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Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much do you value your happiness? How much of it is in your hands, as opposed to fate? How much effort does it really take to become consistently happy in the way you ‘want’ to be? In the article below I share some of my own story and experience on this topic.

If you like the article & are in Singapore, I will be doing a session on ‘How to rest naturally in the present moment’ in tonight’s Tuesday class, as well as at the Wednesday class.

Full details for workshops for October are below the article.

In the spirit of mindful happiness,


Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

After I graduated from University in 1994, I spent the next eight years focusing very intensively on meditation and inner growth. This included four years as a monk within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In 2002, I left the ordained life and founded my own mindfulness training business in Singapore, which I am still fully involved in and passionate about.

One of the questions that I am asked quite often at talks, workshops and classes that I facilitate goes something like this: “Are you happier now than you were as a Buddhist monk, leading a relatively simple, worry free life of meditation?”

To this my answer is always emphatically ‘yes!’ for the following reason: I am happier now because, since moving back into the life of a layman, I have been practising the basic happiness skills that I learned as a Buddhist monk repeatedly for many years and I have got better at them. As a result my happiness has steadily improved year in, year out over the sixteen years since I left the ordained life.  I can also say with confidence that my basic happiness levels will continue to steadily improve in the years to come. This will happen in spite of the added stresses that comes from running a business, marrying, divorcing, starting a family, being a father, a partner and all of the other aspects of ordinary life that I am now fully engaged with.

For me this really boils down to the value of consistency and repetition. Quite often when people think about inner transformation there is a gap in their mind between the amount of effort they THINK it will take to change bad habits, and the amount of effort it ACTUALLY takes. When they realize that the change that they are looking for will take longer than they thought, they get discouraged and give up.

So, what we are looking for from a ‘mental fitness’ point of view is developing the ability to practice good mental, emotional and spiritual habits slowly and steadily over a long period of time. This means becoming more like the tortoise than the hare in that traditional children’s story about the race between the hare and the tortoise. We do not want to start off with a lot of enthusiasm, only to lose it when the going gets tough and give up. Rather we need to practise gentle, sustainable effort over a long period of time, without being in too much of a hurry to see results quickly.

This can be difficult for people in this day and age as we are living in a society that has such a quick-fix mentality, where results are wanted instantly. In my experience there are no such methods for deep sustained happiness and fulfilment. Rather, this comes from repeating good happiness habits again and again until they become hard wired into our system. Once they are hard wired in this way, then happiness really does become effortless because it is just a subconscious habit, and natural way that we have of viewing and engaging our world.
In conclusion, the basic message of this article is: find out what genuine good quality happiness habits are, then repeat, repeat, repeat!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, 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

Ongoing 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)

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

Saturday October 21st, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

Saturday 21st October, 2-5.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

Saturday November 25th 10am-4pm – Mini ME Retreat #2 : Mindful Eating + Reiki Sound Bath with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang

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Happiness or impulse fulfilment?

Dear Integral Meditators,

In this day and age when so many of our impulses can be fulfilled at the click of a button or browser, managing your impulses mindfully is an increasingly important life skill. The article below looks at how we can distinguish between impulse fulfilment and actions that lead to genuine happiness.

In the spirit of attention to impulses!


Engaged Mindfulness – What mindfulness is and how we can apply it to our daily lives
Last two days to purchase Toby’s new book at the 20% launch price discount! (up until 31st August)



Happiness or impulse fulfilment?

When you do something are you doing it because it is really going to make you happy? Or are you doing it simply out of impulse and habit? This is an important question to ask yourself, because having the impulse to do something doesn’t mean that that action will result in fulfilment, wellbeing or happiness.

Defining happiness
For our purposes right now, let’s say happiness has two types; goal oriented happiness and non-goal oriented happiness. These two are interrelated but:

  • Goal oriented happiness is functional. We derive it from actions which lead to achievements. For example, if I keep my attention focused on my work and writing this morning, I will get to lunch and experience the happiness and satisfaction of having achieved my work goals. Goal oriented happiness may involve discomfort, sacrifice and the setting aside of short term impulse fulfilment to achieve, and this is very important to understand!
  • Non-goal oriented happiness is our capacity to rest at ease in the moment, feeling good not because we have achieved something, but because we are in touch with life as we experience it in the moment, on a slightly deeper level. This can be prompted consciously through mindfulness meditation, or it may come upon us when walking or running, listening to music, being with a loved one and so on…

The defining factor of both types of happiness is that they make us feel good in a real and appropriate way.

The deception of impulse fulfilment
Deceptive impulses are ones that prompt us to do something that we think will make us happy, but in reality lead neither to goal oriented happiness or non-goal oriented happiness. Rather they lead to more discontent, insecurity, anxiety and so on. Two examples:

  • I wake up in the morning. I’ve got work to do, but I’m tired, so I switch on my phone and surf the online paper for a while. The impulse to do this is an avoidance tactic to delay the effort of starting work. While I read the news I’m not feeling great because deep down I know I’m avoiding what I need to do. When I finish reading, I don’t feel happy, I’ve dissipated my (already finite) energy, and I haven’t gotten closer to my work goals, and thus am farther away from my goal-oriented happiness. So the impulse to surf my phone promised me happiness, but it didn’t deliver – it was merely an impulse that took me further away from what I want.
  •  I have had just the right amount to drink at a party, but I have the impulse to take another (and perhaps another!) This does not lead me to be any happier ‘in the moment’, and later in the evening/next morning I might even feel substantially worse! So the impulse fulfilment did not lead to happiness in the goal-oriented or non-goal oriented sense of the word. The impulse actually took me away from my happiness.

The practice  
So the mindfulness practice here is simply to challenge ourself when we notice certain impulses within ourself by asking the question ‘Will this action lead to happiness for me, or is it just impulse fulfilment?’ By asking this question we activate our wise intelligence and willpower to make better choices that will serve our happiness in the long term, and not just erode our wellbeing by pandering to our deceptive impulse fulfilment!
In this day and age when so many of our impulses can be fulfilled at the click of a button or browser, managing your impulses mindfully is an increasingly important life skill.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, 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:

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm (next class August 10th) – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

8th & 17th September, 7.30-8.30pmFree book talks on ‘Engaged Mindfulness’ by Toby

Integral Meditation Asia

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

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The Pendulum Swing of Happiness and Sadness

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much happiness does your aversion for or resistance to sadness cost you? This is the topic the article below explores.

Beneath the article you will see some information on i-Awake technologies latest track Profound Releasing. You can read my own thoughts on this type of meditation technology HERE.

In the spirit of the pendulum swing,


The Pendulum Swing of Happiness and Sadness

Two days ago a couple of my daughters most cherished dolls were chewed up by the dog. She phoned me in a haze of tears and sadness about this, seemingly wallowing in the upset. Two hours later when I saw her, her mood had changed, she was still a little sad, but already talking jokingly about it, and explaining to me how she was going to fix the dolls, and lightheartedly telling me it was my fault for leaving the door of her bedroom open (which it may well have been!) Over the course of a couple of hours her mod had swung from open hearted sadness to acceptance, humour and smiles.

In the recent Pixar movie Inside-Out there is a moment when the character Joy realizes that many of the happy memories that the child she is in charge of possesses are dependent upon a preceding sad experience that sets up the happy experience. Up to this point in the movie she has been trying to remove sadness from the life of the child, but once she realizes its value, she knows when to get out of the way and let sadness play its part in the life of the child; indeed it is eventually sadness that saves the day!

My basic observation here is that our happiness and sadness are like a pendulum swing; if you allow yourself to experience your sadness, to ‘swing toward it’, then naturally once it has been experienced you will start to swing back again towards happiness. If however you block your sadness and prevent yourself experiencing it, then in some ways you lose the ability to feel genuinely happy. You just find yourself stuck in a state where you don’t feel happy or sad, just neutral, ‘comfortably numb’ as the saying goes.

Learning to swing with the pendulum
So the basic practice here is simply to mindfully learn to swing with our moods from happiness to sadness and back again, without blocking or interfering with the swing too much. Learn to swing naturally into a sad mood and gain confidence from the experience that after a while it starts to swing naturally back towards happiness after it has reached the extremity of its movement.

A practice
First of all get used to asking yourself; ‘How am I feeling right now?’ and really cultivating awareness and connection to your feelings and moods.
Secondly, use the image of the pendulum, when you feel yourself feeling a little sad, relax into the swing of it, don’t try and block it too much; allow yourself to experience it without getting swamped.
If you do this then after a while you will find yourself swinging back towards happiness. Relax into that too, enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t try and cling onto it beyond its time. Learn to participate in the swinging to and fro  between moods of happiness and sadness, to enjoy it with mindful awareness.

PS: One thing that I’ve become aware of with myself and with other people is that as soon as we start to feel emotionally uncomfortable or sad we distract and block ourself from that feeling by taking out our phone and fiddling with it. Becoming aware of this tendency and choosing to just sit with the discomfort or sadness instead of taking out the phone can be a simple mindfulness practice that we can set ourselves that will help us to manage our happy-sad pendulum swing a little better.

© 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

New I-Awake Track: Profound Releasing

Profound Releasing is a deeply transformative, guided meditation, encoded brainwave
entrainment technology designed to help you experience:
●    Letting go of old, limiting emotional patterns
●    Developing more inner strength and groundedness
●    A deepening compassion for yourself and others
●    And a gradual awakening into pure awareness

Our friends at iAwake Technologies are offering up to 20% Off Discount when you
purchase Profound Releasing during its introductory 7-day offer (September 17-24,
To learn more and listen to the free demo track click here:

Integral Meditation Asia

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Natural Happiness

Dear Integral Meditators,

To be a meditator means to get in touch with your natural happiness. The article below explains something of what I mean by this.

Yours in the spirit of natural happiness,


Natural Happiness

I feel happy because…

A common tactic and one that I use myself for becoming happier is simply to reflect mindfully upon reasons why my life is good, on what I have achieved, on what I am enjoying, on what has gone right. If you keep a log of these types of things, either written or in just regularly in your head, then you are connecting to a form of happiness based upon the power of your rational, thinking, analytical mind.

I feel happy and so…

In meditation, one of the things we are aiming to develop the ability to do is to move our body-mind into a state of open relaxation that feels so good that, even if we had many reasons in the day to not be happy we would still naturally feel connected to happiness anyway.

This meditative form of happiness is a state of happiness that does not depend upon rational reasons, or the ticking of mental boxes. Rather it is a feeling that arises simply from sitting quietly, letting go and enjoying the process of enjoying relaxing deeply into a state of conscious awareness.

Relaxing into natural happiness

The other day I was travelling back from work with my head full of the troubles of the world; relationship doubts, money issues, business uncertainty, dissatisfaction with my circumstances and so on, you know what I mean right?

So instead of going directly home I went into the library, and sat down in the reading room. I determined just to sit down and relax for 30mins. For the first few minutes I paid attention to the physical fatigue in my muscles and the emotional turbulence that I was experiencing, just acknowledging them, giving them a bit of love and letting them go. Then I just sat still and relaxed, doing as little as possible, switching off my brain and mind and opening my heart space.

After 10minutes I started to feel ok. After 15 minutes I felt good. By the time I finished, technically I could still remember all the reasons that my life was difficult and challenging, but to be honest I didn’t care so much. I just felt good in my body, mind and heart, for no ‘reason’ other than sitting still in a state of relaxed meditation for a while. Technically I had not ‘solved’ any of my issues, but my world felt completely different, just because I had spent a little while connecting to my natural happiness in meditation.

When you meditate you discover that you don’t have to ‘do’ anything to be happy, other than learn how to connect to your natural happiness; the happiness that is there under the surface of our body-mind all the time.

If you meditate skilfully it won’t solve your problems or alleviate you of your responsibilities, but it will make you naturally happy.

© 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 May:

Friday 29th May 7.30-9.30pm –  Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre – Travelling deeper into the present moment through integral meditation

Saturday 30th May2.30-5.30pm – Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release from Stress



Integral Meditation Asia

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