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If you feel properly you will think clearly

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article describes a simple but profound meditation process for bringing your thoughts and feelings into a state of integration and harmony. When our thoughts and feelings are on the same page, it opens up a whole new dimension of both happiness and effectiveness within us.

Yours in the spirit of integrated thinking and feeling,


If you feel properly you will think clearly

What is it that gets in the way of clear thinking? You might have the idea that it would be easy to think clearer if only you did not have all these intense emotions within you that seemed to be getting in the way of your thought processes:

  • “If only I was not so angry I would be able to deal with the person who said that awful thing to me”
  • “If only I wasn’t so anxious I could just relax and get down to my work”
  • “If only I was not so jealous I could enjoy my relationship more and with a clearer head”

In this scenario emotion and thought are set up against each other as adversaries within ourself, one pitted against the other.
Actually, the emotion only becomes an obstruction to clear thinking when we repress, deny or otherwise push it away from our conscious awareness and try and bury it within ourselves. When we do this our body becomes tense and armored, our mind becomes cloudy and foggy, and a gap appears between what we think, what we feel and what we do.
When we acknowledge and accept the emotions we feel without denying them, we will find that we tend to experience a clarifying of our thought process, and an inclination to act in ways that are congruent to that thinking:

  • “Because I feel angry with my friend for what they did, I am going to tell them about it, not violently and explosively, but calmly and clearly, because I know that what I am feeling is anger”
  • “I know that I am feeling anxious at work right now, and I understand why, accepting the way I feel I will now get on with what needs to be done”
  • “Jealousy is not a pleasant emotion to experience, but there is a reason for it that I think I need to talk through with my partner”

One of the primary ways that meditation can help you in a practical is to use it as a way to bring your thoughts and feelings into integration with each other. Simply to sit down and use awareness of your body and breathing to become more deeply aware of how you are feeling. As you sit with your body and breathing, you can even mentally describe to yourself (or even out loud) what the sensations are that you are feeling in your body, and what emotions these are connected to. You will be surprised if you do this regularly how quickly you can bring to your conscious awareness emotions that have been hidden from view to you for years. As they come into view, just focus on acknowledging them and experiencing them consciously. You will find that if you do this your head will start to feel clearer, and that you will be able to think and express yourself more clearly. Energy that was previously locked up in the repression and denial of emotion will become available to you for positive and appropriate self-expression.
A final point, as you do this exercise you may be surprised how much positive emotion and feeling you suppress. Excitement, joy, love, sensual and sexual feelings can be experienced by our ego as being as ‘dangerous’ as anger, jealousy and so forth. So it is not all about reconnecting to difficult emotion, it is also learning to feel positive emotions more deeply and enjoyably.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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What Constitutes the Good Life? – Looking a bit deeper

Dear Integral Meditators,

In order to experience the ‘good life’ I really believe that we need to go beyond our superficial ideas of positive and negative, pleasure and pain. In the article below I explain why.

Final reminder if you are in Singapore of the Mindful Resilience Workshop on this Sunday, 21st September in the morning. Anyone attending the live workshop will also gain access to the Mindful Resistance online course launching next week, which is a really good deal I think.

Beneath the article is details of I-awakes monthly offer, in this case on their Neurocharger 3.0 track. Its good stuff!

Yours in the spirit of the good life,


What Constitutes the Good Life? – Looking a bit deeper

What constitutes the good life? You might think that the good life might be described by the prevalence of the following types of emotions and experiences; happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable*.
The not-so-good-life would then be constituted of a corresponding list of opposite qualities like unhappy, discontented, in pain, depressed.

BUT. It is possible to be superficially happy, lazily contented, addicted to sensation and short term kicks (bliss) and enjoyment as distraction from what is truly important.

Similarly it can be unhappy in a way that leads to positive change, discontent because it is appropriate to be so, learn valuable lessons and victories from pain and reach a deeper level of self-knowledge when we confront depression and emptiness.

What would then happen if we replaced our list of qualities that constitute the good life to the following; enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and meaningful?*

We can be enriched by our feelings of both happiness and unhappiness.
We can be excited by the prospect of resting in contentment and also shaking our world up with our discontent.
We can be rewarded by our resilience to pain as well as our periodic touching of deep bliss.
We can be challenged by loneliness and depression and derive new levels of enjoyment from that which we find meaningful.

If we are willing to consistently push ourselves beyond the superficial boundaries of ‘chasing positive and avoiding negative’ as well as ‘looking for short term pleasure and avoiding pain’ we may find that undreamed of capacities for the good life start to emerge from each day of our existence.

So then, what are the leading edges of your enrichment, excitement, reward, challenge, and meaning in life today? It doesn’t have to be ‘positive’.

*Two lists taken from “ The Carl Rogers Reader”, Haughton edition,  page 419, section entitled ‘The Greater Richness of Life”

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

I-Awake technologies special offer for September is on Neurocharger – Train Your Brain with 60 Minutes of Gated Frequencies For Energy, Balance & Focus. Get 25% off the regular price!
Discount Coupon Code:(apply during checkout) NEWSSEPT25OFF
Good until Sept 22, 2014
Click on link for full details and to listen to the free sample track…

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Non-resistance – Tapping into A deeper level of relaxation

Superficially relaxation exercises relating to mindfulness might look quite simple, almost to the point of superficiality, but in reality the capacity to become and remain deeply relaxed consistently in life is a profound achievement.
Why so? Because to be able to remain truly and deeply relaxed in the face of all the nonsense that everyday life throws at you implies the achievement of three inner qualities that are not easy to attain:
Self-trust – The knowledge that your mind, judgment and convictions are not vulnerable or susceptible to emotional pressure
Self confidence – The belief that, whatever the challenge you have you are confident in the power of your mind to be able to respond appropriately and effectively
Self-esteem – The feeling and experience that you are deserving of happiness in life, and that you are confident of your own intelligence and its capacity to find solutions to your life’s problems (in this sense you could say that self-confidence is actually a subset of self-esteem).

Non-Resistance – Relaxing into our challenges as a way of practising mindful resilience and recovering from mental ‘hits’ faster.

Rather than theorizing, what I want to do in this article is demonstrate from my own experience how non-resistance works. The other night as I was falling asleep I was suddenly struck by a set of unusual feelings of loneliness, accompanied by images of myself in a big empty house. Caught by surprise by these feelings, I felt my body and mind resisting and trying to reject and deny these feelings, to try and ‘escape’ from them. Catching myself, I then altered my approach, consciously relaxing into the feelings of loneliness, immersing myself in them like submerging myself into the water of a swimming pool. By relaxing and practising non-resistance to the feelings, I found that after a short while they naturally dissipated and I fell asleep feeling relaxed and content; I was able to process and remain resilient to the emotional challenge through the practice of relaxational non-resistance.
Next morning I receive an email from a corporate client regarding a deal I thought was locked up. Turns out they have decided to go with another facilitator, instinctively following the momentum that I had created from the night before, I again practice non-resistance to the email and my emotional reaction to it. I allow it to flow through my body and mind, opening my chest and relaxing deeply. The result – my recuperation and regeneration time from that setback is VASTLY accelerated (not to say that there was no swearing mind ;-)), and I proceed through the mornings work and activities feeling  fundamentally good despite the setback.

So, two related, practical examples of the practice of non-resistance there which I hope will give you some idea as to how to start practising it yourself.

How does non-resistance relate to the qualities of self-trust, confidence and esteem? 
The capacity to practice non-resistance under stress depends to a large degree on how you have developed these three qualities within yourself. If you don’t trust and feel confident in yourself, it is very difficult to relax into an experience that directly threatens your wellbeing. If you don’t have self-esteem it can be difficult not to believe that on some level setbacks in life are confirmations that happiness is not something you deserve to give yourself each day.

Non-resistance is a practice that you can start today and find real benefit, but that to be a master of deep relaxation; you have to earn it over time.

Related articles: Non-StrivingThe Shadow ChildSoft Forms of Psychic Self Defence.
© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Why Mindfulness Primes You for Success

Dear Toby,

What would happen to your enthusiasm and commitment to mindfulness and meditation practice if I were to convince you that practicing it gives you the greatest chance for success in your chosen endeavors, both professionally and personally? In the article below that is exactly what I try and demonstrate to you.

The mindful resilience courses that I am putting on this month, both online and live are designed to give you a very solid and dynamic basis for mindful success.

To your mindful success, and mine, and the better world that will result,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in September:

Sunday September 21st – Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through meditation and mindfulness – A Three Hour Workshop

Wednesday September 24th – Launch of online course: Developing Your Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through mindfulness

Sunday September 28th, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Parenting Workshop – Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting – A three hour workshop


Why Mindfulness Primes You for Success

Mindfulness means above all else to be committed to living an aware life. To the extent that you are dedicated to living an aware life, that is to say bringing a greater degree of awareness to your day to day activities and experiences, the greater your chances are of understanding to them. To the extent that you gain understanding in your activities and experiences you increase your chances of being effective in them. The more effective you are in processing your daily activities, the greater chance you have of being successful in them. This is the reason that mindfulness primes you for success in whatever field of activity you choose. The equation looks something like this:

Mindfulness = Awareness +Understanding which leads to greater Effectiveness which then = Greater success

Please note here that we are not defining mindfulness as a technique here, but as a commitment to awareness. If you are truly committed to bringing mindfulness into your life, you will find ways of bringing greater awareness. From this we can see that mindfulness is not so much a technique or a school or club that you can belong to, it is an existential stance and approach toward life and a choice in each moment.

If being mindful increases your chances of success, why isn’t everyone practicing it?

Because being committed to bring deep awareness, understanding and effectiveness to your life brings you into confrontation with questions that most people would rather avoid. For example:

  • What are the things within my mind that make me so uncomfortable that I seek toavoid awareness of them?
  • What is it that I feel confused about and do not understand in this situation?
  • What are the areas in my life where I feel or actually am deeply incompetent and ineffective in my life?

So, from these questions we can see that to be committed to a mindful life means being  committed to going to the places within yourself that are uncomfortable, confusing and even sometimes make us feel stupid. This is why we resist living a mindful life.

However, if we understand that the basic formula of mindfulness is designed to bring us success in whatever our chosen endeavour is, then we may find ourselves picking up our practice again with renewed enthusiasm and courage, and in the knowledge that by renewing our commitment to awareness each day we are massively increasing our chances of long term success in that which is most important to us in our life.

Three mindful questions for success:
Select a particular aspect of your life, work, relationships (etc…) in your life and ask each question in turn, with pauses for reflection in between.
What do I need to be most aware of in this situation?
What is my awareness inviting me to understand deeply about what is happening here?
What skills do I need to practice and become competent at here in order to become truly effective?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 


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Developing Your Mindful Resilience

Dear Integral Meditators,

How resilient are you to the pressures of life? What are the factors that you can introduce into your mind in order to increase your mental resilience? This weeks article looks at how mindfulness can help with this.

Yours in the spirit of mindful resilience,


Developing Your Mindful Resilience

Back in the days when I was a Buddhist monk, one of the things that myself and many of my ‘colleagues’ noticed after going on meditation retreat was that it was quite startling how quickly we reverted to our normal habitual behaviours and consciousness level upon returning to the ‘real world’ and our daily routine, after all the work we had put into our retreat and meditation, it sometimes seemed like in everyday terms little had changed.
I’ve thought about this a lot in the years since, and it has really inspired me to try and create what I think is a truly well rounded and resilient mindfulness training that is truly going to enable people to change their lives for the better through mindfulness and meditation practice.

So what is mindful resilience? Here is a working definition – “Mindful resilience is the capacity to remain actively aware, creatively productive, constantly learning, happy and effective in life and at work, even when faced with pressure, stress and tension from both within our mind and from our external environment”.

What then are the skills that you need to be able to develop mindful resilience as a way of life? Below I list what I believe from my practical experience are key practices:

1. An understanding of the three experiential levels of our consciousness 
What is it within us that we are trying to create mindful resilience within? Within our mind. There are three domains of our mind, each of which has a particular type of resilience that we can leverage upon.
The first is our sensory-physical awareness, the second is our mental awareness and the third is our experience of awareness itself. Each of these levels or aspects of our mind has a particular type of resilience that we can leverage upon. A practitioner of mindful resilience needs to know how to access each of these levels of mindful resilience.

2. The capacity to relax into tension and other forms of stress
For your mind to be resilient under the pressure of real life situations you need to understand how you can relax into tension and other forms of stress. The first stage of this is learning how to relax into tension so that it does not prevent you functioning effectively, the second level involves learning to actually redirect the stress so that you are actually making use of it.  (See for example my article on stress transformation )

3. The ability to create and sustain a positive inner dialog with yourself
We have an inner conversation going on within our mind all the time. For sustainable peace of mind, inner resilience and creativity you need to be able to make that dialog positive and productive where possible, but also know how to deal with the negative, difficult challenging aspects of that conversation when it arises (please note; repressing it or pretending it is not there will not create resilience!).

4. A commitment to appreciating the good and the challenging in your life
A practitioner of mindful resilience commits to both noticing and dwelling upon the good in your life whilst also learning how to appreciate and genuinely value learning and growth facilitated by the challenges, friction and difficulty. As Jim Mclaren would say “Don’t waste your suffering!”

5. Focus!
To be resilient you need to train your mind to be strong, to focus and concentrate, both when the object of mindful concentration is just one thing and also when the situation demands that you be aware of multiple factors at the same time. In reality this means learning that there are different types of focus, and know how to apply them appropriately.

6. Being truly comfortable with silence, uncertainty, open spaces
Undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable aspects of a mindfulness and meditation practice is developing the capacity to relax into a deep and regenerative experience of stillness and silence when we are sitting in formal meditation practice.
In order to bring this truly and deeply into our daily life there also needs to be the capacity to relax into the open spaces of un-certainty, un-predictability and un-knowing that come up time and again in our everyday real time reality . The purpose of getting comfortable with these three “un-s” is not so that we become a victim of them, but so that we can learn from them and take the opportunities they have to offer us.

Want to get started with your own mindful resilience practice?
There is obviously a lot contained within each of the points above, but here is a very short way to get started.
Stage 1: Consider the definition of mindful resilience: “Mindful resilience is the capacity to remain aware, creatively productive, constantly learning, happy and effective in life and at work even when faced with pressure, stress and tension from both within our mind and from our external environment”. Take a little time to dwell upon it.

Stage 2: What sort of images and symbols come to mind when you contemplate this definition? Select an image from your imagination that represents the energy  and experience of mindful resilience as you understand it. Take that image as a focus point for your attention for short periods at regular intervals during the day, reminding and encouraging you to explore your capacity for mindful resilience.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Dear Integral Meditators,
When you think about deepening your inner strength and resources perhaps you think about developing a new set of skills or reading about a new practice. Using mindfulness you can deepen your inner strength and resilience simply by being more fully conscious of what you already know. This weeks article looks at how you can go about doing this.

The program of talks and workshops for August is out, just click on the links below for full details!

Finally, Integral Meditation Asia is having a special August four day sale (3rd to end 7th August) with a 40% price reduction on all its current online meditation and mindfulness courses. just click on the link to have a look at the list available.

Yours in the spirit of inner strength,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:


Sunday 10th of August 4-5pm – Free Mindful Parenting preview talk at Basic Essence, to register your place please reply to this email.

Sunday August 17th, 9.30am-12.30pm –Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting – A three hour workshop
Sunday August 31st, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Call of the Wild – Meditations for Deepening your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Greenworld

Through to end August: Special offer on 1:1 Coaching at Integral Meditation Asia


Mindfully Deepening Your Inner Resources

Finding a deeper level of inner resources and resilience to your challenges need not be about learning more. As often as not it is about being mindful enough to apply what you already know in a practical way. Sometimes when we are experiencing difficulties or performing sub-par in a situation it is because we are not applying what we already know in an effective way.

A simple example
Let’s say I feel uncomfortable about communicating to my business partner about something that I think he did wrong and that is hurting our business. If I am present to my own past experience, and to what I have read about effective communication I will already know that the best way to tackle the situation is to honestly and politely bring up the subject directly and talk about it explicitly.
However, because I am a distracted by other things and because the emotions within me are uncomfortable I instinctively avoid bringing up the conversation directly. The result of this is that I feel an increasing sense of frustration and resentment toward my partner, and the problem persists on an outer level.
If I bring my full awareness to what I already know, then the plan of action is actually clear; I need to have a direct talk with him. However, consciously or unconsciously I am avoiding the issue, which in turn is making me reduce the level of conscious awareness that I am bringing to the situation. As a result I act against my best knowledge and find myself frustrated and confused.

Reasons why we don’t bring enough awareness to our challenges

Here the issue is not that we do not know what to do, rather it is that we don’t bring enough conscious intelligence to the situation to know what we know and do what we need to do. There are a lot of reasons why we resist bringing our full conscious awareness to situations where we really need it, but here are three:
We are lazy – Simply, we can’t be bothered, so rather than address the issue properly we hope that by ignoring it or pretending it is not there then it will somehow go away. Inevitably this means we expend more effort dealing with the issue because we are dealing with it in the wrong way, so laziness is very often a prescription for more work in the long term.
We are afraid of consequences – To take the example above, let’s say I am afraid of invoking my business partner’s disapproval or anger. Because of this I avoid the confrontation by telling myself it is not necessary, or I pretend it is not really a problem. Because I am afraid of a consequence I deny what I already know and doing really needs to be done.
Being focused on the wrong thing – Another reason we deny our self access to what we know is that we are focused on the wrong thing. Again to use the example of me and my business partner, if I am focused on “who is right and who is wrong in the situation” rather than “what needs to be done to fix our business glitch”, then the issue is not that I am not bringing awareness to what is going on, it is just that I am focusing that awareness on the wrong aspect of what is going on.

An exercise for mindfully deepening your inner resources

Three questions to stay with during the day:

  • What challenges in my inner or outer life need to be solved immanently or urgently?
  • If I bring my full awareness to the issue, what do I already know about how to resolve the situation?
  • Knowing what I already know deep down, what do I really need to do?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website