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Individualism, Self-esteem, Universal love – Aspects of rational mindfulness

“Practice looking at your experiences as an observer, like you were a fly on the wall. It gives you space between you and your life, & access to the creative ideas & solutions that suggest themselves when you observe consistently in this way”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

I think of the “rational mindfulness” described below as the lynch-pin between lower & higher stages of consciousness. If you are good at it, it holds together all of the other parts of your consciousness in a benevolent, stable manner. I hope you enjoy it! If you do it will be the subject of this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday class practice.

Heads up for the Wesak Class  next week, 21st & 22nd May, & the Awakening to benevolence & compassion mini-retreat on Saturday the 25th.

Also, I’ve just posted the Stress transformation & Emotional intelligence  workshops for June.

In the spirit of the fly on the wall,

Toby


Individualism, Self-esteem, Universal love – Aspects of rational mindfulness
 
As we grow into our teenage years, if we grow psychologically in a balanced way, we should find the emergence of a third person, or rational-objective perspective starts to emerge. Whereas previously it was all ‘me’, ’mine’, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, we can now practice standing outside a personal, subjective view. We can consider events and experiences objectively, making assessments based upon that. Several transformations and capabilities come from this. If we can apply them to our sense of self and who we are in the world, then we become a ‘rational’ person in the holistic sense of the world, which is a beautiful thing. What I have done below is list a few of the capabilities of the rational self, with some suggestions regarding how they can be practiced.
 
Being a fly on the wall – Practice looking at yourself and your experiences as an observer, like you were a fly on the wall. This takes you out of your subjective view and into a third person, objective view. Holding this non-judgmental ‘observer position is really the essential mindfulness practice. Doing it gives you space between you and your life, and access to the creative ideas and solutions that suggest themselves when you observe consistently in this way.
 
Goal setting – Thinking about your goals, picturing them in your mind and then working consistently to realize them is a core rational-objective mindful capability. It enables you to move beyond ‘how you feel’ at any given time, and keep on moving forward, gently, and consistently. This can be practised on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
 
Compartmentalizing – This practice enables you to separate out the different activities in your life and their attending emotions from each other, so that you can work on each one descreetly at different times. This means that you avoid one activity or emotion from let’s say your personal life interfering with your work life, and vice-versa. This is difficult to do without being able to step back and consider your life objectively.
 
World-centric love and compassion – When you step back and consider yourself and others objectively, you can see that there are many commonalities that we share with all humans and living creatures, and that all of us have basic value and worth. Based upon this objective position, we can develop an even-minded consideration and benevolence for all the people we meet, regardless of whether we know them personally or not. Practiced in this way, rational mindfulness can lead to an explosion of our sense of love and compassion for the world.
 
Individualism and self-esteem – When we stand back from ourselves, we can assess ourself as having a value as an individual, and start to articulate our own goals regarding happiness and fulfilment. We can then take pride in developing our capacity to move toward those goals effectively, and build a good life. This in turn gives us a further sense of self-esteem. Not only this, but we can then take joy in encouraging others to see their own inherent value, and encouraging them to grow and express themselves as individuals.
 
So, whenever you engage in any of these activities, you are helping to develop your holistic rational, third person capacity. Practice them all together and you can grow it in an integrated and balanced manner!

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Mindful transitioning – Your life as meditation

“Effective mindfulness & meditation is not just about learning to hold particular states in a focused manner, equally importantly it is about the skill of making the transition from one state of mind to another smoothly and ergonomically”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at making transitions in our consciousness as a practice in itself. There is a huge benefit in getting good at this if you take the time to!

In the Tuesday & Wednesday Meditation class this week we will be meditating on our ‘other & we space’; the capacity to see things from another persons point of view, and also become sensitive to the space that lies between people in couples & groups! 

If you know anyone looking to get their meditation practice started, or if you want to get your own practice rebooted, then I recommend this Saturdays session:Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever
And also this Saturday those of you interested in Mantra meditation & spiritual healing will enjoy the Medicine Buddha Healing meditation, 11am-12.15pm.
 
In the spirit of mindful transitioning,

Toby


Mindful transitioning
 
Effective mindfulness and meditation are not just about learning to hold particular states in a focused manner. It is also, and equally importantly about the skill of making the transition from one state of mind to another smoothly and ergonomically.
 
What is the best state of mind to be in?
During the day we do many different activities, each of these requires a different state of mindful attention. For example:

  • The optimal state of attention when at dinner with our partner or date is very different from the state of being focused on work at our workstation. One is more functional and quantitative, the other more open and qualitative
  • Being with children requires a different state of mind from being with adults
  • Singular focus on one task is very different from being in a meeting and ‘reading the room’ with our awareness

So, during the day, in order to be mindfully effective, we need to be able to transition from one state or awareness to another appropriately. If we get stuck rigidly in different states, then we are going to struggle to bring our best to the different things we do, perform to our potential and enjoy each activity. It’s a little bit like martial arts or sports; the movement between shots or punches or single-moment activities is as important as the shots themselves!
 
The basic transition & practice
The basic transition that I like to teach in formal meditation is the one from field awareness to single-pointedness. It looks a bit like this:

  • Field-awareness: For five minutes or so take the position of the observer in your field of awareness, and practice watching the totality of what you notice there. This is like moving a camera to the ‘wide-angle’ position of the lens, so that it takes in the whole of the landscape. Practice mindfulness around the ‘big picture’ in this way
  • Then transition to single-pointedness, focus on one thing within your field of awareness in as singular a manner as possible. Obvious examples would be the breathing, or the weight of the body, or the sounds you hear. This is like closing the aperture of your camera lens so that it zooms on just one thing in the landscape of your mind. Practice building that singularity of focus, editing everything else out for five minutes, before transitioning back to field-awareness

If you meditate for twenty minutes, then you would practice transitioning three times, as well as enjoying the benefits of the actual states themselves. If you brought the time down to changing every two minutes then you would really get better quickly at the transitions.
 
Bringing this into daily life
During the day, I transition from field awareness to single-pointedness many times, and the feeling of doing so combines both personal enjoyment as well as a sense of the day running smoothly and effectively.

  • This morning, I took my daughter to school on the bus. On the ride there I was practicing field awareness, keeping an eye on her and her friends, getting of at the right time etc..
  • On the bus back by myself I zoomed into single-pointedness and did a few energy-mantras in a short five minute meditation, transitioning to a ‘just one thing’ state of mind, which was refreshing.
  • At the beginning of the work day, I go into field awareness, looking at the totality of the day and all that needs to be done. Having assessed the order of the day, I then go into single-pointedness on the next task, in this case my weekly article, which I am twenty minutes into and now nearly finished!

To make my life a ‘working samadhi’ or life as meditation, I need to make the transitions described above smoothly, skilfully and appropriately. If I do that, then my life is literally mostly a meditation! When I arrive at my formal daily meditation and sit down, I’m already very close to meditation, so it’s easy and natural to drop into meditation from daily life. Trying the practice described above (field to single-pointedness) for a few minutes each day can really make a radical difference to your transitioning skill, I really recommend it.
 
Related readingIntegrating field-awareness & single pointedness
Working samadhi

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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New Therapeutic Mindfulness coaching service & reading anthology

Dear Integral Meditators,

From September thru December 2023 I facilitated a course called Re-discovering your inner vitality & joie-de-vivre – An introduction to integrative therapeutic mindfulness & meditation.

I am now offering it as a 1:1 coaching service, which can also be facilitated in a group coaching context. You can read about the coaching & training by following the link above. Essentially the question it seeks to answer is “How can we re-work our relationship to the past in a way that helps us to see the present & future with clarity, enthusiasm & vision?”


I have also created this ‘Therapeutic mindfulness reading page’ which is an anthology of all the articles that I wrote during that time. You can find these summarized below, with links to each article.

The recordings of the original course are also available as an online course, if you are interested in that then just drop an email to info@tobyouvry.com

In the spirit of re-awakening inner joy,

Toby


Therapeutic Mindfulness Article Anthology

Creating an inner therapeutic mindfulness space – six positions

The purpose of therapeutic mindfulness is to go back to previous stages in our development in order to reconnect to feelings, emotions, body sensations & memories that we have repressed, denied, or lost touch with. The healthy re-integration of these experiences sets the scene for a renewed sense of wellbeing within our present life, & for safely engaging in higher, deeper levels of personal growth.”

Mindfulness of mood & atmosphere of your life-story

“You might think about your inner mood as being like the weather. If you are playing a game of tennis in a sunny, lightly breezy day, its completely different from playing it on a rainy, very windy day. We can usually shift ourself at least partially toward a better mood if we try, and this then affects everything for the better”

The projector behind you – How the past interweaves your present & future

“Past-focused mindfulness involves delving consciously into past memory & narratives, releasing pent-up energy, and then gently reworking these stories to create a more optimistic and energized outlook

Progressively recovering your joie de vivre (Meditating with your inner child)

“If you are prepared to do the work, it seems there truly are no edges to your level of inner joy”

Meditating with your teenage-self

“The ‘teenage self’ is one of several aspects of our inner-self or psyche that, if we take the time to connect to, we can find ourselves being enriched. For example, if I am well connected to my inner teenager, then I can draw upon his innate curiosity, ambition and appetite for life in a way that other middle-aged folk who lack a vital connection to their inner teenager cannot!”

Suppression & repression – the difference, & it’s importance

“Suppression can be used positively and strategically to enhance our effectiveness and wellbeing in life, whereas repression almost always results in long term inner turbulence and interference in our ability to see and work with our present life as it is”

Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)

In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet & solve a challenge, you can do one of two things. You can give up, or you can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

“As you grow & mature, if you repress your previous selves, they can become ‘allergies’. If part of you remains trapped within them, they become ‘addictions.  Transcending & including means to grow beyond who you were, whilst still giving your previous self a seat at the table”

 All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

“Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness that has to be earned, step by step. This is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any stage in our inner growth”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This week’s article looks at growing your perspective taking capacity through mindfulness. Essentially it explores 5 perspectives:

  1. Your first person ‘I/me’ space
  2. Your second person ‘we/us’ space
  3. Your third person ‘it’ space
  4. Your fourth person ‘self-as-the world’ space
  5. Your fifth person ‘integral perspectives’ space

Growing all these together within you gives what Ken Wilber describes as ‘Supermind’. If you enjoy the article, then do consider joining us for the Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up course that starts this week!

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

The journey from fusion to ‘Supermind’ is essentially a journey of perspective taking. It is the journey of going from being a baby to a fully developed and integrated human being. A main goal of mindfulness in this developmental sense is to stimulate our growth along that journey, making more and more perspectives functionally available to us as time goes by.

The stages & perspectives of consciousness that we journey along are essentially 1st to 5th person perspectives, and from egocentric, to ethnocentric to worldcentric, to universal/Kosmocentric. Here is a very summary in seven stages:

Egocentric, 1st person, ‘I/me’:

Note with egocentric these are essentially childhood stages, but adults can and do regularly regress to these stages in their daily life.

Level 1 – Archaic/fusion – Our first year of life is spent like this, largely fused perceptually with our physical and emotional environment, reactive to very basic needs, hunger, thirst, warmth, cold etc…

Level 2 – Tribal fantastical – Fantasy wish fulfilment emerges 18months to 3 years old: Superstitions or magical thinking within self, being incredibly special & unique, the world revolves around me (hence the ‘terrible twos!’ etc…).

Level 3 – Mythic fantasy – 4-7 years old – Often termed ‘self-protective, ‘security’, ‘power’ or opportunistic’ level. Self-centred desires for power & control.

Ethnocentric, 2nd person ‘we/us’

Level 4 – Mythic membership – 7-12 years, but still a dominant perspective in many adults lives today. “Belonging-ness” (to groups, family, race, religion etc…) stage. The shift from me focused to we/us focused, or group focused. Strict conformity to the rules. Them vs us. 

Worldcentric, 3rd person, ‘it’

Level 5 – Rational/scientific – The emergence of an objective, 3rd person ‘rational’ perspective, capacity to care for all of humankind, even if not part of our ‘group’. The emergence of true individuality, self-esteem, and goal/achievement focus.

Universal, 4th person

Level 6 – Pluralistic – The ability to take a 1st and 2nd person ‘I/we/’ perspective on our 3rd person rational/worldcentric perspective, resulting in a capacity for deep compassion and empathy for all living beings and the world.

Integral, 5th person

Level 7 – Integral – The ability to:

  1. Take an objective perspective on our 4th person pluralistic perspective, resulting in ‘Universal objective subjectivity’ (!)
  2. Take all the previous developmental stages along with their perspectives (1-6), and ‘transcend and include’ them – Each has their place honoured in the overall picture, but none are identified with exclusively. They function together in an integrated and ‘whole’ way, like a healthy organism.

This integral level of perspective taking is what is referred to as ‘Supermind’. Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness, which is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any of the developmental stages mentioned above.

So then, the interesting thing about this list is, at the moment, all of us have main ‘centre of gravity’ at one of these stages. By practising mindfulness around each of them we can:

  • Unearth the hidden maps of consciousness within us
  • Note which stage we are at, and how that changes or varies in different situations in our life
  • Observe or ‘videotape’ the level you are at in mindfulness meditation in order to transcend & include it, and encourage movement to the next level*

You can then observe your current the lower and higher levels of development within you, ‘cleaning up’ the lower levels that you sometimes notice yourself regressing to, and opening to the higher stages by becoming familiar with what they are and how they function.

Related articles: Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

*Three named terms in this paragraph from Ken Wilber’s ‘Integral Meditation’ book.

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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)

Starts Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


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Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Resilience Mindfulness Stress Transformation

Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

“As we develop from one stage of growth to another as a person, we leave behind the old self in favour of a more evolved one. This new self-sense them becomes ‘I’ or me, with the previous self-identity becoming part of us that we manage or parent”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores looks at oour early-stage development as an object of mindfulness, & what the benefits of doing so might be. If you like it, do consider joining us on the new adventure starting on 9/10th April: Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up, either live or online!

This week there will be only one meditation class on Wednesday, & it will be on the subject of single-headness (how to manage your stress more effectively thru mindfulness) & ‘head-lessness‘ which is a kind of non-dual meditation.

In the spirit of primal integration,

Toby



Your primal self as your object of mindfulness
 
As we develop from one stage of growth to another (psychologically) as a person, we leave behind, or objectify the old sense of self, in favour of a more evolved one. This new sense of self them becomes ‘I’ or me, with the previous self-identity becoming a part of us that we manage.
 
Our first sense of self – Basic appetites, fusion confusion
 
The first 18 months of our life is characterized by the absence of a separate self-sense. Initially we are ‘fused’ our environment. Later we start to separate our self-sense physically, but remain for a while longer in a state of emotional fusion with our environment and particularly our mother.  This is a  symbiotic or fusion stage, a bit of a fusion-confusion!
This self-sense is accordingly completely dominated by our physiological needs, food, thirst, warmth, coolness, comfort, discomfort, rest.
 
Addictions & allergies – Yes, we left it behind but…
 
We start to grow out of this fusion-confusion stage from 18 months. As a 51 year old I say “I am hungry” rather than “I am hunger!”. I can distinguish myself physically and emotionally from my environment. However, if I have left parts of me behind at that level, either as a secret identity or as a dissociation, then that can result in an ‘addiction’ or an ‘allergy’. For example, regarding hunger:

  • Addiction: If I still have a part of me still fully identified as being (not having) hunger, then this may result in me having trouble regulating my diet and weight, resulting in extreme cases as obesity
  • Allergy: If I have dissociated myself from hunger, then I may be out of touch with my basic hunger needs, not eating properly and being underweight or undernourished. In extreme cases this might manifest in anorexia or bulimia

Sometimes also you may notice a fusion-confusion type experience with your environment or in your relationships. Public spaces become confusing as your senses ‘merge’ with them, or the emotional space between yourself and others becomes very blurred and difficult to regulate. Some of this may be due to a part of self that has been left behind at the primal stage.
 
Clearing up to grow up more fully using mindfulness
 
From a mindfulness-as-therapy point of view, the essential method is quite simple; you bring to mind basic needs like hunger, thirst, as well as experiences of ‘fusion-confusion’ mentioned above (separately, not all at once!), and practice mindfully observing them, and your relationship to them. The making subjects into objects nature of mindfulness will naturally help start to clear up any allergies or addictions that may remain at this stage…
 
My personal experience of being mindful with this stage
 
Regarding basic appetites I discovered that I tend toward the “allergy” relationship to food, I usually have trouble keeping up my weight, and eating is a discipline rather than a joy. So, it helped me re-balance that which was useful.
Secondly the revisiting the fusion-confusion stage resulted in me feeling a surprising increase in clarity regarding my environmental and relational awareness.
 
Integrating, transcending & including
 
A healthy integration of your primal-self* enables you to create healthy self-regulation of your basic needs & appetites. It also helps create a clear distinction of self from others & environment. We have a healthier ‘separate’ self-sense, but can engage (and withdraw from) conscious ‘fusion’ when appropriate.
 
I’d encourage you to spend some time with this as a practice, it seems initially that we should all have grown fully out or this stage. But if you look at problems humans have around basic appetites and self-regulation like food, we can see that there are huge imbalances there. You may be surprised at how powerful and transformative it is for you. It certainly was for me!
 
*In integral psychology this is level 1 of human psychological development, and termed ‘Infrared archaic’
 
Related contentSubjects to objects – How meditation helps you grow to greater degrees of freedom

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
 



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)

Starts Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Inner vision Integral Meditation Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Breathing Mindfulness Presence and being present

Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building

“Using mindful-flow to develop particular inner-strengths can rapidly accelerate the pace at which we can grow them. What would normally take much longer, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at a major foundation of integral meditation practice, mindful-flow, what it is and how to go about starting to use it in your life.
If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to this Saturday’s Deep-dive meditation mini-retreat, where we will be putting mindful-flow to good use!

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class is on the art of non-thinking.

 
In the spirit of flow,
 
Toby



Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building
 
What is mindful flow?

Mindful flow is a method of concentration that meditators use to remain present in their practice, and stay present for extended periods. It consists of two complementary qualities:

  • The quality of focus
  • The quality of relaxation

Often when people begin meditation, they try a bit too hard to focus, which means they then have difficulty relaxing, which then means their mind has difficulty settling into meditative presence. Other people relax a bit too much and find themselves falling asleep, which is the other end of the spectrum. So good quality mindful concentration contains the alertness of focus, in combination with the ‘flow’ of relaxation, hence mindful-flow. If complete relaxation to the point of sleep is a 0, and absolute effortful focus is a 10, in meditation we are generally trying to stay somewhere within the 4-6 range.
 
Building the technique of mindful flow

Generally, I recommend specifically developing your practice of mindful flow as an exercise, which can be done using a simple breathing technique:

  • Breathing naturally, as you breathe in, emphasize focusing your attention on your in-breath. You can focus on a particular area of the breathing (like the movement of the belly for example), or the overall sensation of it.
  • As you breathe out, emphasize relaxing your body and mind. If you are aware of particular areas of tension in the body, you can be specific in relaxing those body parts.

You can practice mindful flow continuously for 5-10minutes, or if you like you can do it in sets, for example:

  • 3-5 breaths of mindful flow, followed by a short pause, and when you are ready repeat.

I find that this second technique is quite useful, because it encourages you to really focus well for those 3-5 breaths! 

Using mindful flow to bring strengths & strength-combinationsOnce you have practiced mindful flow, and got a sense of that balance of focus and relaxation, you can then use it to build strengths, qualities and capacities within you. Here I am going to use gentle-determination as an example. Once you understand how to do it with one quality, you know how to do it with others. So then with gentle-determination:

  1. For the first part, as you breathe in, connect of a sense of gentleness, as you breathe out, relax into that feeling of gentleness.
  2. In the second part, connect to a sense of determination, perhaps about something specific in your life right now. As you breathe out, feel that sense of determination as an attitude in the mind and as an energy in the body.
  • In the third section, bring the qualities of gentle-determination together; as you breathe in connecting to determination, as you breathe out soften that determination with an appropriate degree of gentleness.

You can spend as much time as you like on each section, but ideally the most time would be spent with stage three, bringing the gentleness and determination together into a flow.
Dropping into a mindful-flow state and using it to develop particular strengths and qualities can rapidly accelerate the pace and depth at which we can grow them within us. What would normally take much longer to develop competency around, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period of time!


Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at meditative effortlessness from the perspective of witnessing practice. It’s a playful variation on a past article on ‘That which solves all your problems & none‘ from back in 2014. If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

It’s a slightly longer article, so you might find it worthwhile reading it in two or three parts, coming back to it at different times… 
 
In the spirit of the effortless,
 
Toby


Effortless adaptation – Solving all your problems & none (II)

You can’t master what you are over identified with

This article is about how to adapt and flow with challenges in our life in as ‘effortless’ or ergonomic manner as possible. We can divide our challenges into ‘problems’ and ‘situations’.  In a previous article entitled ‘Wanting what you like, or liking what happens?’ I made the distinction between the two as follows:
“A lot of the things that we have labelled ‘problems’ in our life are more like ‘situations’. A problem is something that by definition has a solution. A situation is more a set of circumstances that we find ourself in. There may be no apparent solution to the situation, or the solution would cost more than it would be worth to ‘solve’ the problem. In this case we have to simply accept and work with what is. If we can harmonize our relationship to what ‘is’ today, meaning our situations, then chances are we will find ways to enjoy it and derive some value from it.”
If we want to solve and adapt effortlessly, a primary principle is you can’t master what you are over identified with. Here we are going to explore how to become more objective in our challenges, therefore struggling less as we adapt and solve.
 
The ultimate subject of consciousness

Initially in meditation (and then in daily awareness), if we look within, we can divide our consciousness into two:

  1. The objects within consciousness, or the content that we can observe
  2. The subject of consciousness, or that which is observing, AKA ‘the witness self’

During the day, quite often (almost always in fact), we confuse the subjects of consciousness with the objects of consciousness. We identify with our physical body and sensations, emotions, and moods. We identify with our story, our idea of who we are, as well as our beliefs and worldviews. All of these can be observed, watched, made into objects. The ‘self’ is, to use a Zen expression, ‘the ultimate subject of consciousness’. It is that within us that observes, which we can experience and be, but that we cannot watch as an object. You can rest in the witness self, but you can’t ‘see’ it. This is because it is simply consciousness itself, with no characteristics of form or time. It just ‘IS’!
 
Witnessing to adapt & solve

One of the beauties of sitting as the witness self is that it helps us to gradually dis-identify with the things in our consciousness that we are currently identified with. By doing this we make our challenges as well as the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with them objects rather than subjects. This means that its much easier to work with them and master them, because they are not ‘me’ or ‘mine’. I can be more objective, calm, strategic and (holistically) compassionate because I am not over identifying with what is going on. If you apply witnessing to any challenge, you are going thru, it will help substantially. Here are two examples from the last week:
 

  1. In a conversation with a friend, I was told a story of someone who had been aggressive and racist to him. Later in the day I felt strong anger and protectiveness about this. I noticed I was strongly identified with this ‘protector/guardian/’ aspect of myself. I modulated it simply by witnessing it; making it an object of awareness rather than ‘me. This helped me to integrate the good parts of this part of my personality, without wasting energy getting caught up and attached to the energy it generated in me.
  2. I had a discussion which verged on an argument. I noticed that there was a part of me that I identified with that was very concerned about being ‘right’. Noticing and witnessing this part of self helped me to transform it from subject to object, and accept the situation without wasting mental, emotional or verbal energy. Relatively effortlessly it helped me to keep focused on what I considered important in the day, without getting ‘trapped’ by my identification with rightness.

Through witnessing around your challenges, you can change your experience of them without much of a struggle, using the technology of witnessing. I can’t recommend highly enough building your competency around this domain of mindfulness. Life gets a lot easier, free-er and more creative, even in the face of intractable and long-term circumstances.
A final somewhat Zen sentence for you: ‘Witnessing is a practice that solves your problems without changing them. They are still problems, but they are not problems in the way they were. It solves all your problems and none at the same time.’

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of transcending & including. It is an important practice for everyone, but particularly if you are on a path of inner growth, as you are actively transcending and including as your path evolves.

This week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation continues our journey into Therapeutic mindfulness, and will look at the theme of transcending & including. If you enjoy the article, feel free to join us!

In the spirit of inclusion, 
 
Toby


Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves
 
As you grow you get inwardly, as well as outwardly bigger
Babies identify only with their physical body up until around 18months. Up until the age of 4 years, we can only take a first-person perspective: ‘me’, ‘I’ & ‘mine’. Growing older as children and teenagers, we see ourself as a part of a ‘we’ space, our family, our friends, my team. If we become fully fledged rational humans, we learn to take a healthy third person perspective, an ‘it’ space, where we consider everyone to have value, and our circle of concern becomes world-centric, universal and much bigger.
As we continue this growth further onto higher levels, our self-sense gets bigger and bigger, more and more inclusive. Our ‘I’ becomes more & more universal in nature.
 
The principle of transcending & including
When we grow it’s not that our older, smaller selves cease to exist, it’s just that they get transcended. My child-like egoic self is still there when I grow to the next stage, it’s just that it becomes only a part of what I am, held and contextualized by the bigger, more inclusive self of the next stage. The bigger self transcends, but includes the smaller self.

  • The ‘transcending’ part of this means that we grow beyond our previous limited sense of who we are
  • The ‘include’ part of this ensures that the smaller self feels secure and honoured within the new self structure.

A simple example: Yesterday I spent quite a lot of time playing with my three year-old. This meant my ‘inner child’ coming online and me being ‘childish’! However, my child-self was held by my mature or adult self. For my daughter, she ‘is’ the child. For me as an adult I act in a child like way, but he is held by a bigger self-sense that is the adult. My adult self transcends and includes my child self.
 
Avoiding allergies & addictions
Transcending and including needs to be done in a healthy manner otherwise:

  • If I transcend the previous stage too much, instead of detaching from it healthily, I disassociate with it, it becomes an ‘allergy’, something foreign. For example if I dissociate with my inner child, outer children become incomprehensible, silly and foreign. Inwardly I lose the ability to be playful, joyful and spontaneous. I become a stiff, repressed adult, ‘allergic’ to child-like behaviour
  • If I include the previous stage too much, a part of my identity gets ‘stuck’ at that level. I find myself compulsively becoming child-like in some situations, the behaviours feel like ‘addictions’. I keep regressing to this level uncontrollably. To return to the child analogy, I might usually keep a good diet, but then keep sabotaging that by eating one biscuit, and then the whole packet. My self-regulation becomes periodically child-like and chaotic!

 
Mindful therapeutic integration
To work therapeutically with the transcend and include principle, take any part of your smaller selves as the object. For example, you could take:

  • Your child self
  • Your eating urges
  • A part of you very identified with a past trauma
  • A part of you identified with a particular belief

The list here is very large. Sitting in a mindful state you simply bring it to mind, and watch it. As Ken Wilber says, you imagine you are video -taping it as an observer. The part of you that observes simply witnesses it with a ‘transcend and include’ approach:

  • The ‘transcendent’ part of it means that your witness has a sense of itself as something bigger than and separate from the part of self you are observing
  • The ‘include’ part of it means that your witness self acknowledges, accepts, and gently embraces the smaller self.

If you do this, the idea would be that any ‘addictions’ or ‘allergies’ that you have developed to smaller parts of yourself as you have grown beyond them will gradually be released. You will find yourself in an increasingly balanced and integrated relationship to your smaller selves, free from addictions and allergies.
 
Related reading:  Creating an inner therapeutic mindfulness space
Suppression & repression – the difference, & it’s importance
Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies
The body is in you – How to go into deep meditation quickly

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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Effortless effort – Making everything workable

“The art of Effortless-effort makes difficult things feel manageable, & effort over a long period of time sustainable, even quietly joyful”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

Just starting to get my thoughts together regarding the  Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course coming up in January. The article below explores a few working definitions and practices

In the spirit of skillful sustainability,
 
Toby


Effortless effort – Making everything workable

When Chogyam Trungpa, the famous Tibetan Buddhist Master was asked “What is Dharma?” (Dharma means the teachings of the Buddha), he replied “Dharma means that everything is workable.”
The other day I was texting a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked “How is everything?” to which I replied “With acceptance, everything is workable.” This made me recall the Trungpa quote, then leading to a few thoughts about the principle of ‘Effortless effort’.
You might think about Effortless effort as a way of accepting and working with the reality that you are presented with. It is a ‘state’ of being that then leads into a way of doing that works with whatever we are facing.
‘Effortless effort’ could also be described as ‘Doing though non-doing’, also known as ‘Wei wu wei’ in Chinese (translating into ‘effortless action’). It is a philosophy of life & way of meditating found explicitly in the Zen, Chan & Taoist schools of meditation. Implicitly it is found in most of the great wisdom traditions of the world. It indicates skilful and ergonomic ways of working with life that facilitate balance, resilience, creativity & wisdom.
 
The feeling of Effortless effort (E-E) in the body
One of the things that I really enjoy and appreciate about E-E is the sense of flow and energy efficiency that it brings. It makes difficult things feel manageable, and effort over a long period of time sustainable, even quietly joyful.
The state of E-E can be described as a way of holding your body, as well as a state of mind. As a bodily state, here are some pointers:

  • The muscles are soft, with only enough tension in them to perform the presenting task. For example, if you are standing or sitting upright, the crown may be high and the body upright, but the centre of gravity is low in the belly, so that the chest and shoulders are not carrying their own weight. Hands and arms are loose, and the belly is not holding onto emotional stress.
  • The feeling of the inner self is one of comfort in the body, or ‘comfort in your own skin’. There is an absence of rush or panic, even, and particularly in the face of persistent stressors
  • The body feels at home in its environment. There is a sense that the world is a friendly place, where you are things are workable. As a sensation in the body, there is a feeling of trust in process, a sense of quiet alertness and relaxed attention

An everyday reflection
This morning I had a coaching appointment cancelled at short notice. So, I thought it would be nice to take my daughter to pre-school. I took her, but forgot to bring her nap-time bedding. I had planned to work on this article before going to work, but now I had no time, because I had to go back to the school. Pausing, relaxing, and  working on the principle that ‘everything is workable’, I transferred the article from my computer to my phone, and use the extra time on public transport to continue to edit my article. Through-out the process, I simply focused on staying calm, feeling flexible and accepting. Having come up with a simple battle-plan, I relaxed into it’s execution. I consciously worked on being smooth and ergonomic, working with the situation rather than fighting it.
This is a very simple example, but hopefully it gives you a feeling for how to start working with E-E in everyday situations. If you can practice daily actions with E-E, then you will burn up a lot less energy, and arrive at the evening feeling less fatigued, with your mood more positively disposed. A final point, if you get good at E-E during the day, when you sit down to meditate, you will find that you are already near a state of meditation, and that moving into formal meditation feels more like slipping into a warm bath; a natural, easy transition from doing to being!
 
Related readingWorking Samadhi – The way of the mindful warrior
Mindful ergonomics – Making the most of your energy
 
Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


In case you missed this week’s other article: Shamanic meditation – Psychopomping & other non-ordinary adventures
 
Shamanic meditation, often described as ‘Shamanic journeying’ occurs mainly in the dream state, which is to say the psychic and subtle levels of mind. You might think of shamanic meditation as a type of ‘conscious dreaming’ done whilst meditating…read full article


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The conscious-self – Your inner CEO

“Your Conscious-self is: The captain of your inner ship directing the crew, The CEO of your consciousness, setting the direction of your inner organization, & the conductor of your inner orchestra, co-ordinating all the different sub-elements of the self into a coherent unity”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the theme of the Conscious-self, and it’s importance in the health and wellbeing of our self-sense and personality. If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to the Mindful Presence Masterclass & group coaching: The Inquisitive Sumo Wrestler – Turning up to life calm & curious , where we will be looking at mindfulness practices to create a high-functioning Conscious self. 

If you like you can combine the Masterclass with the Qi gong class as an  Integral Life Practice Session. It’s a morning you will come out of feeling at the top of your game!

In the spirit of your inner CEO,
 
Toby


The Conscious-self – Captain of your ship & CEO of your body-mind
 
The Conscious-self is that part of you that is aware in the present, and of what it finds in the present moment. This includes:

  • Sensory orientation in your environment
  • Co-ordinating what is going in within the body
  • Content of mind; thoughts, emotions, patterns of mental activity
  • The activity of your subconscious mind
  • Awareness of awareness itself, and where we are directing it through attention in any given moment

 
The Conscious-self is responsible for the wellbeing of our body, mind, and emotions. It oversees our choices and decision-making process. It is in charge of how we deploy our energy and resources. It is in charge of our life-plan and self-discipline. All the different sub-personalities that exist within ourself should be marshalled by and taken care of by the conscious-self. Think of your Conscious-self as being like:

  • The Captain of your Ship directing the crew
  • The CEO of your consciousness, setting the direction of your inner organization
  • The conductor of your orchestra, co-ordinating all the different sub-elements of the self into a coherent unity

 
The Conscious-self (C-S) is supported by your higher mind (your soul-level or philosophical/principled self), and your Overmind, or spiritual being. These appear mainly as aspects of our values, imagination & intuition that the C-S can access and refer to for guidance. The C-S is in charge of co-ordinating our ego and personality in everyday life, directing it towards a sense of effectiveness in the face of challenges, and happiness in its various forms. The Higher and Over-mind’s are like a wise inner ‘Board of directors’ that the C-S can refer to for advice and wisdom.
 
Leading yourself through life
The Conscious-self is, in essence the leader of your consciousness. As the leader, its main functions are:

  • Creating a compelling vision for the rest of the personality to follow, that can take us boldly and enthusiastically into our future from where we stand in the present
  • Getting the ‘buy in’ from the rest of the personality. For example, if a part of us is feeling doubtful about the vision, the C-S needs to listen and help the doubter to come along for the ride.

This leadership function is very much like the CEO of a company; The main job is envisioning the future creatively, getting the buy-in from the team, and then delegating tasks to the team members. The C-S delegates to the other parts of self, tells them what to do and why they are doing it!
 
Contemplation
 
Being present as your conscious mind – In meditation, get used to sitting and centring yourself in your conscious-self. Practice being present to the content of your consciousness, observing the movement of the different elements. Get used to distinguishing the C-S as the Captain and CEO in charge, and the other activities of your consciousness, which are what your C-S oversees.
 
Observing your relationship to choices – Notice how comfortable your C-S is with making choices and taking responsibility. Notice when you want to ‘duck’ choices, feel anxious and confused, want to give away responsibility for what you need to decide on. Work on getting more comfortable, confident, and responsible in this space.
 
Inspiring and supporting – From your position as the C-S, the CEO of consciousness, the captain of your ship, set an inspiring direction:

  • For the next 3-5 years,
  • For the next year, 6 months, 3 months
  • The next month, week, day,
  • For the next activity today!

Create a vision for your life that the rest of your body, mind and personality can follow. Then delegate tasks, and support your sub-selves, getting them on board and up for the program.
 
In conclusion, a high-functioning Conscious-self is the key to effective self-leadership, and to organizing your life effectively. The proposition would also be that the better at self-leadership you become, the better you will tend to be at outer leadership…
 
Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 


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