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From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

“Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness that has to be earned, step by step. This is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any stage in our inner growth”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This week’s article looks at growing your perspective taking capacity through mindfulness. Essentially it explores 5 perspectives:

  1. Your first person ‘I/me’ space
  2. Your second person ‘we/us’ space
  3. Your third person ‘it’ space
  4. Your fourth person ‘self-as-the world’ space
  5. Your fifth person ‘integral perspectives’ space

Growing all these together within you gives what Ken Wilber describes as ‘Supermind’. If you enjoy the article, then do consider joining us for the Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up course that starts this week!

In the spirit of the journey,

Toby

From fusion to Supermind – The journey of developmental mindfulness

The journey from fusion to ‘Supermind’ is essentially a journey of perspective taking. It is the journey of going from being a baby to a fully developed and integrated human being. A main goal of mindfulness in this developmental sense is to stimulate our growth along that journey, making more and more perspectives functionally available to us as time goes by.

The stages & perspectives of consciousness that we journey along are essentially 1st to 5th person perspectives, and from egocentric, to ethnocentric to worldcentric, to universal/Kosmocentric. Here is a very summary in seven stages:

Egocentric, 1st person, ‘I/me’:

Note with egocentric these are essentially childhood stages, but adults can and do regularly regress to these stages in their daily life.

Level 1 – Archaic/fusion – Our first year of life is spent like this, largely fused perceptually with our physical and emotional environment, reactive to very basic needs, hunger, thirst, warmth, cold etc…

Level 2 – Tribal fantastical – Fantasy wish fulfilment emerges 18months to 3 years old: Superstitions or magical thinking within self, being incredibly special & unique, the world revolves around me (hence the ‘terrible twos!’ etc…).

Level 3 – Mythic fantasy – 4-7 years old – Often termed ‘self-protective, ‘security’, ‘power’ or opportunistic’ level. Self-centred desires for power & control.

Ethnocentric, 2nd person ‘we/us’

Level 4 – Mythic membership – 7-12 years, but still a dominant perspective in many adults lives today. “Belonging-ness” (to groups, family, race, religion etc…) stage. The shift from me focused to we/us focused, or group focused. Strict conformity to the rules. Them vs us. 

Worldcentric, 3rd person, ‘it’

Level 5 – Rational/scientific – The emergence of an objective, 3rd person ‘rational’ perspective, capacity to care for all of humankind, even if not part of our ‘group’. The emergence of true individuality, self-esteem, and goal/achievement focus.

Universal, 4th person

Level 6 – Pluralistic – The ability to take a 1st and 2nd person ‘I/we/’ perspective on our 3rd person rational/worldcentric perspective, resulting in a capacity for deep compassion and empathy for all living beings and the world.

Integral, 5th person

Level 7 – Integral – The ability to:

  1. Take an objective perspective on our 4th person pluralistic perspective, resulting in ‘Universal objective subjectivity’ (!)
  2. Take all the previous developmental stages along with their perspectives (1-6), and ‘transcend and include’ them – Each has their place honoured in the overall picture, but none are identified with exclusively. They function together in an integrated and ‘whole’ way, like a healthy organism.

This integral level of perspective taking is what is referred to as ‘Supermind’. Supermind is a stage and structure of consciousness, which is different from simply a ‘Big-mind’, or non-dual awakened state that we can have in meditation, but that can occur at any of the developmental stages mentioned above.

So then, the interesting thing about this list is, at the moment, all of us have main ‘centre of gravity’ at one of these stages. By practising mindfulness around each of them we can:

  • Unearth the hidden maps of consciousness within us
  • Note which stage we are at, and how that changes or varies in different situations in our life
  • Observe or ‘videotape’ the level you are at in mindfulness meditation in order to transcend & include it, and encourage movement to the next level*

You can then observe your current the lower and higher levels of development within you, ‘cleaning up’ the lower levels that you sometimes notice yourself regressing to, and opening to the higher stages by becoming familiar with what they are and how they function.

Related articles: Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

Transcending & including – Integrating the big & the small selves

*Three named terms in this paragraph from Ken Wilber’s ‘Integral Meditation’ book.

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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 Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

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Inner vision Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Mindful Resilience Mindfulness Stress Transformation

Your primal self as your object of mindfulness

“As we develop from one stage of growth to another as a person, we leave behind the old self in favour of a more evolved one. This new self-sense them becomes ‘I’ or me, with the previous self-identity becoming part of us that we manage or parent”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores looks at oour early-stage development as an object of mindfulness, & what the benefits of doing so might be. If you like it, do consider joining us on the new adventure starting on 9/10th April: Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up, either live or online!

This week there will be only one meditation class on Wednesday, & it will be on the subject of single-headness (how to manage your stress more effectively thru mindfulness) & ‘head-lessness‘ which is a kind of non-dual meditation.

In the spirit of primal integration,

Toby



Your primal self as your object of mindfulness
 
As we develop from one stage of growth to another (psychologically) as a person, we leave behind, or objectify the old sense of self, in favour of a more evolved one. This new sense of self them becomes ‘I’ or me, with the previous self-identity becoming a part of us that we manage.
 
Our first sense of self – Basic appetites, fusion confusion
 
The first 18 months of our life is characterized by the absence of a separate self-sense. Initially we are ‘fused’ our environment. Later we start to separate our self-sense physically, but remain for a while longer in a state of emotional fusion with our environment and particularly our mother.  This is a  symbiotic or fusion stage, a bit of a fusion-confusion!
This self-sense is accordingly completely dominated by our physiological needs, food, thirst, warmth, coolness, comfort, discomfort, rest.
 
Addictions & allergies – Yes, we left it behind but…
 
We start to grow out of this fusion-confusion stage from 18 months. As a 51 year old I say “I am hungry” rather than “I am hunger!”. I can distinguish myself physically and emotionally from my environment. However, if I have left parts of me behind at that level, either as a secret identity or as a dissociation, then that can result in an ‘addiction’ or an ‘allergy’. For example, regarding hunger:

  • Addiction: If I still have a part of me still fully identified as being (not having) hunger, then this may result in me having trouble regulating my diet and weight, resulting in extreme cases as obesity
  • Allergy: If I have dissociated myself from hunger, then I may be out of touch with my basic hunger needs, not eating properly and being underweight or undernourished. In extreme cases this might manifest in anorexia or bulimia

Sometimes also you may notice a fusion-confusion type experience with your environment or in your relationships. Public spaces become confusing as your senses ‘merge’ with them, or the emotional space between yourself and others becomes very blurred and difficult to regulate. Some of this may be due to a part of self that has been left behind at the primal stage.
 
Clearing up to grow up more fully using mindfulness
 
From a mindfulness-as-therapy point of view, the essential method is quite simple; you bring to mind basic needs like hunger, thirst, as well as experiences of ‘fusion-confusion’ mentioned above (separately, not all at once!), and practice mindfully observing them, and your relationship to them. The making subjects into objects nature of mindfulness will naturally help start to clear up any allergies or addictions that may remain at this stage…
 
My personal experience of being mindful with this stage
 
Regarding basic appetites I discovered that I tend toward the “allergy” relationship to food, I usually have trouble keeping up my weight, and eating is a discipline rather than a joy. So, it helped me re-balance that which was useful.
Secondly the revisiting the fusion-confusion stage resulted in me feeling a surprising increase in clarity regarding my environmental and relational awareness.
 
Integrating, transcending & including
 
A healthy integration of your primal-self* enables you to create healthy self-regulation of your basic needs & appetites. It also helps create a clear distinction of self from others & environment. We have a healthier ‘separate’ self-sense, but can engage (and withdraw from) conscious ‘fusion’ when appropriate.
 
I’d encourage you to spend some time with this as a practice, it seems initially that we should all have grown fully out or this stage. But if you look at problems humans have around basic appetites and self-regulation like food, we can see that there are huge imbalances there. You may be surprised at how powerful and transformative it is for you. It certainly was for me!
 
*In integral psychology this is level 1 of human psychological development, and termed ‘Infrared archaic’
 
Related contentSubjects to objects – How meditation helps you grow to greater degrees of freedom

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
 



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 Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Meditation techniques Mindful Resilience One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Using distractions, sculpting thoughts, softening the body

“Use distractions to remind yourself that you are in the present,

Use your thoughts to sculpt your perception of reality,

Soften your body to still your mind”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores combining three practices into a short meditation form. I find that putting different practices together makes for more interesting and more complete meditation, and this is one such example, enjoy!

In the spirit of integration,

Toby



Starts Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

In a sentence: Combine all the benefits of a conventional mindfulness practice with the progressive inner growth & transformation of developmental psychology.

Suitable for: Beginners and more advanced practitioners alike. May be of particular interest to those interested in psychology, coaching, philosophy, & how to combine these disciplines with a living, dynamic meditation practice…read full details


Article of the week: Using distractions, sculpting thoughts, softening the body

What I have done in this piece is to put together three practices, ‘Being mindful of the non-present moment’, ‘Sculpting your thoughts’, and ‘Finding strength through softness’ into an integral practice, where they are done together in a single session. You can do them in the order described, or in a different one as you prefer. Using the order presented, you could say do:

  • Five minutes mindfulness of the non-present moment
  • Five minutes mindfulness of sculpting your thoughts
  • Five minutes mindfulness of inner strength through softness

Or you could emphasize one main practice for 10 minutes, and then doing 2/3 of minutes each of the second two.

‘Being mindful of the non-present moment’

“By studying the non-present moment more closely, often our mind quietens down substantially and becomes more present, without effort on our part”

Watch the distractions coming into your awareness from your environment and senses, and from your mind. Notice that all the sounds around you are in the present moment, and that when you focus on your awareness of them, this can bring you back into the present moment, not away from it. Notice that even though your thoughts may be of the past or future, the thoughts themselves are happening now, in the present! By recognizing this and being present to your distractions, they help you to come into the present moment, rather than taking you away from it!

‘Sculpting your thoughts’

“Look at the thoughts you are experiencing right now, and ask yourself the question; Are they sculpting me, or am I sculpting them?”
The first position here is simply to watch your thoughts. By doing some become aware of your minds mental content, and start to see how each of your thoughts is influencing your perception of yourself and your world. By thoughts I mean not just sentences, but images, memories, mental impulses, anything that is being generated on the mental plane. Then ask yourself the question: “What is the optimal way for me to mentally frame what my mind is dwelling upon, so that I derive maximum value and minimum unnecessary pain from it?”
Practice making small, creative interventions in your thinking process, guiding your thoughts according to the principle of the above question.

‘Finding inner strength & mental stillness through softness’

“How can I still the mind with as little effort as possible, using the softness of the body?”

Whenever you think a thought, the tension or energy of that thought will turn up as an energy in the body. The practice here is to make the body as ‘soft’ and relaxed as possible, so that your body energy is unable to ‘support’ the energy of your thoughts. Whenever a thought tries to appear, relax the areas of your body where you feel the energy of the thought, and let the thought dissolve away. In this way let your mind gradually relax into a still, thoughtless space where you can regenerate your inner strength.

Related readingBeing mindful of the non-present moment
Sculpting your thoughts
Finding strength through softness

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com



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)

Ongoing – Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course

Tues & Weds 19,20th March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation

Saturday March 23rd, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat

Starts Tuesday/Wednesday evening 9/10th April – Exploring your hidden maps of consciousness –mindfulness meditation for growing up

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
A Mind of Ease Energy Meditation Insight Meditation Life-fullness Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Mindful Confidence Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership

Single-headedness – Not getting anxious about anxiety

“What are the situations where you tend to put a “Head upon a head”, or create a problem about your problem? Those are the places that would be good to start practicing ‘Single-headedness’!”

Dear <<First Name>>, 

The practice of single-headedness is one that I have been working with various coaching clients over the years, recently I realized that I hadn’t written an article on it, so the one below rights that wrong!

This week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation is the  Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation all welcome, both in-person or online

And heads up for two short meditation retreats, the first this Saturday: Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat & second the April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat. If your interested in really deepening your level of practice, then these are two to consider!

In the spirit of single-headedness,
 
Toby 


Not putting a head upon a head – not getting anxious about anxiety
 
When do you put a ‘head upon a head’?
‘Don’t put a head upon a head’ is an expression that I might have picked up from Zen somewhere, but I can’t find the reference, so it may be something that I came up with by myself (!) Essentially what it means is that you make two problems out of one:

  • When you get anxious about the fact that your anxious
  • When you get stressed that you are stressed
  • When you get angry that you are angry
  • When you get depressed about being depressed
  • And so on…

Then you are “putting a head upon a head.” What this means is that you already have a challenge, but as well as feeling the actual stress of the situation, you are feeling stressed about the stress itself, which compounds the difficulty and makes it worse!
 
Not putting head upon a head
So then, to not put a head upon a head, the essential manoeuvre is acceptance.

  • If I am anxious, I work on simply acknowledging that anxiety, accepting it, thereby not adding to the already existing anxiety
  • When I get stressed I create an ‘inner holding space’ for my stress so that it stays simple stress, not stress because I’m stressed
  • If I am angry, I don’t judge being angry too harshly, I accept it and focus on what can be constructively done about it
  • If I am depressed, I don’t add to the burden by thinking “I’m such a looser because I’m depressed, why am I always depressed?” (which is depression about depression), I simply work on holding space for the existing depression in the present, as I find it.

 
Some simple examples
 
Uncertainty
I’m anxious because the result of something that I care about is not entirely certain (Eg: Giving birth, marketing a new product, recovering from an illness or not, giving a speech to an audience…). In such a situation, anxiety and degree of fear would be quite natural. So, I want to be accepting and working with the natural anxiety that I have. If I can do that then I can prevent having to deal with the ‘second head’ of fighting the existence of my anxiety and getting anxious about it!
 
Unable to sleep
Let us say you are in bed, and you must be up early, but you can’t go to sleep. Then you start thinking about how you need to be up early, how tired you will be if you can’t go to sleep. You start getting stressed about the stress of not being able to sleep. Then you try a bit to hard to get to sleep, and the tension of trying too hard makes it even more difficult to fall asleep. It starts to spiral from there. To “Not put a head upon a head” would be to accept that you can’t fall asleep, be a bit curious about it, and relaxing into the experience of non-sleeping. That acceptance and relaxation may mean that you actually start to fall asleep, but even if it doesn’t, your experience of not sleeping will be less stressful and more relaxing.
 
What are the situations where you tend to put a “Head upon a head”, or creating a problem about your problem? Those are the places that would be good to start practicing ‘Single-headedness’!

Related articleWhat happens when you are not afraid of fear?

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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)

Ongoing – Effortless effort – The art of doing by non-doing, a ten-week meditation course

Tues & Weds 19,20th March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation

Saturday March 23rd, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat

Saturday & Sunday April 20th & 21st – Integral Meditation 1.5 Day Retreat


Follow Toby onLinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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The basic meditation state, functional breathing & flow training page

Dear Integral Meditators,

Welcome to the basic meditative presence, breathing & flow training page. In it you will learn how to do this integral meditation combination effectively, & you can then use the meditation recordings & readings below to practice. Scroll down below to

  • Watch the video
  • Listen to the studio quality guided meditations. There is a 20minute & an 8 minute version
  • Read the related articles

Each of these practices are fundamental to good meditation technique. Once familiar with them, they will continue to help you in your other meditation practices almost continuously!

In the spirit of meditative presence,

Toby


Intro to the practices:

Guided meditations:

Listen to the Twenty minute meditative presence, breathing & flow meditation

Listen to the eight minute meditative presence, breathing & flow power meditation

Listen to the building strengths through mindful flow 10minute meditation

Original articles

Meditation – Not missing your life (Your basic meditation state or space)

The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence

Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building

Functional breathing – four meditations

The Integral Meditation Training pages are a free resource, but if you feel you have benefitted, & would like to donate to the Integral Meditation training pages & project, you can do so via PayPal or if in Singapore you can do so directly by PayNow on +6596750279. Thanks!

​All content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this page content, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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A Mind of Ease Integral Awareness Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Life-fullness Mindful Resilience Mindful Self-Leadership Motivation and scope

Invisible, or effortless self-leadership

“At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at three levels of mindful self-leadership. It gives some pointers as to what they are, how to spot them in your own self-leadership style, & make progress toward becoming the ‘invisible, or effortless inner leader’.

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class will be on this subject, you are welcome to join us, live or online.

Finally, for those interested in developing inner resilience, on Saturday 9th March I’ll be doing my Mindful Resilience – Practices for sustaining effectiveness, happiness & clarity under pressure workshop.
 
In the spirit of self-leadership,
 
Toby



Invisible, or effortless self-leadership
 
For several years now I’ve been using chapter 17 from the Tao Te Ching as part of my ‘Mindful leadership & self-leadership programs. What I want to do in this article is to look at it from the point of view of self-leadership, breaking it down into three stages. I may look at the leading others aspect of the chapter in a later article.
Here is the original text:
 
Tao Te Ching – Chapter 17 (Steven Mitchell translation)
 
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

 
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
Level 1 – The invisible leader:
 
‘When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists’.

At the highest level of self-leadership, all the different aspects of our inner self feel loved, cared for and empowered by the conscious self. Each of them knows their place in the scheme of the different levels of self (personality, soul, spirit) and time has been developed helping them to feel confident regarding their capability in their role. As a result, the conscious self does not have to do too much to lead. A person who has reached this level of inner growth experiences the ups, downs, and challenges of life more as an even minded flow, that he or she is able to adapt and work with without too much effortfulness. Of course, there is some degree of willpower involved in what they do, but it is deployed discreetly and gently, rather than being the main ‘motor’ with which we power ourself through life.  
 
Level 2 – The monarch:
 
‘Next best is a leader who is loved.’
I sometimes think of this level of leadership as being like a monarch, king or queen. If we are at this level, we spend a lot of time and effort actively motivating ourself in a benevolent manner, learning to inspire the parts of ourself that lack confidence, heal the parts of us that are wounded, and go beyond the limits of our current self-concept. This style of self-leadership is pro-active. The conscious-self must demonstrate to the different parts of our inner self (or our sub-personalities) that it is trustworthy, so that they can get behind it and push forward as a team. At this stage our inner selves need active guidance, they need to feel nurtured and safe, they need a degree of ‘positive self-talk’. At this second level of leadership, life is quite effortful, but because the dominant energy of inner leadership is appropriate self-love and care, the journey is felt and experienced as one that is going to good places and positive directions.
 
Level 3 – The dictator
 
‘Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.’

I’m putting the last two levels of self-leadership as one, which is essentially leading ourself as a despot or dictator! Here the primary energy within self is self-loathing or hatred. There is a general sense of inadequacy, not being enough, a lack of self-respect. The only way we can motivate ourself to get things done and move forward in our life is through fear and/or agression:

  • ‘If you don’t get this degree people will think you are stupid’
  • ‘Work out because if your fat you won’t be accepted by others’
  • ‘Do what I say or I’ll be criticising you inwardly for the next week!’

The experience of leading oneself like a dictator is that life is very effortful, anxious and progress is a rather tortuous and exhausting process.
 
Most people’s self-leadership process is kind of a mixture of stages two and three. Identifying stage three as a possibility, and practicing it can accelerate the rate at which we grow and integrate it into our lives. This offers the possibility for an easier journey, with progress that seems to happen naturally, by itself even. Our personal path evolves like the final verse of the chapter, with a few of my words in brackets:
 
“If you don’t trust the people (the different inner parts of yourself),
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts (the conscious-self leads by example).
When his work is done,
the people (
the different parts of our inner self) say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

 
 
Related articleBecoming a Self-determining entity – Five stages to mindful self-leadership
Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com



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Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building

“Using mindful-flow to develop particular inner-strengths can rapidly accelerate the pace at which we can grow them. What would normally take much longer, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at a major foundation of integral meditation practice, mindful-flow, what it is and how to go about starting to use it in your life.
If you enjoy it, then do consider coming along to this Saturday’s Deep-dive meditation mini-retreat, where we will be putting mindful-flow to good use!

This week’s Tues & Weds evening class is on the art of non-thinking.

 
In the spirit of flow,
 
Toby



Using mindful flow to train in strengths-building
 
What is mindful flow?

Mindful flow is a method of concentration that meditators use to remain present in their practice, and stay present for extended periods. It consists of two complementary qualities:

  • The quality of focus
  • The quality of relaxation

Often when people begin meditation, they try a bit too hard to focus, which means they then have difficulty relaxing, which then means their mind has difficulty settling into meditative presence. Other people relax a bit too much and find themselves falling asleep, which is the other end of the spectrum. So good quality mindful concentration contains the alertness of focus, in combination with the ‘flow’ of relaxation, hence mindful-flow. If complete relaxation to the point of sleep is a 0, and absolute effortful focus is a 10, in meditation we are generally trying to stay somewhere within the 4-6 range.
 
Building the technique of mindful flow

Generally, I recommend specifically developing your practice of mindful flow as an exercise, which can be done using a simple breathing technique:

  • Breathing naturally, as you breathe in, emphasize focusing your attention on your in-breath. You can focus on a particular area of the breathing (like the movement of the belly for example), or the overall sensation of it.
  • As you breathe out, emphasize relaxing your body and mind. If you are aware of particular areas of tension in the body, you can be specific in relaxing those body parts.

You can practice mindful flow continuously for 5-10minutes, or if you like you can do it in sets, for example:

  • 3-5 breaths of mindful flow, followed by a short pause, and when you are ready repeat.

I find that this second technique is quite useful, because it encourages you to really focus well for those 3-5 breaths! 

Using mindful flow to bring strengths & strength-combinationsOnce you have practiced mindful flow, and got a sense of that balance of focus and relaxation, you can then use it to build strengths, qualities and capacities within you. Here I am going to use gentle-determination as an example. Once you understand how to do it with one quality, you know how to do it with others. So then with gentle-determination:

  1. For the first part, as you breathe in, connect of a sense of gentleness, as you breathe out, relax into that feeling of gentleness.
  2. In the second part, connect to a sense of determination, perhaps about something specific in your life right now. As you breathe out, feel that sense of determination as an attitude in the mind and as an energy in the body.
  • In the third section, bring the qualities of gentle-determination together; as you breathe in connecting to determination, as you breathe out soften that determination with an appropriate degree of gentleness.

You can spend as much time as you like on each section, but ideally the most time would be spent with stage three, bringing the gentleness and determination together into a flow.
Dropping into a mindful-flow state and using it to develop particular strengths and qualities can rapidly accelerate the pace and depth at which we can grow them within us. What would normally take much longer to develop competency around, mindful-flow enables us to assimilate with confidence in a much shorter period of time!


Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

“Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article explores seven different ways you can practice to consciously grow & develop your love & compassion. It contains links to previous articles that I have written in detail in each domain.
 If you want to give your love & compassion a real turbo boost, then come along this Saturday for the Integral love & compassion meditation workshop.

Wishing those that are celebrating it a very happy & prosperous new year of the wood dragon! All welcome online or live for the Lunar New Year Meditation 2024: Connecting to your inner Dragon this Tuesday.
 
In the spirit of expanded care,
 
Toby


Article: Seven ways to mindfully grow your love & compassion

1. By consolidating your present experiences of love & compassion

Remember times when you have felt and experienced a connection to different types of love and compassion. Activate those feelings in the present moment, enjoying them and looking for ways that you can express them to yourself and others today.
 
2. Through improving our capacity to give & receive it from ourself & from others
Practice the discipline and joy of being able to both give and receive love. This can be practiced in three ways:

  • In our relationship to ourself
  • In our relationship to other human beings and different orders of life
  • Between ourself and different aspects of place, landscape all the way up to planetary and universal levels

3. Recognizing & appreciating the goodwill that we are receiving all the time from others
Really trying to notice and appreciate the goodwill that comes you way during the day from different people and sources. This goes all the way from the daily consideration of friends, family, and colleagues, to the incidental assistance and benevolence from relative strangers we meet each day. Once you start to see it, we start to see that goodwill, connection and consideration are all around us!

4. Expanding the scale of your love
This can be done in two ways:

  • Transforming your sense of the boundaries between yourself, others and your environment. If your idea of yourself is as the earth herself, then its easy to love all the living beings who live there, as they are extensions of you@
  • Secondly, we can work on expanding the scale of your love & compassion from egocentric (me only) to ethnocentric (my family, tribe, race only) to world-centric (all living beings) systematically as a principle and extension of our loving impulse

5. Developing greater courage & objectivity in our relationship to the pain & suffering that could be increasing our compassion
Here we are working on changing our relationship to our own and others suffering, learning to encounter it with less aversion and repression. By opening our eyes to pain in a skilful manner we can use it to build the strength of our compassion, and potential for compassionate action.

6. Distinguishing three types of relational love, & growing them equally
As well as the scale of our love, we can also develop the types of love that we experience. One way of dividing love into types is agape, filia & eros:

  • Agape is the compassionate and caring love of a larger being to a smaller, dependent one. The classic example of this would be parental love, from mother or father to child
  • Filia is brotherly or sisterly love, or love from peer-to-peer, the love of friendship
  • Eros is the creative love existing between those where there is a mutual attraction. The classic example is that of romantic lovers.

7. Expanding your idea of romance & romantic love
Speaking of romantic love, we can grow it by expanding our idea beyond just being between human lovers. We can experience it also in:

  • Our relationship to ourself, as in between the soul and personality
  • In relation between ourself & spirit
  • With landscape, nature and sense of place
  • In relationship between ourself and art, or ourself and our art/work

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence

Dear Integral Meditators, 

It can be good to really get clear about the basics of what you are trying to do in meditation, in a way that invites many deeper levels of understanding of those basics. The article below aims to offer some pointers for this….
In the spirit of presence, 

Toby

The foundational pillars or ‘goal-posts’ of meditative presence


In my previous article on basic mediative presence, I defined meditation as:
 “Meditation is the state of being awake, not lost in thought and not falling asleep. It is a state of being present in the moment, and aware of the present

This gives us a nice broad, ballpark within which we can start to practice. Here are two images to work with in meditation to help get comfortable in this space.

Sitting between the goal posts
In this first image, imagine yourself sitting in the middle of a football goal mouth. Either side of you are the goal posts.

  • Going to the far side of the left goal posts means getting completely lost in thought
  • Going to the far side of the right goal post means falling asleep

All you are trying to do is keep your attention oriented around the body and breathing, stay in the centre of the goal mouth, and avoid ‘traveling’ to the far side of either post.

  • Notice that you can have thoughts arising, but not be lost in those thoughts. Just because there are thoughts does not mean that you have lost your meditative presence
  • Notice also that you can feel a bit sleepy, without falling asleep. You just need to notice the sleepiness and avoid totally dropping off!

It should feel like you are sitting in quite a forgiving, comfortable space that you can relax in. Even if you do get lost in thought, or fall asleep a little, is not a problem. As soon as you become aware of it, bring your attention back between the goal-posts, and re-establish your basic meditative presence.

Two trees or pillars
An alternative to the goal-posts image is to imagine yourself between two pillars or trees. If you imagine yourself between two pillars, you could imagine yourself in your own ‘meditation temple’. Perhaps you are looking out into a beautiful landscape from the steps of the temple, between the two pillars.
Or you can see and feel yourself between two trees, sitting in a harmonious landscape within nature.
Both the pillar and tree option are equally good, you just choose the one that appeals the most to you, and that you feel most comfortable with. Like the goal posts image:

  • Going beyond the tree/pillar on the left represents getting lost in thought
  • Going beyond the tree/pillar on the right represents falling asleep

Your goal is simply to remain in the middle, avoiding either extreme, and cultivate your basic meditation state.
If you are a visual person, you can build the image of the goalposts, pillars, or trees quite strongly, and use the image as an orientation point in addition to your body and breathing. Imagining yourself in a place that is beautiful or harmonious can really help to access a state of meditation more quickly for some people.
If you are not a visual person, then you are mainly using the image as a metaphor or set of practice principles to guide you as you meditate. You would mainly simply stay with the body and breath, not worrying about building a picture so strongly.
Try sitting between the goalposts or pillars for 5-10minutes initially, and then for 15-20minutes using it to help you build your basic meditation state more tangibly and stably.

Related articleWhat is the point of being more present?
Meditation, not missing your life

Article & content 
© Toby Ouvry 2024, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


In case you missed it: The simple, positive, creative & aware training page

I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link or scroll down below to

  • Watch the video
  • Listen to the studio quality guided meditations. There is a 20minute & an 8 minute version
  • Read the related article

Listen to the meditations & access the related article 



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Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing

“Trees are not trying to be anyone or anything else. They rest within their own natural dignity, their sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. What if you could be like that too?

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This week’s article looks at the practice of non-doing as a way of moving into being, & then deeper into non-being. It’s a key to effortless effort in meditation & in life! If you enjoy it, then it will form a central part of this week’s Tuesday & Weds meditation class. So do feel free to pop in, either live or online!

A couple of new events up for February: Saturday 17th, 9am-12pm – Integral love & compassion meditation workshop, &  24th, 9-11.30am – Integral meditation deep dive mini-retreat.

Last but not least, I’ve posted an integral meditation training page for my Simple, positive, creative & aware practice. Click on the link to watch the video, listen to the guided meditations & read the related article! 
In the spirit of non-doing,
 
Toby


Resting under the tree of non-doing & unbeing
 
This is a simple meditation form to take you from doing, to non-doing/being, to unbeing. The image it uses is that of a tree. Beneath the guided meditation are three stories/quotes from which the meditation is partly inspired. Dropping into a space of non-doing and unbeing is a particular type of silence practice. If you practice it regularly you will find it an invaluable resource to relax, regenerate and come back to your life with new eyes and new inner strength.
 
Meditation: Resting under the tree of non-doing
 
1. Imagine yourself sitting under a tree. It’s a useless tree in the sense that its wood is so knotted it cannot be made into anything by a carpenter. The only thing it is ‘good for’ is sitting under and doing no-thing. When you sit underneath it, it provides shade, calm and peace. It is a wonderful place to be and non-do.
 
2. You can also sense that the tree is entirely happy to be itself. It is not trying to be anyone or anything else. It rests within it’s own natural dignity, it’s sense of inner sufficiency and completeness. As you sit under it, you can feel yourself getting in touch with your inner wholeness and natural dignity. You are just fine as you are. You are a complete being.
 
3. Resting whole and complete like the useless tree, when a thought arises, ask yourself the question ‘Who is it that is thinking the thought?’ Turn your attention inward toward the consciousness that produced the thought. Let your attention return to simply being aware rather than thinking, like a person returning to the shade of a tree after being in the hot sun. Go deeper into being, non-doing and non-thinking.
 
4. From being, now reach into the deeper stillness of Un-being, the Void out of which all Being comes.
 
Return to your outer awareness and close the meditation.
 
Reference 1: The Useless Tree by Chuang Tzu
 
Hui Tzu said to Chuang: I have a big tree, The kind they call a “stinktree.”
The trunk is so distorted, so full of knots,
No one can get a straight plank out of it. The branches are so crooked
You cannot cut them up in any way that makes sense.
There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it.
Such is your teaching– big and useless.
 
Chuang Tzu repliedSo, for your big tree. No use? Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness. Walk idly around, rest under the shadow; No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down. Useless? You should worry!
(Here is the full Thomas Merton version)
 
The Cedar Tree by Thich Nhat Hanh

“A cedar tree doesn’t have any desire to be a pine or a cypress or even a bird. It’s a wonderful manifestation of the Cosmos just as it is. You are a manifestation of the Cosmos. You are wonderful just like that.”
 
Resting under the tree of non-thinking – Quote from Ramana Maharshi ‘Who Am I?’

“The mind moves without rest, alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been out in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. Similarly, the mind of one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman (Self-as-consciousness)
 
Related articleWhat Does it Mean to Meditate on Non-Doing? (And why We should be interested in doing It)

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2024. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact info@tobyouvry.com 
 


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