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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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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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

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Single-headedness – Not getting anxious about anxiety

“What are the situations where you tend to put a “Head upon a head”, or create a problem about your problem? Those are the places that would be good to start practicing ‘Single-headedness’!”

Dear <<First Name>>, 

The practice of single-headedness is one that I have been working with various coaching clients over the years, recently I realized that I hadn’t written an article on it, so the one below rights that wrong!

This week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation is the  Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation all welcome, both in-person or online

And heads up for two short meditation retreats, the first this Saturday: Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat & second the April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat. If your interested in really deepening your level of practice, then these are two to consider!

In the spirit of single-headedness,
 
Toby 


Not putting a head upon a head – not getting anxious about anxiety
 
When do you put a ‘head upon a head’?
‘Don’t put a head upon a head’ is an expression that I might have picked up from Zen somewhere, but I can’t find the reference, so it may be something that I came up with by myself (!) Essentially what it means is that you make two problems out of one:

  • When you get anxious about the fact that your anxious
  • When you get stressed that you are stressed
  • When you get angry that you are angry
  • When you get depressed about being depressed
  • And so on…

Then you are “putting a head upon a head.” What this means is that you already have a challenge, but as well as feeling the actual stress of the situation, you are feeling stressed about the stress itself, which compounds the difficulty and makes it worse!
 
Not putting head upon a head
So then, to not put a head upon a head, the essential manoeuvre is acceptance.

  • If I am anxious, I work on simply acknowledging that anxiety, accepting it, thereby not adding to the already existing anxiety
  • When I get stressed I create an ‘inner holding space’ for my stress so that it stays simple stress, not stress because I’m stressed
  • If I am angry, I don’t judge being angry too harshly, I accept it and focus on what can be constructively done about it
  • If I am depressed, I don’t add to the burden by thinking “I’m such a looser because I’m depressed, why am I always depressed?” (which is depression about depression), I simply work on holding space for the existing depression in the present, as I find it.

 
Some simple examples
 
Uncertainty
I’m anxious because the result of something that I care about is not entirely certain (Eg: Giving birth, marketing a new product, recovering from an illness or not, giving a speech to an audience…). In such a situation, anxiety and degree of fear would be quite natural. So, I want to be accepting and working with the natural anxiety that I have. If I can do that then I can prevent having to deal with the ‘second head’ of fighting the existence of my anxiety and getting anxious about it!
 
Unable to sleep
Let us say you are in bed, and you must be up early, but you can’t go to sleep. Then you start thinking about how you need to be up early, how tired you will be if you can’t go to sleep. You start getting stressed about the stress of not being able to sleep. Then you try a bit to hard to get to sleep, and the tension of trying too hard makes it even more difficult to fall asleep. It starts to spiral from there. To “Not put a head upon a head” would be to accept that you can’t fall asleep, be a bit curious about it, and relaxing into the experience of non-sleeping. That acceptance and relaxation may mean that you actually start to fall asleep, but even if it doesn’t, your experience of not sleeping will be less stressful and more relaxing.
 
What are the situations where you tend to put a “Head upon a head”, or creating a problem about your problem? Those are the places that would be good to start practicing ‘Single-headedness’!

Related articleWhat happens when you are not afraid of fear?

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)

Ongoing – Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course

Tues & Weds 19,20th March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation

Saturday March 23rd, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat

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 Energy Meditation Inner vision Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Mindful Resilience Motivation and scope Presence and being present

Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

“Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores seven different ways you can practice to consciously grow & develop your love & compassion. It contains links to previous articles that I have written in detail in each domain.
 If you want to give your love & compassion a real turbo boost, then come along this Saturday for the Integral love & compassion meditation workshop.

Wishing those that are celebrating it a very happy & prosperous new year of the wood dragon! All welcome online or live for the Lunar New Year Meditation 2024: Connecting to your inner Dragon this Tuesday.
 
In the spirit of expanded care,
 
Toby


Article: Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

1. By consolidating your present experiences of love & compassion

Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today.
 
2. Through improving our capacity to give & receive it from ourself & from others
Practice the discipline and joy of being able to both give and receive love. This can be practiced in three ways:

  • In our relationship to ourself
  • In our relationship to other human beings and different orders of life
  • Between ourself and different aspects of place, landscape all the way up to planetary and universal levels

3. Recognizing & appreciating the goodwill that we are receiving all the time from others
Really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes you way during the day from different people and sources. This goes all the way from the daily consideration of friends, family, and colleagues, to the incidental assistance and benevolence from relative strangers we meet each day. Once you start to see it, we start to see that goodwill, connection and consideration are all around us!

4. Expanding the scale of your love
This can be done in two ways:

  • Transforming your sense of the boundaries between yourself, others and your environment. If your idea of yourself is as the earth herself, then its easy to love all the living beings who live there, as they are extensions of you@
  • Secondly, we can work on expanding the scale of your love & compassion from egocentric (me only) to ethnocentric (my family, tribe, race only) to world-centric (all living beings) systematically as a principle and extension of our loving impulse

5. Developing greater courage & objectivity in our relationship to the pain & suffering that could be increasing our compassion
Here we are working on changing our relationship to our own and others suffering, learning to encounter it with less aversion and repression. By opening our eyes to pain in a skilful manner we can use it to build the strength of our compassion, and potential for compassionate action.

6. Distinguishing three types of relational love, & growing them equally
As well as the scale of our love, we can also develop the types of love that we experience. One way of dividing love into types is agape, filia & eros:

  • Agape is the compassionate and caring love of a larger being to a smaller, dependent one. The classic example of this would be parental love, from mother or father to child
  • Filia is brotherly or sisterly love, or love from peer-to-peer, the love of friendship
  • Eros is the creative love existing between those where there is a mutual attraction. The classic example is that of romantic lovers.

7. Expanding your idea of romance & romantic love
Speaking of romantic love, we can grow it by expanding our idea beyond just being between human lovers. We can experience it also in:

  • Our relationship to ourself, as in between the soul and personality
  • In relation between ourself & spirit
  • With landscape, nature and sense of place
  • In relationship between ourself and art, or ourself and our art/work

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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Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing

“Trees are not trying to be anyone or anything else. They rest within their own natural dignity, their sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. What if you could be like that too?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of non-doing as a way of moving into being, & then deeper into non-being. It’s a key to effortless effort in meditation & in life! 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!

A couple of new events up for February: Saturday 17th, 9am-12pm – Integral love & compassion meditation workshop, &  24th, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat.

Last but not least, I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link to watch the video, listen to the guided meditations & read the related article! 
In the spirit of non-doing,
 
Toby


Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing
 
This is a simple meditation form to take you from doing, to non-doing/being, to unbeing. The image it uses is that of a tree. Beneath the guided meditation are three stories/quotes from which the meditation is partly inspired. Dropping into a space of non-doing and unbeing is a particular type of silence practice. If you practice it regularly you will find it an invaluable resource to relax, regenerate and come back to your life with new eyes and new inner strength.
 
Meditation: Resting under the tree of non-doing
 
1. Imagine yourself sitting under a tree. It’s a useless tree in the sense that its wood is so knotted it cannot be made into anything by a carpenter. The only thing it is ‘good for’ is sitting under and doing no-thing. When you sit underneath it, it provides shade, calm and peace. It is a wonderful place to be and non-do.
 
2. You can also sense that the tree is entirely happy to be itself. It is not trying to be anyone or anything else. It rests within it’s own natural dignity, it’s sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. As you sit under it, you can feel yourself getting in touch with your inner wholeness and natural dignity. You are just fine as you are. You are a complete being.
 
3. Resting whole and complete like the useless tree, when a thought arises, ask yourself the question ‘Who is it that is thinking the thought?’ Turn your attention inward toward the consciousness that produced the thought. Let your attention return to simply being aware rather than thinking, like a person returning to the shade of a tree after being in the hot sun. Go deeper into being, non-doing and non-thinking.
 
4. From being, now reach into the deeper stillness of Un-being, the Void out of which all Being comes.
 
Return to your outer awareness and close the meditation.
 
Reference 1: The Useless Tree by Chuang Tzu
 
Hui Tzu said to Chuang: I have a big tree, The kind they call a “stinktree.”
The trunk is so distorted, so full of knots,
No one can get a straight plank out of it. The branches are so crooked
You cannot cut them up in any way that makes sense.
There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it.
Such is your teaching– big and useless.
 
Chuang Tzu repliedSo, for your big tree. No use? Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness. Walk idly around, rest under the shadow; No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down. Useless? You should worry!
(Here is the full Thomas Merton version)
 
The Cedar Tree by Thich Nhat Hanh

“A cedar tree doesn’t have any desire to be a pine or a cypress or even a bird. It’s a wonderful manifestation of the Cosmos just as it is. You are a manifestation of the Cosmos. You are wonderful just like that.”
 
Resting under the tree of non-thinking – Quote from Ramana Maharshi ‘Who Am I?’

“The mind moves without rest, alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been out in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. Similarly, the mind of one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman (Self-as-consciousness)
 
Related articleWhat Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

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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What your body posture communicates to you

“The way in which we feel about our life and ourself shows up in the way we carry and hold our body. A healthier overall body posture & tension level will help you feel not just better in your mind and heart, but younger in your body!

Dear Integral Meditators, 

Wishing you all the very best for 2024! This week’s article is a reflection on mindfulness and body-posture, lots of things that we can have fun exploring in this area…

Tuesday & Wednesday classes start again this week with the2024 New year ‘Beginners mind’ meditation.
And if you enjoy the article, then do check out the9/10th January start of Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course!
 
In the spirit of embodiment,
 
Toby


What your body posture communicates to you (& new year beginners mind meditation)
 
The way in which we feel about our life and self shows up in the way we carry and hold our body. If you sit on the street and watch people walking past you, you’ll start to notice all sorts of ways in which this shows up in their way of moving. If you then start to observe your body posture as you walk, or sit or move, you’ll start to see how your doing it to.
One of the important insights about this is that it also works the other way around: You can get your body posture to communicate messages to your mind. Here is a simple example. I was walking along the street this morning to the bakery. I was feeling a little agitated and short tempered. Behind these feelings was a sense of life being a little hard, and that I needed to ‘armour’ against it. Becoming aware of this, I then looked at my manner of walking, my body tension, posture, and facial expression. All of them in one way or another were expressing subtly how I was feeling. I also had the sense that my body being in this posture was re-enforcing my mindset; because my body was this way I ‘felt’ that the world was like this, and that my mindset should stay on guard and edgy. Taking all of this in and observing it, I then did the following: Acknowledged how I felt and why. Then I consciously relaxed my body and explored what a body posture and walking gait would look like if I felt that:

  • Happiness and wellbeing were a natural, appropriate state for me to be in
  • That I felt confident, capable, and relaxed in the face of my life challenges
  • That everything in my life was ‘workable’ with, and that there was no need to feel overly threatened by it

For the duration of the rest of my walk home, I explored walking and moving my body in a way that expressed and embodied this. Needless to say, by the time I reached home I felt quite different emotionally and mentally, as well as physically.
You can explore this yourself when you walk, and sit. You can also take it as an object of meditation in your sitting practice. The three characteristics that I outline above are good for what I would call as sense of effortless effort, but you could explore what it would be like to walk compassionately, or freely, or harmoniously or any other quality you want to cultivate. Another powerful thing about working this way is that, because it is about embodiment, there is no danger that it remains just an intellectual exercise, it naturally works its way down into our physical and felt experience in daily life.
Another final proposition to consider; if you can develop a healthier overall body posture and tension level through this practice, then it will affect your physical health and the way in which your body ages. You will feel not just better in your mind and heart, but younger in your body!


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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Practising non-striving with your ego 

“Superficially it might look like non-striving is primarily a method of relaxing and recovering well. But understood more deeply we see that it is a way of becoming more effective in the way that we exert effort in our life”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article continues to consider different aspects of mindful effort,  inner power & what that really means. My January course on Effortless effort, will be exploring this in some detail!

Head’s up for the free Winter solstice balancing & renewing meditation (Online only) this Wednesday 20th December 7.30-8.30pm SG time. It’s a nice way to bring the year to a mindful close!

In the spirit of wings, 
 
Toby


Practising non-striving with your ego
 
What is non-striving?
In a previous article on non-striving I defined non-striving as:
A refusal to be in conflict with yourself and your life. Put another way, rather than seeing yourself in an adversarial relationship to yourself and your circumstances, you practice accepting and working with what is there.
 
Non-striving in relation to effort
Non-striving as a mindfulness practice is designed to help us become efficient in the way we apply effort in our lives. It looks for areas where one part of us is locked in a conflict with another part, and seeks to diffuse that conflict. Having diffused the conflict non-striving seeks to align the different elements of the self with each other, so that they are directed towards a common goal.
If the self is singular and pointed in one direction, then effort toward a particular goal tends to feel easy and naturally powerful. The more division within the self, the more effort it takes to do something, because there are elements of you that are pulling in different directions.
So then, superficially it might look like non-striving is primarily a method of relaxing and recovering well. But understood more deeply we see that it is a way of becoming more effective in the way that we exert effort in our life. It enables us by helping our inner energy to harmonize and unite.
 
Non-striving & the ego
Our ego (both the positive, negative & neutral versions of it) is often very pre-occupied with achievement, and in comparing our achievements to others. Quite often the way in which the ego conceives of effort in achieving is to strive effortfully against the competition, against our inner laziness, against the obstacles. Non-striving seeks to reframe this effort, creating a sense of co-operating and working with what is, both inwardly and outwardly, so as to move forward as seamlessly and effortlessly toward our goal. It seems like non-striving is trying to work against the ‘struggle’ of our ego, they are opposing each other. This is worth dwelling on a little.
 
“Who is it but the ego that needs to overcome the ego?” – Chuang Tzu
 
Let’s say we are in meditation, and we are trying to get into a state of non-striving. But there are certain inner conflicts that just keep popping up, so we keep trying harder and harder to let them go. One key understanding here is to see that the part of you that is trying to ‘let go’ is also the part of you that is preventing the non-striving. All non-striving asks you to do is accept and work with what comes up in a non-conflicting manner, to relax with what is. It’s only your ego that needs to ‘let go’ and, irony of ironies ‘overcome your ego’!
Using Chuang Tsu’s quote above as an object of sitting meditation can be a great way of really refining your non-striving practice, and getting rid of some of the subtle ego-conflicts that get in the way of deeper practice.
A final quote that also ties quite closely into non-striving, focused around suffering:
 
There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering that you face directly, and so become free” – Ajahn Chah
 
Wishing you well in your path and exploration of non-striving!
 
Related articleThree levels of non-striving

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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Evolutionary or devolutionary mindfulness?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the context in which we learn mindfulness & meditation as something to be examined mindfully, as not all learning contexts are equal!

This week’s Tues & Wednesday class are on the subject of ‘Mindfully healing anxiety, insecurity & fear’, all welcome, live or online. 

In the spirit of evolving, 
 
Toby


Evolutionary or devolutionary mindfulness?
 
Mindfulness as a learning journey
For me the lynch pin of mindfulness practice is the existential level of it. This level is the sense of myself as a rational, independent human being, seeking to make my life a journey of meaning and fulfilment by using my mind to the best of my abilities. For me this level also has a simple but profound ethical level: Objectively I recognise that as an individual I am insignificant compared to the whole (number of humans, Planetary community etc…), and so the practice is geared toward me becoming an effective contributor the this larger whole, my efforts and aspirations flow in that direction.
Existentially then, mindfulness means using your attention, intention and awareness to meet and learn from your everyday experiences, to work wisely with them to make yourself better, and contribute to the whole more effectively. It also involves being dedicated to enjoying that journey, and making it vibrant. If we can do this then:

  • We evolve and grow over our lifetime, a little every day
  • We will contribute to the evolution of the world as we grow as individuals

 
The context of many mindfulness & meditation methodologies
Interestingly, many mindfulness and meditation methodologies are based upon a pre-modern religious (implicit or explicit) context. This means that the techniques are couched in a language and cultural context that is often rigid, conformist and based upon pre-modern belief systems. So, unless you are careful, you can find (and I’ve seen this happen over and over again) people who are essentially at the rational, individual level of development (see ‘existential’ above), who then take up mindfulness, and end up becoming narrower, less inquisitive and less evolutionary as a result. This is not to say that they don’t become good meditators, but what it does mean is that they only become competent within the narrow confines of the belief system that their practice is couched in.
 
Pre-modern mindfulness
When I left my life as a monk back in 2001/2, the essential reason was that I had not been able to find all the answers to my mindful questions in the pre-modern context of the Tibetan Buddhism that I had been practising for a decade. I wanted to explore and develop my mindful parameters by integrating new paradigms, methodologies and being creative. I was deeply surprised (although not in retrospect) how few of my colleagues from the group understood this, and how emphatically they withdrew their support once they learned I had decided to seek a practice that was not exclusively based around their ideas. This is what I mean by the rigidity and conformity aspect of a meditation community.
So, this is just something to consider: Mindfulness is by its nature evolutionary and growth oriented, but the context in which it is couched or learned can mean that it has a rigid, conformist, and devolutionary effect on who you are and what you do.
 
Liberation into evolutionary process
During my time post-monk hood there was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of ‘getting lost’ and encountering the new. Thru-out that time my guiding light was the basic principles of the existential mindfulness I described above:
“The sense of myself as a rational, independent human being, seeking to make my life a journey of evolution, growth and fulfilment by using my intention, attention & intention to the best of my abilities”
My confidence as I travelled came not from knowing all the answers, or being in control, but from my trust in my mind, and my ability to work with my circumstances in a benevolent, flexible, and intelligent manner. Wherever I found myself, I knew that I had a reasonably competent, warm, and friendly traveling companion, me!
 
Related articleThe dynamic of personal evolution
Effortless effort – Making everything workable

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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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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Wanting what you like, or liking what happens?

“Confidence comes not from being ‘in control’ of everything, but from knowing that, whatever way things work out today, I can come up with a way of liking it, using it, & deriving some form of fulfilment from it”

Dear Toby, 

This week’s article continues the theme of ‘making things workable’ from last weeks article on Effortless effort. Meditation, regardless of the type is always primarily about inner transformation which, if done well effects a transformation of our outer experience.

This week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation continues our journey into Therapeutic mindfulness, and last call for this weekend’s Shamanic meditation workshop retreat on Saturday & Sunday morning.

In the spirit of 
 
Toby


Wanting what you like, or liking what happens?
 
A couple of quotes to start this article and get the ball rolling:
 
“It is essential to understand that daily meditation will not ‘solve’ our problems. Anyone claiming to teach or sell methods that solve our problems is either misled or willfully deceptive. What happens is always and only our own inner transformation. After such transformation many problems will fade or seem irrelevant. However, deeply intractable problems and complex situations often require long-term work. One of the most curious and paradoxical effects of dedicated spiritual discipline is that some situations, previously insolvable, will evaporate.” – RJ Stewart, from the Sphere of Art Vol III
 
“The day you decide not to ask for things you like but rather to like things that happen, that day you become mature.” – Osho
 
Liberation is not freedom from problems
Meditation and mindfulness can free you from your own inner turmoil, but that doesn’t mean that your external life will get better in the sense of getting what you want all the time, or being free from inconvenience. What is does mean is that our inner self is transformed and changed, so that we experience our outer challenges and difficulties differently. They become more acceptable and workable with. We don’t need to fight with what ‘is’ so much.
 
Problems or situations?
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 it is more like 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.
 
Confidence from liking what is
If we can get good at liking what we find and working with it, then we start to become confident in life. This confidence comes not from being ‘in control’ of everything. Rather it comes from knowing that, whatever way things work out today, I can come up with a way of using it, of deriving some form of fulfilment from it.
 
Preferences not attachments
None of this means that you don’t have goals and preferences in your life, or that you aren’t working actively and intelligently towards them. But what it does mean is that, as you are experiencing the twists and turns of your journey, you are liberated to enter fully into this moment and live it with freedom. Even if what is it is not what you ‘want’, you can make it something that you feel alive and vivid in the presence of.
 
Different meditation techniques from the great traditions, from the Shamanic journeying methods that I’ll be leading a retreat around this weekend, to the more ‘Zen’ methods of effortless effort are all methods of inner transformation. If we go into them thinking that it is going to be a ‘wish fulfilment’ exercise, we are likely to be disappointed, certainly in the medium to long term. But if we enter them with the intention to really work on our inner transformation, then we find that our world really can change radically for the better.
 
Related articlesEffortless effort – Making everything workable
Solve no problem (& leave no problem unsolved)

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 last weeks article: 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…read full article 


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