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Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies

“Liberation in meditation is achieved by progressive, healthy levels of dis-identification with our different bodies, and the recognition that they are ‘in us’ as the witnessing consciousness, rather than we being ‘in them’. This then liberates us into a much more playful, creative and loving relationship to life ourself and others. Healthy dis-identification leads us toward a fuller, richer, deeper experience of life, rather than a blander one!”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the concept & experience of ‘energy bodies’, & the relationship between them & inner freedom. 
If you enjoy it, then the Shamanic meditation workshop retreat on Sat/Sun Nov 25th/26th November is about learning to ‘travel’ in your subtle energy bodies, so that may be of interest.
Also, theIntegral Life Practice Sessions, are very much about working with your different bodies, and getting them all into shape!

Finally, this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday class is the Seasonal classSamhain – Healing the wounds & receiving the gifts of our ancestors. It’s a nice way to appreciate and capitalize on our ancestral inheritance…
 
In the spirit of inner freedom,
 
Toby


Bodies within bodies – Witnessing with your energy bodies
 
We can all recognize our physical body, and if someone askes you to focus on your physical body you could probably do it for a while with a reasonable degree of proficiency, distractions aside. According to the meditative traditions, we have not just one body, but a series of bodies across a range of energy from gross to subtle to very subtle. There are different ways of describing it, but here is a relatively typical one:

  • The gross physical body, corresponding to the literal weight-&-mass aspect of our body
  • A vital, or etheric body corresponding to our biological life force, that surrounds and interpenetrates our physical body, but it is an ‘energy body’ rather than a physical body
  • An astral or emotional body, subtler still than the etheric, that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical and etheric
  • psychic or mental body that corresponds to our thinking self, more subtle than the three lower levels, surrounding & interpenetrating them
  • causal, or very subtle body, made of formless consciousness, that contains all the lower levels

There are ‘levels within each level’ so to speak, but the above gives you a basic idea. You can get a sense of each ‘body’ by observing them in meditation:

  • You can practice mindfulness of the physical body, and the sensations within it. You can further observe the more subtle movement of energy within the etheric or vital body
  • You can get a sense of your astral & psychic bodies by watching your thoughts and emotions, and getting a sense of the ‘body of energy’ that holds and contains them
  • As a slightly more advanced practice you can watch consciousness itself, and get a sense of the very subtle ‘body of energy’ that corresponds to the experience of awareness itself.

Practising all three of the above levels over time, you will get a sense of each body being contained, or held by the next level of energy-body.
 
Combining this with witnessing practice
‘Liberation’ in meditation is achieved by progressive, healthy levels of dis-identification with our different bodies, and the recognition that they are ‘in us’ as the witnessing consciousness, rather than we being ‘in them’. For example, we can observe that:

  • Often it feels as if our ‘I’ is sitting inside our physical body, we are it and it is us. If we take a position of ‘self as the consciousness that witnesses the body’, then we can flip this, reflecting that “I am not within my body, my body is within me”. The physical body becomes an object of consciousness (an ‘it’), rather than the subject (an ‘I’)
  • Similarly, we can notice that often our sense of self is locked inside our thoughts and emotions, we mistake our mental and emotional activity for ‘me’. Noticing this in meditation, we can perform a similar ‘flip’ of perception; “I am not my mind and emotions, my mind and emotions are within me.” Again, here we are identifying the ‘I’ as the witnessing consciousness, not the thoughts & emotions that are the ‘content’ of consciousness
  • A ‘level three’ practice is to observe the formless awareness of our consciousness body, and discern that there is ‘consciousness’ and ‘the observer of consciousness’. Once again, after noticing this we do a ‘flip’; “I am not within my consciousness, my consciousness is within me”.

The above practices gradually lead to a sense of self that is related to but different from our gross body, mind and consciousness. Our ‘I’ becomes liberated from, or ‘free’ from identification with the things that are not it.
The practical effect of witnessing our bodies in this way is that our life becomes much less stressful. Even when faced with challenges, sufferings and tribulations, we can sustain a sense of even-mindedness because we take it less personally. There is less ‘I’ caught up with the drama. This then liberates us into a much more playful, creative and loving relationship to life ourself and others. Healthy dis-identification leads us toward a fuller, richer, deeper experience of life, rather than a blander one!

Related articles:  The body is in you – How to go into deep meditation quickly

Watching & then dropping the watcher

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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Awareness and insight Enlightened Flow Insight Meditation Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology mind body connection Mindful Resilience Mindfulness Presence and being present

Fourteen levels of mindful intention

“We almost always have an intention, even in our dreams. That intention drives our actions & acts as the context for our experiences, shaping them substantially. What intentions have you been oriented around today, & how have they been shaping your experiences and actions?”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

One way you could define mindfulness is ‘Living with conscious intentionally’. The article below unpacks some aspects of this, I hope you enjoy it!

The Therapeutic mindfulness course  is ongoing, with this weeks class focusing on ‘Positive Acceptance vs resignation, repression vs suppression – Understanding the dynamic of good quality therapeutic mindfulness‘.

Heads up for this Saturday morning’s Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat, & for the main event for October, theIntegral Meditation Two Day Retreat on the weekend of the 28/29th.
 
In the spirit of intention,

Toby 



Fourteen types & levels of mindful intention
 
We almost always have an intention, even in our dreams. Some of these intentions are conscious, some of them are unconscious. These intentions drive our actions & acts as the context for our experiences, shaping them substantially. What intentions have you been oriented around today, and how have they been shaping your experiences and actions?
 
One way you could define mindfulness is ‘Living with conscious intentionally’

When I was doing my first serious decade of meditation training back in the 90’s I was working with Tibetan Buddhism as a practice vehicle. One of the main practices was a series of twenty one practices called the ‘Lamrim’ or ‘stages of the path. Each stage was had a particular meditation object associated with it. What was interesting was that twenty of the twenty one meditations was about developing a specific intention, which shows you how important intention is in meditation in general, and in Tibetan Buddhism in particular. What I have done in this article is condense the twenty intentions into fourteen, in a way that can be understood and explored by anyone. The premise is that any one of these intentions will cause us to think, feel and act in ways that are beneficial both to ourselves and others. Our actions follow our intentions and thoughts. If you change your intention, you change your life, literally.
 
The fourteen levels of intention:

  1. The intention to seek out reliable guides who can provide us with reliable wisdom in the important areas of our life
  2. To recognize and appreciate the amazing opportunity of a human life and use it in the most meaningful manner
  3. Mindful of death and impermanence, to not waste our life on meaningless distractions, rather to ‘carpe diem’; seize the day!
  4. To seek out communities and people who have integrity and can provide us with genuine refuge from suffering, and ‘sail together’ to happiness and wellbeing
  5. To be mindful of our actions and the effects that they have in our life. To avoid thoughtless, counter-productive actions, and engage in ‘constructive’ life-enhancing ones
  6. To practice healthy detachment regarding our desires, and pursue more and more reliable forms of fulfilment, freedom, and wellbeing
  7. To cultivate equanimity and even-mindedness, both in our pursuit of success, and in our treatment of others
  8. To cultivate loving kindness toward ourself, our community and all living beings as far as possible
  9. To wish ourself and others true and lasting happiness
  10. The intention of compassion: To wish ourself and others to be free from needless pain and suffering
  11. The active intention to relieve the suffering & pain of ourself
  12. The active intention to relieve the suffering & pain of others, in fact all living beings
  13. The active intention to give happiness and joy to others, in fact all living beings
  14. The determination to realize enlightenment or awakening ourself, in order to fulfil our intention to relieve the suffering of all others, and bring them true and lasting happiness

 
Intentions 1-6 are primarily focused on ourself, 7-14 progressively lead us to a concern for others; from our ‘close circle’ (friends, family, colleagues) progressively to include all living beings.
The final intention ‘to realize enlightenment and awakening’ means something specific in Tibetan Buddhism. But it can equally be interpreted as simply to become the wisest, most capable person you can be in order to benefit to the evolution of the world. Dwelling upon each of these intentions mindfully can lead us to some powerful, pro-active places within ourselves, you can work with them systematically, or just drop into the ones that catch your attention as you read through.

Article © Toby Ouvry 2023, 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 



In case you missed last week’s articles: 

Tree of Life – The union of ego, soul & spirit
&
Distinguishing suppression & repression
 


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 – Re-discovering your inner vitality & joie-de-vivre – An introduction to integrative therapeutic mindfulness & meditation

Saturday October 7th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Saturday & Sunday October 28th & 29th – Integral Meditation Two Day Retreat

Tues/Weds Oct 31st, Nov 1st – Seasonal classSamhain – Healing the wounds & receiving the gifts of our ancestors

Tues/Weds Nov 14th/15th – Seasonal classDeepavali -connecting to your inner light

Sat/Sun Nov 25th/26th, 9.30am-1pm – Shamanic meditation workshop retreat


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Biographical creative imagery Energy Meditation Inner vision Integral Awareness Life-fullness Meditating on the Self meditation and creativity Meditation and Psychology mind body connection Presence and being present

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

The photo of the child with this article is me when I was around 8 or 9. I keep it on the fridge. I noticed last week that the fridge magnet marked ‘l’excitacion’, or excitement in French had been placed on my forehead, which inspired me to write about my own ongoing journey in the domain of Therapeutic mindfulness. 
If you enjoy the article, then do consider participating in the upcoming Therapeutic mindfulness course, which is full of practices to help you re-connect to the joy of living, and move beyond long-held fears.  

And final heads up for this Wednesday’s Autumn Equinox meditation, either live or online!
 
In the spirit of exitacion,

Toby 



Progressively recovering your joie de vivre (Meditating with your inner child)
 
When I left my life as a Buddhist monk, aged 31, I had been practising eastern meditation forms in a very disciplined manner for a decade. I had experienced many wonderful and amazing meditation states, and had a solid working experience of the awakened state/enlightenment experience. Despite this I noticed that there were still parts of my everyday consciousness that seemed to have been untouched by all this work. I found that certain types of anxiety, irritability and fear had not gone away, and sometimes seemed even worse. This was partly why I left my life as a monk, because I felt I needed to broaden my search for answers to these unresolved areas. The answer was not just ‘do more meditation’, I had to do something differently.

One of the things that I focused on that year was exercises specifically based on the psychological level of my being, based around western theories of trauma and around working with emotional states. I began regular work with my ‘inner child’, exercises including visualization, dialoguing, breathing and body-work. I was very surprised how much work there was to be done! I considered myself pretty well-adjusted as a person, which I think I was, but even so, there was so much to re-connect to, so much to work with, so much to discover. During this period, I really felt I recovered much of my joie de vivre, and got a badly needed ‘second-wind’ for my inner growth that powered me into the next decade of my life.
But the amazing thing about this is that even though I felt that I now had a very good relationship to my inner child (and other sub personalities), it is a process that does not seem to end. Fast forward to the beginning of this year. At the beginning of the year, I often check in with my ‘inner family’ in meditation. When meeting my inner child, I had this experience:

I am walking along the middle of a shallow river that I used to play in as a child. I come to a bridge from which I used to look down at the big fish swimming in and out of the dark water underneath. On the sand to one side of the bridge I see my inner child. I wade over to him, and we squat for a while looking under the bridge. Then he smiles to me and we begin to walk into the water and under the bridge (I never went under the bridge as a child). We stand in silence looking and feeling the fish around our feet, in gentle awe and excitement. After while we walk on and out from the other side of the bridge. We walk on to a meadow next to the river. My child-self utters a cry, and starts to run around the meadow, whooping, and laughing out of pure joy, I watch on, quite amazed, and aware of a new level of joy in myself that I have never experienced before.

After the meditation, this new level of joy within myself has persisted, and it seems clear to me that some level of inhibition or fear in my child has been resolved. This is a full fifteen years after starting my active relationship with him. So even now my life and experience are expanding and growing from my inner work with my child self and other related therapeutic mindfulness practices aimed at building a strong inner-self psychologically. If you do the work, it seems there truly are no edges to your level of inner joy.
   
 
Related articleMeditating with your child self
Creating a therapeutic mindfulness space
Wake, up, Grow up, Clean up, Flow – The Art of Enlightened Flow
 


Special Coaching Offer for the Month of September – Free 20minute coaching session with Toby

For the remaining two weeks of September Integral Meditation Asia is offering free 20minute coaching sessions with Toby!
If you have been interested in the idea of getting some personal coaching on a particular issue or challenge, and/or want to explore what 1:1 meditation coaching can do for you in terms of both your quality of and direction in life, this is a great opportunity to find out what it is like with Toby. These 20minute sessions can be done on Zoom or via Whatsapp.
You can find read the general write up of Toby’s Life-fullness Coaching here, & his other forms of coaching here.
You can read feedback and reviews from Toby’s coaching sessions here

To arrange your 20minute session or for further enquiries: Email info@tobyouvry.com, or W-App65-96750279


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A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Breathing Mindful Resilience Qi gong Zen Meditation

Reverse abdominal breathing – Relieving inner stress effectively

“The pattern of reverse abdominal breathing can be combined with the recognition and feeling of stress, thus enabling us to feel confident about releasing tension & stress, even if it feels strong and intractable”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at a traditional Qi gong breathing technique that, as well as the physical health benefits, I also find particularly effective for regulating my psychological & somatic tension. If you enjoy the article then we will be exploring reverse abdominal breathing in this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation class, and in the Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat on Saturday. 

In the spirit of in the spirit of positive reversals,

Toby 


Reverse abdominal breathing – Relieving inner stress effectively
 
Reverse abdominal breathing is a traditional form of Qi gong breathing practice that is designed to promote the circulation of qi/life-force in your body, and particularly in your abdominal region. The pressure it creates gives a massaging effect to your abdominal organs which is very good for their (and your) health.
 
Psychological & somatic stress
As well as the physical benefits, R-A breathing can also help you regulate your mental stress effectively. Our mental and emotional stress builds up as a felt-tension in our physical body, that can be quite difficult to release and let go of. The pattern of R-A breathing can be combined with the recognition and feeling of that stress, thus enabling us to feel confident about releasing stress, even if it feels strong and intractable.
 
Reverse abdominal breathing – The practice
 
Step 1: Establishing basic functional breathing
Sitting or standing in a comfortably upright position, relax your shoulders and chest. Breathe in through the nose, extending the air down into your lower lungs. Feel yourself activating your diaphragm as you inhale. As you do this you will feel your belly moving out gently, and then moving back to resting position as you breathe out (breathe out through the nose or mouth). This pattern of breathing is your basic functional breath, enjoy breathing in this way for a short while.
 
Step 2: Contracting the pelvic floor
Now as you breathe in, gently contract the muscles in your pelvic floor, to about 30% of their strength. If you do this, you will notice the downward pressure of the diaphragm and the upward pressure of the pelvic floor creates a gentle squeezing effect on the abdominal organs. Relax the pelvic floor as you exhale. Get used to this pattern of breathing for a few breaths.
 
Step 3: Contracting the abdominal wall
As you breathe in, contract the pelvic floor, and at the same time gently contract the abdomen, so that your belly cannot move out as the pressure builds from the descending diaphragm. You will feel a ‘pressure cooker’ effect on the abdominal organs as you inhale, that is then released as you exhale. This is the reverse abdominal breathing technique. Stay with this for a few breaths, noticing the building & releasing of pressure.
 
Step 4: Combining reverse abdominal breathing with stress release
As you breathe in allow yourself to feel some of your psychological and emotional stress from the day. Feel it to be centring in your belly as the pressure builds, then, as you exhale, feel yourself releasing the stress as you release into your exhalation. You can to this for say 3-6sets of six breaths, taking small pauses in between to relax.
 
At the end it’s a good idea if you have the time to just go back to your basic functional breathing and meditate, enjoying the feeling of release and relaxation that has come from the R-A breathing.
 
Related articlesFunctional breathing
Breathing like a wave

Find out about Toby’s Qi gong coaching

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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 Tues/Weds in August/Sept – The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for developing wisdom around inner-growth, happiness & fulfillment

Saturday July 15th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat
 


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Tides of emptiness & fullness – On meditation & being alone

“The silence, the absence of contact with others, the empty freedom of aloneness is something that we can discover, drop into and be renewed, fed and nurtured by”

Dear Toby, 

This article looks at the transition from loneliness to the enjoyment of being alone, and offers some ways to work with it in meditation. If you enjoy the article then it will be the subject of class 1 of the new  The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for developing wisdom around inner-growth, happiness & fulfillment starts on Aug 15th/16th. You are welcome to join, either live or online!

In the spirit of  ease in your own company,

Toby 


Tides of emptiness & fullness – On meditation & being alone
 
Human & mammalian contact
As humans and as mammals we naturally crave company, touch, relational contact. This can make us afraid of being alone, and of aloneness, because the immediate experience of being alone makes us feel lonely. This instinctive aversion to alone-ness can prevent us from experiencing the pleasure and restorative energy of being alone.
 
Meditation – Building comfort & ease in your own company
Meditation, even when we do it on a group is very much about getting comfortable being alone and enjoying the experience of being in our own company. Therefore, in order to meditate implies an ability to confront and come to terms with our loneliness. It means to be able to sit with ourselves in a warm, friendly way that can feed, rather than drain us energetically.
 
Encountering & plugging the tide of loneliness
When we sit alone with ourselves, one reason that we find it uncomfortable is that our insecurity often causes us to start thinking and reflecting on our life in a negative or imbalanced manner that is unpleasant to experience. To be alone can sometimes feel as if we are being flooded by a tide of negativity and paranoia which makes us run back to the company of others and to being ‘busy’ simple to escape it. When we sit at the beginning of meditation then, it can be useful to ‘plug’ this tide by anchoring our attention to sensations, images and thoughts of a benevolent nature, so that we don’t get swept away or panicked by the flow of lonely, alienating thoughts and feelings.
 
Opening to the empty fullness of aloneness
Once we have stabilised our position in aloneness using the anchoring to benevolence method in the above paragraph, we can then start to let go of thoughts and thinking, and relax into the empty space of being alone in the moment. The silence, the absence of contact with others, the empty freedom of aloneness is something that we discover, drop into and be renewed, fed and nurtured by.
 
Returning to company
By learning to enjoy aloneness, we also change our relationship to being with others. We can enjoy being with others as a complement to our enjoyment of aloneness. Our way of bonding and forming attachments to others changes, as we connect to them through a healthy sense of independence at the same time as forming interdependent and enriching bonds with them.
 
So, in meditation there are really three stages to this as described above:

  1. Building a sense of comfort and ease in your own company
  2. Stemming the tide of empty loneliness by anchoring to benevolent thoughts and images
  3. Opening to the empty fullness of aloneness

5-10 minutes on each stage would give you a 15-30minute meditation to begin exploring and enjoying this domain.
 
Finally, whenever you find yourself alone, you will know what to do with it!

Related articlesDiscovering the pleasure of alone

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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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On patience, productivity & the breathing

“Using your breathing to facilitate patience does not mean that you won’t have any stress, but it means that your stress will side on eu-stress, or productive stress, rather than negative or debilitating stress”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

The article below is a personal reflection on my current situation. It outlines a way of using your breathing to be patient and calm, and using the patience to then be productive. If you get these fundamentals right, it can be life changing!

Quick heads up for the weekly classes which will be re-starting next week with The Wisdom of Awakening Series: Meditations for developing wisdom around inner-growth, happiness & fulfillment starts on Aug 15th/16th. 

In the spirit of patient creativity, 

Toby 


On patience, productivity & the breathing
 
This article outlines a way of using your breathing to be patient and calm, and using the patience to then be productive. If you get these fundamentals right, it can be life changing!
I’ve been on holiday with my toddler for the last 10 days or so without my wife. As a solo parent with a toddler, it can actually be quite stressful and frustrating being on holiday. The routine of the child is interrupted, familiar surroundings are interrupted and so getting anything constructive done beyond the bare minimum is quite tricky. Each day I have had a certain amount of work to do, and only a small, non-fixed window of time to do it in. So, this means that I must take it when I can!
In order to do that however, I need to arrive at my work window un-strained and reasonably calm, otherwise I’ll just use quite a bit of my ‘work’ time de-stressing and getting in the mood to work, rather than actually working.
The way I’ve been doing this on this holiday has been simply regulating my breathing in an informal way as I’m going about the day and parenting duties. As one of my favourite coaches Scott Sonnon says:
 
Nearly half of all stress-regulation, attentional stamina, and calmness are accomplished merely by paying attention to what breathing sensations feel like
 
With this principle I mind, I’ve been simply being mindful of my breathing, focusing on good ‘breathing form’ and letting that process modulate my mental, emotional, and physical stress, so that when I arrive at my work window, or find an opportunity to really relax and enjoy the holiday, my body-mind is in a state to really take advantage of the opportunity!
 
Below are seven basic aspects of Qi Gong breathing as I teach in my Qi gong classes. To begin with you will have to practice each aspect separately, in order to get a feel for it, but after a while you will find that you can combine all the features into a smooth cycle of breathing without having to exert effort. Using these pointers, you can be checking in on your breathing and using good breathing form to help regulate your stress as you go through your day.
This does not mean that you won’t have any stress, but it means that your stress will side on eu-stress, or productive stress, rather than negative or debilitating stress.

1.  Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth*. The tip of the tongue should be placed on the palette behind the top front teeth.
*Specifically when practicing formal Qi Gong exercises – In daily life breathing in and out through the nose is generally recommended if possible.

2.  Breathe into the belly. This means, as you breathe in, you are directing air down into the bottom of the lungs, so that you can feel your diaphragm expanding downward, and exerting a gentle pressure on the abdominal organs.

3. Breathe in to about 60-70% of your lung capacity, not to shallow, not too deep. Do not breathe in more deeply than is comfortable and relaxing.

4. When inhaling, as well as directing the air down into the bottom of the lungs, try also to utilize the sides, the front and the back of your lower-mid lungs. This means that as you inhale you can feel the front, back and sides of your lower and mid ribcage gently expanding. Then as you exhale you will feel your ribcage contracting accordingly.

5. As you inhale, gently (no more than 40% strength) contract the muscles in the perineum, so that you can feel your pelvic floor rising and becoming firm. As you do this you will feel a gentle squeeze or pressure being exerted upon the abdominal organs as the diaphragm pushes down on them from above, and the pelvic floor rises from below. You don’t need to do this all the time during the day, but regular ‘sets of 3-6’ are really helpful.

6. Make your breathing regular and balanced. Below is one Qi gong method, it is an example, not the only option you might choose!
Make quality of the breathing should be smooth, gentle and continuous, without a gap or break between the inhalation and the exhalation. This is called circular, or wave breathing. In the same way that as soon as a wave has broken upon the shore it begins to ebb and be absorbed back into the ocean, as soon as we have reached the peak of our inhalation, we should begin our exhalation. Likewise, at the end of the exhalation, we should begin the inhalation immediately and smoothly with no break between.
 
7. Combine your breathing with your movement. For example, if you are walking, co-ordinate your inhaling and exhaling with your stepping. There is a lot of possible depth and variation in this subject, but it can be done in simple ways right away.

Related articlesFour functional breathing techniques

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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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Self-belief (the most powerful creative force in your life)

“Once you get used to it, being creatively powerful in your life feels less and less stressful, and more and more of a pleasure. Rather than ‘life happening to me’ I have the feeling that ‘I am happening to life!’”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores mindfulness to help you become more powerful, engaged & directed in your life. It’s partly my own response to completing a recent course on mindful self-leadership with some of my students, but thematically it’s fairly central to my overall approach to ‘engaged mindfulness’. 

Classes and workshops for August are out, including the wisdom of awakening series, meditating with animal guides & familiars, and a mindfulness course for teenagers

In the spirit of creativity, 

Toby 


Self-belief (the most powerful creative force in your life)
 
I am the most powerful force in my life, you are the most powerful in yours
I’ve recently completed a series on ‘Mindful self-leadership’ with my public program students. It’s a program that I also run with companies and organizations at least six times a year. Each time I deliver it, slightly different themes energy as important for me. This time around the insight that kept coming back again and again as the course went on was ‘I am the most important creative force in my life’. The simple recognition of this is a tremendously powerful object of mindful attention.
 
The most powerful force in the world?
Of course you aren’t, there are many more powerful forces in the world than you or I.  But, in terms of your life, it is you that sits in the middle of it, your energy & focus, your choices to do or not to do, your thoughts & emotions. What you choose to focus on and do in your life is the most powerful directional force in it!
 
The feeling of helplessness
Sometimes there can be an overriding feeling of helplessness in the face of events in our life. We can feel like a puppet, the strings of which are being pulled by other people and external forces. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that ‘we have no choice’ and allow ourselves to become a victim of circumstances. There is even comfort in being a victim, we can tell ourselves that we had no choice and blame it on others.
 
Sometimes things don’t work out
It is true that sometimes things don’t work out as we had hoped, despite our best efforts. But even then, we are the ones who decide how we approach the fact that things didn’t work out how we had hoped. We are the ones who decide how to mentally frame what has happened, and how we are going to work with it. We are the ‘eye of the storm’, we are still the primary causal factor in our experience.
 
It’s sometimes hard work owning your creative power
If you own your power, then sure, you have to stay alert, think things through, confront difficult choices and people. But all of this is no harder work than not owning your power, and being buffeted mercilessly by the forces of chance and fate. Once you get used to it, being creatively powerful in your life feels less and less stressful, and more and more of a pleasure. Rather than ‘life happening to me’ I have the feeling that ‘I am happening to life!’. We can be calm, collected, and powerful. If we do so we burn less energy, we feel more in control. From this then a stable experience of self-belief starts to emerge, a faith in our ability to work thru and work out our problems, and enjoy doing it!
 
Meditating:
Sit down quietly. As you breathe, breathe your energy and awareness into the centre of your chest and torso area. Feel your creative power gathering in your body as you inhale, relax into it as you exhale. As you breathe, dwell upon the recognition: “I am the most powerful creative force in my life”. Stay with that recognition and feeling for the time you have set aside for meditation, really letting it sink in.
As you go about your daily life, remember the recognition, and act as if you believed it. Play with your power creatively, taking ownership of it. Notice how your experience starts to change.
 
Recent articles related to self-leadership & creative power:
A flower opening to the Sun – Choosing (& making distinctions around) joy
Trusting your inner signals
Empowering (& then dropping) the self
Making yourself big
Pro-activity in the face of life & breathing pro-actively
Becoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
Awareness and insight Inner vision Insight Meditation Life-fullness meditation and creativity mind body connection Mindful Confidence Mindful Self-Leadership Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

Trusting your inner signals

Dear Integral Meditators,

We are being given information and feedback from different levels of our perception and intelligence all the time. If we can learn to trust the ‘inner signals’ that we are receiving, this makes it much easier to navigate our life with confidence, and make difficult decisions with a degree of assurance. Below are a few distinctions that can be used mindfully to give yourself greater trust in your inner signals.

If you enjoy the article, you are welcome to come to this week’s Tuesday or Wednesday class, where this will be the subject of our meditation. 

In the spirit of inner signals, 

Toby

Trusting your inner signals
 
We are being given information and feedback from different levels of our perception and intelligence all the time. If we can learn to trust the ‘inner signals’ that we are receiving, this makes it much easier to navigate our life with confidence, and make difficult decisions with a degree of assurance. Below are a few distinctions that can be used mindfully to give yourself greater trust in your inner signals.
 
What you want to know and what you do not want to know
Firstly, it’s useful to become aware that there are some things that you don’t want to know, even if your inner signals are very strong. For example, if I have a business partner whose body language changes suddenly around a business deal. If I am very attached to the deal, I may ignore the signals that my perception is giving me. Part of trusting your inner signals is learning to respect them, even when the message you are getting is not what you want to hear.
 
Your conscious and unconscious
Following on from the above point, it may or may not be clear where your inner signals are coming from.

  • Sometimes we can choose to remain unconscious about the things we become conscious of (See the business deal scenario above)
  • Sometimes we can be getting a clear signal from within, but we don’t know where it is coming from. We are, for now, unconscious of where it is coming from. This doesn’t mean we should ignore it, rather acknowledge it and keep it in mind
  • Quite often we ‘know more than we think we know’ about a situation. If we trusted our inner signals, we would be listening for them, and not pushing them back into our unconscious when they come and tap us on the shoulder

 
Some sources of your inner signals
 
What your body and instincts are telling you – This is the information you are getting from your biology, primal instincts, and pre-rational intelligence. As we identify more and more with our thinking and cognitive self, its easy to lose touch with our instincts. This is a shame, because they are offering us direct, useful information all the time!
 
What your feelings and emotions are telling you – Our feelings and emotions are telling us about how we are feeling about what is going on, and about the emotional temperature between us and the other people involved in any given situation. Even if they are emotions we don’t like or don’t want to have, we still need to listen to our emotions and honor the messages we are receiving from them if we want to navigate our inner life and relationships effectively.
 
What your thinking mind is telling you – A good distinction here is between your rationality and rationalization. Your rational mind and messages are generally reality oriented and evidence based. Rationalization is when you use thoughts and reasons irrationally to backup what you want to be true. Listening to signals from our inner rationality, not rationalizer is the key here.
 
What your observational intelligence is telling you – Be present (or as present as possible) and look. If you do this your direct perception will offer you plenty of signals around what is going on in the moment.
 
What your intuition is telling you – Beyond your thinking mind lies your higher or post-rational intuition. Your body, instincts and emotions all have an intuitive dimension, but here I am talking about our inner signals that come from a level of our consciousness deeper than the thinking self. If you listen carefully there is a wise one within you offering you insights and perspectives beyond your rational mind. Often these insights prove to be true.
 
So, there are five sources of your inner signals, each one of them can be focused on and listened to in order to become familiar with it, and get to know it. If we do this, then over time we can feel more and more confident around the validity of our own inner signals when they arise.

Related articlePro-activity in the face of life

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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, Tues/Weds evening 7.30-8.30pm– Becoming a self-determining entity – A six-week course in Mindful Self-Leadership

Saturday July 15th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
Energy Meditation Integral Awareness Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Breathing Mindful Resilience Presence and being present Qi gong Stress Transformation

How to meditate when you are ill or sick

“When you are ill, trust your body and it’s capacity for healing. Relax and get yourself out of the way. Dropping into short spaces of non-doing really helps to stay stable and keep on keeping on, even when your energy is low and you are feeling somewhat dis-oriented”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is a personal reflection on some of the basic meditation techniques I use when I get ill. They are relatively simple positions that, if you can remember to do them make a huge difference! If your going through a  stage where your being exposed to bugs at the same time as having to work hard (like I am with a pre-schooler in the house), then having a meditation plan around sickness is a game changer…

If you enjoy the article, then you might be interested in the Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy workshop that I will be doing on Saturday the 8th July 9.30am-12.30pm as a live & live-stream session.

In the spirit of health & energy,

Toby 


How to meditate when you are ill or sick
 
This last week I have been a little under the weather with a flu and cough bug. Even a minor illness has quite a lot of power to incapacitate our meditation efforts, so what I have done below is to outline a few positions I use when I am ill to navigate the process smoothly, and also maintain the basic momentum of my practice even though I’m not feeling great.  
 
Basic positions: Being primarily present & maintaining functional breathing  
Your basic task as a meditator is to establish your awareness as being primarily present in the moment, and secondarily thinking about stuff. This is the easiest and most essential position to stay with. You can take your body and breathing to do this, and it’s surprising how calm it can make you feel, even when you’re not feeling great.
Within your ‘primarily present’ position, you can then pay attention to your manner of breathing, and focus on ‘functional breathing’, which is breathing through your nose, and sending the air down into the lower lungs on your inbreath, connecting your nose to your belly. This is often one of the first things to go when you get ill, sustaining it helps your body to get on with its job of healing.
These two practices are your basic ‘navigation tools’ while you are sick. If you stay with them, the journey whilst you heal will be very much a part of your meditation journey.
 
Extending compassion to yourself & your body
Your body and you are suffering from the illness, so basic care and compassion is a no brainer that is easy to overlook. Will doing this help your body to heal faster? Maybe. It will certainly ease the process of the journey.
 
Trusting your body & non-doing
Trust your body and it’s capacity for healing, relax and get out of the way! One of the best ways to help your body is to do nothing, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. If you are not able to stop working to recover, then dropping into short spaces of non-doing really helps to stay stable and keep on keeping on, even when your energy is low and you are feeling somewhat dis-oriented.
 
Context through appreciation
Just because you are ill doesn’t mean there is suddenly nothing to appreciate in life. Recognizing this and appreciating what there is to feel good about undoubtedly helps you get through a bout of illness.  
 
Minimalist meditations
If normally I would do let’s say 100 Medicine Buddha Mantras per day, I might change that to five-ten mins of the following pattern:

  • Three mantras, followed by a pause (back to basically present & functional breathing), three mantras, pause, and so forth

Less is more!
 
Mindful pro-activity
Final ‘active meditation’ is to ensure that you put together the best ‘healing protocol’ that you know regarding that illness. Creating and following such a routine is empowering. I have a routine of eastern and western supplementation, power napping (and prioritizing sleep in general) and gentle movement I follow for flu-type sickness. As so as I notice the signs, I activate the plan, and use the strategy to minimize the ability of the sickness to get a grip on my system.
I hope this give you a few ideas for when your next feeling under the weather!

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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, Tues/Weds evening 7.30-8.30pm– Becoming a self-determining entity – A six-week course in Mindful Self-Leadership

Saturday the 8th July 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy

Saturday July 15th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
Awareness and insight Inner vision Life-fullness Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Breathing Mindful Self-Leadership Mindfulness Motivation and scope Presence and being present

Pro-activity in the face of life & breathing pro-actively

‘Mindful pro-activity invites a ‘non-panicking’, playful attitude to our path forward and what is in the way. It means keeping a beginner’s mind and combining it with the voice and wisdom of our experience’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

In last weeks article I cited ‘being pro-active in the face of life’s challenges’ as being a characteristic of someone with good self-leadership & leadership skills. In this week’s article I dive a little deeper into what that means, and how you can start practicing it.
If you enjoy the article, then do check out the mindful self-leadership workshop & six week course that I’ll be putting on in June.

Final heads up for this week’s annual Wesak meditation on Tuesday & Wednesday evening. Your welcome either live or online!

In the spirit of mindful pro-activity, 
 
Toby 


Pro-activity in the face of life
 
One quality that I think is important in enabling confidence and self-leadership capability is to be pro-active in the face of life’s challenges and uncertainties. What does that mean? Three aspects of this are important I think: Trusting your own intelligence, taking the initiative, and being responsive or creative.

  • To trust your own intelligence means that in the face of something unknown or difficult, you maintain confidence in your perception and ability to work things out through considered trial and error
  • Taking the initiative means you actively look out for the problems and challenges that you face and that prevent you from getting to where you want to go. You initiate possible solutions and ways forward before things become critical, and you are then forced to confront what you have been avoiding
  • Being responsive and creative describes a ‘non-panicking’, playful attitude to our path forward and what is in the way. It means keeping a beginners mind and combining it with the voice and wisdom of our experience. Responsive indicates an acceptance of the realities of the situation, facing them squarely and then letting our intelligence and creativity work from there.

 
What pro-activity is it not
Resisting or repressing – Active resistance and repression of our awareness of problems is active (even if only unconsciously), but not pro-active. It gets in the way of moving forward in life rather than assists.   
Reacting or being impulsive – Mindful pro-activity is thoughtful and considered. Because of this it is intelligent and creative. Reactivity and impulsivity, even when accompanied by swift and sometimes aggressive action generally takes us away from solutions and realizing the potential opportunities in a situation.
 
Breathing pro-actively, a short exercise
As you breathe through your nose over the course of a few breaths, gently flare your nostrils. If you can try and open not just the tips of the nostrils, but the inner part of the nasal cavity, so that as you breathe in it feels as if there is plenty of space for the air to pass in and then down into the lungs. As you do this feel yourself becoming mentally poised, active and creative around the path that you have ahead of you today, or over the next 24hours.
Once you have a sense of how this inhalation feels, then as you are breathing out, feel yourself becoming relaxed, calm and responsive. You might think of this as a state of ‘calm thoughtful intelligence; you are pro-active, but you are also setting the pace, rather than being forced to rush by anxiety, fear or stress.
So, then the final pattern is:

  • Breathing in through open nostrils, connecting to creative pro-activity
  • Breathing out connecting to calm and setting your own pace

Stay with this for long enough to let your body-mind get a feeling of what it is like to be in a state of calm pro-activity. Then when you are ready, finish. Try and keep this feeling with you as you go through your daily journey, being gently pro-active in the face of what arises!
 
Related articleBecoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership
Self-responsibility – Becoming a self-determining entity

© Toby Ouvry 2023, 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 Tues/Weds, 7.30-8.30pm – Meditations for thriving and energy creation – An eight week course

Tues 30th/Weds 31st May – Wesak meditation

Saturday June 10th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindful Self-Leadership: A Three-hour mindfulness & meditation workshop

Starts Tues/Weds, June 13th/14th – Becoming a self-determining entity – A six-week course in Mindful Self-Leadership

Saturday June 24th, 9.00am-5pm – Taoist Breathwork Day Meditation Retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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