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Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

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

In the spirit of primal integration,

Toby



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

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

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

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



All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

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

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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation techniques Mindful Resilience One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Using distractions, sculpting thoughts, softening the body

“Use distractions to remind yourself that you are in the present,

Use your thoughts to sculpt your perception of reality,

Soften your body to still your mind”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores combining three practices into a short meditation form. I find that putting different practices together makes for more interesting and more complete meditation, and this is one such example, enjoy!

In the spirit of integration,

Toby



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

In a sentence: Combine all the benefits of a conventional mindfulness practice with the progressive inner growth & transformation of developmental psychology.

Suitable for: Beginners and more advanced practitioners alike. May be of particular interest to those interested in psychology, coaching, philosophy, & how to combine these disciplines with a living, dynamic meditation practice…read full details


Article of the week: Using distractions, sculpting thoughts, softening the body

What I have done in this piece is to put together three practices, ‘Being mindful of the non-present moment’, ‘Sculpting your thoughts’, and ‘Finding strength through softness’ into an integral practice, where they are done together in a single session. You can do them in the order described, or in a different one as you prefer. Using the order presented, you could say do:

  • Five minutes mindfulness of the non-present moment
  • Five minutes mindfulness of sculpting your thoughts
  • Five minutes mindfulness of inner strength through softness

Or you could emphasize one main practice for 10 minutes, and then doing 2/3 of minutes each of the second two.

‘Being mindful of the non-present moment’

“By studying the non-present moment more closely, often our mind quietens down substantially and becomes more present, without effort on our part”

Watch the distractions coming into your awareness from your environment and senses, and from your mind. Notice that all the sounds around you are in the present moment, and that when you focus on your awareness of them, this can bring you back into the present moment, not away from it. Notice that even though your thoughts may be of the past or future, the thoughts themselves are happening now, in the present! By recognizing this and being present to your distractions, they help you to come into the present moment, rather than taking you away from it!

‘Sculpting your thoughts’

“Look at the thoughts you are experiencing right now, and ask yourself the question; Are they sculpting me, or am I sculpting them?”
The first position here is simply to watch your thoughts. By doing some become aware of your minds mental content, and start to see how each of your thoughts is influencing your perception of yourself and your world. By thoughts I mean not just sentences, but images, memories, mental impulses, anything that is being generated on the mental plane. Then ask yourself the question: “What is the optimal way for me to mentally frame what my mind is dwelling upon, so that I derive maximum value and minimum unnecessary pain from it?”
Practice making small, creative interventions in your thinking process, guiding your thoughts according to the principle of the above question.

‘Finding inner strength & mental stillness through softness’

“How can I still the mind with as little effort as possible, using the softness of the body?”

Whenever you think a thought, the tension or energy of that thought will turn up as an energy in the body. The practice here is to make the body as ‘soft’ and relaxed as possible, so that your body energy is unable to ‘support’ the energy of your thoughts. Whenever a thought tries to appear, relax the areas of your body where you feel the energy of the thought, and let the thought dissolve away. In this way let your mind gradually relax into a still, thoughtless space where you can regenerate your inner strength.

Related readingBeing mindful of the non-present moment
Sculpting your thoughts
Finding strength through softness

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

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

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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Insight Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership

Single-headedness – Not getting anxious about anxiety

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

Dear <<First Name>>, 

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

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

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

In the spirit of single-headedness,
 
Toby 


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

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

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

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

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

Related articleWhat happens when you are not afraid of fear?

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


All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

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

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

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

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


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Motivation and scope

Invisible, or effortless self-leadership

“At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at three levels of mindful self-leadership. It gives some pointers as to what they are, how to spot them in your own self-leadership style, & make progress toward becoming the ‘invisible, or effortless inner leader’.

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class will be on this subject, you are welcome to join us, live or online.

Finally, for those interested in developing inner resilience, on Saturday 9th March I’ll be doing my Mindful Resilience – Practices for sustaining effectiveness, happiness & clarity under pressure workshop.
 
In the spirit of self-leadership,
 
Toby



Invisible, or effortless self-leadership
 
For several years now I’ve been using chapter 17 from the Tao Te Ching as part of my ‘Mindful leadership & self-leadership programs. What I want to do in this article is to look at it from the point of view of self-leadership, breaking it down into three stages. I may look at the leading others aspect of the chapter in a later article.
Here is the original text:
 
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 17 (Steven Mitchell translation)
 
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

 
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
Level 1 – The invisible leader:
 
‘When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists’.

At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self. Each of them knows their place in the scheme of the different levels of self (personality, soul, spirit) and time has been developed helping them to feel confident regarding their capability in their role. As a result, the conscious self does not have to do too much to lead. A person who has reached this level of inner growth experiences the ups, downs, and challenges of life more as an even minded flow, that he or she is able to adapt and work with without too much effortfulness. Of course, there is some degree of willpower involved in what they do, but it is deployed discreetly and gently, rather than being the main ‘motor’ with which we power ourself through life.  
 
Level 2 – The monarch:
 
‘Next best is a leader who is loved.’
I sometimes think of this level of leadership as being like a monarch, king or queen. If we are at this level, we spend a lot of time and effort actively motivating ourself in a benevolent manner, learning to inspire the parts of ourself that lack confidence, heal the parts of us that are wounded, and go beyond the limits of our current self-concept. This style of self-leadership is pro-active. The conscious-self must demonstrate to the different parts of our inner self (or our sub-personalities) that it is trustworthy, so that they can get behind it and push forward as a team. At this stage our inner selves need active guidance, they need to feel nurtured and safe, they need a degree of ‘positive self-talk’. At this second level of leadership, life is quite effortful, but because the dominant energy of inner leadership is appropriate self-love and care, the journey is felt and experienced as one that is going to good places and positive directions.
 
Level 3 – The dictator
 
‘Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.’

I’m putting the last two levels of self-leadership as one, which is essentially leading ourself as a despot or dictator! Here the primary energy within self is self-loathing or hatred. There is a general sense of inadequacy, not being enough, a lack of self-respect. The only way we can motivate ourself to get things done and move forward in our life is through fear and/or agression:

  • ‘If you don’t get this degree people will think you are stupid’
  • ‘Work out because if your fat you won’t be accepted by others’
  • ‘Do what I say or I’ll be criticising you inwardly for the next week!’

The experience of leading oneself like a dictator is that life is very effortful, anxious and progress is a rather tortuous and exhausting process.
 
Most people’s self-leadership process is kind of a mixture of stages two and three. Identifying stage three as a possibility, and practicing it can accelerate the rate at which we grow and integrate it into our lives. This offers the possibility for an easier journey, with progress that seems to happen naturally, by itself even. Our personal path evolves like the final verse of the chapter, with a few of my words in brackets:
 
“If you don’t trust the people (the different inner parts of yourself),
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts (the conscious-self leads by example).
When his work is done,
the people (
the different parts of our inner self) say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
 
Related articleBecoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership
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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A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Inner vision Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Mindful Resilience Motivation and scope Presence and being present

Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

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


Article: Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

1. By consolidating your present experiences of love & compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Simple, aware, positive creative training page

Welcome to the simple, positive, creative & aware training page. In it you will learn how to practice this integral meditation combination effectively, & you can then use the meditation recordings & readings below to practice.

As I said in the original article on this meditation: “I outline four ways of paying attention that, if you get really good at will render you largely impervious to intimidation from any of the current challenges in your life.”

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

Intro to the practice:

Listen to the Twenty minute Simple, positive, creative, aware meditation

Listen to the eight minute Simple, positive, creative, aware power meditation

Original article: Simple, or aware, or positive, or creative

The Integral Meditation Training pages are a free resource, but if you feel you have benefitted, & would like to donate to the Integral Meditation training pages & project, you can do so via PayPal or if in Singapore you can do so directly by PayNow on +6596750279. Thanks!

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


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

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

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


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

You can’t master what you are over identified with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Meditation – Not missing your life

Ordinarily we are often primarily lost in thought, secondarily conscious of the present moment. A meditator aims to become primarily present in life, and secondarily thinking’

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores a foundational definition of meditation & how to start working with it on a practical level. Experience of it gives you a solid base for your practice that you can easily create enjoyable variations around.

Heads up for this Saturday morning’s workshop:  Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and for Self-Healing. From the workshop write up: “Qi-gong is the science of working with the body’s energy field. Literally translated into English it means ‘energy work’, or ‘energy skill’.  In this workshop Toby will be teaching the art of moving subtle energy and life force into and around our body using a series of simple and easy to apply techniques.”
 
In the spirit of presence,
 
Toby


Meditation – Not missing your life (Your basic meditation state or space)
 
Awakening in meditation

In some ways awakening to the state of meditation could not be simpler. Here is a working definition:
Meditation is the state of being awake, not lost in thought and not falling asleep. It is a state of being present in the moment, and aware of the present
If you bring your attention to your breath for the next three breaths, avoiding distraction, or falling asleep, and holding the recognition of the breathing in the present, then you are in meditation.
 
We are often close to being in meditation already

Through-out the day we spend periods of time when we are focused in the present moment, on a particular task, not lost in thought, and not asleep. Particularly when we are enjoying something or feeling relaxed, we can do it without too much trouble. Think of an activity you take pleasure in, and recall how it helps you land in the present more, temporarily liberating you from being ‘somewhere else’ in your head.  Children spend long periods of time completely absorbed in and present to activities they enjoy.
The difference between these times that we all experience and a state of meditation becomes clear in the second part of the above definition: “A state of being in the present in the moment, and aware of the present moment.” Most non-meditators, when they arrive in the present moment do so by accident, as a side effect of an activity. They are present, but they are unconsciously present, rather than consciously present. To be in meditation we need:

  • To be aware that we are in the present, and
  • Conscious of what we are trying to focus on in the present

The state of meditation is therefore very similar to a state that you are already quite familiar with. It is just a matter of making it conscious, and then it becomes basic meditative presence
 
Your basic meditation state as your ‘inner studio space’
Your basic meditation state, once you can identify it and hold it consistently, then becomes like an ‘inner studio space’ where you can place and cultivate a range of different states of body, mind, and heart. For example, you can use it to:

  • Build focus and relaxation
  • Cultivate stillness
  • Build greater love and compassion for yourself and others
  • Work on healing inner wounds
  • Develop your self-knowledge

There is a whole range of creative things you can cultivate within your meditation space, but there is one over-riding reason for meditating, and that is so that you don’t miss your life!
 
Meditation – Not missing your life

For many of us, much of the day is spent in a state of non-presence, or the opposite of meditation.

  • We are often lost in thought and distraction
  • When we are not lost in distraction, it is often due to mental fatigue or exhaustion so we find ourselves sleepy, unconscious and in a state of dullness

The result of this is that we miss our life. Our life itself is always happening now, in the present moment, but we forget to turn up, we are somewhere else. To put it simply:
 
Ordinarily we are often primarily lost in thought, secondarily conscious of the present moment. A meditator aims to become primarily present in life, and secondarily thinking’
 
As a meditator, thinking and reflecting consciously becomes a complementary activity to our primary activity of being aware and anchored in the present, thus turning up to our life rather than missing it.
 
The breath of life
As a practical way of exploring your basic meditation state, here are some simple pointers. Breathing comfortably and naturally:

  • Notice how awareness of the breathing brings you naturally into your basic meditation state
  • Notice what it feels like to be primarily present to your life, not lost in thought or on auto-pilot
  • Notice what it is like to be ‘awake’ to your life, here and now
  • See how deeply you can drop into your basic meditation state, and notice what happens when you do
  • Practice taking the basic meditation state into your everyday activities as the orientation point in the moment. Notice how it changes your experience.

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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Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at moving stillness as our object of meditation. It’s a capability that, when you start to get a practical handle on it can have a deeply transformative influence on your life!

If you enjoy it, then do check out the  Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course! that I’ll be starting this  week, both live & online on Tuesday & Wednesday evenings. 

You can also view my course  video on Effortless effort – Moving water that is still, still water that is moving

Final reminder, this Saturday 13th January, 9.30am-12.30pm I’ll be facilitating An Introduction to Integral Mindfulness & Meditation Practice 3 hour workshop. Great way to kick start your meditational year!
 
In the spirit of moving stillness,
 
Toby


Pond & river. What is it that moves, what is it that is still?
 
An important dimension of the practice of effortless effort is to bring stillness and movement together into a harmonic with you. This facilitates the ability to relax into our life and daily tasks ergonomically and effectively. It also enables us to combine two things:

  • Functional productivity, meaning getting our ‘to do list’ done in an effective manner
  • Creative productivity, meaning we are flexible and spontaneous, as well as capable of envisioning and articulating possibilities that have not yet come about

Ajahn Chah, the late well known Thai meditation teacher described the meditative state as ‘still water that moves, and moving water that is still’. When we are beginners at meditation, it seems like movement & stillness are the opposite of each other. Either we are still and relaxed, or we are thinking and active. To bring these two parts together into a state of effortless effort, we need to identify what part of our body-mind is always still, and what part of our body-mind moves.
If you look at your experience moment to moment, it seems relatively clear that your mind, body, and emotions move when they are activated. When they become still temporarily, we start to notice the space of consciousness itself, which, because it has no form is always still. The mind, body and emotions move within the stillness of consciousness. So then, in order to practice ‘moving stillness’ we need to be able to access the stillness of consciousness, and then let our movements of body, mind and emotions move without losing our connection to that stillness. As you can imagine, this takes practice and with this in mind, here is an exercise that you can try out in order to develop your capacity.
 
Pond & river
Imagine yourself sitting in a landscape with a still pond on once side, and a relatively rapidly moving river on the other side.

  • Focusing on the pond, let your mind become still and quiescent like the pond, relax into the stillness for a while. Notice that when you do this you will start to contact the actual, ever-present stillness of your inner consciousness. The image connects you with the presence of your always-still consciousness-itself
  • Then focus on the river, letting your mind feel into the activity and dynamism of the water. Try and ‘flow’ with the movement as you breathe
  • Now bring them together, centre in the stillness of the pond, then brining the sense of movement into the stillness. Initially this might feel a little unnatural, or even jarring, and you might lose your focus a few times. But with a bit of practice you will be able to combine the ‘noise’ of the river with the stillness of the pond.
  • As a final section to the meditation, spend a short while envisioning yourself going about your daily activities. As you do so feel yourself connected to the stillness of your consciousness, whilst at the same time physically,, mentally and emotionally interacting with your world. Imagine yourself to be like ‘moving water that is still & still water that moves’

This meditation will then give you the basis to start practicing effortless effort, bringing together stillness and dynamism as you meet the challenges of the day!

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


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What your body posture communicates to you

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

Dear Integral Meditators, 

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

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


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

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

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


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


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