Awareness and insight creative imagery Inner vision Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Mindfulness Zen Meditation

Four Zen Meditations

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on practical Zen exercises based around more or less well known quotes that are in the spirit of Zen. The nice thing about all of them is that they are great simplifiers of the mind, and realeasers of our natural intelligence.

Yours in the spirit of Zen,


Four Zen Meditations

This article is simply a set of four quotes in the spirit of Zen (note, not all from Zen sources, but nevertheless in the spirit of Zen practice), together with a focused contemplation to go with each.

“Knowledge is learning something every day, wisdom is letting go of something every day” – Zen Proverb
We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of information coming our way in modern day life. Whilst we definitely need to keep increasing our knowledge, in order to make sure that our wisdom also increases in proportion to our knowledge we also need to spend time dropping our knowledge and resting in a state of simplicity and conscious ‘forgetting’. This means not just once every few months, but once a day!

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God whilst one is peeling the potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes”- Alan Watts
Pick one or two activities each day where you are focused on a non-conceptual experience of the activity itself, with the amount of conceptual thought kept to a minimum.

“The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?” – Confucius
It’s very easy to over think and over-complexify when it comes to the things that we need to do in our life, and the motivations with which we do them. Practise pairing down and simplifying your actions so that they are simple, direct and appropriate responses to the demands of the moment. Don’t over think it!

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing” – Meister Eckhart
Ultimate truth is a non-conceptual phenomenon. The only way you can get to it is though direct observation, penetration and experience of what is right in front of you. Practice erasing your thoughts and just looking at what is there.

A little further practical Zen tid-bit:

“The only Zen that you find on top of a mountain is the Zen that you bring with you” – Robert M Pirsig

© 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

Insight Meditation Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Mindfulness Uncategorized

Four Types of Deep Calm, Four Types of Dynamic Power

Dear Integral Meditators,

What do you think of when you think “calm”? This weeks article looks at how calmness is not just a passive relaxational activity, but a type of dynamic inner power that we can build in our mind and life each day.

Yours in the transformative power of inner calm,



Four Types of Deep
Calm, Four Types of Dynamic Power

Sometimes the impression that we have of calmness is that it is a passive, purely relaxational experience that we can use to escape and gain relief from the trials and tribulations of our daily life.
If we are a little more serious about investigating the potential of calm however, we discover that contained within the experience of calm there is the experience of an inner dynamic power which adds a new dimension of strength that we can bring into the centre of our most difficult life circumstances.
We can use this inner power to direct and transform such situations in a practical and beneficial way.
In meditation we can think of the co-development of inner calm and power as having four basic types:

The calm of solidity
This is the calm presence that comes from being deeply embedded in awareness of our physical body and our physical world. It leads to a calm power that is mountain, stone or earth like in nature; it is able to remain very solid, stable and fixed in the midst of changing and difficult circumstances.

The calm of flow
This is a type of emotional calm that arises from the ability to let your emotions flow in an open and healthy manner, which in turn gives you the confidence to direct the natural power inherent within emotion toward positive ends in your life.

The calm of structure
This is a type of mental calm that comes from having a well structured and ordered mind. A well structured mind is like a good plumbing or electrical system in a house; it enables you to access and direct the power of your mind to the task at hand efficiently, without ‘leaking’ energy.

The calm of no-mind
This is a type of spiritual or existential calm that comes from developing the ability to suspend your thoughts and rest in the inner space that lies beyond them. Resting in the space of no-mind or no-thoughts gives access to deep calm even when in the midst of mental, emotional and physical turmoil, and facilitates the development of the trans-rational powers of mind that lie beyond the intellect

Integral meditation training involves the complementary development of all four types of calm power. Each can be looked at in depth, but here is a short exercise you can try to get a feel for it. Stay with each stage of the breathing for as long as you like:

As you breathe in be aware of the solidity and stability of your physical body,
As you breathe out relax into that stability.
As you breathe in allow your emotional being to open and flow,
As you breathe out relax into the power of that flow.
As you breathe in tune into the positive thought structures of your mind,
As you breathe out feel their power to contain and direct your mental energy.
As you breathe in be aware of the space beyond your thoughts,
As you breathe out relax into the power of that which lies beyond the mind.

© 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

Awareness and insight Integral Meditation Meditation techniques Mindfulness Presence and being present

Small Focused Mind, Big Open Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

There are two easy things that you can do to start supporting your meditation practice whilst engaged in your daily life. This weeks article outlines what they are and how you can start implementing them.

I have created another three minute video this week entitled “When is a problem really a problem; the liberating power of perspective” , click the link if you want to have a view!

Yours in the spirit of focused spaciousness,


Small Focused Mind, Big Open Mind 

With meditation two of the essential skills that you are trying to develop are the ability to keep your attention focused on a single object over an extended period of time and the ability to keep your mind relaxed, open and spacious.

For a meditation practice to be effective at this it can be done for as little as ten minutes a day, but it will be many times more effective if you can find ways of supporting the development of these two qualities when you are out of meditation and engaged in daily life. Here are two principles that I use to do this:

  1. When at work or do my daily tasks I try for at least some of the time to mono-task, and do only one thing at a time. Whilst I am focusing on that one thing I keep my mind present, not thinking about other things. I just relax into the immediacy, simplicity and ‘smallness’ of the task. This type of activity improves my ability to focus my attention singularly and, like a formal meditation it gives rise to a sense of peace and tranquillity that is a side-effect of the focused attention.
  2. When I am out of doors I make my awareness big, as big at least as the immediate horizon around me, the sky above me and a sense of the large mass of the Earth below me. Of course if I am walking around I have to be aware of things like traffic and basic safety, but within those limitations I make expand my mind into the environment, making it naturally big and spacious. This bigness and spaciousness is very relaxing, but it also helps me to keep perspective, maintain appropriate detachment from the events of my life, and gives rise to a certain sense of mystical communion/relationship with the landscape which I find very rewarding.

At present I have a habit of going for an early evening walk with my daughter which I take as a special time to expand my mind into the surrounding landscape, make it big and spacious and let go of my daily concerns. It is useful to have a specific activity that you do each day that is specifically focused on making your mind spacious in this way.

So there you go, two ways of supporting the development of your meditation practice;

  • When at work or doing daily activities spend at least some time mono-tasking
  • When outside relax your awareness into the environment, making it big and spacious

© 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

creative imagery Enlightened love and loving Integral Awareness Mindfulness Presence and being present

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

Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Mindfulness Presence and being present spiritual intelligence Uncategorized

The Way to Be Ok, Always – Liberation and the Witness Self

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at the cultivation of the witness self in meditation, and why we should be interested in it!

Yours in the spirit of “ok, always”,


The Way to Be Ok, Always – Liberation and the Witness Self

Cultivating the experience of the witness self means to cultivate your experience of self as a detached observer of your mind, body and life experiences, as opposed to having your sense of self totally caught up in them.
The witness or observer self has two main qualities:

  1. It witnesses our life with detached awareness
  2. It has no physical or mental form, it is merely formless awareness

The path to personal liberation from pain and suffering has an enormous amount to do with the cultivation of the witness self. To the extent that we are able to detach ourself from our pain we can control it. If we can detach ourself from our pleasure we can enjoy it without clinging to it and thus avoid the experience of pain that happens when we are separated from that pleasure.

In meditation we cultivate and strengthen the witness self, but it is important to understand that the witness self is present with and available to us right now, whatever stage of development we are at, as these two short stories demonstrate:

As a fifteen year old at school I had a friend the same age (let’s call him Tony) who went out with a seventeen year old girl. She left him for an older boy who was a mutual friend. Tony subsequently told me the story of how he had confronted the older boy and shouted and screamed at him in an emotional outburst. He then told me, looking slightly sheepish about how he had felt that there was a part of him watching the whole episode (including himself screaming and shouting) that was not upset at all, but felt detached and calm. That “watcher” that he had experienced amidst his emotional outburst was his witness self.
Later I had a female friend at collage who similarly discovered that her boyfriend had been having an affair with another woman whilst away at University. Again with a similar sense of sheepish confusion she described to me how she had shouted and screamed at her boyfriend whilst simultaneously feeling that a part of her was observing the situation with total calm and detachment. Like my friend Tony, my female friend had found herself aware of her witness self at the same time as she experienced emotional turmoil.

So, with meditation we cultivate awareness of this witness self, making it increasingly “front and center” of our daily experience, and consequently finding an increasing sense of ever present calm even when under multiple forms of stress. Consequently we find ourself basically “always ok”, nothing we can’t handle.

Reading this some people may think that cultivating the witness self may make us cold, uncaring, emotionally mono-syllabic and so on. The reality is however that when practised in an integrated and balanced way, centring our awareness in the witness self increases our capacity to enjoy deeper and more positively multiple forms of emotion, pleasure, happiness and wellbeing. You could say that it liberates us to a whole new level of the human experience.
A final point; being centred in the witness self also liberates us substantially from the fear of making mistakes, looking foolish, taking an appropriate chance. So, whilst finding an experience of liberation through the detachment of the witness self, we concurrently find a new way of engaging in our world and human experience more freely and dynamically.

I’ve created a diagram below that illustrates in a very simple way the essential transformation that comes from cultivating our identity as the witness self. I hope the image helps to give a feeling for what I have written about above!

© 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

A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindfulness One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present Uncategorized

The 20 Second Rule – Guerilla Tactics for Peace of Mind and Wellbeing

Dear Integral Meditators,

Its all too easy to let life’s best moments slip by without noticing them fully, this weeks article outlines a practice you can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you any more, from this moment on!

Wishing you all the best,



The 20 Second Rule – Guerilla Tactics for Peace of Mind and Wellbeing

This is a very simple idea that can have far reaching benefits. The basic logistics of it are:

  • As you may know, our brain has an inbuilt “negativity bias” that evolved for survival reasons. This means that it only takes one or two seconds for a negative experience to be committed to our long term memory. Our brain even has special neural pathways specifically designed for relaying negative information fast.
  • Conversely you have to focus your attention for at least 10-20 seconds upon a positive experience for it to become hardwired into your long term memory and to seriously impact your current mood and perception of life. Our brain does not have specially designed neural pathways for relaying positive experiences to our long term memory, so generally we have to work harder to make our positive experiences “stick”.

Over time and with training our brain can and does become quicker at registering and appreciating positive information about our life (this is the idea of so called “neuro-plasticty – you can change your brains physical structure by consciously training your attention and thought processes), but it takes effort extended consistently over a relatively long time.

One minute mindfulness:
With the above understanding in mind, here is a short practice that you can do to regularly commit your positive thoughts, feelings and experiences to your long term memory, and learn how you guide your daily experience toward greater happiness.

  1. Break your day up into set periods when you will do this one minute practice, for example once and hour, once every three hours, once in the morning, afternoon and evening, something like that.
  2. Look back over the last hour/the morning/the evening and pick out a positive experience or something that happened that is worthy of your appreciation, gratitude, and enjoyment ect…
  3. Focus on your remembrance of that positive experience with relaxed, focused awareness for around 20 seconds, so that it slips into your long term memory and starts to directly influence your mood right now, in the present moment.

We’ve all got busy lives, but I think you’ll agree that the above practice is not beyond any of us. If you practice it consistently there is no doubt it will empower you to take greater control of your peace of mind and inner wellbeing.

© 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

Awareness and insight Concentration Integral Awareness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindfulness

Three Types of Attention: Neutral, Constructive and Catalytic

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope this weeks newsletter finds you well, and that you have had a good week. The meditation and mindfulness article in this weeks edition of the integral meditations newsletter looks at the quality of our attention and the effect that it can have on our enjoyment of life or not. I’ve tried to keep it as simple and practical as possible.

Yours in the spirit of focused attention,


Three Types of Attention: Neutral, Constructive and Catalytic

Meditation and mindfulness can be thought about as types of attention training. If you can control what you focus upon, and the way in which you focus upon it, then to that extent you can control your experience of life. For example an annoying person is only “annoying” in so far as he or she is able to cause us to focus upon what he is doing in way that appears negative and annoying. A situation is only a “disaster” in so far as it causes us to pay attention to its destructive aspects to the exclusion of any positives.
So, if you can control your attention in any given situation then to that extent you can consciously control your experience of it how it makes you feel and what you do about it.

I sometimes think of attention as having three aspects; neutral, constructive and catalytic. Each has its own strengths and set of applications.

Neutral Attention
Neutral attention is when we choose (either in formal meditation or less formally during our day) to focus upon an object that does not cause us any intense feelings of pleasure or displeasure, but rather places us in a space of relaxed, peaceful attention. One of my favorites of this type of objects is “the sound of silence”. If you sit down in a quiet space and listen to the silence, after a while you will perceive a high pitched “ringing” in your ears. It does not seem to be coming from anywhere, it is constant and continuous. If you place your attention upon it you may find that it is very easy to relax into a focused, neutral space of concentrated awareness, with the sound of silence as your object of attention.
Other examples of neutral objects might be; the breathing, the blue of the sky, the sound of wind in trees, a white wall. There are any number of neutral objects.
Neutral objects help us to relax, empty the mind and slow down, and they become very pleasurable in a gentle way when practised over time. They also help us to gradually open to and gain experience of states of formless, timeless awareness that form the basis for the fundamental “enlightenment experience” taught in traditional wisdom schools (whether eastern or western).

Constructive Attention
Constructive attention happens when we make a conscious choice to focus on the positive side of any situation, thus developing the ability to use our attention to create positive feelings and experiences.

  • Lost your job? Maybe this is the opportunity to find one that you like better, great that it happened
  • Girl friend gone away for the week? Great, a chance to catch up on some reading and downtime

The basic principle with constructive attention  is that you are empowering yourself to create a more positive experience of whatever is arising by paying attention to the sides of the experience that cause you to feel optimistic, empowered, glad etc…

Catalytic Attention
Catalytic attention is where we focus our attention upon feelings or experiences that we find difficult or challenging and “stay with them” without repressing, running away from or being intimidated by them. The aim with catalytic attention is to strengthen and empower our mind and self to go beyond its current limitations, and learn to thrive amidst situations where we would otherwise get stressed out, fearful and intimidated.
For example:

  • If I consciously stay with the challenging feelings of loneliness and isolation that come up for me, over time I will develop the capacity to be comfortable and even enjoy being alone
  • If I know I am afraid of the disapproval of someone (eg: an authority figure in my life), I can consciously stay with these fears and at the same time consciously voice a difference of opinion to the person in question
  • If a situation you are in makes you feel like a bit of a looser, you can pay conscious attention to these feelings of inferiority and try and see where these feelings come from in terms of your fundamental beliefs about who you are and how you value yourself.

Catalytic attention is generally quite hard work, but you always appreciate having done it. As one writer said, “I don’t like writing, but I like having written”. It’s the same with catalytic attention; it makes you uncomfortable and takes effort, but having practised it over a period of time you always feel like you have achieved something worthwhile and effected some level of inner transformation afterwards!

Practice for the week:
This week simply

  • Practice using attention neutral objects to relax and clear your mind
  • Use constructive attention to improve the quality and enjoyment of your daily experience
  • Use catalytic attention to stay with and develop your capacity to transform  difficult emotions and experiences into positive ones

© 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

Energy Meditation Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindfulness

Dealing With Energy Stress

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is there anyone who is not under some form of energy stress these days? It seems like there are so many things that can take up our time and energy these days that learning to make effective use of what energy we have has become an essential survival skill in today’s world. This weeks article looks at how we can begin to make better use of our energy in our daily life through a simple self-enquiry mindfulness technique.

Last week I gave a short talk entitled “Lessons from the Monastery to Contemporary Business” in which I reflected on my own time as a monk and how some of the skills that I learned may be applicable to a modern secular business environment. I have posted it on the Integral Meditation Asia Site, if you wish to have a listen just click on the link HERE!

Yours in the spirit of high functioning energy levels,


Dealing With Energy Stress:
Is it Worth Giving Your Energy To?

There are two ways in which we can create financial resources; firstly we can find a way of making more money, secondly we can find ways of spending less of the money that we already have coming in so that we save more.

Similarly there are two ways in which we can get more energy in our body-mind; the first is to find ways of generating more energy, the second is to prevent the loss of energy that we already have in our system.
It seems like one way or another we are all under quite a lot of energy-stress these days, this article looks at how we can begin to use a simple mindfulness and meditation technique to make us more energy efficient and less inclined to
lose or dissipate the energy we have un-necessarily.

Making a general enquiry into the ways in which you tend to lose energy:

Ask yourself the question “What are the situations and circumstances where I tend to lose energy, feel exhausted psychologically, dissipate my energy unnecessarily, or otherwise waste or lose physical or psychological energy that I could be  saving or otherwise using for better purposes?

Think about this and write down your answers. There are a wide variety of possible answers to this question, for example:

  1. When I meet with my colleague I can feel him/her making me angry, but I don’t/can’t express it, rather I just find myself feeling angry inside for hours after seeing him
  2. When I log onto my computer to work I surf the net for 20mins rather than getting the actual tasks I need to do out of the way
  3. I spend time complaining about the injustices that happen to me rather than simply looking for a solution to what has happened
  4. When I become tired I tend to become sloppy in my tasks, which as a result take even longer and even more energy to complete

The point about this exercise is to isolate real time situations in your life where you actively losing energy, are dissipating it, or could be using your energy more ergonomically. Having isolated these real-time situations where you are losing energy, you then arrive at specific conclusions designed to remedy this energy loss. For example for the person who has written the four points above, conclusions might be:

  1. When I meet my colleague I may not approve of his behavior or manner, but at the same time I will not waste my own emotional energy getting angry and resentful with him. It is not worth it.
  2. I should ensure that when I sit down at my computer to work I start work strait away, and create a separate time to surf the net if I wish to.
  3. I shall try and catch myself complaining about what happens to me, and refocus my energy on what can be done and/or moving into a space of acceptance about what is happening/has happened
  4. When I am tired I will make a special effort to focus on getting what needs to be done done, or  if  possible I will take a strategic break and return to my tasks refreshed.

With your conclusions in mind you then have several specific areas in your life that you can begin to work on being more energy-efficient with or put another way creating more energy by expending less. The mindfulness exercise from this point on is to bring your full awareness to the task of re-patterning your daily habits to this new, more energy efficient way of using your life force.

© 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

Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindfulness Presence and being present

Your Attention as Your Object of Mindfulness

Dear Integral Meditators,

The theme of this week’s integral meditations article is quite simple, but at the same time often difficult to do. It is this; if you can control your attention then you can control the way in which you experience your life. We can’t always choose the way our life turns out, but we always have a choice with regard to what we are paying attention to in our life at any given moment. Exercising the power of that choice is the essential discipline of attention training.

Yours in the spirit of the empowering power of attention,


Your Attention as Your Object of Mindfulness

Any advertising executive will tell you that the most important thing you need to do in order to sell people your product is get their attention. If you can get their attention then there is a chance you can convince them to buy your product. If you cannot get their attention then you can’t sell anything to them.
Consequently, when you go out onto the street or go online, you are not going into a neutral environment, you are going into a ‘hostile’ environment where people are trying to get your attention all the time. By controlling your attention they control the way you think, the beliefs you have, the way you behave, how you act and what you consume.

The corollary of this is that whatever you yourself choose to place your inner or outer attention upon at any given time affects how you think, what you believe (about yourself and your world), how you feel and behave, and what you consume.

From this it is easy to see then why it is crucial if you are trying to lead any kind of considered, evolved and directed life that you learn to be aware of what you are placing your attention on, and be as sure as possible that it truly where you want it to be.

To give a simple example if your attention is entirely consumed by ideas from the mainstream media, then your ideas about what “happiness” is will not actually be your own, but rather simply a reflection of what the mainstream media sources tell you happiness is.
How are you ever going to be really happy if your idea of happiness is a product of what someone else wants you to think?
Another simple example is that we have a strong tendency to pay attention to what is wrong with ourselves, or with our life, without regularly placing our attention on appreciating and enjoying what is right with ourselves and our life. Training in attention in this example involves definitely focusing on what is going well and positively in our life.

Controlling your attention is one of the keys to living a self aware life where you are the one making the choices about how you think, feel and act rather than these things being an unconscious product of ideas that you have been fed by someone else.

Practising mindfulness and meditation are major ways of developing the capacity to consciously control your attention.

Beginning to consciously control your attention

You can start to become aware of, direct and control your attention by doing the following short exercise once or twice a day over the next week, and then subsequently whenever you feel the need.

  • Pick a quality that you wish to develop within yourself that is pertinent and helpful to your life right now. For the sake of an example I’m going to choose “the qualities of lightness and playfulness”.
  • Ask yourself “What has my attention been focused on for the last hour or two? How much of that time have I been consciously integrating the qualities of lightness and playfulness into my life, and into my attention training?”
  • Then ask yourself “Where is my attention placed right now? Where can I focus my attention in order to regain or enhance my experience and development of the qualities of lightness and playfulness?”
  • Finally ask “How can I focus my attention on for the next hour or two in order to continue integrating lightness and playfulness into my life?” Your answer to this final question gives you your “attention training” for the next hour or two of our day.

© 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

Awareness and insight Insight Meditation Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Mindfulness Presence and being present Shadow meditation

Emotional Detachment, Emotional Repression – The Difference

Dear Integral Meditators,
This weeks article looks at a basic skill for anyone wanting to develop a healthy and harmonious consciousness; the ability to avoid repressing emotion when trying to detach from it! As you can see below I have included a couple of basic diagrams to try and help with the explanation, hopefully you’ll find that they help to clarify your understanding by giving an image to work with…

Yours in the spirit of emotional clarity,

Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in For February and March 2013

March 13th – Class 3: Uncovering Treasure; Working with the bright side of your shadow
This class emphasizes the uncovering of the parts of our shadow that are actually GOOD qualities, strengths and gifts within our shadow self that, for one reason or another we have rejected or denied. It may sound strange, but we are often just as inclined to shy away from that within us which makes us powerful and happy as we are from that which we consider ugly and ‘bad’! This class helps us to see this and start to access the power of our “golden shadow”

Saturday  23rd March – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: 
Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

Emotional Detachment, Emotional Repression – The Difference

One of the basic skills that both meditation and mindfulness practitioners are trying to develop is the ability to develop a healthy detachment from challenging or destructive emotions. However, it is all too easy to confuse health emotional detachment with simply the repression of the emotion. Emotional detachment helps us to deal more effectively with the emotion. Emotional repression however only makes the long term effects of the difficult emotion more severe.
What I am going to do in this article with the aid of a couple of (old school) diagrams to help is to clearly explain the difference between the two.

The Dynamic of Emotional Repression.
When emotion is repressed, the conscious mind or self represses, rejects and pushes away the challenging emotion into our unconscious mind, trying to ignore and deny it. The act of repressing the emotion is that firstly the emotion becomes energized and perpetuated, and secondly we loose the ability to see and feel it properly, as it becomes a part of our unconscious mind, not directly visible to our everyday conscious awareness.
You can see this represented in the first diagram:

The Dynamic of Emotional Detachment.
In the dynamic of healthy emotional detachment, the difficult emotion is carefully included within the field of conscious awareness, and not repressed into the unconscious self. As a result the conscious self can still see and feel the emotion clearly, whilst at the same time being detached or dis-identified from it. Because the conscious self is still fully aware of the emotion, it can extend care, attention and inclusivity to the emotion, thus helping it to heal, harmonize and de-toxifyunder the influence of the care of the detached, conscious self.
You can see this dynamic represented in the second diagram here:

Suggested Practicum for the Week
If you have a look at the two diagrams above , I think you can get a feel for the difference between emotional repression and healthy emotional detachment. Using the study of the diagrams as a rough guide you may like to take one challenging emotion of your own and specifically work with it. For example you could take the emotion of embarrassment or excessive self-consciousness as your object of training. Whenever you feel it coming up in your body-mind during social interaction, focus on trying to detach but include it in your awareness with care, rather than repressing, rejecting and exiling it to your unconscious mind.

Understanding the difference between repressing and detaching from emotion is a huge area of consciousness training, and getting it right can really make a HUGE difference to your quality of life!
© 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