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Why Meditate on & with Animals?

I was asked the other day why I continue to guide workshops and classes on meditating with animals, given that to some of my client group it may seem a bit ‘strange’. Here are a few reasons to consider why meditating with animals is of great value, with a short practice at the end to try it out…

We’ve been doing it a long time
Prior to the transcendent spiritual traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism in the ‘east’ and Chrisitianity/Islam in the ‘west’, human beings practiced an earth based spirituality where communion, learning and interaction with animals in the inner world as well as the outer one was a main part of our path to awakening and enlightenment. Our ability to do this type of meditation is long forgotten, but it is in our ‘dna’ so to speak, so most people find they can do it and have significant experiences without too much difficulty.

It re-connects us to parts of ourselves we have lost touch with
Meditating with animals connects us with our animal and instinctive nature in a benevolent way. It encourages us to use our imagination and capacity for inner visioning, and it encourages us to learn in a right brain creative, intuitive and visual way, very different from the way most of us use our minds and brains during the day.

It connects us to environmental awareness
Living in urbanized environment as many of us do it is very easy for us to lose touch with environmental awareness and a love for nature. Meditating with animals helps us recover our relationship to the natural world in an experiential way without literally having to travel outwardly to do so.

It can lead us into deep meditative states
When I lead meditation workshops and classes on meditating with animals, one thing that is always remarkable is the deep states of meditation that people go into during the sessions. People often remark that their sense of time seems to take on a completely different quality. Meditating with animals, landscape and nature can take us into these deep states very quickly and powerfully.

It fun!
Imagining playing and adventuring with animals is the sort of thing children do all the time. Meditating as an adult with animals can have an appropriately rejuvenating effect on our playful and spontaneous side! Meditating with animals helps us to get out of our mind and into a renewed contact with being alive.

How to meditate with animals
A very short but in some ways quite complete methodology for the basics of meditating with animals:
1. Sit down, calm your mind for a short time and set your intention to connect in the spirit of love to animals in the inner world with whom you have a meaningful connection
2. With this intention, imagine yourself in a landscape within nature that you know and love, build it strongly in your inner vision.
3. After a while an animal will come to meet you in this environment. Connect to this animal in whatever way feels appropriate; s/he may want to take you on a journey in the landscape, engage in a communication of some sort, or simply hang out and enjoy the peace and calm with you.
4. When you are ready return back to your body and your outer awareness, seeing the inner environment where you have been fading away.

Related article: Wolf Therapy

© 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 in August

Saturday 15th August, 9.30am-12.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Saturday 15th August, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Self Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through mindfulness & meditation

August 19th, 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Class – Working with our imagination, & the doorway between our inner and outer worlds

August 26th, 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Class – Working with subtlety, gracefulness and the inner feminine
Saturday 29th August, 9.30am-12.30pm – Meditation and Mindfulness for Self-Healing and Creating High Levels of Energy

Saturday 29th August, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Dreaming – Meditation Practices for Integrating Conscious Dreaming into Your Daily Life

Integral Meditation Asia

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Mixed Mindfulness Arts, Animals and Starlight

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at the martial arts scene these days you will see that a lot of the top guys are mixed martial artists, that is to say that they have trained in and mastered more than one form of martial arts, and this has made them better overall. Similarly training in complementary meditation and mindfulness styles can have a great effect upon your personal growth, more than training in just one.

With this in mind I have edited and updated an older article below on how to meditate with animals and landscape. It is a very old form of meditation that people have been doing for thousands of years, and has a lot to offer us in today’s very urbanized society!

Similarly I would like to sincerely recommend that if you are in Singapore next Sunday 31st September in the morning, then do consider coming along to my meditation workshop The Call of the Wild–Meditations for Deepening Your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Green-world where I will be teaching this meditation method in a very practical and relatively easy to apply way.

Finally, another practice that I have gotten a HUGE amount out of over the last year, and that continues to be a great support and strengthener for my mindfulness practice and personal growth in general is the brain-entrainment and bio-field technology tracks fromI-Awake. They have got a new product, Neuroflow out just a few days ago, which I am posting some information on immediately below. As it has only just come out, I have only had it a few days myself, but I have already had a great experience with it!

Yours in the spirit of mixing and flowing,


Meditating with Animals and Starlight – Shamanic Journeying

Meditating with animals and animal spirits is one of the main practices found in ancient shamanic traditions worldwide. The ancient shamans were really the pioneers of the first meditation techniques and these techniques (which are mainly the technique of “inner world journeying”) are deeply embedded within the psyche of human beings, including you and me. The result of this is that most people who actually try shamanic meditation techniques actually find that they are able to gain some success quite quickly. Michael Harner, one of the pioneers of modern proto-shamanism reports that fully 85% of people participating in his shamanic journeying workshops are able to gain tangible results and experiences from their first attempts at journeying meditation (The only caveat to that would be that these people chose to attend the workshop, so in a sense they may have ‘self-selected based upon their innate aptitude and interest).

As mentioned above, the main meditation “technique” found in shamanism is the “inner world journey” where contact with animal and ancestral spirits is sought for the purposes of gaining guidance, wisdom and healing. When meditating with animals and animal guides the sequence of the meditations would tend to go something like this:

  1. The shaman (or you and I if we are choosing to meditate in this way) goes on a journey, either within his imagination, or actually physically into a landscape to meet his or her animal guide.
  2. Once the specific animal has been contacted, the shaman requests to be taught or shown the wisdom or healing method that the animal has to impart to him.  There then follows a communion between human and animal, trust is hopefully gained and the relationship proceeds. It should be noted that the animal chooses the shaman, not vice-versa. If you are met by an ant or a rat when you wanted a lion you cannot do a trade in! Experience will show you that in reality the animal that comes is invariably the best one for you and for the job at hand!
  3. A series of meditations can then be embarked upon where the mediator then goes on journeys and receives teachings, techniques and insights from the animal. Initially the meditator travels WITH the animal, but over time s/he may feel as if he is merging with the animal’s body and actually BECOMING the animal for periods of time.
  4. Over time a stable working relationship is established with the animal spirit which is mutually enriching for both parties, and the wisdom and abilities of the animal are imparted to the meditator.

What “abilities” and wisdom do you get from an animal guide?
The way in which animal guides impart wisdom is non-intellectual, experiential and mainly done through images. To take an example, if your guide is a spider, and in meditation you experience what it is like to have eight sensitive legs picking up information from all directions around you then this will give you a heightened awareness of your inner sense of touch which you can apply to appropriate life situations and challenges.

Starlight meditation with a pigeon
One animal that I developed a relationship with around the the beginning of 2010 for a period of months is the pink necked green pigeon a number of which used to hang out in the park near my office. My animal journeying-type meditations are mostly spontaneous these days, done whilst napping or just sitting having a quiet moment. Animal journeying really just becomes an integral part of life once you have been doing it a while. So anyway, here a journey that I experienced with the above mentioned green pigeon that I recorded at the time :
I am having a ten minute meditation break in my office. My mind becomes quiet and tranquil. Quite suddenly I feel myself to be sitting in the next door park, staring up at a tree, where the green pigeon is sitting looking at me. After an initial contact we fly up into the sky going high above the cloudline.
With the clouds below us and the blue sky above, I become aware of rays of starlight flowing down from the heavens, bathing our bodies in white light. The rest of the meditation is then spent simply enjoying the starlight, absorbing it and being it. We then fly back down to the park, the vision breaks apart and I am sitting in my office meditating. I say thankyou to the green pigeon and get on with my day!

For many people the idea of meditating in this way may seem a bit far-fetched.

However there is HUGE value for urbanized humans to do this type of meditation, as it re-connects us to a truly living relationship with nature and animals. The other thing that we discover is that it is actually quite not difficult, it is just a matter of re-awakening our visualization and imaginative skills, and pointing them in the right direction.

© 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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The Way of the Rat

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at my website, articles and workshops, you’ll see there is quite a lot of material on transforming difficulties, re-directing negativity into positive energy and so on. Who taught me all this? Well I had a meeting with a rat 14 years ago that set me on the right track…

Yours in the spirit of fur and claws,


The Way of the Rat

When I first came to Asia as a Buddhist Monk in 1999, I stayed for 6 months or so in Johor Bahru at a small Buddhist Centre, whilst making regular trips into Singapore to explore the possibilities of setting up a meditation center there.
Over the 2-3 days of new year period 2000-2001 I was at this small centre, pretty much all alone, and at the time having doubts about my capacity to do the work that I had been asked to do. The meditation center was an apartment on the top story of a shophouse, with the stair well being the only way in and out.
During this period of aloneness and self-doubt, a large rat ran up the stairs from the street and disappeared under a cupboard before I could scare it back out. Realizing I was stuck with it for the night, I shut my bedroom door firmly before bed!
The next morning I was sitting meditating on the floor in the main shrine room, deeply relaxed, when suddenly I felt this pressure on my knee. I opened my eyes and this big rat had crept up on me and now had its front paws on my knee and was staring up at me inquisitively. He only had half of his fur, and was clearly a bit worse for wear! I had actually been in quite deep meditation, and so having a big rat suddenly leaning on my leg and staring up at me really shocked the cr**p out of me! I jumped up very quickly with a yell and he then ran off and hid in my bedroom.
I never saw him again. After checking he had moved out from my bedroom, I left front door open that night, with the metal gate shut, and I think he must have just gone down of his own accord when he found there was nothing much to eat!

Qualities of the rat
My encounter with the rat was the beginning of a series of experiences where I became aware that chance meetings with animals were actually playing and active part in my spiritual path and journey. This was a time in my life where I had really been thrown back on my own resourcefulness and capacity to survive, persist and problem solve as intelligently as I could. What better a companion, example and object of meditation could there be for me than the rat, an animal that survives and thrives in the most difficult, dirty and persecuted of circumstances?

Looking out for animals in your life
If a dragonfly flies through your window and spends a couple of hours with you while you are cooking dinner, or you go for a run and see a snake in the path, it’s worth just exploring what the qualities of the animal are and how its virtues and strengths could be applied to the challenges that you are going through right now. You may find it surprising how quickly your mind can free-associate a tangible and useful meaning between the qualities of the animal and what you need to do.

Re-awakening to our intimacy with the animal kingdom
For our ancestors living close to nature it would have been natural to feel close to animals (to both love and fear them), and to see spiritual meaning in their interactions with them. I think contemporary society has numbed our sense of intimacy with the natural world, but looking out for the coming and going of animals in your life in the way described above can be a first step toward re-awakening our own intimacy with, care for and support from wild creatures, even the dirty ones that live in our drains!

© 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