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When You Have to Go Against the Flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

Life is not so tough when everything is flowing in the direction that you want it to, but what happens when you find yourself having to go against the flow of energy? This weeks article explores that space and how we can use meditation to help.

In the article I use as an image derived from landscape and nature as a main method for developing the ability to go against the flow. In the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course  beginning this coming Thursday 19th September I will be using quite a lot of this type of landscape imagery as a way of connecting to the energy of calm, so if you like the article below then this is a course that you might enjoy!

Yours in positively going against the flow,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Beginning Thursday 19th September – Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! ClickHERE to read the full details of the course…

When You Have to Go
Against the Flow

Often times in life we find ourself having to go against the flow. For example:

  • We can find ourself going through a phase in a friendship, work or romantic relationship where it all seems like hard work and nothing is flowing easily
  • In our work business can seem slow, and a lot of effort seems to have to go into generating a relatively small success
  • When an idea that we are deeply passionate about is not taken up with interest by others, or they are even judgmental or negative about it

There are infinite numbers of situations we may find ourselves in that require the life skill of going against the flow, particularly if we are working with ideas that are new or pioneering.

How meditation changes our experience of going with the flow
When we practice meditation we are developing the capacity to “go with the flow” and relax more in our life, but a solid meditation practice will also give us the patience and perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other (literally or figuratively) in order to accomplish a goal that is important to us but that is difficult to achieve because we are having to go against the flow.

A meditation image for going against the flow
In Asia I have visited several rivers that have rapids in them. What I like to do when I visit such places is to use the rocks in the water to hop upstream, going against the flow of the fast moving water. Standing securely on a rock surrounded by fast flowing water I relax and look for the next rock to leap onto. I jump from one rock to the next, gradually making progress upstream again the current of the water all around me.
Often when I am in a daily situation where I am having to go against the flow, I use this image of hoping up a river on the rocks as a way of keeping patient, persevering and gradually keep moving forward. The image describes perfectly for me the mindset that I am using to prevail.

Questions for your own practice of going against the flow

  • What situations in your life do you find yourself having to go against the flow? As you are reading this article, try and think of two or three concrete situations where you yourself regularly have to go against the flow in your life.
  • What images communicate for you the essence of awakened “going against the flow?” In the above article I have suggested an image from my own experience that you are most welcome to use as a way of developing your own “going against the flow” mindset. However, there may be images from your own direct experience that describe very well to you the patience and perseverance that you need to go against the flow and that will work perfectly for you as an image for this type of meditation.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Is Spirit a Place of Light of Dark?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of experience it is.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,


Is Spirit a Place of Light or Dark? 

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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What is the Quality of Your Calm?

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you’ve had a good week, our article this week is a follow on from last weeks “Four Types of Deep, Calm, Four Types of Dynamic Power“, and is a continued invitation investigate how you can integrate a deeper sense of calm in your life!

I have posted a 10 minute MP3 recording of the meditation on the three types of calm on the Integral Meditation Asia website. To have a listen and download it go here: Three Types of Calm Free Meditation MP3

Yours in the spirit of inner calm,


What is the Quality of Your Calm?

This article is mostly a guided meditation to connect you to three types of calm:

  • Mountain like calm, or the type of calmness that is solid and immovable
  • River like calm, or the type of calm that is flowing and flexible
  • Sky like calm, or the type of calm that is open and spacious

Each of these types of calm has its own particular qualities, and each has its own practical strengths, for example:

  • When you are going through emotional turmoil it can be very useful to emphasize flowing, river-like calm as a way of working with the experience
  • When you feel under attack from your outer environment for example socially it can be useful to emphasize the solid and immovable qualities of mountain-like calm.

Images to connect you to the three types of calm:

Mountain–like calm: See yourself as a mountain, solid strong and immovable. You are able to withstand any amount of wind, rain or weather as a consequence of your strength of presence. Imagine wind and rain around you; these are like the challenges of your daily life, you are like the mountain

River-like calm: See yourself as a river, flowing, flexible, and accommodating. Imagine the river rising and flowing faster as if flooding; you as the river can cope with the increase because you are able to ‘go with the flow’. Imagine the water is like the ups and downs of your emotional life and you are like the river; calmly flowing fast or slow as required.

Sky-like calm: See yourself as a vast open sky, spacious and calm. The clouds in the sky are like the different challenges in your life; they are in the sky but they do not affect its fundamental spaciousness or openness. Be that spacious, open calm in the midst of the clouds of your life!

As you work with these images you will find that you probably relate to one more than the others. Work practically with the one you relate to primarily first, and then try integrating the other two when you feel you would like a change.

To have a listen to this meditation now go here: Three Types of Calm Free Meditation MP3

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Trusting the Random

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on my own experience of meaningful co-incidence over the past few days. A lot of our most important sources of life-lesson are happening right under our nose in the present moment, so its important to keep alert for them!

I’ve also this recently created a short video on ‘How to start transforming and re-directing your anger‘ in which I talk about this potentially tricky but very meaningful and useful subject.

Enjoy the article!

Yours in the spirit of the random universe,


Trusting the Random  

In today’s chaotic world where there seem to be many things happening to us that are outside of our control it can oftentimes feel difficult to trust in the flow of things and allow our mind to rest in that trust. It can help to develop this ‘trust in the flow’ by noting our own experiences of how sometimes seemingly random events in our life turn out to be acts of random meaning and even kindness to us from the universe. Here are two examples from my last week in London:

  • I had just seen my brother and sister (very nobly) going into the cinema to see the Smurfs movie with our collective children (all six of them under 7yrs). I had two hours to myself with which I really felt I needed to relax and get some space. I walked out of the O2 shopping centre and, having no idea where I was going turned left on Finchley Road up a hill. After walking for about 15 minutes I found the Camden Arts Centre, a beautiful place with an art gallery, a café and a garden totally uncrowded and peaceful. I took in the art exhibition, had a great and inexpensive lunch at the café and relaxed with coffee in the garden. I could not have imagined finding a better place to rest and rejuvenate my spirits that I found, or was guided to by seeming random coincidence.
  • Coming out of the northern line tube with my daughter, she announced that she needed the toilet. My heart sank as I new from previous experience that the nearest toilet was MILES away, and I could not even remember which direction it was in. Taking a random tunnel we walked for quite some time with heavy bags with still no sign of a toilet. The sign indicated we were now under Kings Cross station. In exasperation I asked a police officer where the nearest toilet was. “Up the stairs to the main station and straight ahead”…up we go, straight ahead to the toilet. To the right of the toilet it just so happens there is the Harry Potter “Platform 9 and three quarters shop” which upon seeing it my daughter goes into fits of ecstasy, being a complete Potter fan and having read most of the books with me at bedtime. Another very meaningful and fun seeming random co-incidence marked by my seven year old getting a chocolate frog, a wizarding card and seeing the fancy wands of all the main characters in the Harry Potter movies!

So, really the object of meditation or awareness here for me is simply the persistence of meaningful, humorous and even deeply kind co-incidence that the universe seems to hand out to us all even amidst all the seeming stress, seriousness and chaos of our human life. I think if we can hold onto this ‘trust in the random’ then it has real power to make the quality of our life lighter, more playful, more meaningful, and more fun!
I find it particularly useful when I feel ‘cornered’ by my circumstances, when seemingly there is no way out. Generally there is, and the door comes sometimes in ways we would never have imagined.
© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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 Story of Your Breathing

Often times when we are taught to meditate on the breathing it is primarily as an exercise in concentration, and/or where we alter our breathing in some way in order to achieve a certain effect, such as relaxation.
The technique I explain below is a free form method of working with the breathing that invites self-discovery, greater awareness and the inner strength that comes from this.

I’ve been taking a holiday for the last week or so now, and the main way that I have been enjoying my own awareness of breathing is observing how my pattern of breathing is intimately connected to the story of my life

  • When I reflect on the current happiness and joy in my life, I can feel and sense that joy and happiness subtly altering and communicating itself in the way my body breathes
  • The sadness and stress that I feel is similarly reflected in my body’s breathing as my mind ponders

In both a literally real and a poetic sense it seems as if the pattern of my breathing is telling the story of my life whenever I tune into it; my experiences, my age, my history, everything I am as well as all that I might become in the future seems to be held in the energy and pattern of each each breath.

So, amidst the relative busyness that I find myself in at this time whilst on holiday I’ve taken to finding a bit of time just to sit down with my back resting against a tree, closing my eyes, focusing on my breathing and listening to the story that it is telling me.
Some of the things that it tells me I know, some things are new, all of it helps me to feel more fully alive to the process of my life as it is now, the struggles, the joys, the unknowns. As I focus on the story of my breathing and its vulnerability I feel a new and deeper strength growing in me.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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No Name (Meditation Spaghetti Western Style)

 Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope this message finds you well, I’m currently back in the UK and enjoying my time re-connecting to the summer landscape with all the woods plants and greenery that surrounds my family home!


Wishing you all the very best in your meditation practice,


No Name (Meditation Spaghetti Western Style)

The man or woman of no rank is a nice practice found within various meditation traditions. Essentially the idea is that, when in meditation you can temporarily drop all the labels that you normally attach to yourself and just be.
During our daily life we build our sense of who we are around labels;

  • I am an architect, manager, artist, teacher, saleswoman
  • I am this type of son, wife, father, daughter
  • My friends think of me as this type of person
  • Etc…

When we set these labels aside we become free to be, to be “ourself” and to connect with our “ true” or essential self; the self that lies beyond the labels we stick upon ourselves.

As a longtime fan of the Spaghetti Western and the man with no name, I often do this meditation with a visualization that looks something like this:

  • I am sitting on a bench outside an empty bar/hotel in a western (as in wild western) town that has long since been deserted by its inhabitants
  • There is the creaking of an old signboard above me, a gusting breeze, a big sky. A few of those rolling bushes are going by in the street, the town is surrounded by desert scrub, no one is around.
  • In this space I simply imagine myself sitting thinking of nothing, dropping any memory of who I am.
  • Progressively I become just a man, then a human being (genderless), then just a being, I just be, allowing myself to merge with the vastness of the landscape around me. I relax deeply.

Returning to your identity
The idea of regularly dropping your identity is to gain freedom from our normal automatic over-identification with the labels that we allow to consciously and/or unconsciously dominate our identity. By doing this we develop the capacity to live a life that is psychologically free from these labels, but that enables us to use these labels wisely and appropriately when necessary.
For example I’m Clint Eastwood, the world famous western actor. Oh no sorry forgot, I’m Toby Ouvry the meditation teacher, or at least I was before I started this article, and I think he’s still there!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Getting Wet in the Rain (Meditation and Images)

Dear Integral Meditators,

We all know the expression “A picture paints a thousand words”, sometimes this can be particularly true when trying to explain meditation as it is fundamentally an inner state of mind that cannot be seen or described directly. This weeks meditation article describes one such image that I have been working with this week in my own practice.

I am sending this weeks newsletter out a day early because on Sunday evening at 7pm the price for the upcoming online course: Get Yours Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Class Ever will be going up from Sing$30 to Sing $60. So, if you want to get this course at the very reasonable price of $30, you have until Sunday evening Singapore time!
For those participating in the course, you will be sent a link and password to the course content on the 18th of July, and then you can listen to and download the course content onto your computer anytime you want. As well as the 45 min course itself there are 4 short studio meditation recordings for you to use on a daily basis.

Yours in the spirit of peace and flow,

Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Get Yours Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Class Ever

Getting Wet in the Rain (Meditation and Images)

We all know the expression “A picture paints a thousand words”, sometimes this can be particularly true when trying to explain meditation as it is fundamentally an inner state of mind that cannot be seen or described directly.
One of the images that I have been using this week as a way of connecting to a peaceful and flowing state of mind whilst being busy with many things is that of raindrops. I was walking down the street a few days ago and it started raining lightly. As it did so I thought about how each drop of rain falling on me and around me was like a task in my life, and how there seem to be getting more and more of them, like gradually heavier and heavier rain.
I then thought about how trying to get everything done when life is busy is like trying to catch each of the raindrops in a cup before they fall on me; I am constantly moving, adjusting, looking, catching. This is ok up to a point, but then after a while it gets tiring and confusing.
So then I thought about the act of meditating as being like temporarily stopping to try and catch all the raindrops, and just let them fall. Let them fall on me and let them fall around me, just relax and “get wet”.
I would then sit with this image for a while as a way of putting down all the activity and movement in my life, rest in this state of peace and flow for a while, and then when I felt refreshed I would then pick up the next task that I had to do and carry on.

The next time you are feeling super busy and feeling a bit confused by all the activity, you may like to use this image as a way of taking small breaks to rest, recharge and deal with the challenge in a more peaceful and centred way. Spend short periods of time just letting yourself get wet!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website