Awareness and insight Enlightened service Inner vision Meditation and Psychology Motivation and scope spiritual intelligence

Can Meditation Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose?

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a relaxing and fulfilling Christmas and Boxing day, I had a very pleasant time, just about the right balance of sociability, good food and quiet reflection!

With the new year approaching I my thoughts have been turning (like many people) to what I would most like to focus on during 2012. I write the article below on the question of “Can meditation help you find your life’s purpose?” with this somewhat in mind.

Next week sees the return of regular weekly classes in Singapore, in particular the weeklyQi gong meditation class restarting on the 4th January.

Wishing you all the best for your new year celebrations!

Yours in the spirit of new beginnings,



Article of the Week:

Can Meditation Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose?

One way or another, and for a variety of different motives, many people feel that finding their ‘life’s purpose’ is very important to them. What I want to do in this article is to outline three levels of purpose in life, and then give a few comments regarding how meditation may be able to help people to find their life’s purpose on these different levels.
These three levels of purpose move from ‘basic’ indicating the least evolved (but still perfectly valid), to the intermediate, to advanced, ‘advanced’ in this context meaning advanced from the perspective of meditation and the path to enlightenment.

The three levels of life’s purpose are:

1) The Basic Level – Survival and acceptance:
Here survival means accumulating enough material resources for a basically happy life, and developing enough social competence to build successful, lasting, mutually supporting friendships and family bonds (and thus acceptance into your ‘tribe’).  Here meaning in life is found in living it, and the experience of living successfully and happily within the context of one’s society. For a person on this level meditation can help calm their mind enough to facilitate greater awareness of the choices they have to make, and greater intelligence and control to make sure they are able to direct their behavior and appetites appropriately, so that they are not sabotaging their resource building and relationship efforts all the time. On this level meditation will also help them to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and appreciate the good things in their life as they are able to live more ‘in the present’.

2) The Intermediate Level – Personal achievement and working for the greater good:
On this level two principle things come online; firstly joy in personal achievement (combined with a certain level of ambition, some of this egotistic, some more altruistic), and secondly an expansion of our scope and motivation. We evolve from our life being mainly about ourselves and our family to wanting to make a real, genuine, positive and lasting contribution to society and the world. Our life begins to center around the question ‘What is it in particular that I can offer the world?’
On the first level of personal achievement, meditation helps us in a similar way to the basic level by helping us to optimize our awareness, intelligence and consistency, thus giving us the mental strength to accomplish our goals. On the second level of motivation and scope, regular meditation naturally makes our mind bigger and more open, opening it up to empathy and awareness of both others and the world around us and facilitating the natural development of genuine love and compassion.
Another major way in which meditation helps us at this stage is the opening of our intuition, guiding us toward work and activity that will be of most meaning and consequence.

3) The Advanced Level – Doing Nothing, Going Nowhere:
On this last and most advanced level, the search for a “meaning” in life is dropped as we realize the inherent perfection of each and every moment of our life as it is already, right now. On this level we are able to recognize that the idea of a ‘personal purpose’ and meaning to our life is ultimately both illusory and already fully manifest. Life is perfect as it is and has no meaning other than its own natural, moment to moment self fulfillment.Zen practices such as the practice of aimlessness and thoughtlessness are aimed at realization of this level of our life’s purpose, as is the Tibetan Dzogchen practice of ‘hopelessness’ (meaning if you are hoping for a life meaning to manifest in the future for you, then you will never be able to realize that it is here with you right now!!!).

In Conclusion
I have outlined three levels of life’s meaning here, one thing I would like to flag up is thatyou can’t move onto the advanced level of ‘doing nothing going nowhere’ without having developed high levels of competency at the first two levels, basic and intermediate. There are a lot of people whose life has no meaning at all, and who are doing nothing about it and thus going nowhere in the negative sense of the word and this is not at all desirable!  Thinking advanced meditation teachings and practices are an excuse to be a lazy so and so, and to avoid the basic day to day challenges in your life is a complete illusion! All of these three levels can and should be grown and developed together as we go through our life and develop our meditation practice.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditation techniques Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

Reconnecting to a Sense of Wonder (Our Goldilocks Planet)

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article focuses on generating a sense of wonder, which is a desirable internal condition for enjoying and appreciating the Christmas season!

Last week’s meditation class on “Going from no self to the expanded self” is now available as a recording, if anyone is interested in obtaining a copy you can go HERE.

Finally, you can see the schedule of classes for January below.

Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and the Winter Solstice!


Upcoming classes in January 2012:

Wednesday Jan 4th&11th: Wednesday Morning Qi Gong Meditation Classes

Sunday 8th Jan 8-9am: Sunday Morning Qi Gong Walking Meditation Classes at the Botanic Gardens

Wednesday Jan 11th 7.30-8.30pm: Meditation Class on How to Meditate on the Inner Weather of the Mind

Wednesday Jan 18th 7.30-9.30pm: An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Zen


Article of the Week:

Reconnecting to a Sense of Wonder (Our Goldilocks Planet)

One of the things that I appreciate about Christmas looking back on my childhood was the sense of wonder that seemed to pervade the atmosphere during that time. Of course as we grow older the bubble bursts and the sense of wonder diminishes as we discover where the presents really come from, and who really drunk the brandy and ate the Christmas cake that was left out for Santa!
One of the main things that we seek to reclaim on our spiritual path (in whatever terms we may define it) is a sense of wonder. It is a bit like the wonder that we had as children at Christmas, but it is a post-rational wonder, a sense of wonder in being alive, in having the opportunity to live a human life even though we know Santa does not really visit over Christmas, or that the world is filled with contradictions and pain, and with full knowledge and  awareness of what science and rationality tells us about the way things are.

The fact remains that, despite all we know, life is a mystery, life is uncertain, sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrifying. One of the things I have been doing as Christmas approaches is to consciously cultivate a sense of wonder at this mystery, and try to allow that sense of wonder to pervade my everyday life as deeply as possible.
If you wish to do this yourself, one thing you can do is take ten minutes to simply recall and write down the things that cause a sense of the wonder of life to arise within you. Sometimes it is not so much that we CAN’T develop wonder and appreciation, it is just that we FORGET to! Once you have your list, then just take a few minutes each day to review your list and reconnect to the sense of wonder and appreciation that this list awakens within you.

Our Goldilocks Planet 

If you want something specific to help you develop a sense of wonder, here is one that I have been thinking about a lot. I learned a couple of weeks ago from one of my daughters school books that we live on a “Goldilocks Planet” which is to say that the conditions on our planet are extremely rare in this universe, and it is these conditions that give rise to the opportunity for biological life. I have been using this as a way of contemplating wonder, and just feeling thankful to have the opportunity to be alive on this fragile rock hurtling through the Universe! Here are the basic characteristics of a Goldilocks planet, if one of these were missing, none of us could exist!

1) Having just the right sized sun
If our sun was too big it would burn out too fast for life to evolve on a planet, if it was too small it be prone to give rise to surface storms that would destroy life on planets. We have a nice middle sized sun with a leisurely 10 billion year lifespan!

2) Just the right sized planet
If earth was too big (like say Jupiter) the gravity of the planet would crush all life. If it was too small (like Mars) our bodies would explode and dissipate due to lack of gravity. The Earth is just the right size, with enough gravity to hold an atmosphere that sustains life and protects us from the sun’s rays.

 3) Just the right distance from the sun
Earth inhabits the narrow band of orbit around the sun that means our water is liquid, not frozen or gaseous. Venus, one planet nearer the sun has an average surface temperature of +500 degrees Celsius, whilst Mars, one planet further away has an average temperature of -63degrees Celsius.

4) The existence of water
…and a solid surface upon which it can pool. Life as we know it depends upon water

5) A little help from Jupiter
Whose gravitational field attracts, blocks and absorbs many dangerous asteroids (due to its size and enhanced gravitational field). So we are in much less danger of mass destruction than we would otherwise be!

So, for me, contemplating our fragile life living on a Goldilocks planet has really helped fill my Christmas season with wonder and awe, I hope it helps you too!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Meditating on the Self Meditation techniques mind body connection The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

The Gateway to the Expanded Self and to Universal Love and Compassion

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article gives some basic pointing out instructions for how we can transform our ordinary, deluded self sense into the universal or expanded self sense of a Bodhisattva, someone whose primary motivation is to liberate all living beings from their pain and bestow upon them lasting freedom and happiness. It is a little longer than I anticipated, but it explains the journey in its ‘bare bones’ so to speak, without any unnecessary complexity.

Yours in the spirit of universal love and compassion,


Article of the Week:

Meditation on the No Self as the Gateway to the Expanded Self and to Universal Love and Compassion

In my previous article on “the Essential Teaching of the Buddha” I outline three basic meditational themes of suffering, impermanence and no self. What I want to do below is to explain I as simple terms as possible how to identify the experience of no self in meditation and show how it can lead into the experience of an expanded self and of universal love and compassion. In Buddhist terms someone who has realized this expanded self is often referred to as a Bodhisattva, a person who works continuously for the liberation of others motivated by his or her universal compassion.

The stages of the meditation are described in short, contemplative “pointing out” instructions that you can then just gently work thorough at your own pace, using each sentence as a platform for your own practical investigation.

Identifying our everyday idea of self
The first thing that we need to do is to observe our mind and see how we habitually conceive of a quite solid, tangible ‘self’. It appears to have a permanent, fixed identity, and to exist somewhere within the mixture of our physical appearance and mental and emotional ‘personality’. It feels very real, and to have both physical and mental form.
So the first exercise is to get used to watching our sense of self as we go through our day; who is it that is angry or stressed? Who gets embarrassed by the complement from our attractive work colleague? Who feels depressed or elated?

Realizing that the everyday self does not exist in the way we think
If the everyday self or ego exists in the way we think it does as some kind of inherent, fixed form, then we should be able to find it and point to it somewhere within the collection of our body and mind. However, briefly put, if you look at the moment to moment stream of your mind and body, all you will find is a stream of continuously changing phenomenon that are not the self. For example the brain is a continuously changing and transforming physical organ that is not the self. The thinking and feeling that arise from having a brain (and upon which we often develop a strong sense of self) is also continuously changing and transforming. There is nothing within the stream of our thoughts and feelings that stays the same for long enough to be a stable basis for saying “that is me”.
So, the second part of the meditation is to take our time and investigate the moment to moment flow of our body-mind, and see very clearly from our own experience that there is nothing there that provides a suitable basis for a permanent or fixed ‘I’.

Resting in the experience of no self
The third stage of the meditation is simply to absorb the significance of the first two stages, to recognize that where we habitually assumed there was a self (in the body-mind), there is in fact no permanent fixed self. There is just a continuously flowing and transforming stream of mental and physical phenomena that is not the self!
In meditation we can consolidate this by deliberately dropping our habitual sense of self, and just resting in the awareness of the absence of a fixed, permanent self within either our body or our mind.

Identifying the witness or observer self
There is a third aspect of our moment our moment experience that does not change, and upon which on a deeper level our self sense is based upon. This is the moment to moment experience of awareness itselfThis awareness has two basic qualities; firstly it functions to know, or be aware of things, and secondly it has no form, no mental or physical characteristics. It is clear open and space like.
The fourth stage of our meditation is simply to recognize this pure awareness, and to rest in this open, space-like awareness in meditation.

Contemplating the qualities of the witness self
We could say that this observer, or witness self is our true self, or real self. But it is completely different from the self that we usually think of as being “me”.
For one thing it has no individualizing characteristics. Because it has no form it has nothing within it to distinguish us from anyone else. It is just pure, luminous spacious awareness.
Secondly, because it has no form, the witness self that lies within ‘me’ is also the same as the witness self that lies within ‘you’, or ‘they, or ’them’ or ‘others’.  In this sense the witness self (which is still a ‘no self’ in the sense of having no individualizing characteristics) is the universal self, the ‘God that lies within the heart of all’, and from which all of creation arises and disintegrates from moment to moment.

Expanding our sense of self to include all living beings
So, if we then take our witness self, or pure awareness as our true ‘self’ we can expand our self sense infinitely to include all living beings since they all have at the heart of their being that same pure awareness. In this sense meeting other people is no different in essence from meeting ourselves, the outer appearance is different, but the essence is the same!
At this stage of the meditation our focus becomes the recognition that the pure self-awareness that we are witnessing is actually a universal or expanded self, encompassing not just one person but infinite living beings, human, animal or otherwise.

Developing love and compassion for others
On the basis of recognizing our expanded self we can then begin to develop natural and appropriate empathic love and compassion for other living beings, not because we feel as if we ‘should’ but because we can experientially recognize them in essence as being our true or real self.

The vow of the Bodhisattva
Naturally arising from this universal love and compassion comes the wish to liberate all living beings (who are aspects of our own self) from suffering, and give them lasting freedom and happiness. Our intention in life begins to orientate itself around the vow of the Bodhisattva, to quote the Ninth century Buddhist teacher Shantideva:

May I be a protector to those without protection,
A leader for those who journey,
And a boat, a bridge, a passage
For those desiring the further shore.
May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away.
May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For all sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed.”

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Presence and being present

Meditating on the Inner Weather of Our Mind

Hi Everyone,
This weeks article focuses on the relationship between the way outer weather functions and the constantly changing ‘inner landscape’ of our mind. It is a useful analogy that I use a lot, particularly when there is a lot of outer rain and wind like there has been for the last few weeks in Singapore!


Yours in the spirit of flow and change,



Meditating on the Inner Weather of Our Mind 

Reflecting on the Changeability of our Mind and Mental States

One of the main challenges that we face in developing our inner peace and happiness is that our mind seems to be so changeable and unpredictable. Mind training techniques that we learn work for a while and then just seem to ‘stop’ working without any particular reason. We try and do all the ‘right’ things to make ourself happy and yet sometimes our relative happiness and sadness seems as fickle and unpredictable as it has always been.

It seems like one way or another if we are on a search for inner peace we have to factor the inner changeability of our mind into our approach, and learn to work with it rather than against it.


Using the Outer Weather as Our Teacher

One of the practical comparisons that I use when I think about the ever changing state of my mind is that of a landscape and the weather. We all know the weather changes all the time, and most of the time we are able to accept this change without too much of a fuss. This is because we know that it is the nature of weather in a landscape to go through cycles and transformations. There are periods of sunshine, brightness and growth, periods of rain, gloom and cold. This is just the nature of weather.

Similarly if we think about our own mind as existing within the context of the group mind of humanity, or Planetary mind, we can start to understand that there are different “inner weather conditions” that come and go within this inner group landscape.

There are different energies, moods, emotions and thought patterns flowing through the group mind all the time, as well as within the particular landscape of our own mind as an individual. The difference between our approach to the outer weather and our inner weather is that perhaps too much of the time we take our inner weather too personally and too seriously.

Perhaps we can try a new approach where we consciously choose to view the inner weather and landscape of our mind a little more lightly and patiently, like we view the outer weather?


Meditating on the Inner Weather of the Mind

The way I meditate on the inner weather of the mind is not so much a formal technique as simply a perspective or lens through which I choose to view whatever is going on in my mind. If I feel happy, glad, joyful, uplifted etc… I think about this as bright skies, sunlight, bubbling streams, plants in bloom and so forth. I go with the flow of this good weather, knowing that it won’t last forever, but will quite naturally change as time passes by.

Similarly if my mind feels dark and gloomy I see no reason to panic, it is just like a cloudy or rainy day. On this type of day things may feel a little more difficult of challenging, but really there is often nothing really ‘wrong’ so to speak, it is just a passing phase that will go away in its own time quite naturally if we hold it lightly and don’t try and fight with it or take it too personally.

I find approaching the ever changing nature of my mind in this way a very good way of staying simple, centered and just going with the flow of whatever is arising.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Presence and being present The Essential Meditation of the Buddha

Three Liberating Wisdom Perspectives on the Self

Hi Everyone,

One of the fundamental questions on the spiritual path  is “who am I?” This weeks article looks at three perspectives that can help us to see a little deeper into the nature of our own self.
A quick reminder of this Wednesday evenings meditation class on “The Essential Meditation of the Buddha”, 7.30-8.30pm. You can find full details by clicking the link.

Yours in the spirit of flowing awareness,

Article of the Week:

Three Liberating Wisdom Perspectives on the Self

Here are three perspectives that you can adopt as a contemplative practice both in and out of meditation. These perspectives are related to last week’s article on the Essential Meditation of the Buddha, but it is not necessary to read that article for this practice to make sense.
The benefits of working with these perspectives as meditation objects are numerous, but the most important is that they help to liberate us from some fundamental misconceptions in our mind that normally we carry around unexamined, and which cause us substantial suffering and pain.

These three perspectives are:
1.       “Whenever or wherever there is a strong grasping of or attachment to your self-sense there is suffering”.
2.       “Whenever you have a wish for something transient, changeable and impermanent to remain fixed as it is, then there is suffering and pain”.
3.       “Whatever object you look at is not the self.”

Each of these perspectives is explained in three parts.
1)      A statement that describes the perspective itself.
2)      A method for beginning to test the truth of the statement in your own experience.
3)      A short breathing meditation practice that you can use once you have confidence in the perspective and its power to aid you in your pursuit of a peaceful, centered and aware mind and life.

Perspective 1:
Statement: “Whenever or wherever there is a strong grasping of or attachment to your self-sense there is suffering”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: Recall the last time you experienced pronounced suffering, fear or anxiety. As you do so the feeling of attachment to your sense of self should well up as a physical tension in the center of your chest, a physical sensation, not just a mental one. Focusing on that physical tension, deliberately relax it, and as you do so mentally also relax your attachment to your self-sense. Observe how your suffering decreases in relations to the extent that you are able to relax that strong grasping and attachment to your sense of self.
Actually, most of the time it is perfectly possible to engage all of our daily tasks and relationships successfully with a far more reduced attachment to our self sense than we currently have.

Breathing meditation: Anytime you feel the tension arising from an overactive self-sense arising within your chest space, take a few breaths, as you inhale inwardly say to yourself “letting”, as you exhale say to yourself “go”. As you focus on the words “letting go” and breathing, simply do as the words say, release the tension in your chest and let go of the mental attachment to your-self sense.

Perspective 2:
Statement: “Whenever the self wishes for something transient, changeable and impermanent to remain fixed as it is, then there is suffering and pain”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: One basic sense of reality that we are trying to develop here is simply the sense that everything is always changing. Whether you look at the coming and going of your breathing, the gradual aging of your body, the way Monday changes into Sunday, the movement of the seasons. As the Buddha said “all produced phenomena are impermanent”. With this in mind it is not so surprising to find out in our own experience that whenever we cling to something impermanent, whether it be a stage in our relationship with our romantic partner that is changing, the growing up of children or whatever there is a sense of pain that goes with it. What we need to do is allow change to happen without fighting it in a negative way. Go with the flow rather than always trying to swim against the current. (Note: Doing this might actually mean that you age more slowly ;-))

Breathing Meditation: On the inbreath focus on the word “flowing” and on the outbreath “awareness” allow yourself to relax into the flow of the moment to moment change that is occurring with each successive moment of awareness.

Perspective 3:
Statement: “Whatever object you look at is not the self”.

Method for testing the truth of this statement: This is a statement that, like the two above it leverages very heavily upon the teachings and observations of the Buddha. The basic thing to observe in your own experience is that:
a)      We tend to cling to many “things” such as our body, different mental states and emotions as “me” as if they were our true self. We are actually doing this one way or another most of the time.
b)      However, in fact all of these things that we tend to think of as self are actually objects observed and possessed by the self, they are not the self itself. The self is always the witnessing observer of these things. The self is always the subject of our awareness, and so anything that we can objectify and consider as an object is not the self.
So, where do we find the “self”? We find it only as the witnessing awareness of everything that our mind observes. This awareness itself has not qualities or form beyond simply being a witness. In this sense the self is pure, empty, luminous awareness, nothing more.

Breathing Meditation: On the inbreath focus on the word “spacious”, on the outbreath focus on the word “awareness”. Allow yourself to rest as deeply and calmly as you can within the pure, formless awareness of your own true self.
An alternative exercise for this section might be to: On the inbreath focus on the word “no” and as you exhale “self”. As you are doing so recognize that everything that you see, sense and perceive lacks a self in the sense of having a tangible form that can be identified as a fixed, inherent self.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Awareness and insight Inner vision Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present

Dropping Your Conceptual Leaves

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article focuses on the value of adopting a periodically more minimal mental approach to our life’s challenges.

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


Dropping Your Conceptual Leaves

Seasonally the beginning of November in the northern hemisphere sees the change from autumn to winter, the leaves having started to turn brown and whither in September and October now begin to drop from the trees in earnest, leaving behind the naked skeletons of the trees across the landscape. Life in nature, although still present becomes much more minimal and quiet with the onset of the winter months.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been using the image of a tree in late autumn and winter as an image in meditation. I become the tree and imagine my leaves dropping away. As I do so I also feel all my excessive conceptuality and mental baggage dropping away. I let go of ideas and preconceptions and just allow myself to rest in this state of minimal awareness, like the stillness of a bare tree in winter, its life quiet and hidden but nevertheless fully present deep inside its structure.

Dropping your conceptual ‘leaves’ like this on a regular basis is a very healthy thing to do. So many of our ‘problems’ are actually just labels that our overly conceptual mind has placed upon things that disturb us, rather than being vitally important life problems in themselves. Quietening our mind and sitting in silence allows us to see which of our problems are really worth solving, and which can be solved simply by dropping our mental label of them as problems.

As you can see I like to meditate with the energy of the seasons, so the coming months are a period where I deliberately set aside a little more time for very simple silent sitting meditation, as a reflection of our movement into the latter part of the year. You might like to consider this too!

Practical suggestion.

Take the tree dropping its leaves image described above as your object of meditation. Become the tree. As you drop your leaves feel your conceptual thoughts falling away also. Sit and relax deeply into silence. Once your mind is quiet you can drop the image of the tree if you like, and just focus on the inner silence.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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One Minute Mindfulness

Mindful of the Stress of Living in an Emergent Time

An emergent time is a time in history where there is a large amount of change, innovation, transformation and transformation going on within society and on the Planet as a whole.

All of this change and transformation can also give rise to the perception that there is more conflict, stress, confrontation, agitation and despair in the world, and that we ourselves as individuals are under more pressure, both on a day to day work/life level, and on an existential level.

I’m not sure whether there has ever been a time in known history where there has been as much change as there is going on currently in our time, or a time where the problems that we are facing, (climate, pollution, economy etc..) have ever been so global in their nature. So many challenges, wonders and horrors seem to be emerging all around us.

One question that I find it interesting to ask myself is “How am I responding or reacting to the pace of change? Do I feel and experience it as a good thing with a lot of positives, or is it something that my mind contracts away from with aversion or fear?”

Like everyone else I think I inevitably feel a certain degree of stress with regard to the pace of life these days, but I think it really helps me to have made a definite choice to envision our human and planetary future evolving in a wonderful, exiting and creative way toward a better future. This involves me making definite specific, practical visionary choices. For example:

– When I contemplate the global overfishing crisis, I imagine how it might lead to the creation of multiple marine reserves where humans actively start to protect and cherish life in the sea on a large scale (This is already starting to happen).

– When I think about fundamentally self-centered tendency that so many people seem to be stuck in, I wonder if the fact that we are all getting crowded into such tightly packed spaces (due to population numbers) will gradually start forcing us all to be a little less selfish, and discover that working together will really produce a better world.

– I can imagine that the internet will become a cause for everyone to become more educated and globally aware.

Of course I really can’t be sure what is going to happen with any of these things, but moving  into a future that seems to be e merging so fast, I think we all need to think consciously about what that future may turn into, and start holding a positive picture in whatever way it feel appropriate!

Practical Suggestion:

– Take one emergent crisis in our world that you think of often.

– Think creatively about the good that may come from it.

– Hold that vision of that good in your mind for a minute

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up for Toby’s free Creative Meditations E-Newsletter?

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Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness

The Little Reminders Work!

I recently listened to a talk by Roger Walsh on the Science of Meditation (well worth having a listen to, click the link to do so). In the talk he mentions that he spent about three years researching for his book “Essential Spirituality”, reading books and interviewing different spiritual teachers of the worlds great wisdom traditions.

One of the activities that he said virtually all of these teachers found effective themselves for daily mindfulness and consciousness development was the simply practice of placing small reminders in your living space. This means the post-it note on the bathroom mirror, the car bumper sticker, the messages that you write to yourself and place on the fridge. Simply being frequently reminded that you are training your mind, and what that training is is a very effective practice.

One of my own reminders is a picture of Buddha Vajrapani (embodying the spiritual and obstacle dispelling power of all the Buddha’s that sits on my desk. Whenever I feel discouraged I just let my eyes rest on this picture for a while and allow my determination and positive energy to build back up again.

What’s your “little reminder ” practice right now? It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than a message on a post-it on your bathroom mirror!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up for Toby’s free Creative Meditations E-Newsletter?

Check out Toby’s Meditation Classes

Motivation and scope One Minute Mindfulness

Being Mindful of your Primary Motivation

Before you start something it is always worth spending a moment thinking “Why am I doing this? What is my primary motivation?” If you have a definite reason for doing something, then you can keep it as your focus, thus ensuring greater peace of mind and a higher likelihood of getting what you want from the activity.

– For example, if my main reason for going to play a game of tennis is fun and relaxation, being clear about that ensures that I can enjoy the competitive side of the match I play without letting it become too much of a focus point and thus spoiling my relaxation and enjoyment.

– Similarly if I go out with my wife for a dinner with the clear intention that it is relaxation time, keeping this in mind will mean that I avoid taking up difficult or conflicting topics of conversation that may get in the way of that quality down time.


– If my intention for playing tennis is to push my limits and play as well as possible, I  can make a conscious decision to set aside my merely recreational attitude for a temporarily more serious approach.

– I may deliberately go out for dinner with my wife in order to talk over a difficult or thorny topic, but the fact that I know what my/our intention is ensures that I can keep focused on the goal, and be prepared for the challenge that may come.

My basic point here is that if you are mindful enough to have a clear idea why you are doing something (whatever the size or significance of the activity), then there is a greater chance you will achieve your goal and a greater chance that you will do so with enjoyment and true presence of mind.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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One Minute Mindfulness

The Anxiety of Freedom

Normally when we think about anxiety and its causes things such as money, relationships, negative emotions and the like come to mind as primary causes of our mental anxt. However what about freedom?

Søren Kierkegaard said “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”, and the existential philosophers and therapists have pointed out very clearly that as often as not it is the challenge of dealing with our individual inner freedom and inner power that is as much a cause of stress for us in our life as anything else (see Rollo Mays’ ‘The Discovery of Being’ for a good exposition of this).

When we are really exercising our power of choice and freedom to choose our future fully, we are also saying “I am in control of my life and in control of my destiny”. Relatively few people seem ready to take on this responsibility and the burden of anxiety that we anticipate will come with it.

However I think probably that the lengths we go to to avoid really taking responsibility for our life and stepping into our personal freedom cause much more anxiety than actually having the balls to step into our own power fully!

At any rate being mindful of our inner response to choices and personal opportunities for inner freedom in our day to day life is definitely a good daily object of meditation!

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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