Awareness and insight Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditation and Art Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Shadow meditation

The Wisdom of Age, the Shadow of Time

Dear Integral Meditators,

In the same why that thee is a child within all of us, there is also an old man or an old woman. The article below explores this theme, it may be considered in some ways a companion to my previous article on the shadow child.
The old wo/man and the child self are examples of two themes that we will be exploring in the upcoming “Meditations for Developing the Language of the Shadow Self“.

Yours in the spirit of aged brightness,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Sunday July 27th, 9.30am-12.30pm –  Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self – A Three Hour Workshop 

Call of the Wild: Meditating with Animal Guides and Familiars

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

The Wisdom of Age, the Shadow of Time

The four stages of life
From the perspective of the seasons and the ‘wheel of life’ according to nature spirituality you have four stages to your life: Birth and childhood corresponding to spring, your youth and young adulthood corresponding to summer, mature adulthood/parenthood (the age of responsibility) corresponding to autumn, and old age/death corresponding to winter.

These four stages of life are literal, physical stages that we go through, but they are also perspectives that we can take on our life at any time. For example if we are in middle age physically we can still consider what our child self might think of any situation we are experiencing, as well as our old or wise self.

At which stage are you the wisest?
Each stage of these four life stages has its own particular wisdom and perspectives, but generally you would say that old age would represent the greatest opportunity for wisdom because it looks back upon the previous three stages using those life experiences to glean wise conclusions. Would you agree? Optimally then, the greatest opportunity for wisdom comes from considering our life from the end and looking back – from the perspective of ourself in old age.

Which stage do we tend to resist and avoid the most?
So if we assess our life from the perspective of old age and death, even if there is currently quite a long way for us to go before we reach that literal physical stage, there is much wisdom and benefit to be gained.
However, if you are like the vast majority of people then you will avoid thinking about old age, and when you do you will do so with feelings of discomfort, displeasure and even at times outright fear. The bottom line is we cling to our youth and fear aging. What is more society and culture seem to worship youth increasingly, making old age an even less appealing topic for contemplation.

The dark shadow of frail old age
Close your eyes now and see a picture of yourself in old age; bent, frail, youthful looks faded. Sense your resistance to this image of yourself, even as the signs of aging are present within your physical body right now. Open to this image of yourself as a frail old person, note and be aware of your resistances to it, your fears, perhaps even your disgust and anger. Try and open to, acknowledge and accept these resistances as deeply as you can.

The bright shadow of wise old age
Now look a bit deeper at this image of yourself. Perhaps you may find yourself looking into the eyes of your old self and see the wisdom of a life lived for many years. Sense the wisdom arising from suffering and the wisdom arising from joy that lives within the body, mind and soul of your old self; perhaps also the humor and kindness of your old self. You may even discover bright qualities within your old self that you absolutely did not expect.
Open as deeply as you can to the wisdom of your old self, his strengths, his knowledge and quiet inner fire.

Opening to aging and its bright counsel
Think of a situation in your life right now that you may be struggling with. Perhaps you might like to ask your old self for her perspective on what is going on. If you opened your heart and explain your desires and fears to your old self, it is possible that you might find a new experience of self-compassion and kindness. Maybe there is even a wily-ness and worldly wisdom that your old self has that can help you get what you want at the same time as satisfying the other people involved as well?

If we have the courage to pass through our resistance to our old-self, there is a bright and unexpected reward that lies on the other side.

© 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 

Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Presence and being present

The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

At its best meditation is a practice that leads over time to a personal, direct and stable experience of enlightened awareness that is not defined by any religion, theory or philosophy. This weeks article explores the first step…


The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

The first task and result of a decent meditation practice is to create a unified body-mind. This means to become aware that our mind and body are in continuous relationship with each other. When we have a thought in our mind, this translates into a physical energy and posture in our body. For example when our body feels tired or refreshed this easily and often affects the dialog that we are having in our mind.

For most people this relationship, whilst intellectually understood is not seen and experienced in reality; when we are caught up in our mind we become unaware of the posture and energy of our body. When we are focused on our bodily feelings our mind often gets left out.
So then the first task of meditation is to use awareness and mindfulness to see how our mind and body affect each other and to help them to communicate and work together as a single unit or partnership, rather than working against each other and causing each other friction.
When through awareness and meditation we are able to create a unified body-mind then two positive results come:

  1. Our unified body-mind starts to perform at a level that is far greater than our body and mind could ever do as individual units. As a result our capacity for creative growth in all areas of our life increases. Whether in our work, our relationships, sports or spiritual development the capacity to develop and maintain a unified state of body-mind dramatically increases our potential and performance.
  2. The harmony created between our body-mind creates a space of concentrated stillness.  This stillness and harmony gives us a deeper inner peace and stability within which we can start to access higher, deeper and more subtle levels of consciousness that lie beyond our everyday body-mind. Thus it acts as a doorway to the next level of meditative or consciousness development.

An image of the unified body-mind
In integral literature the unified body-mind is sometimes called the Centauric level of development. A centaur is a mythical creature with a human head and torso with the lower body of a horse, half animal, half human. Thus the centaur symbolizes the unity of our animal body and rational mind, our instincts with logic, our conscious mind with our unconscious mind.

How to work on unifying your body-mind each day.
Take a topic in your life. It could be to do with work, relationships, any area you want to investigate.
Bringing to mind the subject and allow in your mind to explore it with thought and emotion. Observe the principal patterns of thought/emotion that arise.
Now turn your attention to your body. Be aware of the energy that arises in your body whilst you have been generating the thoughts and emotions in your mind together with the posture that your body has adopted. Observe how thought and emotions create a language of feelings and postures within the body.

Finally, observe with awareness the co-arising of thoughts/emotions in the mind together with feelings/posture within the body. See how they are a single, unified, symbiotic experience. Take this awareness of your unified body-mind as your object of awareness for the remainder of the time you have set aside.

Working with this exercise even for a short time each day over a period of time will help you to instinctively start to view the body-mind as a unified entity and to experience the benefits that result.

© 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


Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Shadow meditation

Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

Hi Integral Meditators,

The dreams and imagined images in our mind can be a powerful source of inspiration and growth. This weeks article looks at how we can go about capitalizing on positive dream and imaginary images that our mind produces by considering them in the light of our golden or bright shadow, or the positive part of our repressed unconscious.

Wishing you all the best in your inner journey,



Dreams, Meditation and Working with the Bright Side of Your Shadow

The Shadow is the part of ourself that we have repressed or rejected and that lies within our unconscious mind.
Normally when the shadow is talked about it is referred to as the dark, damaged or broken part of our self. However it is also equally true that we reject parts of ourself that are strengths and positive qualities but that we do not believe we are capable or deserving of. For example we might be a potential very good public speaker, but because of excessively shy or humble nature we repress and deny that capacity and have no awareness that it exists within us.
One of the ways that we can start working with our bright or golden shadow is to look for images and figures that come up in our dreams that seem to indicate a part of ourself that we are not aware of that seems to have positive potential. Once we have identified such a dream figure, we can then work with it in meditation in order to find out what part of our bright shadow it represents, and how we can go about integrating it consciously into ourself as well as expressing it in our life.

Here is one example from my own shadow work: A couple of nights ago I had quite an extensive dream with Robert Plant in it (the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin). In the dream I spent quite a long time chatting and hanging out with him, ending in a concert in a small venue with other related figures like David Lee Roth (ex lead singer from Van Halen).
So, observing the prominence and clarity of the dream I decided to do a little bit of shadow work with it, using the 6 step shadow process that I teach in my workshops on the shadow:

Step 1 – Seeing/spotting the shadow: In this case the subject was already clear, the figure of Robert Plant appearing in my dream
Step 2&3 – Feeling and interpreting the shadow: Recalling the dream, the feelings and ideas I felt when I focused on RP were a feeling of ‘shining’; not being afraid to be centre-stage when necessary and also a commitment to staying at the edge of my creative process. Robert Plant as a lead singer quite obviously embodies the ability to be the centre of attention (which I myself have some aversion to), and his life has always been a commitment to never resting on his laurels, and working on music projects close to his heart, even if they are not popular or famous
Step 4&5 – Being it and owning it: Now I have identified the qualities embodied by my dream image – the capacity to ‘shine’ and the commitment to staying on the edge of my creative process. So during this stage in my contemplation I focused on really integrating a sense of these qualities as a part of ME, a part of who I am.
Step 6 – Integrating it: The final stage of the golden shadow practice is then to focus on integrating and expressing this “new” part of ourself into our daily life.
So for me deliberately placing myself in situations where I am being a little more positively extrovert as well as re-committing to staying on the edge of my own creative process becomes my follow up practice.

A Practice for the Week:
Watch what positive images/figures come up in your dreams (or daydreams if you can’t remember your sleeping ones!). Once you have one or more image/figures to work with, practice exploring and integrating what part of your bright shadow they might represent by using the steps outlined above.

© 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

creative imagery Inner vision Integral Meditation Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Uncategorized

When You Have to Go Against the Flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

Life is not so tough when everything is flowing in the direction that you want it to, but what happens when you find yourself having to go against the flow of energy? This weeks article explores that space and how we can use meditation to help.

In the article I use as an image derived from landscape and nature as a main method for developing the ability to go against the flow. In the Dynamic Calm Online Meditation Course  beginning this coming Thursday 19th September I will be using quite a lot of this type of landscape imagery as a way of connecting to the energy of calm, so if you like the article below then this is a course that you might enjoy!

Yours in positively going against the flow,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Beginning Thursday 19th September – Integrating the Energy of Dynamic Calm Into Your Life – A Four Week Online Meditation Course

  • Would you like to learn how to find a place of calm, centeredness in all circumstances?
  • Would you like to be able to conserve energy that is currently being taken up in stress and anxiety so that you can use it doing the things that you love and enjoy in your life?
  • Are you interested to bring a quality of calm to your life that is not just a place of stillness and peace, but also a source of strength, resilience and dynamism?
  • Are you interested in developing a meditation practice that is flexible and invites you to explore and develop your own wisdom and insight, rather than being rigid and dogmatic?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, then this is a meditation course for you! ClickHERE to read the full details of the course…

When You Have to Go
Against the Flow

Often times in life we find ourself having to go against the flow. For example:

  • We can find ourself going through a phase in a friendship, work or romantic relationship where it all seems like hard work and nothing is flowing easily
  • In our work business can seem slow, and a lot of effort seems to have to go into generating a relatively small success
  • When an idea that we are deeply passionate about is not taken up with interest by others, or they are even judgmental or negative about it

There are infinite numbers of situations we may find ourselves in that require the life skill of going against the flow, particularly if we are working with ideas that are new or pioneering.

How meditation changes our experience of going with the flow
When we practice meditation we are developing the capacity to “go with the flow” and relax more in our life, but a solid meditation practice will also give us the patience and perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other (literally or figuratively) in order to accomplish a goal that is important to us but that is difficult to achieve because we are having to go against the flow.

A meditation image for going against the flow
In Asia I have visited several rivers that have rapids in them. What I like to do when I visit such places is to use the rocks in the water to hop upstream, going against the flow of the fast moving water. Standing securely on a rock surrounded by fast flowing water I relax and look for the next rock to leap onto. I jump from one rock to the next, gradually making progress upstream again the current of the water all around me.
Often when I am in a daily situation where I am having to go against the flow, I use this image of hoping up a river on the rocks as a way of keeping patient, persevering and gradually keep moving forward. The image describes perfectly for me the mindset that I am using to prevail.

Questions for your own practice of going against the flow

  • What situations in your life do you find yourself having to go against the flow? As you are reading this article, try and think of two or three concrete situations where you yourself regularly have to go against the flow in your life.
  • What images communicate for you the essence of awakened “going against the flow?” In the above article I have suggested an image from my own experience that you are most welcome to use as a way of developing your own “going against the flow” mindset. However, there may be images from your own direct experience that describe very well to you the patience and perseverance that you need to go against the flow and that will work perfectly for you as an image for this type of meditation.

© 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

Awareness and insight Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self

Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you’ve had a good week, this weeks article continues the theme of last weeks article on Paradox as Therapy , looking at ways in which we can hold apparently contradictory states of awareness together in order to develop and enhance our inner wisdom.

Yours in the spirit of inner wisdom,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Click on event titles for full details

Sunday June 23rd, 8.00-10.30am – Walking Meditations for Connecting to the Energy of Nature 

Sunday June 30th, 8.30am-12.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and Releasing Your Inner Stress


Sunday 14th July, 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 

Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Normally we think of our good fortune and happiness as being in contrast or opposition to our misfortune and unhappiness. This article and the exercise outlined aims to help us to use our difficult experiences to:

  • Cultivate mindful acceptance of our challenges
  • Cultivate greater appreciation of our good fortune and wellbeing
  • Find a space of awareness that lies beyond and is transcendent of both that which makes us unhappy in life and that which makes us happy.

Here is what you do:

Stage 1: Select an experience of suffering, pain or misfortune in your life. Let’s say in this example that I am feeling unappreciated and uncared for by a close friend whom I expected more support from. So, the first thing that I do is to become mindfully aware of the feelings of hurt that I am experiencing in this circumstance. I sit with awareness of the feelings of being unloved/uncared for as they are. I don’t try to change them, I just accept them as they are, holding them with mindful awareness.

Stage 2: I now select an experience of good fortune/happiness that contrasts directly with the original negative experience. So, in the example here I would deliberately bring to mind people whom have demonstrated real care and appreciation of me. I focus on remembering all the times when they have demonstrated this care and appreciation, and allow this feeling of being cared for and appreciated to register fully in my mind.

Stage 3: I now become aware of a part of my mind and awareness that remains the same whether I am feeling uncared for (as in stage 1), or cared for (as in stage 2). I cultivate awareness of that part of myself that is beyond the ordinary changeability of my daily experiences, that remains a quiet witness or observer to all “different weather” of what happens in my daily life. This pure witnessing awareness is always tranquil and peaceful, even blissful in a way that transcends ordinary happiness and suffering.

Stage 4: Now I alternate between awareness of stages 1, 2 & 3 for a while, taking them all in without favoring one or another of the three. I feel the pain of being uncared for, I feel the pleasure of being appreciated and supported; I experience that part of my awareness that is beyond both ordinary pleasure and pain. Allow all three experiences to be in your mind; don’t favor one or the other. Make your mind big enough for all three.

To conclude, finish with a brief period of mental resting and equanimity.

The effect of this exercise when done regularly is to:

  1. Develop equanimity and stability when experiencing discomfort, pain, misfortune, emotional unhappiness and so forth
  2. To use our misfortune to deliberately stimulate our feeling of good fortune and appreciation of what we have
  3. To gradually learn to go beyond ordinary happiness and suffering and locate our fundamental sense of self in a place of awareness that lies beyond the fickle events of our 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

A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection One Minute Mindfulness Shadow meditation

Re-Contextualizing Our Biological Fear

Dear Toby,

This weeks article looks at biological fear, and how we can work to mindfully re-direct its functioning in our mind so that it is working for us rather than against us in our life. This re-directing of our biological fear and learning to relax into a mind of safety and ease is one of the topics that I will be covering in this coming Saturdays Mind of Ease  workshop.

The topic of this coming Wednesday’s meditation class is the five types of unconscious mind. It is a subject that I have not taught before in a public class, and it it tickles your curiosity, do feel free to come along, even if you have not been able to make all the classes in this series. I think there will be a lot to stimulate you both in terms of you curiosity and your consciousness development!

Yours in the spirit of a mind of ease,


Re-Contextualizing Our Biological Fear

Our biological fear is that part of our body and brains’ programming that essentially works to ensure our survival. It is extremely ancient and the strategy that it has is based around paranoia. Its reasoning is that the more paranoid you are about potential threats to your wellbeing the more likely you are to survive. For most of human kinds history this has worked very well, as up until quite recently there have always been genuine threats to physical survival, such as wild animals and head-hunters who, if you were not alert really could end your life prematurely.
However, in our present time, where our immediate physical surroundings are relatively safe, as often as not our paranoid survival based programming often gets in the way of our happiness and ability to relax and enjoy our daily existence. It unconsciously prevents us from appreciating the good things that we have, exaggerates threats to our safety and wellbeing, focuses on all the negatives in our life, keeps us highly stressed, makes us feel like we are living in a dog eat dog world, and generally living in fear of what could go wrong in the future.
As a result we often feel like we are under some form of physical or psychological attack, even when right at that particular time we are under no immediate threat. I’ve represented this situation in the diagram below. The big circle is the ambient biological fear pervading our mind, and making us feel as if we are under attack all the time, thus unnecessarily adding to rather than subtracting from the real and present challenges that we actually do have in our life.

So what is the solution to this? It is basically a two-fold move that we need to make:

  1. Recognize that we have this biological fear ticking away in the background of our mind, and make sure that we are not letting it run the way we approach to and experience of our life.
  2. Regularly learn to recognize and rest our awareness in the relative physical and psychological safety of the present moment.

This recognition of safety in the present moment then provides a new basic context for our mind and life where the underlying feeling is one of relaxation and ease. Within this new context the other biological and psychological aspects of our experience (including our biological fear) can function appropriately and in their proper place. I’ve represented this in the diagram below, where you can see the recognition of safety in the present as a big circle of awareness that provides a context for the rest of our moment to moment experience. In this new arrangement our biological fear remains in our mind, able to perform its function of detecting threats to our wellbeing and safety, but doing so without inhibiting and blocking other mental and emotional factors in our mind that cause us happiness and wellbeing.

Recommended one-minute mindfulness for the week:
Spend 1 minute, three times a day sitting quietly, following your breathing and recognizing that, right at this moment you are not under any immediate threats to your physical or psychological safety. Rest at ease in this experience and try and take it as much as possible into the rest of your day.
© 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

Meditation techniques mind body connection Motivation and scope One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Meditation at Christmas – Mindful Eating

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sincerest best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season  from myself and Integral Meditation Asia. Enjoy this weeks article!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


Mindful Eating As Your Object of Meditation

The Christmas season is upon us, which, amongst other things involves gathering together to enjoy food in (hopefully) good company. With this in mind I got thinking about the different methods I have come across for transforming the act of eating into an act of meditative awareness. In general we eat every day, and so having a method of transforming eating into a mindfulness practice is invaluable for any meditator, as it means that the act of eating itself strengthens ones meditation practice and the practice of states of mind that lead directly or indirectly to the experience of happiness and/or insight.
In particular at Christmas which can have many spiritually and culturally connotations, mindful eating gives us a chance to enjoy the interface between our meditation practice and the enjoyment of delicious food.  I have outlined five techniques below from you can take your pick, or alternate between. With this in mind, here we go:

1. Eating with detachment – Delicious as the food may be, the great wisdom traditions of the world have always advised that food is in fact not a true source of lasting happiness, and have thus recommended that we temper our attachment to what we eat, and enjoy it without getting completely consumed by mindless gluttony. For those that have learned to practice detachment in a balanced way, the insight is that a certain level of detachment actually enhances the pleasure from any given activity, and this is also the case with food. By mindfully eating with a certain level of detachment the amount of enjoyment from the sensual experience of eating actually increases.

2. Eating with an altruistic intention – You can enjoy your food whilst at the same time motivating yourself to use the energy that you get from the food to bring benefit to the world. This is the kind of classic “Bodhisattva training practice” that one finds for example in Mahayana Buddhism. Before one eats one might think something like “My main wish is to be of benefit to others, in order to do this I am now going to sustain my body by eating this food”. With this in mind you can then enjoy your food in the same way that you normally do, but behind it lies a compassionate and loving motivation.

3. Regarding what is eaten as a manifestation of primal bliss and emptiness – This method is primarily a tantric method (for me one I learned within the Tibetan tradition),and consists of regarding the food that is eaten as primarily a manifestation of the causal, formless bliss that underlies that whole of the manifest world. Thus one eats with the recognition that behind the world of ordinary appearances (such as the food one is eating) lies the ever present bliss and spaciousness of spirit. This practice requires a certain level of experience in meditation, but it can be a fun one to play with even on a more elementary level of practice.

4. Eating with appreciation – Before one eats time is taken to appreciate the cooks, the circumstances in one’s life that make such nutritious/delicious food to be possible, the trees, plants and animals that provided the ingredients.  Eating with gratitude and appreciation provides a wonderful inner context for the enjoyment of good food.

5. Eating whilst putting down your baggage and having fun – In meditation classes I often tell people at the beginning of the session to put down their mental baggage before we begin to meditation. Similarly we can take the beginning of a meal as an opportunity to put down our mental baggage and engage in the simple act of eating in the present moment with enjoyment, like a mini eating meditation. If your mind is pre-occupied with its usual nonsense, there is always the danger that we waste the fun and enjoyment of food simply because we are mentally elsewhere!

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

Please feel free to share this newsletter with people you think may enjoy it. The only thing we ask of you is to please forward the entire newsletter including the contact and copyright information. Thank you.

Reading this Newsletter for the first time? Sign up to receive Toby’s Integral Meditation Newsletter

Find out about Private Meditation Coaching with Toby.

Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope

Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Hi Everyone,

When you think of spiritual courage what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Likewise, what does the idea of spiritual fear conjure up in your mind. This weeks article is a contemplation on both spiritual fear and spiritual courage, and how we can start to deal with spiritual fear by leveraging more upon our spiritual courage.

In the upcoming classes section below you will see that the write ups for the Integral Meditation Practice workshop and six week course beginning in October are now complete, feel free to click on the links and have a read about these brand new programs!

Yours in the spirit of spiritual courage,


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia
An in Depth Look at Meditations For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 
Time: 7.30-9pm
Location: SCWO, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore. for map click HERE

3rd October, Class 4Focus, Concentration, Peace
A fragmented, distracted state of mind seems to be the norm in the midst of our current, frantic pace of life. The meditation techniques taught in this class specifically address how we can develop the skill of focused, lucid concentration amidst all the distractions and busyness that calls for our attention. Developing focus and concentration not only has the benefit of making us more effective in achieving our goals, it also gives us access to an experience of deep regenerative peace that we can rest in as we travel our life’s many and varied pathways.


Sunday 21st October– 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: An Introduction to Integral Meditation Practice

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation
To register or for further enquiries: Email, or call 65-68714117

Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Defining spiritual fear and spiritual courage
Spiritual fear is the fear we experience when we are faced with the possibility and challenge of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
Spiritual courage is the courage that it takes to keep stepping up to and into the challenge and possibility of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
In other words, spiritual courage is the answer to the challenge of spiritual fear.

Not something new
Spiritual fear and courage not something new to us. All of us can remember the fear and apprehension of moving from kindergarten to primary school, of moving out of our family home for the first time to go to college, of getting our first job, of setting up our first self employed business. All of these situations involved moving from a smaller world and sense of self to a larger world that involved developing both a new sense of who we are, and dealing with the challenges of a larger, more complex and often uncertain universe.
So, there is a sense in which we have already been confronting our spiritual fear; fear of giving up our old, secure identity in order to embrace a larger one, and exercising our spiritual courage; boldly stepping into a new, larger world and embracing a new, bigger and more challenging sense of self.

The challenge to keep on developing and enquiring as we reach adulthood
The challenge for most of us is that once we get to the average, conventional level of functional adulthood, our willingness to keep embracing new and deeper experiences of who we are generally stagnates. We enter a comfort zone where our sense of who we are becomes more and more fixed, more and more comfortable. As we become more comfortable, our willingness to continue developing and pushing ourselves deteriorates.

Spiritual courage is the courage to keep evolving our consciousness
So then spiritual courage is the courage that keep encouraging us out of our comfort zone, and keeping on accessing developing new and deeper dimensions of who we are and what we do.

The stick: The reality of the certain death of the small self
The “stick” that calls us to listen to our spiritual courage and moving beyond our spiritual fear is the knowledge that, at the time of our physical death everything that we are as a personality or ego, and all that we have accumulated materially ceases or is left behind.
If our sense of self only goes as deep as our ego-personality, then at the time of death we will literally feel as if we are losing everything. This mindfulness of the challenge of death encourages us to keep looking deeply into our identity and find something within our moment to moment awareness that is “beyond death” or that continues after our ego-personality ceases at the time of death. You could say that this is one of the main jobs of meditation, to help us develop awareness of that within our awareness that is “deathless”.
Spiritual courage and the actions we engage in over a lifetime based upon spiritual courage enable us to meet our physical death with equanimity and joy, and encourages us to use the time we have in our remaining lifespan as well as possible.

The carrot: Each year of our life becomes the “best ever” as we continue to get older
A life based around spiritual courage will tend toward greater and greater happiness as life goes on and we get older. 
When I was at school when I asked my teachers what was the best time of life, they would either answer childhood or young adulthood, as you have more time for fun and fewer responsibilities. Now, as I pass the 40 year mark of my life, with quite a lot of responsibilities, limited time and a slowly aging body I can still say that this year has been the best of my life so far. This is not because the best outer things have been happening in my life (it has been quite challenging in this way), but rather because my sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life is clearer than ever before, and so the qualitative, moment to moment experience of life is for me now better than it has ever been. As long as I keep enquiring more and more deeply into “who I am” I can only see next year being better than this one, the year after being better still and so on.

Meditating on spiritual courage
Meditating on spiritual courage does not need to be a complex affair it is simply a matter of thinking each day “How would my deepest or highest self respond to the challenges that I face today?” Having asked this question, quieten your mind, look within yourself and connect to the deepest sense of self that you can find within that moment. Observe the perspective that it brings to your life and circumstances, and try and identify with and act upon that deep perspective, rather than the louder and more superficial perspectives that our ego often encourages us to act from.
So, in this sense we could say that meditating on spiritual courage is simply being aware of the deepest, wisest way of viewing ourself and our circumstances, and choosing to act upon that perspective, despite the resistance we may feel from our spiritual fear.

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

Awareness and insight Enlightened love and loving Essential Spirituality Inner vision Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

The Inevitability of Peace, Happiness and Fulfillment

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article looks at the a perspective on happiness and wellbeing that I have been finding particularly useful over the last couple of weeks, so much so that I felt I would like to pass it on to people, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of inevitable peace,



Article of the Week:

The Inevitability of Peace, Happiness and Fulfillment

The world can seem a difficult place to find fulfillment and give happiness

Even with the best intentions sometimes finding and giving happiness can see like a difficult and intractable process. It seems like one personal problem that we solve only gives rise to another, people we are trying to help sometimes turn around and stab us in the back or refuse to take any constructive advice. The world at large seems unfair, with some like us enjoying wealth and affluence easily whilst vast tracts of the population remain stuck in absolute poverty.
Looking at life from these perspectives it can be tempting to give up on the prospect of ourselves or the world at large ever finding a lasting solution to our own challenges, let alone to the collective problems that we face.

From a spiritual perspective fulfillment and peace is inevitable

Why does spirit bother creating anything in the Universe, worlds, planets, living beings and the like? The traditional answer found in the great wisdom traditions of the world is essentially that spirit engages in the process of creation for fun, for amusement. In the Hindu tradition this idea is called “lila”, meaning sport, pastime, or play. Spirit creates the diversity of the universe from its own inherent unity as a celebration of itself and to alleviate apparently a certain cosmic sense of boredom. What will the end result of this play and sport be? Inevitably it will be a return to the natural and inherent peace, happiness and fulfillment of unified spirit.
If we see our own life and world from this perspective, as the sport, pastime or play of spirit, underpinned by the inherent unity and  loving nature of spirit, then this enables us to find a point of equilibrium in the chaos of our daily life and complex world, with all of its uncertainty and intractability.

That fulfillment is not somewhere in the distant future, it is here and now

One of the main aims of meditation in the above context is to bring home a subjective and experiential realization of this inevitable happiness, fulfillment and peace. By realizing this inevitably, we start to experience it in our lives right now, as an underpinning current of energy that gradually pervades everything we do. You could say that having access to this current of energy in everything that we do is one of the markers of success in our daily meditation practice.

Meditating on the inevitability of happiness

If you are interested in trying to integrate this perspective more into your daily life and meditation practice, here is a simple method you can use. Sitting quietly and contemplatively, focus on the words:
At the end of the life-paths and trials of every living being lies inevitable peace, happiness and fulfillment”.
Then spend a bit of time just breathing and relaxing into the recognition that however difficult things seem for ourself, our loved ones and the world at large, the only final endgame is the return to the peace, happiness and fulfillment of spirit.
During your contemplation and afterward, whilst going about your daily life, try and feel this final peace, happiness and fulfillment as a presence in your life right now. As Thich Nhat Hanh is so fond of saying “The Pure Land is Now or Never!”

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

A Mind of Ease Awareness and insight Enlightened love and loving Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Motivation and scope Presence and being present

How to Meditate on Gratitude

Why Should we Meditate on Gratitude? What are we Trying to Achieve?

The function  and purpose of meditating on gratitude is to train our attention in such a way that even when we are under pressure and feeling unhappy in some way we never lose sight of the things in our life that are there for us to appreciate, value and feel grateful for. Moreover, when we are not feeling unduly under pressure or unhappy, the practice of gratitude helps us to substantially enhance and stabilize our happiness and sense of wellbeing.
Meditating on gratitude is a way of leveraging more fully upon the existing good in your life. By consciously noting and appreciating that which is there to be thankful for, the amount of happiness that you get from that person, object of event increases exponentially. Whenever we take someone or something/someone for granted we minimize the amount of wellbeing that we can derive from our relationship to it or them.

Success in Meditating on Gratitude.
One of the main signs of success in our meditation on gratitude comes when we start to realize that there is something that we can be appreciating and feeling happy about in each and every moment of our life. There is in fact an abundance of things to feel positive about in everyone’s life, it is just a matter of training our attention through meditation to be aware of it!
Our biological brain is hardwired toward picking our faults, threats and dangers in our life. This was good for our survival when we were fighting of bears and tigers and other tribes, but in today’s modern world this tendency to pick out the negative serves most often to inhibit our quality of life and constrict the amount of potential happiness that we experience at any given moment. The meditation on gratitude is designed t remedy this issue.

How to Meditate on Gratitude.
The perception can be that meditation is an activity that you do sitting down in silence, and then once you get up you then start doing something else. In reality however good meditation involves training our attention through-out the day to focus on objects that make us calm, peaceful and happy.
Correspondingly this meditation in gratitude is something that you can in the midst of your daily activities in spare moments.

The Basic Practice:Finding short periods of time to come back to a mind of gratitude and appreciation.
Think about the way in which your day is structured and try and come up with 5-6 one minute slots where you can consciously come back to a mind of gratitude, and focus on it for just that very short period of time. By doing this over the period of the week you will start to create some strong practical habits in your mind that naturally incline toward valuing, appreciating and feeling grateful for the good in your life.

What Should I feel Grateful For?
There are almost innumerable things that we can choose to be grateful for, three main areas are:
– Gratitude appreciation for ourself and our own actions. Give yourself a regular pat on the back for the positive efforts you are making!
– Gratitude and appreciation for others in our life who help or assist us in some way.
– Gratitude and appreciation for the Earth, for nature and the opportunity to participate in life

Some Samples From my own journal
Of course there are many other different things that we can focus on as objects of gratitude and rejoicing. One thing that I find really powerful is actually writing down the thing that I am feeling grateful for, either actually at the time or later in the day. Writing down our object of gratitude makes it really stand out in the field of our awareness, and therefore has a powerful and accelerated effect upon our development of gratitude (and yes, writing can be very much a part of our meditation practice!).
Here are some examples from my own journal over a twenty four hour period:

9th September

3.15pm – I am waiting for my daughters’ bus to arrive, there is a pleasant breeze blowing through the bushes and flowers, the sky is cool and overcast. Next to me on the wall a little family of sparrows observes me closely whilst preening themselves. I take a moment to appreciate and soak in all of these gifts from the natural world, freely available to me as long as I care to notice.

6.15pm – Whilst waiting at the bus stop on the way to the shopping centre I took a minute to appreciate the trees around me, and the calming energy that they gave me at a time when I was feeling a little bit irritable. I also took the time to notice the sun setting behind the clouds and value how pleasant it can be to view the light of the sun when it is hidden behind light cloud.

9.30pm – Took time after my evening meditation to appreciate myself for making the time and effort to meditate. I also spent a short period of time enjoying and appreciating the evening moon and its cooling and calming light!

12.30am – Reflected on the enjoyment that both I and my daughter are getting from reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” together each evening.

10th September

8.30am – Took a few moments whilst watering the plants on our roof to appreciate and feel gratitude for the good energy that they give to us and the way in which they visually enhance our living space.

11.15am – Spent a few moments appreciating myself for having done the vacuuming and other cleaning tasks around the house, as well as feel grateful to the makers of the vacuum cleaner for saving me time by making such an effective machine! Finally felt grateful for our pleasant apartment.

2pm – Felt gratitude for the excellent Japanese vegetarian meal that I had just participated in, and for the efforts of the people who had created such an excellent alternative Japanese vegetarian restaurant!

4.15pm – After spending an hour taking research photos for my new project, I took a moment to feel grateful for the fact that I have such a relatively large amount of time to devote to my artistic practice in my life.

As you can see none of the above are hugely unusual or remarkable events. Enjoying the daily happiness that gratitude can give is simply a matter of training your attention to look in the right directions every day!

© 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