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Mindfulness, productivity, self-regulation & the 85% rule

Mindfulness in its pure form is essentially enhanced reality orientation. It involves involves specific forms of attentional & awareness practices that are designed to release our natural intelligence & our potential for experiential learning in the moment

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article essentially points out how mindfulness and productivity go together to help you enjoy your life and realize your goals, or to go from coping to thriving, I hope you enjoy it!

In the spirit of  enhanced reality orientation,






Mindfulness, productivity, self-regulation & the 85% rule

Basic reality orientation – Coping well enough to perform
In order to hold down a job, or maintain a harmonious social and family existence we all need a degree of mindfulness. We all need to be taking social cues, focusing on our work, and making appropriate adjustments well enough to do these things acceptably. Failure to meet our reality with this basic level of mindfulness would lead to:

  • Inability to hold down a job
  • Lack of stable relationships
  • Continuous instability within the family unit
  • Being considered unstable and even ‘insane’ by the conventional measures by which it is assessed in society

Enhanced reality orientation – Moving from coping to thriving
Mindfulness in its pure form is essentially enhanced reality orientation. It involves  specific forms of attentional & awareness practices that are designed to release our natural intelligence & our potential for experiential learning in the moment.

  • By paying attention in a high-quality manner to our work we can be more successful at it without necessarily working harder (aka working smarter)
  • In our leadership and relationship life we can create high functioning interactions that lead to great teams and stable friendships
  • We can learn to pick up on inner cues and signals from our body-mind, and learn to regulate our energy in a way where we feel well and thriving not just in the short term, but in the medium and long term.

With the students that attend my mindfulness sessions at INSEAD, one of the things that I am trying to teach them is how to arrive at 50years old (my age) from where they are (30+) in a way where they feel they have energy, enthusiasm and are ready to leap into the next life-project. This is as opposed to what they see in may of their seniors who are exhausted, stressed out and cynical. To do this they (and you!) need to self-regulate effectively. Below is a simple exercise around the 85% rule that is one example of this.

The 85% rule
This rule basically states that, if you are 85% exhausted, and then you stop and rest, your body-mind will recover reasonably fast and you can then continue where you left off. If you go substantially beyond the 85%, you move your energy levels move more and more ‘into the red’. Moving beyond 85% means that you really are exhausted, and it takes a much longer time to recover effectively from that type or level of exhaustion. So, in this practice the object of mindful self-regulation is to not go beyond 85% exhausted in any given activity in your work or life. By doing this you can actually become more productive in the medium to long term and in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable. The key here is:

  1. To know what the signs that you are approaching the 85% marker are
  2. To recognize and accept those signs
  3. To stop what you are doing and focus on the (enjoyable) discipline of recovery
  4. Recognizing the signs of recovery, and getting back to it with enthusiasm!

If you can do this then this simple way of orienting yourself mindfully around the reality of your energy levels gives you one of the keys to mindful thriving and productivity.
What are your own personal inner signs for points 1-4 above? How can you start orienting yourself around these signs mindfully today and begin plotting your own path of mindful thriving?

© Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Sat & Sun 22nd/23rd October – Shamanic meditation workshop retreatLearn how to practice the fundamentals of the most ancient meditation tradition on the planet in a clear, practical and concise manner, and understand its relevance and value to you and the challenges that you face in your life.

The workshop will give an overview and introduce some simple but profound shamanic practices on day one, with a deeper dive into Shamanic meditation practices on day two…read full details


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby


Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
Read full details

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Starts Tues 16th /Weds 17th August – An Adventure in Consciousness – The What, Why & How of integral & engaged meditation practice

Saturday October  8th, 9.30-12noon –  Zen deep-dive mini-retreat

Sat & Sun 22nd/23rd October – Shamanic meditation workshop retreat


Integral Meditation Asia

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The body within the body (infinitely small, infinitely big)

Dear  Integral Meditators,

In your body, according to the great meditation traditions, there is another body, which when discovered is a wonder. The article below explains a simple(ish) technique to discover it for yourself!
for those in Singapore: The Qi gong meditation/workout this Saturday 8th is currently FULL, but the one on the 29th still has places.
Details of this weeks evening classes can be found here.

In the spirit of deep body awareness,


The body within the body (infinitely small, infinitely big)

The body within the body’ is an originally Zen term that I use to refer to a particular technique that enables access to a deep state of formless meditation, using the body and the senses as a starting point. It’s a useful technique to know because as well as being very simple, if you get good at it combines:

  • A simple technique that you can use to calm and center yourself with in daily life
  • Enabling access to a deep and expanded state of awareness that is often only experienced after years of meditation practice

The technique: 
Begin with the body – Start by focusing your attention upon the sensation of your physical body. You can focus on the sensation of the body in general, or you can take one area of the body, such as the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe, or the weight of your body on the chair/cushion. Either way, use the sensory experience of the body as your object of focus.
Let the mind still – As you focus on the body in this way, you will find that naturally, over time your mind and thoughts start to slow down, resulting in greater and greater periods of time where your mind is merely an open spacious experience of awareness, with no thoughts in it. You keep your physical body as the anchor for your attention and let the mind still gradually in its own time. No need to push things.
Let the body dissolve – After a while you’ll find that your sense of your physical body will start to dissolve away, and you’ll be left with what feels like a huge ‘white’ open space, which appears more and more directly to your awareness. This is the ‘body within the body’, or the formless, timeless ‘body of consciousness’.
Rest in the ‘body within the body’ – This is your principle object of meditation and attention for the session. It’s quite a radically different experience from our normal everyday state of mind and is characterized by not just a mental experience of stillness, but also a sense of inhabiting a ‘body’ that is itself infinitely still, spacious and consisting of consciousness, rather than any kind of physical form.
Come back to your physical body – Finally, when you have finished the time you intended to spend meditating, really come back solidly to your physical body and awareness of your outer environment. Concretely ground yourself in your sense of physicality and everyday physical surroundings. This last stage is very important!

A personal story
This method can also be practiced using external objects of the senses as your point of focus. I had my first experience of this type of ‘body within the body’ meditation 100% by accident as a 12-13 year old. I was sitting underneath a row of polar trees at school, enjoying looking at them and the breeze running through the leaves. Relatively suddenly I had the sense of the trees and my own physical body ‘expanding’ to become as if infinitely large, and then dissolving away to leave an open empty space (the body of consciousness) that felt at the same time both infinitely large, and infinitely small. This stayed with me as ‘peak’ experience that I dipped in an out of for several weeks, before disappearing. Later when I took up meditation in my twenties I had similar experiences that I was then able to identify as useful and meaningful as a part of the meditation journey.

© Toby Ouvry 2018, 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 AsiaOngoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Begins 14/15th September – Effortless effort – Insight meditation for self-healing and transformation – a five week course

Monday 6.15-7.15 & Wednesday 12.15-1.15 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Saturday 8th September & 29th September 9-10.15am – Qi Gong workout and meditation class

Tues 18th & Weds 18th September, 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday 22nd September, 10.30am-5pm – Shamanic Mandala Meditation and Art Workshop

Saturday 29th September, 2-5pm – OneHeart Open Day ‘Activating your journey of healing and empowerment’.

Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

Hi All,

This weeks article looks at the difference between being a product of outer time, the a subject of your own sense of inner time. Another way of putting this is how can we deal effectively with the outer forces impinging upon our life, whilst at the same time honoring that which is arising from our own sense of individuality?

Yours in the spirit of the harmonization of inner and outer time,


Article of the Week:

Are You a Product of the Times or the Subject of Your Own Inner Time?

To be a product of the times is simply to be a product of the prevailing cultural, social, biological, economic and other environmental forces that happen to be dominant during the era when you are alive. It basically implies that you as an individual are less powerful than the forces that surround you, and hence it is the surrounding forces that mold you as a person, and not your sense of own inner direction.

To be the subject of your own inner time means to have a sense of your own “inner compass” so to speak, or inner direction, and to be prepared to make your life a product of that inner direction and compass, rather than a product of what you are being told to be from the outside.

Another way of putting it might be that, when you are the subject of your own inner time you become self determining. You can go against the flow within the society within which you live, even if it means a degree of isolation, hardship or unpopularity.

So, to be a product of the times means to be created or formed by forces outside yourself.To be the subject of your own inner time means who you are is more a conscious articulation of that which is inside you.

As meditators, or as people who aspire to conscious and creative living (one definition of a meditator?) two of our main jobs are:

  1.  To be aware that inevitably you are, to a greater or lesser degree a product of your times, and to think carefully about this. What aspects and energies of your times are positive and worthwhile participating in, and which are best not identifying with and working to not participate in? To give an example of this one prevailing energy of our time is that of inter-communication and inter-connectivity. There are lots of positive ways in which we can participate in this, by using the Internet to become well informed and to establish relationships with worthwhile people who can help us grow. However, we would be well advised not to participate in neurotic over-communication and email/sms addiction that so many people seem to have become thoughtlessly caught up in these days.
  2.  To be aware of our sense of inner or subjective time, and regularly ask ourselves “What is it within me that is creatively emerging and wishes to express itself in the outer world?” 

The challenge about that which is emerging from within your own sense of subjective time is that it takes acts of creativity, energy and courage to bring it into the outer world and express, there are no guarantees that people will like it or approve of it, maybe they will even completely ignore it! I often think of Vincent Van Gough as an example of this. During his lifetime he sold only one painting (and his brother owned an art gallery, so he really was totally ignored and under appreciated by the public) and it was only after his death that people gained an appreciation and understanding of what beauty he had created.
So, when you start following your own inner compass and bringing forth that which is within you then hopefully you won’t be completely ignored like Van Gough was, and indeed many people become very appreciated when they start acting appropriately and creatively on their inner urges.  But it may well be that, at least in the beginning you are.
The interesting thing is that if you really are the subject of your own inner time, then even if no one else cares, you’ll do it anyway, and you will enjoy it!

© 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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What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing?

Dear Integral Meditators,

In last week’s article I talked about balancing the development of the ego and the spirit, in this week’s article I take a practical look at non-doing, a powerful practice for developing your spiritual being that also has many benefits on the other levels of your being. It comes under the category of practices that are sometimes described as “effortless effort” or “the pathless path”. So, if making progress with no effort sounds like a good deal to you, read on 😉
I have to say in the history of my own life and practice, in my times of deepest discomfort and unhappiness in have found that this practice has offered me a perennially effective path out, or I suppose I should say it has offered me a perennial “non-path” out.

Yours in the spirit of non-doing,


What Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

Non-Doing: The What and the Why?
The practice of “non-doing” as a meditative “training” (or “non-training”) is most often overtly found in the paths of the Tao and of Zen, but if you look closely you can find analogous practices in all the major wisdom traditions of the world, and in particular those that are consciously teaching and embodying a non-dual path.
To practice non-doing means essentially to practice doing nothing, or no-thing on the physical and mental level and with gentle alertness rest our mind in our own primary awareness. That is to say the awareness that acts as the basis of our daily experience of doing and being, but is normally “hidden by the noise” so to speak. Originally the practice of non-doing was taught as a spiritual practice, that is a method for discovering our own True Nature or Spiritual Self, but the benefits of the practice actually extend to many levels of our being.

The Benefits and Purpose of Non-Doing:

Biological/Body level: On the body/biological level non-doing allows our body to relax deeply and regenerate its energy, as well as encouraging our internal organs and nervous system to come back into balance and harmony. It also sharpens our connection to our physical senses, as well as creating space for us to become more aware of our inner senses (subtle touch, sight, hearing  etc…) and how they function. Of course there is always a certain section of the population who are interested in the development of their “psychic senses” or abilities. One essential ingredient to developing this aspect of inner consciousness development is to spend quality time watching and listening to each moment that arises whilst otherwise doing nothing.

Ego level: On an ego level the practice of non-doing enables us to regularly detach from the goals and activities of our daily life, and reconnect to ourselves as a human-being rather than a human-doing. It gives us the space to assess what is important and what is not, what needs to be held onto and what can be dropped, and creates the inner awareness to make these kinds of decisions consciously and non-compulsively. It also creates time for feeling deeply and allowing our psychological being to “catch up with itself” so to speak, and process whatever baggage we have been carrying around.

Soul Level: Non-doing creates an inner space where we can listen closely and become more aware of the deeper motivations of our soul and callings of our inner heart. It creates space for us to connect to our higher mind and the trans-rational and psychic faculties that go with it. It creates a space where our true depth of being and character can emerge.

Spiritual level: Non-doing is a practice that by explicitly cutting out all of our “doing” and activities encourages us to move into a direct communication the timeless, formless “always already” dimension of or being that was never born, that never dies, that is liberated from suffering and is our “true home”. Non-doing is a “non-exercise” that repeatedly creates an environment for us to recognize that our enlightened nature is, was and always will be something inseparable from our everyday daily awareness. Spiritual enlightenment is not something that we become, it is something that we recognize we are already, but had forgotten.

How to Practice the Meditation on Non-Doing

Step 1: Set aside a period of time, from 3minutes to an hour (whatever you have, and whatever feels appropriate). Short, regular periods of non-doing, say 3-5minutes 3-5 times a day can be really very effective. You can do it as a formal sitting meditation, or just sitting on the couch, having a cup of tea/coffee. Even slow activities like washing up or walking can be a space to practice non-doing. Even though literally  you may in fact be doing the something the activity is simple enough to combine with non-doing practice.

Step 2: Within the time you have allotted yourself here are the “rules”:

  • Be no-one: Forget about who you are, drop your “story”, let go of the continuous ego-conversation in your head about yourself. Don’t worry, it will pick itself up again just fine once you have finished.
  • Do no-thing: Keep your physical and mental activities to a bare minimum. Empty your mind as fully as possible and don’t hold onto any objects that pass through your mental awareness. Physically sit still, or if you are engaging in a simple activity such as walking or doing the washing up, do the activity relatively slowly and with full awareness.
  • Go no-where: Temporarily drop your worldly aspirations, your struggles, dilemmas, anxieties and conundrums. Drop also the things that you normally enjoy and or are attached to filling your mind with. Just be here and pay attention to that.

Relax, be and pay attention to that experience fully.

Step 3:Taking the experience of non-doing into the rest of your life.
As we engage repeatedly in the above two steps, one of the things we start to realize that the person who does not “do” in our life but always “is” can be present in our awareness all of the time, even when we are fully engaged in the busy-ness of our daily life. This awareness can become a rock around which we can build deep inner security, which paradoxically we may find enables us to take greater appropriate “risks” or make big changes in other areas of our life.
The nicest thing about it from a purely energetic point of view is that the practice of non-doing does not require a huge amount of effort, as by its very nature it is all about putting stuff down and doing less! But I guess that is the challenge for many of us; are we prepared to really commit to developing the wisdom of non-doing and make it a priority in our life?
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, one thing I find is that the clarity that comes from non-doing often saves time in the sense that we find more efficient ways of doing what needs to be done and less time chasing our own tail.

© 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