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Mindful of your inner artist (Being solar not lunar) article & video

“The ‘mindful artist’ first of all notices that their thoughts, actions and interactions are creative, fundamentally. The next position they take is to choose to direct that creativity in a deliberate way so that s/he ‘creating’ the best things that they can in your life”
Dear Integral Meditators,

What does it mean to become the ‘artist of your life?’ In the article below I offer a few thoughts on this!New year is also a good time to think about new personal directions and growth, I’ve created a new video for my Life-fullness Life coaching program, that you can view below the article.

In the spirit of mindful creativity,


Mindful of your inner artist (Being solar not lunar)

‘Everyone is an artist’
Yesterday I watched the new Joseph Beuys documentary “Beuys on Beuys”. Beuys was one of the biggest influences on me when I was at art school. His idea that ‘Everyone is an artist’ was one that decisively transitioned me from being an outer artist, or object maker to being an ‘inner artist’ or a meditator. By a meditator here I mean working primarily with mind, thoughts, attention and states of being as a way of influencing, contributing to and changing the world.
Beuys’s essential point was that since we all think, act and interact in the world, we are all creative beings, beings who affect change. By becoming conscious, deliberate and mindful about this, we can direct our creative energy deliberately toward our life and society in order to effect positive, creative change.

Mindful of your inner artist
So the object of mindfulness here is to first of all notice that your thoughts, actions and interactions are creative, fundamentally. The next position to take is to choose to direct your creativity in a deliberate way so that you are ‘creating’ the best things that you can in your life. For example:

  • If you come back tired from work in the evening, rather than just being passive and reactive with your family/friends you are thinking ‘How can I create an enjoyable atmosphere here?’ This is even (and especially) if you are a bit tense or moody
  • As you are hanging out the laundry you are aware of what you are thinking, and gently directing your attention and awareness toward beautiful and constructive patterns of thinking and feeling. You are looking to use your imagination and attention in active generative ways.
  • When you are having a meeting, you are actively looking to create connection, empathy and meaning with the people that you are with. You are looking to inspire good energy in a way that will help the group become a force of the good in some way.

Becoming Solar, rather than Lunar
One way in which I often explain becoming a mindful artist is that you are becoming solar rather than lunar in nature. The moon relies upon the reflected light of the sun for its light, it has no light of its own. This is like many people, they are reactive, they rely on the power of others for their own power. For example, they have power because of the position they hold in a company, but if you separate them from that position or label, they have very little sense of their own power. Their power is reflected, lunar. A mindful artist however is a source of power and energy. S/he is a generative person. You can rely on such a person to create goodwill, inspiration, direction. If there is a situation where there is a challenge, they can be relied upon to be actively working something out.
If you meet a person who is solar in nature, who is a mindful artist, this tends to be felt and experienced by their presence. It is something that they embody, it is in their physical and somatic being, not just their mind and intellect.
What can you start with today in order to become the mindful artist that you are, and express your solar nature?

Watch Toby on Becoming the artist of your life:

Related articlesMindfulness – Becoming the sculptor of your reality
Moving from being a consumer to being a producer

The Life-fullness Life Coaching Program with Toby

Life-fullness coaching is a unique integration of mindfulness and life-coaching that is designed to help you lead a progressively more awakened life. The essence of the Life-fullness approach is to integrate the different parts of who we are into complementary strengths so that we can really experience ourselves living our life to its fullest…

Watch Toby talking about the  Life-fullness Program:


All upcoming classes and workshops for January 2020

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Tuesday 12.30-1.30 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Starts Monday January 13th, 6.30-8pm – The Men’s group, the path of conscious manhood

Starts Friday 17th January – The Integral Mindfulness & Meditation Online Program, January-July 2020

Friday, Sat, Sunday 7,8,9th February & Friday, Sat, Sunday 21,22,23rd February – The Qi Gong Foundation Program & Program for coaches and trainers 

Sunday 9th February, 7.30-8.30pm – Lunar New Year Meditation 2020: Developing your inner-resourcefulness & practical wisdom in the year of the Rat

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Your Emotional Colour Palette

Dear Integral Meditators,

What makes a colour beautiful? The answer is a bit deeper than first glance. Similarly with our emotions, it is not always the bright, shiny ones that are of the most value, or even the most beautiful.

Yours in the spirit of emotional depth and beauty,


Your Emotional Colour Palette

As some of you may know my original training was as an artist (which I still practice actively), and I often think about the development of the mind, emotion and consciousness in terms of colour and texture.
One of the observations that I have taken from my work as a painter is that whether a colour is beautiful or ugly, harmonious or jarring has as much to do with the colours next to it as the colour itself. For example we may think of grey as a very plain boring (even depressing) colour; but if you watch the way a grey sky can give depth and vibrancy to the green leaves of a tree, or give new definition to the foam on the waves of the sea, then we start to realize that grey has its place.
Similarly the dark browns and blacks of soil give background to the beauty of vibrantly coloured flowers, the early nights and darkness of the winter evenings gives context to the vibrancy and buzz of the long sunny summer ones. As a painter if you can grasp this concept, then you will become a much better painter; you will get to know your greys and blacks and browns s well as your yellows, oranges and bright blues. You will understand how to put them together in your picture to produce a beauty that has true depth, texture and nuance.

You can see the first picture I have posted with this article by Ben Nicholson above (one of my favourites) that shows a good example of this in a sea landscape. The greys, blues and blacks provide a context for the brighter yellows, blues and reds to come alive. The second picture below is a cityscape by my daughter Sasha. I think you can really see in this one how the dark grey building in the center really gives substance to the bright yellow and pink buildings on either side. Without the grey the bright colours would look anaemic.

So, when we think about the landscape of our emotions, it can be wise to get to know the grey, brown and black ones as well as the bright cheery, pretty ones. If we are prepared to look at them all together, without favoring one over the other, we may discover that each emotion, the sad ones as well as the happy ones all have their place in our life, all have their own beauty, and their own gifts to offer us.

As a mindfulness or meditation practitioner, it can be a nice exercise to simply sit and open to our emotions and moods, benevolently embracing them all as we find them, and then consciously learning to wisely weave them into a beautiful painting (or song) each day, a painting that includes browns, blacks and greys as well as red, yellow and blue.

© 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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Reflecting on the Relationship Between Art and Meditation

Here are three areas and life lessons that meditating and making art both teach:

Close Observation

Most of us think we know what the world looks like, but if we examine this assumption we learn it is not as true as we thought. For example if you try and draw a tree you discover that your idea of what a tree looks like and the way in which it actually exists physically in space are very different, and that in order to get to the “real” tree and draw it accurately you have to let go of your idea of the tree and look closely and clearly with your eyes.
In a similar way we may think that we know ourselves well, we think we know who we are. However, when we start meditating, which is partly the discipline of witnessing and observing our mind and self, we discover that the person we think we are and the person that we actually behave like are actually very different. Meditation teaches us the bitter-sweet art of seeing who we REALLY are and trying to bring our self-image and behavior into an authentic and genuine communion.
Both making art and meditation have made me find simple objects and activities very interesting and fulfilling as there is always endless detail and nuance to observe and enjoy. Last Friday I took a bit of time off and went to sit down in East Coast Park and just look at the sea, listen to the wind in the trees and observe the play of the afternoon sunlight across the landscape. I can’t imagine a much more fulfilling time.

How to See Through Difficult Times

If you have ever tried to create a piece of art work you will know that often (though not always) there is a time when everything about the picture seems horrible, ugly and awful, and where the critical voice in your mind is telling you that you may as well give up and trash the whole thing, and that you also may as well give up art too. After a while as an artist you come to expect this ‘phase’ in your work to complete a piece, and you know that the main thing to do is “keep calm and carry on”, steadily working through this phase. You learn that it is part of a natural cycle, and when it happens it just indicates that you are at a certain stage of the creative process. You don’t panic, after a while it can even be enjoyable in a funny way.
Similarly as a meditator you learn that sometimes your mind just goes through dark phases. Sometimes you know the reason, sometimes not, but either way you come to understand through sitting with these dark phases in meditation that they come and go. They are just a part of the processes of life, like the weather; sometimes sunny, sometimes thunderclouds. Either way there is no need to panic, just be present with it and allow it to work itself through your system in a non-harmful way.

Understanding How Beauty is Both Spontaneously Ever Present, and at the Same Time has to be Worked at and Re-created all the Time

As an artist you learn through observing things from multiple angles and points of view that everything has its own type of beauty. As a result, wherever you look you can appreciate something about what you see. At the same time actually creating a  beautiful and authentic piece of art work is a very demanding endeavor requiring a lot of effort physically, mentally and spiritually of the artist. In this way beauty for the artist is something that s/he can always see in what s/he observes, but at the same time the creation of beauty is always effortful and challenging.
Really with meditation practice it works the same way, after meditating for some time you get to a stage where even if there is pain and confusion in your mind, there is also an ever present stillness and beauty that is available to you at all times, you just have to remember it. However, in another sense the daily process of thinking positive, acting out of integrity, creating harmonious relationships often seem to take just as much work and effort as they always did!
This seems to be the paradox of both outer and inner beauty; they are ever present and yet they demand constant effort to create and recreate. However, being in touch with the ever present aspect of inner and outer beauty (which are really states of being) helps us to keep even-minded amidst the struggles and strains of trying to effort-fully create a beautiful inner and outer life for ourselves and others.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website