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Trusting your inner guru

“In any path of mastery, the purpose of the outer guru is to reveal the inner guru.”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article is a reflection on developing confidence in your own inner guidance. If you enjoy it, the theme will be quite a big part of this Tuesday & Wednesday’s Wesak Class  meditation.

Heads up for this weekend’s Awakening to benevolence & compassion mini-retreat on Saturday the 25th.

Finally, I have created a new series starting Tues /Weds 25th & 26th June – The Wisdom of Awakening Series:  Meditations for cultivating your inner guidance & guru, which obviously relates closely to the article, exploring this theme in depth…

In the spirit of your inner guru,

Toby


Trusting your inner guru
 
I spent the first ten years of my meditation practice training in the Tibetan Buddhist path. After four years I had become a monk. After four years as a monk I could feel that I was approaching the end of my tenure with that group and with my guru or teacher at that time. That summer I went back to the UK from Singapore to listen to teachings and meditate with the spiritual community, as had been my habit for several years. By far and away the most significant words I heard from my guru over those two week’s was “The purpose of the outer guru is to reveal the inner guru.” These words were like a mantra for me for the next nine months, by the end of which time I had decided to leave my life as a monk and go back into lay life, whilst continuing my path as a meditation teacher. The difference was that now I was just a meditation teacher, not from any group or tradition, just teaching and offering guidance as myself.
 
The purpose of quietening the mind

A side effect of meditation is to calm the mind, and therefore to experience less negative stress and more peace. If we are interested in meditation as a creative path of awakening, we can also see that quietening the superficial noise in the mind is also to put us in touch with the deeper voices, intuitions and impulses that are showing us the way along our path in life.
 
What outer gurus & guides have that we do not

An outer guru, in order to be one who has any qualification, has to be in touch with his or her inner signals. S/he must have established a stable link to the higher and deeper levels of her consciousness, where the guidance comes from. The function of the Guru, if they are worth their salt is to empower/enable their students to get in touch with their inner guidance so that, eventually, the student becomes independent of the master. If a master teaches students to become independent in this way, s/he may find that there is quite a high turnover rate in their classes. Or alternatively, students go and return to the master as their own (ie: The student’s) inner guidance inclines them.  By teaching independence, the master avoids the co-dependency that happens in many groups.
 
Courage as the first virtue & your inner sense of timing (when I left my life as a monk)

I can remember the exact moment that I new I would leave my life as a monk. It was in Los Angeles, at another spiritual gathering with my old Tibetan group. I came in slightly late for the final chanting session, and found myself sitting a few seats back from the main group in the room. As I sat there, I realized I simply was no longer with this group (a purely intuitive and energetic sensibility), and I knew I would be leaving. In the subsequent months, telling my guru I was leaving and setting out on my own was a time full of anxiety and courage in equal amounts. I knew that if I didn’t have the courage to move forward at this time, I would be going fundamentally against the grain of my inner guidance and guru. My inner guru was now the primary guide in my life, but really feeling fully confident in that would be a work in progress for a number of years subsequently!
 
A short story

I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts above; I’ll end with a short story from Anthony De Mello that speaks to this is a fun way:
 
AVOIDANCE
A tourist, looking at the portraits of former Masters in the temple said. “Are there any
Masters left on earth?”
“There is one.” said the guide. The tourist solicited an audience with the Master and
started with the question, “Where are the great Masters to be found today?”
“Traveller.” cried the Master.
“Sir!” the tourist answered reverently.
“Where are YOU?”

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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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


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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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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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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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Effortless effort – Making everything workable

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

In the spirit of skillful sustainability,
 
Toby


Effortless effort – Making everything workable

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

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

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


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


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The conscious-self – Your inner CEO

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

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

In the spirit of your inner CEO,
 
Toby


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Your daily life as a meditation retreat

“The time to make progress in your meditation practice is always ‘now’, so if by an act of choice and imagination you can see each day as an ‘active-retreat’, then this is really going to accelerate your growth”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores the potential of each day of your life to develop your active-meditation practice, by seeing it as a retreat!
Also, if you want to really help kick start this,  the Integral Meditation Two Day Retreat on the weekend of the 28/29th October  is a fantastic way to do it!

Also excited to announce the new Integral Life Practice Sessions, starting on Saturday 11th November, 9am-12noon, do click to see the format.
 
In the spirit of life-as-meditation,
 
Toby


Your daily life as a meditation retreat
 
Don’t wait for a retreat to do meditation
It is great to be able to do a meditation retreat, and the experience can be genuinely transformative. But for most of us, the vast majority of our time is spent with work, family and the everyday challenges and joys of daily life. The time to make progress in your meditation practice is always ‘now’, so if by an act of choice and imagination you can start seeing each day as a type of ‘retreat-in-the-world’, then this is really going to accelerate your capacity to grow as a meditator.
 
What you need to make your daily activities a meditation?
All very well to say ‘My daily life is a retreat,’ but how can we develop the capacity to use daily activities as forms of ‘active meditation’? Below is a list of qualities that we can bring to the table:
 
Intention & enthusiasm (urgency)
We begin the process with intention; “I am going to see today and its challenges as a form of active meditation, to facilitate my inner growth, to benefit my circle of family, friends and colleagues, and to make a benevolent impact on the world.” From this intention, we then generate a degree of curiosity, enthusiasm, and determination. It all starts from the choice to live on purpose!
 
Creating your basic meditation space
The basic goal of any meditator is to be ‘primarily present, secondarily thinking.’ This means a successful day retreat would be spent being just a little more present, and a little less lost in thought. To do this the basic mantra is:
Not lost in thought, not falling asleep, anchored in the present, and aware of my focus point in the present.
The ‘focus point’ in terms of your day retreat, is simply the next task or activity at hand, that is your meditation object.
 
Mindfulness & alertness
To stay ‘primarily present’, you need to remember that that is what you are trying to do (mindfulness), and alert when you loose track of it (alertness). Mindfulness and alertness are the tools that you employ to make any activity a ‘meditation.’
 
Ergonomic, focused flow
Mindful activity relies upon a state of body-mind that is balanced between focused and relaxed. If you try to hard to focus, you’ll get tense and tired quickly. If you are too relaxed, you’ll get distracted easily and succumb to inertia. As you do your activities, experiment with what it feels like to do it with this balanced, ergonomic state of ‘flow.’
 
Alternating focused & field awareness
As you go through your day, there will be times when you are paying attention single-pointedly to one task, and then ‘panning back’ to take in the big-picture of the day. ‘Single-pointedness’ and ‘field awareness’ are two basic types of meditation practice. We can use this skilful alternation between the two to navigate our day in a meditative manner.
 
Review time
Some time at the end of the day, or when lying down before sleep can then be used to assess what went well in your ‘retreat.’ What activities were really good ‘meditations’, and what were the ones where you ‘got lost’? What can you try tomorrow to do a bit better? What lessons have you learned? With your review time, you can use one day to make the day after an incremental improvement.
 
As the Navy Seal motto goes: “When faced with a challenge, we sink to the level of our training. Train hard!” With skill we can train hard, with gentle consistency and make every day a ‘meditation retreat’!
 
Related articleWorking Samadhi – The way of the mindful warrior
Envisioning & presence – Climbing the mindful mountain

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

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores how to work mindfully with your ego & self concept in a creative, empowered way. If you enjoy it, then you are invited to come along to the Tuesday or Wednesday meditation class, where we will be focusing on this subject. 

A couple of dates for your diary, in addition to the Two day meditation retreat on Oct 28-29th:

In the spirit of turning subjects into objects,

Toby 


Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)
 
The Ego is
One of the definitions that I like for the ego is simply ‘the unifying centre of awareness’ of a person. It is the self-sense that sits in the middle of you as you navigate your daily experiences. Ego is not a positive or negative term, but a neutral one. However, we can say that a person has a strong or functional ego, which is a good thing, or a weak, dysfunctional ego which is not a good thing. Our ego also operates according to ethical values, or a lack of ethical values, and this distinction also makes an ego a relatively ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ thing. These values can be held consciously or unconsciously by the ego in question.
 
Your self-concept is
Your idea of who you are. It is the mental template that you have built up over your life about:

  • The ‘type’ of person you are
  • What is possible & not possible for you
  • The story of how you became who you are

…and so on. Your self-concept generally creates a sense of what you can and can’t do in life, what you like and don’t like. When you are faced with a challenge, your ability to deal with that problem is intimately related to your self-concept. Your self-concept projects onto the situation what it thinks and believes. In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet and solve a challenge, you can do one of two things:

  • You can give up, or
  • You can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

 
Relating imaginatively to a new idea of yourself
I remember one time when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by always having to ‘put myself out there’ as a creative and as a small business owner. I really felt out of my comfort zone. It felt alien to my idea of myself, it felt uncomfortable and exhausting. I had a dream one night of being with Daid Lee Roth (ex-lead singer of Van Halen). I was hanging out with him on the void-deck of an HDB block of flats in Singapore. Preparations were underway for a concert, and after chatting enthusiastically to me for a short while, DL-R just got up on stage with his band and did the concert, singing and dancing around half-naked, and just letting go and enjoying himself with the small group of people that was there.
I woke up feeling light, energised, and encouraged. In the subsequent days, week’s, and still to this day (the dream was years ago) I often think of this dream, and imagine myself being like David L-R, just dancing though my life, meeting what is there with enthusiasm, spontaneity, and not being afraid of a bit of exhibitionism.
This idea, and working with it imaginatively really changed my self-concept, and consequently my sense of what is possible, what can energise me not drain me, and so on. In short, I re-worked my ego using a new image-template.
 
Using this expanded self for inner healing & growth
So, the basic idea is that if you have a psychological block that is holding you back, or you don’t think you care ‘capable’ of achieving something, you create an image or idea of yourself that can, and then start relating to that image.
 
Paths beyond the ego
If you are connected to the Soul level of things, quite often you will find that ideas, images, and happenings occur in your life that you can readily use for this type of work, so pay attention!
The ego is the mental/psychological level of self, so there are a number levels of self beyond ego on the soul and spiritual level of things. However, the ego and self-concept are really ‘lynch-pins’ between the upper and lower levels of self, so we really need to work on making our self-concept a healthy, resilient, wise and fun-loving one!
 
Related readingYour bright shadow – The one who can do what you can’t

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 week’s video: ‘Subjects to objects – How meditation helps you grow to greater degrees of freedom’

Summary: This video discusses two main subjects related to meditation. The first part explores why and how a meditation practice helps individuals grow as individuals. Meditation is described as a process that transforms subjects of consciousness (e.g., body, emotions, ego) into objects of consciousness, leading to reduced identification with these aspects and increased inner freedom…watch full video


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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


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