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The Laughter of the Young and the Ancient

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if when something in your life went seriously wrong, the first thing that you did was laugh open-heartedly? Perhaps there is a part of us that already does, and the article below explores how to connect to him/her/it!

This Saturday if you are in Singapore we have two meditation workshops, do scroll down to the ‘upcoming courses section’ below to find out more.

In the spirit of ancient lightness,


The Laughter of the Young and the Ancient

What if when something in your life went seriously wrong, the first thing that you did was laugh open-heartedly?
What would happen if the next time you lost some money, or a big business deal feel through you winked knowingly at the first stranger you met?
What would happen if you could respond to the most ‘serious’ parts of your life with playful and spontaneous creativity?

I really enjoyed the movie version of the Lord of the Rings books, but the one thing I was slightly disappointed about was that they left out a character called Tom Bombadil. Tom Bomabadil interests me because, of all the characters in the story, he is the only one who is immune to the evil, corruptive influence of the ‘ring of power’. All of the other characters are afraid of the power of the ring, which upon contact causes them to immediately start fantasizing about delusions of power and dominion. However, when Tom puts on the ring it has no effect; to him the all corrupting ring is an object of amusement, a trinket, with no real practical use.
We hear in the story of the lord of the Rings that Tom Bombadil was the Oldest of the Old (‘the oldest and fatherless’) who walked the earth before both elves and men. Essentially he seems to be a nature spirit of sorts, coming from a time and existing within a mental framework both before and outside of our human paradigm of good and evil, a time when harmony, laughter and song were a natural state of being, were perhaps the law of being.

As my own practice of meditation and mindfulness develops, I find myself coming across and connecting to an inner place within myself that lies beyond the daily struggle of good and evil, of striving or laziness, achievement versus failure. It seems to be an innocent state of being that is naturally laughing and humorous, naturally light and strong, naturally comfortable and balanced despite the comings and goings of fate and fortune in my life. This state of mind seems to me to be a little bit like my ‘Inner Tom Bombadil’, the part of me that walks on the earth as one with nature, that lives truly in the primally presentmoment, that sings and laughs with child-like and yet very old spontaneity, comfortable in the world but not of the world.

Connecting within yourself to a time before good and evil
Spend a few moments now connecting to that part of you that is fatherless and motherless, the oldest of the old as well as the youngest of the young.  S/he is beyond any struggle for human power, beyond shame or pride. s/he is primally humorous and celebratory; the wise fool, the innocent sage. Bring your inner Tom Bombadil out into the world to play and celebrate. See what starts to change in your life when you do!

Related articles: The Four Types of Present Moment Awareness
Locating Your Deep Centre
Connecting to Your Spiritual Fool in the Mirror World

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia :

Tuesday March 10th – The Mindful Salesperson – An Evening Exploring the Relationship Between Mindfulness, Sales and Marketing

Saturday 14th March 9.30am-12.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment

Saturday 14th March 2.30-5.30pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Saturday March 28th 2.30-5.30pm  – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 

Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Enlightenment and the Call to Awakened Creativity

Dear Toby,

Those of you in Asia I hope you had a nice holiday yesterday as Wesak, or Buddhas birthday was celebrated. The article below is the result of my own reflections on the creative process of enlightenment, thinking about the Buddha in particular.

Final call for those who may be interested in the 3 hour Mindful Self Leadership Workshop in Singapore this Sunday 18th May, 9.30am-12.30. Click on the link for details!

Yours mindfully and creatively,


PS: Click on the picture to find out about Buddha shaped pears!

Enlightenment and the Call to Awakened Creativity

I’m writing this article on Wesak day, or Buddha’s birthday, and the occasion has led me to have a go at expressing something that has been on my mind for a little while which is basically this; The great enlightened leaders of different eras for example Buddha, the Christ, Krishna responded to their experience of spiritual enlightenment with courageous creative acts of worldly innovation.

For example one of the things that the Buddha did was to create whole new class of citizen. Back in India 600BC as a man you had three options; either you were of the class of nobleman, or the warrior class or the servant/slave class. If you were in the tiny minority of noblemen, then life would have been good, but if you were a warrior or a slave you really were not operating with much freedom. If you were a woman the choices were correspondingly limited.
So what the Buddha did was to create a new class of citizen – the ordained Sangha – or community of monks and nuns who were essentially able to side step the three class options and live peacefully, supported by laypeople and focus on getting enlightened themselves and being of service to the community at large. It is difficult for us to appreciate fully today what an amazing act of social innovation this was on the part of the Buddha, as today we live in a very different society where, relatively speaking we have very different freedoms and limitations. At the time of the Buddha many, many men and women were socially liberated in the way through the creative this creative act of Buddha.

So then, the interesting thing to me is that while the truly great enlightened people and leaders innovate and act with dynamic creativity, the people that follow them mainly seem just to seek to follow the rules that got set down after their death – they do not seem to feel the imperative to act creatively, to take chances, to innovate, to respond to the genuine organic needs of their life and times.

To become spiritually enlightened means basically this; to be interested in developing your consciousness and to be focused on the process of seeing and integrating your inner and outer reality as clearly and courageously as you can. Spiritual enlightenment is a process with many levels of unfolding. I’m at a certain level of spiritual development; you are at a certain level of development. At each level I believe we have a responsibility not just to gain insight into our reality, but also to respond to that insight with action and creativity. This means to be taking active responsibility for expressing your own enlightenment (on whatever level you are at) in your life. Very often that will mean taking a chance, engaging in something a little experimental.

The main thing is that you get in the habit of expressing your enlightened creativity now, today, at least a little.

Happy Wesak day!

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The Four “-lessnesses” of Enlightenment

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at four characteristics of enlightened awareness. Explanations of spiritual enlightenment can seem a little like riddles, and this article is a little like that, but at the same time I hope it is accessible enough for you to feel as if you can enjoy exploring enlightened awareness  for yourself.

Yours in the clear and chaotic space of enlightenment,


The Four “-lessnesses” of Enlightenment

Spiritual enlightenment means to locate the centre of your awareness in a place that is radically different from the place where it is for most people.
One of the difficulties of getting to this space of radically different space is that it is really quite difficult to describe, as it is beyond our usual use and experience of language. One of the best ways to try and describe it is by indicating what it is not.
So, with this in mind here are four “-lessnesses” that if we contemplate them can give us an idea of what resting in a state of spiritually enlightened awareness might be like:

Form-lessness – Enlightened awareness itself is formless, it has no physical or mental form. It is just that part of ourself that is pure awareness.
Time-lessness – Enlightened awareness is that part of our awareness that is beyond all ideas of past, present and future
Self-lessness – The Enlightened self is beyond any ordinary concept of self that we might normally have. It has no physical or mental characteristics that we can say ‘this is it’. In this sense it is a selfless-self.
Home-lessness – Our enlightened self has no location in time and space. Its home is in a place where there is no concept of home. Thus is at home everywhere and nowhere.

Four images for connecting to your Enlightened Nature

1. Imagine that the world around you dissolves into space. Then imagine that your body dissolves into space. All that is left is a formless space. Rest quietly in your awareness of that.
2. Drop all concepts of past present and future. Rest entirely in that place that lies beyond our understanding of ordinary time.
3. Forget the person you are. Drop all ideas of your story and personality. Rest in the awareness of that part of you that lies beyond any ideas of who you are.
4. Let go of the idea that ‘home’ is a place that you can ever find or get to. Rest in that part of your awareness is at home wherever you are, whatever you are doing, that does not need a place to go to feel at ease.

Your enlightened nature is a place that you can rest in, a place you can regenerate your energy, a place that gives the rest of your life in time and space perspective a context. It won’t give you the answers to your life, but it is a place that will give you the confidence to go and find those answers for yourself.

For this week you might like to sit and mindfully explore one of the four images above in contemplation, simply allowing your mind to rest for a few minutes in a state of form-lessness, time-lessness, self-lessness or home-lessness.

© 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

Support for you Meditation Practice 

If you enjoyed the article above, and are interested in sound technology that can help you more easily get into deeper states of meditation, the following two tracks work well with cultivating formless, timeless meditations:

Harmonic Resonance Meditation

Audio Serenity

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Boomerang – The Mystical Aspect of Kindness

What happens when you throw a boomerang away from you? Of course we all know the answer, it comes back to you. The mystical aspect of practicing deliberate kindness, compassion or any other related positive act is that it tends to come back to you in unexpected but consistent ways. The upshot of this is that if you want to have kindness and compassion expressed toward you, the best way to achieve this is go out there and start practicing it yourself to others.
You might think of it as a form of enlightened self interest where we are creating a win-win situation;

  • Fulfilling the happiness of others by practicing kindness and consideration for them and,
  •  At the same time helping ourselves create the cause to receive similar treatment now and in the future

Perhaps the most important time to pick up this practice is precisely the time when we feel least like doing it; when we are feeling hard done by, upset or alone or uncared for. If at this time we can remember the boomerang of practicing kindness we can make the effort to go out and express caring for others and ourselves, send something positive out into the world so that we are inviting similar energy to come back to us.
Often an act of kindness has an immediate positive effect upon us; the act of caring itself makes us feel better, or invites a caring response from someone else. It also seems to work in more general ways. For example as a bouncer on the Student Union for three years during my University days I was generally calm and caring. As a result I found myself rarely in fights or trouble, and the punches and head-butts that did get thrown at me always seemed to ‘miss’ (and this was not because I was any good at fighting!)
Another example is I have a tendency to leave my wallet, phone and watch in public places (yes, I know, I’m a mindfulness teacher, I shouldn’t’t be leaving things around all the time!); the toilet in Starbucks, dropping money behind me on the pavement, in the changing room at the sports center and so on…yet they always seem to come back to me in the hand of some kind person.
Of course there is no guarantee that tomorrow I won’t have my wallet stolen and get beaten up in the process, but I do have a strong sense of how my own positive intention actively protects me from the worst that life can throw.

Practicing the boomerang of kindness
So, if you want to take this practice up for the week, just imagine that you have the boomerang of kindness in your hand as you are going about your day. Whenever you have the opportunity, throw it at people. Do it as much as you can, safe in the knowledge that every time you throw it out kindness, consideration and compassion will come back to you some way, somehow.

For more reflections on the practice of kindness see last weeks article on “The Tightrope of Kindness”.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

The courses and workshops for January 2014 will be up shortly.

Special Coaching offer at Integral Meditation Asia for December 2013-January 2014!

Sign up for three 1:1 coaching sessions with Toby (either MeditationStress Transformation or Shadow coaching) for only Sing$435! (Usual price Sing$600).

This is a great opportunity to get some very personally focused coaching for a great price. The only condition is that the three sessions must be completed in the month that they start, so start in December the sessions must be completed in December, likewise start in January the three sessions must be completed in January.

Awareness and insight creative imagery Enlightened love and loving Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindfulness Presence and being present Stress Transformation

The Tightrope of Kindness and Compassion

The Tightrope of Kindness and Compassion

I think of practicing kindness and compassion as like being on a tightrope, because there are many ways to ‘fall off’! To really practice them consistently and master them takes a lot of discipline and dedication.

How can you fall off?
It’s easy to practice kindness to others (and yourself) when you feel like it, but what about when you don’t feel like it?
Examples of this might be when you have had a tough day, when you are tired, when someone has wounded you with words, when you feel sad or in some way inadequate, when you feel insecure, when the people around us are not demonstrating kindness. These are all situations when it is all too easy to snap at people, to be unkind, to say inconsiderate things, to switch off our capacity to be kind and express kindness and compassion. We all know these types of situation and how easy it is to lapse.

From this we can see that really dedicating oneself to the discipline of kindness is not for the weak of heart or weak of mind. The flip side of this is that one way to build a truly and deeply strong heart and mind is to dedicate ourself to treading the tightrope of kindness each day

Getting on the tightrope each day
Each day you can begin by visualizing the tightrope of kindness and compassion in front of you. The platform at the other end of the tightrope is the end of the day. The game and the challenge is to stay on the tightrope of kindness all day, expressing kindness and compassion in all that you do, without falling off.
The good thing about a visualization meditation of course is that if you do fall off, then in order to get back on you just need to realize that you have fallen off, and mentally ‘get back on’!

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

The courses and workshops for January 2014 will be up shortly.

Special Coaching offer at Integral Meditation Asia for December 2013-January 2014!

Sign up for three 1:1 coaching sessions with Toby (either MeditationStress Transformation or Shadow coaching) for only Sing$435! (Usual price Sing$600).

This is a great opportunity to get some very personally focused coaching for a great price. The only condition is that the three sessions must be completed in the month that they start, so start in December the sessions must be completed in December, likewise start in January the three sessions must be completed in January.

Enlightened love and loving

Meditating on Enlightened Love the Easy Way

Dear Integral Meditators,

The weeks article looks at the simplicity and ease of the deep forms of meditation, such as meditating on enlightened love. The nice thing about this type of meditation is that anyone can practice on the level that they are at, but it remains deeply relevant and satisfying as our meditation practice develops and grows over time.

Yours in the spirit of awakened love and loving,


Waterfall - Punch Bowl Falls, Oregon Columbia River GorgeMeditating on Enlightened Love the Easy Way

The recipe for easy meditation on enlightened love is as follows, you will need:

  • A good practical working definition of love in its most universal sense
  • The ability to relax your body and mind fully without losing a basic degree of mindful awareness, or put another way, the ability to keep your mind simultaneously relaxed and yet focused at the same time (a basic meditation skill that we develop gradually through consistent practice)

What is enlightened love, and why is it different from everyday love? Enlightened love does not discriminate; it shines its light and energy on anyone and everyone regardless of their deeds, intention or nature. This is different for example from love as we normally experience it in our mind, emotions and body, where we easily feel love for some people, withold it from others, and feel pretty much indifferent to those that we do not know.
So you could say that enlightened love is a bit like the sun, shining its light on all, sharing its energy with all.
The benefits of developing our experience of enlightened love is that is gives us a very stable and deep rooted base from which we can experience all of the other types of love in our relationship to ourself and others, and as we express it within our body, mind and emotions. To connect to enlightened love is to connect to love in its primal state, and learn to draw on the inexhaustible nature of this primal energy in order to facilitate a happy and deeply considered life.

Step 1: A working definition of love:
This is a definition from Ken Wilber’s work, and one that I find very useful. In his work Wilber defines love as “the tendency of the individual parts of the universe to come together in order to form greater and greater wholes”. This goes all the way from the basic building blocks of the physical universe up to the most complex relations between humans. For example:

  • Atoms come together to form molecules
  • Molecules come together to form cells
  • Cells come together to form bodies (plants, animals, humans etc…)

Each of the individual units come together form greater and greater units of wholeness. This tendency to come together is love. Another example:

  • Humans come together to form families, families evolve into tribes, tribes into nations, nations into world communities (the UN etc).

Individual humans come together to form progressively bigger and bigger states of wholeness and unity.
Love then is this universal force within all of us that drives us toward relationship, co-operation, connectivity and wholeness.

Once you have gotten a decent understanding of what love is conceptually, you are then ready to meditate on love, and cultivate an enlightened awareness of it.

Step 2: how you then meditate on love:

  • Sit quietly and relax your mind and body as fully as possible, allow them to become as open and spacious as you can.
  • Tune into the essential life-force that you feel within our body-mind. Feel its presence and flow within you.
  • Identify this essential life force within you as being the universal energy of love, the impulse of the universe toward greater and greater levels of unity and wholeness.
  • Rest in this experience of love and wholeness in two ways; firstly receiving it deeply into yourself as you rest in a state of deep relaxation. Secondly, experience it as yourself, be the love, recognize that it is who you are in your most essential state.
  • Rest in this awareness with as little mental activity as possible, just resting in, receiving and being love.

When you going about your daily life, try and stay connected to this state and feeling of receiving and being enlightened love. Without losing our discernment, practise shining the light of love on the people around you however you may feel about them, or whatever mental judgments you may be tempted to have about them.

A practical reflection
Today I had a one hour bus ride with my daughter, both to and from our destination. For some of that time we were talking and reading, but for quite a lot of the time I simply closed my eyes, relaxed into a state of lucid, open concentration (kind of like sleep but not being fully asleep) and focused on receiving and being love in the way just described. The result was that I had the benefits of having had a bit of a nap, but as well as that I connected deeply to a state of being where universal love felt totally real, a direct, moment to moment part of my real experience in the here and now. The effort involved was no more than simply deciding to have a nap and rest my mind, but the effect was very different.

So there you go, the easy path to enlightened love! A final point is that simply connecting and developing your experience of enlightened love will not solve all your problems regarding love and its expression in your everyday psychological self, or in your relationships. However it makes the journey toward wholeness on the psychological and relational level so much more enjoyable and easy, and it also gives us the strength to make the difficult calls in our journey toward love in daily life

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Love as the Journey Towards Wholeness; Three Awareness Perspectives

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you have had a good week, the last few weeks for me seem to have been a period of adjustment making on different levels, and challenges that reflect those adjustments. Of course adjustments, changes and the challenges that go with them are all a fundamental part of the fabric of our life. One thing that I find with a daily meditation practice is that it really helps me to negotiate these periods of change and adjustment in an energetically ergonomic way; one learns to expend enough energy to meet the demands of the situation, and enjoy the learning that comes from it, without chasing ones tail unnecessarily and getting exhausted…

This weeks article focuses on love as the journey toward wholeness, I hope you’ll find that it treads the line between looking at “big”ideas and staying grounded and practical!

Yours in the spirit of wholeness through love,

Love as the Journey Towards Wholeness; Three Awareness Perspectives

There is a close relationship (ideally) between the experience of love and the practice of meditation. If we say that love is essentially the journey toward the experience of wholeness within ourselves, and define meditation as a practice that takes our mind from the experience of distraction and diversity toward a state of unity and oneness, then I think it is not difficult to see how they support and enhance each other:

  • Whenever we experience love (for example toward another person), our heart and mind expand, connect and unify in a way that closely resembles a relaxed, open, meditative state
  • Whenever we focus the mind in an un-distracted, unified state in meditation, we can begin to feel the flow of love and life-force in our body

In this article I want to look at three ways in which we can use meditation and mindfulness as a part of our journey toward wholeness and love.

Meditation as an inward journey toward love and wholeness
The first way in which we can experience love through meditation is by journeying deeper into the true nature of our own consciousness. If we go beyond the awareness of ourself as a physical body, and then beyond our awareness of oursef as a psychological collection of habitual thoughts, feelings and images, we discover the formless, timeless, witnessing dimension of self that lies beyond.
This formless, timeless self is referred to in the great wisdom traditions as the True Self, so called because it is the self within us that remains constant and unchanging through-out our life. It is also called the Universal Self, because the formless, timeless, witnessing self within me is exactly the same as the formless, timeless, witnessing self in you, in all human beings, animals, plants and indeed anything that possesses consciousness. So, by connecting to the formless, timeless self we connect to a dimension of our being that is constantly and experientially in a state of oneness, wholeness and love with everything else in the Universe.

Meditation as an outward journey toward love and wholeness
The second way in which we can experience love and wholeness through meditation is by making the effort each day to expand our circle of concern so that it becomes progressively larger and larger. We start by extending love empathy toward ourself, then our family and friends, then people we don’t  know, then people we may not like, expanding ever outward to include all living beings (yep, animals and plants too).
To experience love in this way is to be mindful that everyone matters, and to make our decisions based around this recognition. Of course we can’t avoid making decisions that hurt others at times, or that will harm them one way or another, but to live in a state of love means to live in a state where everyone is included, and we make our decisions based around an awareness of this inclusivity.

Opening the heart; facilitating the ongoing giving and receiving of love in our life
The third way we can grow our love each day is to make sure that our heart is energetically open to the giving and receiving of love. You can feel whether your heart is energetically open right now by tuning into the centre of your chest-space. Is this area of your body open and dilated, allowing energy to flow? Or is it contracted and closed, unable to give or receive love or life energy? If you spend most of your time with your heart energetically closed, then you will end up like so many of us do feeling starved of loving energy and feeling isolated and  alone even when surrounded by others.
Yes, when you open your heart to the world you may feel more vulnerable, and yes it does take courage (and discernment), but if you take that risk then you will feel alive each day with the energy of love, and allow your life to be informed by that love. The alternative is to live in a mental “ivory tower” heart closed, risking nothing but gaining nothing. You can deaden the pain in your life by closing your heart, but by doing so you cut yourself off from the flow of love, which is a high price to pay indeed.

One Minute Mindfulness for Practically Integrating the Three Above Techniques:

  1. Spend a minute dropping your mental baggage and resting in the formless, timeless, witnessing dimension of your consciousness, recognize that on this level of your consciousness you are actually and literally always in a state of oneness and wholeness with all other living creatures, and the whole living universe. Rest in the love baby!
  2. Take a minute each day to care about someone (human, animal, plant) that would normally be outside of your circle of concern. Make the effort each day to include more and more living things in your circle of love and wholeness
  3. Through-out the day be mindful of your physical heart space. Is it energetically closed, defended and dead, or open, alive and flowing? Try and consciously increase the amount of time in your day that your heart is in a dilated, open state of giving and receiving love.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Building Your Compassion and Reducing Your Own Suffering, Everyday

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you are enjoying the run up to the Easter weekend, I’m currently in the process of planning the classes and workshops for the last couple of weeks in April, which will be about developing an integral perspective on meditation as a practice for physical, mental and spiritual healing, I should have the details ready by next week…

In the meantime this weeks article focuses on a simple method for developing compassion by deriving it directly from our own experience of suffering, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of the compassionate heart,


Building Your Compassion and Reducing Your Own Suffering, Everyday

There is a saying that I think comes from the Christian contemplative tradition that goes something like “suffering is the first grace”. One of the things meant by this is that oftentimes it is our suffering that compels us to look deeper into our life for answers. Our pain encourages us to get onto some kind of spiritual, creative or developmental path. If we had not had that pain, we would never get off our developmental ass and would simply remain living a predominantly unconscious life of habit and conformity.
The other opportunity that our suffering gives us is to develop empathy and compassion for those around us who have similar sufferings. Our own specific sufferings can thus act as windows of compassion and care for others if we use them in an appropriate way.

The usual pattern of suffering and pain
Usually our suffering and pain causes us to focus on ourself and shut others out. For example if we are feeling tired and overwhelmed, the instinct can be to cut ourself off from people, and dwell upon our own misery. This is understandable, but very often the very act of shutting ourselves into our own small world further magnifies the pain and makes it even more difficult to deal with and get out of, thus locking us in a cycle or pattern of suffering; suffering leads to a small world intensely focused on ourself, which in turn leads to more suffering and so forth…

Reversing this pattern
Whenever we are suffering for whatever reason, we can take at least a little time in our day to reflect on how our pain actually gives us a lot of common ground with others experiencing the same pain, and deliberately extend a mind of care and compassion toward these people. This expands our mind, makes us less self focused, and as a result of this bigger mind and less intense focus on self we in turn experience our own suffering less intensely. So, we create a win-win pattern.
For example; rather than causing our own broken heart to cause us to descend into a microcosm of self-oriented misery, instead we use our relational pain to develop empathy with and compassion for others in difficult relationship circumstances, thus reducing our own pain as well as cultivating a kinder heart/bigger mind within ourself.

Compassionate intention helps
Even regularly introducing a compassionate intention to your mind like this for short periods of time will start changing what you do and how you experience the world. As well as reducing your pain, you may find that your compassionate intention actually starts to change your actions in a tangible way for the better.

One Minute Mindfulness
For those that wise to work with this practice over the week:

  • Take a period of 1-3 minutes
  • Bring to mind an experience of suffering or pain that you personally are going through
  • Reflect on all the other people in the world (both those you know and those you don’t personally know) who are experiencing similar suffering right now. Allow yourself to empathize with them, and gently develop the thought or wish that they find answers and relief from their pain. Focus on this compassionate intention for a short while.
  • Allow this compassionate intention to inform the rest of your daily activities.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Dear All,

This weeks article looks at ways in which we can encourage ourselves to get out of the ‘ordinary appearances’ that so often prevent us from living a full and vibrant life.

Quick reminder of this coming Wednesday’s  “Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen” . There are maybe three or four places left, so if you do want to come I do need to know, thanks! If you can’t make the Zen class physically, but are interested in the MP3 recordings of it, then it is available in this format.

Wishing you a week of non-ordinariness,


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in January 2013

Wednesday 16th January, 7.30-9.30pm: “An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen”

Sunday 26th January – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: ”Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

To register or for further enquiries: Email, or call 65-68714117

On Real Men, Daffodils and Chihuahuas

Ordinary appearances
From the perspective of Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practice, one of the main obstacles to us breaking free of our patterns of suffering and pain, and living in a truly creative and liberated state is ‘ordinary appearances’. Put very briefly this means that we see what arises in our daily life as the ‘same old same old’, rather than the reality (from a tantric perspective), which is that each moment of our life is a living encounter and dialog with the divine who/which is in each moment encouraging us to recognize our own inner creative nature, and encouraging us to dance and sing our way through life, rather than remaining stuck in the banal, the unthinking mainstream, the unexceptional and often actually being afraid to connect to and be “who we really are”.

Things that take you out of the spell of ordinary appearance
Some afternoons I jog down the canal to an exercise station to do a little bit of fitness work. Often at about that time there is another guy there, maybe in his 50’s. He has a kind of David Beckham mid-90’s hair cut, with red highlights, and he jogs down with his dog, a Chihuahua that last week was carrying a daffodil in its mouth as it trotted along beside him. I think he must be some kind of night club owner or something, but the thing that strikes me about him is that he is clearly entirely comfortable with his lack of conventionality. We normally have a friendly chat about man-stuff (actually mostly sound approximations, his english isn’t that good, and my mandarin is similarly limited, but with man-talk it is mainly about making the right primal sounds to let each other know that it is one ‘real man’ talking to another, right guys?) before we go off and sweat away in our own corner of the playground.
For me, seeing this slightly eccentric but entirely ‘comfortable in his own skin’ guy, within his flower carrying dog reminds me that life is not ordinary. Seeing him each week makes me smile and laugh a bit, and encourages me to keep on pursuing my own ‘out of the ordinary’ path with humour, enthusiasm, care and creativity despite the obstacles that come up.

Breaking the consensus of ordinary appearance in the world
Like me I am sure that you to have some slightly out of the ordinary people, sights and happenings that occur in your life each week, or if you think you don’t, then have a look out this week and see what you can find. You can use these encounters if you want just to consciously jolt you out of your ordinary, mundane perception of your life, and see your life as an opportunity to dance a little (inwardly or outwardly) to the tune of the divine, and to connect creatively, fully and with care to who you are, who you meet and what you are doing.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Engaged Equanimity

Dear Integral Meditators,

The new year beckons, and this is the new year edition of the Integral Meditations newsletter!

The new year beckons, and this is the new year edition of the Integral Meditations newsletter!

2012 has certainly been a deeply transformative year for me, and looking forward to 2013 the promise does seem to be that this will continue. When thinking about the qualities that I would most like to have, and I would most wish for you the readers, I came up with engaged equanimity. Whatever the specifics of 2013, the likelihood remains that life will continue to throw its mixture of blessings and curve balls at us, and the ability to keep caring deeply, whilst remaining strong and stable are qualities that remain always valuable and useful.

Wishing you happiness, growth, insight and love for 2013!


Engaged Equanimity

To practice engaged equanimity is to attempt to combine the qualities of even-mindedness and inner stability with the qualities of deep caring and a commitment to engage in life fully and passionately without holding back.

A dualistic approach to life often sees equanimity and caring as mutually exclusive, or even opposed to each other. If we are practising equanimity and even-mindedness it seems to imply that we have to be detached and un-involved. If we are practising deep caring it seems to imply that we are committed to a roller coaster emotional ride where our peace of mind and equanimity are largely sacrificed.

A commitment to regular, balanced meditation practice should gradually and naturally give rise to the ability to practice engaged equanimity. As we progress in our practice we discover that it is possible to be fully committed to our life and experiencing intense emotion, whilst at the same time experiencing a part of our mind and awareness that remains relaxed, an observer and witness to what is occurring, abiding in a state of even mindedness and equanimity.

What I want to outline in the remainder of this article is four simple practices that can be put together in order to consistently develop the practice off engaged equanimity. The first three focus on the development of equanimity, the final one focuses on engaging care.

The instructions are deliberately minimal, allowing enough detail for you to experiment and explore them in your own personal experience.

1. Allowing pain and anxiety, happiness and joy to flow through you.
Observe the feelings, emotions and experiences that you normally cling to, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant. Consciously relax your heart space/central chest area and allow your moment to moment experiences of pleasure and pain to flow through you, like a broad river flowing in and flowing out of your awareness. As you breathe in feel these feelings flowing into you, as you breathe out feel them flowing through you, let them go without holding onto them.

2. Make friends with impermanence
Be aware that everything that you are experiencing right now will change and is changing. As with practice 1, be aware of this with both the good and bad in your life. Whatever you wish to remain in your life, and that which you wish was already gone is changing, even in this moment. As you practice awareness of change and impermanence, smile at it, make it a friend and not an enemy in your life.

3. Drop your self
Spend periods of time where you deliberately forget who you are, what you do, what your life history is. Practice experiencing that which is in your outer and inner awareness without your “self” as the centre of the experience. Cultivate the recognition that life works in many ways perfectly well, and sometimes even better when an intense and central experience of “I” is taken out of the equation.

4. Commit to caring
Based upon the above three practices for developing equanimity and even mindedness, the fourth practice is then simply to commit to caring in your life and making a difference in the world in whatever engaged way you feel guided and are capable. With equanimity and even-mindedness as your underlying basis, choose to participate and get your hands a little dirty, choose to be (appropriately) vulnerable and fully alive. Of course this involves risk, and maybe (probably) getting hurt and burned on occasions, but with equanimity as the underlying basis we discover, sometimes to our surprise, that we can take it, and that it is worth it.

© Toby Ouvry 2012/2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website