages its efficiency. With this in mind, let’s have a look at my two everyday examples of this:

Eyes on the type-pad, not the screen
I’m typing out this article on my phone, which has a very sensitive type pad. If I’m even slightly off it will use the letter next to the one that I mean, and therefore a typo. I can massively reduce my typos by watching the type pad as I type, rather than the letters appearing on the screen. It’s very tempting to watch the screen as I type, because I want to know that the words are coming out correctly. However, taking my eyes off each letter as I type (looking at the desired result), rather than trusting the process and keeping my eyes on my fingers creates a noticeably more error strewn result. So this is a simple example of how orienting more on process helps. Of course this doesn’t mean that I don’t look up and so check for errors occasionally, but at the moment I type my eyes are on the keys.

Watching the ball onto the strings
When I play squash, the first principle I always try and get going in my strokes is watching the ball onto the strings. This means that, at the point where my ball hits the strings of my racket, my head is still, eyes looking at the point of contact. This is real attention to process. A lot of people think they are doing that when in fact what they do is, a fraction of a second before hitting the ball they raise their head and look at the front wall, so they can see where the ball is going to go (the shift to result orientation). That means when the most important moment of the shot is immanent, they are looking in the wrong direction! So of course, that’s something we can be applying to many of our daily activities and interactions; We take our attention away at the crucial moment. We think the process is ‘done’ so we shift attention (often fractionally and without noticing) to the result, which leads to a decrease in quality of execution and often a ‘mistake’.

Conclusion: Finishing the process, then looking up!:
By ‘watching the ball onto the strings’ I can improve the basics of my squash game like length and height of shot by about 10-20% (sounds unbelievable? I know) so then if you were identifying the ‘critical moment of many other activities eg:

  • Listening and talking in a conversation
  • Meditating
  • Stepping as you walk
  • A daily work activity or leisure task
  • A piece of creative writing or art

How much could you improve on your execution by really paying attention in the right way? The nice thing about this is that, but paying attention to the process better, we get a better result.

Related articleThe spectrum of mindful attention

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Starts Tuesday /Wednesday 14/15th June – The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilanceIn a sentence: Learn the art of ‘instant awakening’ and playful wisdom through integrative meditation
Overview: The Wisdom of Awakening series is an ongoing series that looks at different ways to ‘wake up’ and live your life fully and playfully through meditation. The premise of the sessions is that inner wholeness and wisdom are not something that are far away, rather they are something that we can awaken to ‘instantly’ through certain types of mindful attention…. Read full details

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

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
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  • 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?
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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)

Ongoing – The Way of the Mindful Warrior – Meditating with the Warriors creed

Saturday 11th June, 9.30am-12noon – Zen meditation deep dive mini-retreat

Starts Tuesday /Wednesday 14/15th June – The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance

Tues & Weds 21/22nd JuneSummer solstice balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday June 25th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat


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