Categories
Awareness and insight Meditation techniques Positive anger Shadow meditation Using the Energy of Negative Emotions

Fertilizer for the mind and body – Using the Energy of Negative Emotions

Dear Integral meditators,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, this weeks article is a practical meditation technique for working with the energy of negative emotions, which is a theme that I will be building on in articles over the next few weeks.

Yours in the spirit of the ongoing journey,

Toby


Article of the Week:

Fertilizer for the mind and body – Using the Energy of Negative Emotions, a Simple Meditation Technique

In my recent article on “Darkness Emerging as Light” I suggested that the essential energy of negative emotions can be re-worked and re-directed in our life to become a force for the good, and even a force revealing our own enlightened nature. The meditation below is a simple (though not always easy) technique that we can use to:

  •  Work directly to re-direct and transform the energy of  powerful negative emotion
  • Work with at the beginning of a meditation if we are being directly bothered by a negative emotion/thought pattern present in our mind
  • Simply wish to diffuse and recycle ambient negative emotional energy in our bodymind, making it available for us to use in other more positive ways.

The technique is somewhere between a contemplative meditation where we are working with the mind, and a qi-gong type meditation where we are working with the ‘qi’, ‘prajna’ or energy of the body.

Step 1
Sit comfortably in meditation, recognize and rest in a sense of being in a “safe space” for a short while, a safe space meaning here the recognition that at this present time there are no imminent physical or psychological threats to your safety.

Step 2
Bring to mind the negative emotion and accompanying thought patterns that you wish to work with. Try to create it intensively enough so that you can really feel it in your body. This stage can be a bit tricky in that, whenever you try and look at a negative emotion directly it tends to ‘hide’ or ‘disappear’ (and of course there is a lesson in that), so you may have to have to tease it back out again into the open.

Step 3
Ask yourself “Where is the energy of this emotion principally located in my body?” You will probably find that it is somewhere in the torso, between the sacral area and the heart centre, but if it appears to be somewhere else then you can go with that. The main thing is that you should feel you have located the physical and energetic ‘epicenter’ of the emotional disturbance so to speak.

Step 4
See the emotion in that area of your body as being a ball of tightly knotted black light in the centre of that area of your body. At this point let go of the object of your negative emotion (eg the person or situation that has upset you) and simply focus on the ball of light in the body.
See and feel in the centre of that ball an intense point of white light, so that the dark, knotted energy starts to glow from within. Gradually see and feel the knotted dark energy unraveling and lightening. As the energy lightens, it is released from that specific point in the body, and is released and redistributed evenly throughout the rest of the body.

Using the breathing
If you like you can use the breathing to help facilitate this:
As you breathe in, breathe into the centre of the dark energy, seeing the point of light inside growing intensely.
As you breathe out see the point of bright light in the centre expanding through the knotted dark energy, breaking it up and re-distributing it through the body, thus making the energy that has been trapped in the negative emotion re-available for us to use.
(Those of you that are familiar with the way I teach breathing in qi gong will find this basic pattern of breathing familiar, energizing the body upon inhalation, and allowing the energy to flow freely through the body upon exhalation. Here it is the same basic principal applied to a specific area of the body where there is a strong emotional charge).

Step 5 
Conclude the meditation with a brief period of silent awareness, just breathing and focusing on the body as you experience it in the present moment.

Final thoughts
Repeated use of this meditation will sensitize you to build ups of emotional energy in general, and once you are familiar with the basic technique enable you to modulate emotional energy in the body on a more organic, free-form basis.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Enlightened love and loving Enlightened service Inner vision Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

Tapping into the Ever Present Abundance of Happiness

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at how we can find an ever present abundance of happiness “right under our nose” so to speak. I really believe that a practice like this only gets more important and more relevant as our planet becomes ever more crowded and interconnected, and the need for us all to “think as one” becomes more and more of a necessity.

Yours in the spirit of ever present abundance,

Toby


Tapping into the Ever Present Abundance of Happiness

There is a source of abundant happiness that is available to us at all times, no matter how badly your life is going. This abundance of happiness is called the happiness of others.
All you have to do in order to be able to tap into this source of happiness is to be able to expand your sense of self and identity beyond the boundary of your skin andmake your “self” big enough to include other living beings. If you can do this, then any happiness that they have you can partake of, because their happiness is the happiness of your expanded self.

So, then the question then becomes “How can I expand my sense of self to include others?” A key to this is understanding that our self sense is much more flexible than we might think. Whenever we care for someone else our self sense moves out to them and includes them without effort on our part. One simple way to develop an expanded sense of self is simply to consider the body of the Earth or Gaia as being our body (rather than our small physical body that we habitually identify with). If we consider the Earth as our body, then all the living creatures, human, animal and so forth automatically become a part of ourself, and any happiness that they have is our happiness to enjoy, partake of and take pleasure from.

With this expanded sense of self the happiness of all living beings becomes our happiness and thus we are able to tap into an almost infinite source of happiness and joy. We feel as if we have a perpetual abidance of happiness that we can tap into anytime you need to.

Try it now:

  • First expand your sense of self by thinking of your body ans being the body of Gaia or the Earth
  • Then partake of the happiness of one or many of the living beings on the earth, seeing their happiness as your happiness. If someone you know got the job s/he has been looking for, then think of their joy as your joy. See a mother and baby exchanging smiles and affection on the street? That happiness is your happiness.  There are so many possible examples I could give here because there is such an incredible amount of happiness to partake of when you expand your self sense in this way. The only problem you now have is which happiness to enjoy and celebrate!

This way of relating to happiness and your world may seem a little artificial at first, but once it becomes a habit, then it really can feel natural, just Iike second nature.

So there you go a simple method to tap into the perpetual abundance of happiness!

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com



Follow Toby on
LinkedInYouTubeInstagram

Integral Meditation Asia

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

Categories
Awareness and insight Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques mind body connection Presence and being present spiritual intelligence Zen Meditation

Zen Meditation on the Body Within the Body (Within the Body)

Hi Everyone,

This weeks meditation article focuses on the Zen meditation on the body within the body. The first part of the meditation, separating our actual body from our conceptual image of our body is a traditional Zen technique. The second part, dropping the body and resting in the pure awareness body is my own addition that I use when I teach the meditation to classes. So it is my own “invention” so to speak, but it is entirely within the spirit and intention of Zen practice.

Yours in the spirit of clear perception,

Toby


Article of the Week:

Zen Meditation on the Body Within the Body (Within the Body)

Our Three Bodies and the Three Dimensions of Existence Highlighted By Zen

All the great wisdom traditions of the world point out that our world is a multi-dimensional one, with these different dimensions  coming together in communion to form the totality of our being and experience.
In the Zen meditation on the body within the body, three of these dimensions are emphasized as objects of meditation, each of these bodies in turn corresponding to a particular dimension of reality.
The Three bodies are:

  1. Our conceptual body, or the conceptual image that we hold in our mind of our physical body
  2. Our actual physical body as it is in the sensory world
  3. Our formless energy body or  body of consciousness

These three bodies in turn correspond to three fundamental dimensions of our reality and moment to moment experience:

  1. The conceptual or intellectual dimension of our existence
  2. The non-conceptual dimension of our existence
  3. The spiritual or formless dimension of our existence that forms the ground or basis of dimensions one and two.

The meditation is called the body within the body, because our non-conceptual body is concealed or hidden by our conceptual body, or body image, and our  body of consciousness is hidden behind the sensory perception of our non-conceptual body. Hence through meditation we discover different bodies behind or within what we thought was just one body.

The Purpose of the Meditation on the Body Within the Body

The purpose of this meditation is to help us develop awareness of what in Buddhism is called dualistic appearance, which is the appearance of an object (such as our physical body) together with the projected mental image of that object (in this case the body). According to the Buddha, all of our suffering and pain arises from the confusion that dualistic appearance creates in our mind.
To take a simple example, an anorexic person with a very skinny body observes his/her body and projects the mental image an unacceptably fat body on their actual body. As a result they continue to starve their physical body even though it desperately needs nutrients. In such a person their idea of their body and their actual body are completely confused, and so as a result they cause themselves suffering and harm.
The above example is an extreme one, but in reality all of us experience this type of confusion more or less all of the time, our idea of reality and the actuality of our reality do not match each other and so as a result we experience confusion, delusion and suffering.
The first point of the meditation on the body within the body takes our physical body (initially) as its object, and shows us how we can become mindful of the difference between our actual body our conceptual image of our body so that we no longer confuse the two in harmful ways.
The second point of the meditation is to cultivate the skill of dropping all appearances, conceptual and non-conceptual, and learning to rest our mind in the natural, open state of pure awareness that is our body of consciousness.

The Meditation

Stage 1: Meditating of the conceptual image of your body
Sitting comfortably in meditation, start to examine times in your life when you have had different experiences of your body, times when you may have hated it, times when you have been proud of it, ashamed of it, embarrassed by it. Try to observe how in each case the way in which you experience your body at those times is actually in large part dominated by a conceptual image of the body, rather than the body itself as you are experiencing it from moment to moment. Try and observe how your conceptual mind projects its imagined image of a body onto your body.

Stage 2: Meditating on the non-conceptual experience of your body
In the second stage of the meditation simply focus on the sensory experience of your body and breathing as they are in the present moment. Using the body and the breathing as an anchor, try and drop all conceptual thoughts as completely as you can, and just experience the physical body as it is, free from your idea of what it is. Try and become as familiar as you can with this non-conceptual experience of your sensory body as you experience it in the here and now.
This experience of the body as it is is called “the body within the body” because it is the body that we “discover” when we drop our conceptual image of our body. Our mental image of our body normally hides our actual body from us (!)

Stage 3: Meditating on your body of consciousness
In the final stage of the meditation simply try and let go of all conceptual and sensory experiences altogether, and allow your mind to rest in the “pure awareness body” or subtle formless energy body that acts as the ground from which arises both our conceptual and sensory experience.  Try and gently sustain your experience of this formless or “spiritual” dimension of existence for the remainder of the meditation.
This third meditation stage and third “body” is called “the body within the body, within the body” because it is the body that is normally hidden behind the mask of the phenomenal world, or the body of form. When we drop our body of form, the body of consciousness appears, or is revealed.

Practice When Going About Our Daily Life

  1. During your daily life try and remain consciously aware of the different images and perceptions that your mind is projecting upon your body, accept the images that are useful and helpful, but do not buy into images that are destructive, deluded or unhelpful. Be mindful not to be fooled by them!
  2. Try and come back to your basic sensory or non conceptual experience of your body by regularly dropping your conceptual thoughts and focusing for short periods on the sensory body and the breathing.
  3. Regard both your conceptual and non-conceptual worlds as appearances arising from the ground of your (Universal) or body of consciousness, like a dream arising from the clarity of deep sleep, or clouds arising within and clear sky.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present Shadow meditation

There is Always Something to Feel Insecure About

Hi Everyone,

Back in the 1950’s Allan Watts wrote a book called “The Wisdom of Insecurity”. Although written a while back for me it is still one of the most interesting and useful guides on making friends with our insecurity that I have found. This weeks article takes a look at insecurity, and what we can do to start developing a right relationship with it in our life.
This week also sees the first of two meditation workshops over the fortnight “An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Tibetan Buddhism”. All welcome, full details below.

Yours in the spirit of the wisdom of insecurity,

Toby


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Events in March 

Wednesday April 11th – 7.30-9.30pm at Basic EssenceAn Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Tibetan Buddhism 

Wednesday April 18th – 7.30-9.30pm at Gallery HeliosOur Inner Universe:Meditating on the Different Dimensions of Existence in Zen Buddhism


 

Meditation Workshop: An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of  Tibetan Buddhism

With meditation teacher Toby Ouvry

The Tibetan School of Buddhism has a particularly rich and diverse tradition of meditation that can be of great use for the relief of stress, solving of our daily problems and the awakening of our own inherently enlightened nature.

In this two hour workshop Toby will be drawing on his own extensive training  (including five years as a Tibetan Buddhist monk) to give a practical introduction to the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice.

In the workshop you will learn three practical Tibetan meditation forms specifically designed to:

  • Increase your mental peace and concentration
  • Increase your wisdom and compassion
  • Purify the mind and lay the foundation for realizing our own enlightened nature (Using a technique known as “Mahamudra” or “Great Seal”)

These techniques are simple, powerful and profound meditation techniques that can be easily integrated into an existing meditation practice, or used to begin a meditation practice if you are a beginner.

Date and Time: Wednesday 11 April, 7.30-9.30pm

Location: Basic Essence, 501 Bukit Timah Road, 04-04 Cluny Court

(For map of location click HERE)

Course fee:  Sing$50, all participants will be provided with a set of workshop notes and MP3 recording of the workshop for their own personal use.

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@tobyouvry.com or Basic Essence on 64684991

 


Article of the Week:

There is Always Something to Feel Insecure About

Sometimes we can find ourselves feeling insecure about a particular issue in our life. It might be our age, our looks, giving a speech or talk in public, what somebody may have said about us, finding a relationship, or not losing it if we have one. Our children, or work, the list goes on endlessly.

One of the keys to dealing with our insecurity is to realize that, even if we were to find a relief from the particular insecurity that we are feeling at the moment, often as not, rather than experiencing an absence of insecurity, our insecure mind simply seeks out something else to feel insecure and frightened about. If we can see this, then we will also be able to start to see clearly that actually our insecurity is more of a compulsive habit of our mind, and that in many ways the particular object/situation that we feel insecure about at this time is simply the latest thing that our insecure mind has latched onto worrying about.
If we can gain such a subjective insight into the nature of our own insecurity, then we realize that the real challenge lies in developing a right relationship to our insecure mind, with the particular issue that we feel insecure about at the moment being secondary.
Here are a few ways in which you can begin to work with your insecurity in a constructive way:

  1. Recognize that insecurity and unknowing is a natural part of our life and learn to open to its creative possibilities, rather than always trying to find security in narrow minded “certainties”.
  2. Open to the insecurity that you may be feeling on a daily basis. Acknowledge it and make a friend of it. If you try and reject it, repress it or disown it, it will simply recede into your unconscious and try and exercise control in your life from there. If this happens life can feel like a real inner battle between your conscious self and desires, and your unconscious insecurities which keep sabotaging your peace of mind.
  3. Spend a few minutes each day acknowledging the insecurity you may be feeling, and just breathing with it. Once you have acknowledged it consciously, and can feel the full emotion of it in your body, you can then spend a little time releasing the insecurity on your outward breath.
  4. Talk to your insecurity(if you want to do so literally, which can be a more powerful way of doing it, I recommend you don’t do it on the street (!) Alternatively you can have the conversation in a written journal). Ask it to voice its fears to you, and gently and firmly challenge the logic of its assumptions. If you can help your insecurity to see that much of its emotion is unfounded in objective fact, then it will find it easier to relax.
  5. Demonstrate to your insecurity each day that you are a capable leaderof your personality by engaging in concrete actions each day to take charge of your life in whatever way feels appropriate. Our insecure mind is like a child, if it can see that it is in the company of a competent, powerful leader or ‘inner parent” then it will tend to relax and feel safe.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Essential Spirituality Inner vision Integral Awareness Motivation and scope Presence and being present spiritual intelligence

Seven Aspects of Building a Sacred Spiritual Practice in Your Life

Hi Everyone,

This week’s newsletter takes as its theme some of the different factors that need to come together in our life to cultivate a sense of the sacred in our life.

Yours in the spirit of the daily sacred,
   
Toby


 

Seven Aspects of Building a Sacred Spiritual Practice in Your Life

Within the context of this article, when I refer to “the sacred” what I mean is the following definition, which I also used in my past article on “Mindfulness of the Sacred”:
“Sacredness, or sacred awareness is a state of mind where we are simultaneously aware of the wholeness and universality that pervades all life, whilst at the same time having a sense of the preciousness of our own unique individuality, and how the flowering of that individuality is continually cared for and nurtured by God/the creative forces of the Universe/the Tao (or insert expression of choice)”.

So, what are the factors that you need to build into your life in order to cultivate a sense of the sacred? Here is a list that I came up with when thinking about my own spiritual practice. I would not call it a ‘definitive’ list in any way, but I think it is a living list, and each of the seven points aims to offer a doorway to a particular experience of the sacred.

  1. Set aside time in your day to connect and cultivate a sense of the sacred– Want to get fit? Then of course you need to set aside time for exercise. Want to cultivate the sacred in your life? Creating spaces in your life where the focus for however short a time is the sacred has to be a priority. What time slots within your own schedule can offer you this opportunity.
  2. Open yourself regularly to the eternal, the nameless, the formless, the empty, the silent, the unknowable.
  3. Regularly try and expand your circle of care and concern as far beyond the boundaries of your own skin as you can.
  4. Cultivate a sense of forgiveness, letting go, a sense of laying down our burden, and our burden of guilt.
  5. Cultivate a sense of the divine or sacred in first, second and third person. The divine in the first person means a sense of the sacred within yourself. The divine in second person means a sense of the sacred in your relationships with the otheror others in your life. The divine in the third person means a sense of the sacred in the objective universe and nature that surrounds us. Putting all three together (rather than just on and leaving the other two out) dramatically increases the potential power of our sense of the sacred in our life.
  6. Connect to the sacred in the sense of divine playfulness, humor, celebration, bliss, lightness, life as a cosmic drama or theatre show.
  7. Cultivating a sense of preciousness and of paradox. Try and see yourself, the opportunity of your life, and all the people whom you share the space of your life as being precious, and it all being a precious opportunity. Simultaneously and without feeling it to be a contradiction, cultivate a sense of the Universes’ “divine indifference” to you, and of your insignificance and expendability in the face of the cosmos as a whole.

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Motivation and scope Uncategorized Zen Meditation

Finding Your Best Response to Anxiety – An Existential Perspective

Hi Everyone,

This week’s article focuses on existential anxiety. The discovery of the idea of existential anxiety has been I think the most informative and transforming single factor in my approach to the challenge of anxiety over the last year. It has really made a big difference to the way I see and experience myself in the world. The article is an attempt to give a taster of existential anxiety and what an important influence it is in our life, I hope you enjoy it!

 

Yours in the spirit of being,
   
Toby

 


Article of the Week:

Finding Your Best Response to Anxiety – An Existential Perspective 

How do you think about your anxiety, and what you need to do to overcome it? For many people, meditators included, anxiety comes under the section of “things that need to be overcome” or “things that need to be gotten rid of”. In this article I would like to suggest that specific aspects our anxiety should come under the section “things that need to be understood and responded to effectively” rather than gotten rid of.

Two types of anxiety
In order to help us understand anxiety it is helpful to distinguish two fundamental types of anxiety. For these definitions I am drawing upon the work of Rollo May in his book “The Discovery of Being” which is an excellent introduction to the field of existential psychology and philosophy:

Causal Anxiety– Causal anxiety is anxiety in our life and mind that has a cause. We are in debt, our child or loved one is sick, we have been dumped or sacked, our cat is keeping us up all night meowing, we are repressing unresolved emotion. All of these are examples of anxiety and stress in our life that is caused by something specific. The way to work with causal anxiety is to become aware of its cause and to work to alleviate it.

Existential Anxiety– This second type of anxiety is the type that arises simply from existing or being alive. We exist as human beings, with a sense of self, and as such we find ourselves continually having to affirm that existence or aliveness against the forces that are continually trying to destroy us.

There are two fundamental points about existential anxiety: Firstly, we can never get rid of it. It is ontological, or inherent in the process of being alive. You will only get rid of your existential anxiety on your deathbed as you release your being to the process of death and dissolution. Secondly existential anxiety is fighting a battle that we can never “win”.  It is the struggle of our being against non-being or, put another way, the struggle of our life against the threat of death. The only way to “deal” with our existential anxiety is to accept the inevitability of our death and dissolution, and to live our life while it lasts in the most courageous manner possible.

Why is understanding existential anxiety important?
Understanding existential anxiety is important because, if we are not aware of it then we will find ourselves projecting it onto other areas of our life, and when we do so this anxiety will then become neurotic and even pathological. For example if I project my existential anxiety on my career, then my work will become an expression of my unconscious fight against the reality of death, rather than an expression and celebration of my highest and best self.
Secondly understanding existential anxiety is important because if we can see it and experience it clearly in our life, then we can respond to it effectively. If we remain unaware of it, the chances of us articulating a positive response to it are hugely reduced.

The classic response of the masses to existential anxiety.
How do most people deal with their existential anxiety? It’s simple, conformity. They de-emphasize themselves as an individual being and instead adopt the consensus of opinions, habits and ways of being prevalent in their society at the time. Along with this conformity comes a corresponding loss of awareness, sensitivity and ability to articulate whatever it is that characterizes you as a unique human being. In short, the unconscious response of most people to their own existential anxiety is to lose themselves in the trance of mass consciousness, which serves as a kind of placebo or tranquilizer. It is an avoidance technique really, but since we do it all the time, most people have no idea that they are doing it.

Three possible responses to existential anxiety to meditate upon.
These are not necessarily easy or immediately pleasurable, but if stuck with lead to a much deeper and more authentic response to our life, our existence and the challenge/opportunity it poses:

  1. Even though I will inevitable lose the fight of my life against death I can nevertheless use the time I have to articulate the beauty and uniqueness of my individuality whilst it lasts.
  2. Does the fact that my individual being is impermanent and transient, like a flower in spring not make it all the more beautiful and valuable? I can choose to enjoy it and cherish it whilst it lasts.
  3. My appreciation of the beauty and transience of my own individual existence can help me value the unique individuality of other living beings around me, and cause me to help their individualities to flower fully. I can choose to care for them, value them deeply and, help them articulate their own response to the challenge of life and death.

In conclusion
Existential anxiety is something that you will have to deal with all your life. You can never get rid of it, or even meditate it away (that is to say you can lose your sense of it in deep meditation, but upon your return to daily life it returns). You can only work with it or try and avoid it, your choice!
Existential anxiety is potentially one of our most powerful and constructive driving forces in our life. Unfortunately for many people the standard response seems to be conformity and avoidance (and the consequent neurosis and pathology), or selfishness and egoism.
The primary requirement for making friends with existential anxiety is courage, the courage to confront the forces of life and death as they exist in your life right now, and to live your being fully now in the light of your inevitable non-being.

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Essential Spirituality Inner vision Integral Awareness Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness

Mindfulness of the Sacred

Hi Everyone,

How much of your day is spent in expereintial touch with a sense of the sacred as you understand it? How would your life be different if you were to deliberately cultivate that connection to the sacred? This weeks article explores this question.

You can also find below the dates and titles for classes in March.

Yours in the spirit of the sacred,
   
Toby


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Events in March (Full details to follow next week)

Wednesday March 14th, 7.30-8.30pm Meditation Class at Basic Essence: “Awakening to the Sacred – Discovering the benefits of developing a contemporary spiritual practice and meditation practice.”

Wednesday February 21st 7.30-9pm – Zen Walking and Sitting Meditation: “Meditating on The Present Moment: Gateway to Eternity”.

Wednesday March 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th 10.30-11.30am – Qi gong meditation classes at Basic Essence.


Article of the Week:

Mindfulness of the Sacred

We are moving apartments at the moment, and one of the ways that I have been trying to glide through all of the confusion and monotony of box packing is to cultivate regular mindfulness of the sacred or, to put it another way, to bring a sense of the sacred into my day at regular intervals.

What is a sense of the sacred? One way of defining a sacred state of mind is this:
“Sacred awareness is a state of mind where we are simultaneously aware of the wholeness and universality that pervades all life, whilst at the same time having a sense of the preciousness of our own unique individuality, and how the flowering of that individuality is continually cared for and nurtured by God/the creative forces of the Universe/the Tao(or insert expression of choice)”.
So, looked at this way we could say that when we are aware of the sacred we feel life as a whole is a precious and beautiful thing, and that we in whatever small way may have something to add to that preciousness and beauty by living out our life in the best way we can.

So, working with this basic definition of the sacred, you might like to ask yourself, “What stimulates a sense of the sacred within me? What objects, memories or people? How can I bring my mind back to this sense of sanctity at regular times in my daily life in order that I can live my life within the context of a living sense of its sanctity?”

When it seems more than ever before there is more opportunity for cynicism, and for feeling over burdened simply by the over demands of the logistics of our life, deliberately reconnecting to a sense of the sacred at regular times in our day can be an invaluable tool for navigating the challenges of our life more smoothly, humanely and courageously.

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Awareness and insight Meditation techniques One Minute Mindfulness Presence and being present Zen Meditation

Zen Flowers, Zen Doorways

Hi Everyone,

This week’s newsletter looks at Zen meditation practice from two lenses, firstly there is the class this coming Wednesday 22nd February entitled “Zen and the Flower of Life” which looks at Zen practice from the perspective of the original teaching of the Buddha from which Zen meditation is said to derive.
Secondly, this week’s meditation article focuses on how we can develop a more complete experience of our own consciousness through a practice that I call “doorway mindfulness”. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of flowers and doorways,
   
Toby


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Events in February

Wednesday 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th February 10.30-11.30am – Qi Gong Meditation Classes at Basic Essence



Zen and the Flower of Life: Meditating on the Origins of Zen

With meditation teacher Toby Ouvry

Date and Time: Wednesday 22nd February, 7.30-9.00pm

Venue:  Gallery Helios, 38 Petain Road, Singapore 208103 (click HERE for map)

This 90minute meditation class will be taking as its subject the story told in the “Flower Sutra” which is said to be the teaching of the Buddha from which the path of Zen meditation originated. Toby will be teaching a simple but profound method of Zen meditation and contemplation based around the flower sutra teaching.

The class will consist of a 20-30minute walking meditation, followed by a short talk, and then a 30-40minute sitting meditation session.

Course fee:  Sing$35, all participants will be provided with a set of class notes and an MP3 recording of the class for their own personal use.

Click HERE to make payment for this class by credit card

To register or for further enquiries: Email info@tobyouvry.com or SMS 65-96750279

About the Teacher: Toby Ouvry is a meditation teacher and artist who has been practicing and teaching for over fifteen years, including five years as a Buddhist Monk. You can find more out about Toby and his work by going to www.tobyouvry.com


Article of the Week:

Doorway Mindfulness as Zen Practice 

Zen practice is based around the understanding that although the thought-based, linear or logical mind constitutes only a small part of our total consciousness, we have become completely identified with it up to the point that it dominates our life, feelings and experience almost completely.
Thus, one of the main objectives of Zen practice is to develop our Consciousness-Awareness, our awareness that our consciousness is much more than the particular thoughts arising in our mind at any given moment.
Within Buddhist teachings, ‘consciousness’ is often defined as ‘clarity and awareness’. ‘Clarity’ in this context means having no form (i.e.: physical, emotional or mental form or characteristics). Clarity might also be thought of as light, or a sense of inner space and spaciousness.
‘Awareness’ means having the power to perceive or understand. In order to get in touch with the level of our being that is pure conscious awareness, we need to be able to let go temporarily of our thinking mind, thus allowing the clarity and light of our natural or original consciousness to become manifest.To do this, we need to find ways of regularly bringing our mind back into the present moment, and letting go of our habitual over-attention to the contents of our consciousness. Whenever our mind is fully in the present moment, our thinking mind will necessarily be pacified, as thinking by definition always has a past or future topic as its object of contemplation.
In addition to practicing the formal sitting meditation exercises taught in Zen, it is very important to find ways of bringing our mind back into the present moment during the day. One way in which we can do this is, every time we pass through a door way, to take an easy deep breath, letting go of the mental activity in our consciousness and relaxing into the here and now for a few moments. By doing so, we shall momentarily allow the clarity and light of our consciousness to become manifest, and prevent ourselves from becoming completely pre-occupied with the subjects that our mind is concerned with processing. Using a physical doorway as a prompt for our mindfulness of the present moment is one way that it is useful to prompt our mindfulness, as each day we pass though many doorways!
There are many similar techniques that we can devise for ourselves that can help us to do this. The best method is the one that works most effectively for you!

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com

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

Your Ego as Resistance to What is Present

Hi Everyone,

The theme of this week’s newsletter is the perennial spiritual theme of learning to live more fully into the present moment. This week’s article is on the subject of how and why our ego resists living in the present moment, and gives a specific technique for us to start tackling this resistance.

Yours in the spirit of presence and being present,

Toby



Article of the Week:

Your Ego as Resistance to What is Present

Ego is a word that means different things in different contexts, but from a meditative point of view, one of the most practical, useful definitions that I have found is that our ego is simply our resistance to what is present in our life right nowor, put another way, our tendency to wish that the reality in front of us was not there because it does not conform to the reality that we want or wish to be there.
Because our ego is constantly resisting what it present in our life we could say that the ego is actually the source of all our stress and suffering that we experience. To give a couple of examples:

Example 1:  If we have gotten the flu our ego may say things like “This is a lousy time to get the flu because I have this important project on”, or “Why do I always get sick!” Our ego may even try and deny the symptoms that we are sick and continue with our life without slowing down, thus making us even more sick in the long term.
Example 2: If we wish for our partner’s approval regarding something we have done, if s/he does not give us that approval our ego will fight that reality. Rather than accepting what has happened and thinking about what might be the best way to proceed we either try harder for the approval that they are clearly not giving, or we try and punish them for the perceived insult.

In both of the examples above our ego takes the challenge of the situation and turns it into a stressful, painful battle that makes the situation intolerable. We find our ego creating all sorts of mental strategies to avoid the present moment, resist what is present and instead disappear off into a mentally created world that is different from what is actually there.
The ego’s resistance to what is present in our life is one way of describing the dynamic of what the Buddha called “dhukka” or “suffering”; Whenever there is resistance to what is present in our life, there is imbalance and suffering. Correspondingly, whenever there is a letting go of that resistance and a corresponding full movement into the present moment, there we find liberation.

An Exercise to Begin Observing and Releasing the Resistance of the Ego.

A simple technique for releasing the ego’s resistance to the present moment whilst in the midst of your day to day activities is take time regularly in your day to take a few breaths in the following manner:
As you inhale quietly or mentally say to yourself “release”, then as you exhale say“resistance”.  As you breathe in this manner consciously let go of any resistance that you ego is having to whatever is going on in your life, and allow your mind to rest in a state of alert acceptance of what is.

Once you are familiar with this basic practice you can make it slightly more insightful by doing the following:
Before you start your series of “release/resistance” breaths, take a little time to note the nature of whatever your resistance may be to the present moment. For example

  •  Are you resisting the present moment due to a pleasant past memory that you wish was here with you now?
  •  Is your mind hankering after a sense of contentment that is apparently not attainable within the present circumstances?
  • Is it negative anger or another disruptive emotion regarding an unresolved situation that is making you resist what is in front of you?
  • Is sadness or a sense of loss preventing you engaging with what is there with you right now?

Take a little time to get in touch with the specific nature of your ego’s resistance before you try and release it. Then as you engage in your “release/resistance” breathing focus on specifically letting go of the ego resistance that you are feeling right now.

Doing this exercise for 1-3 minutes, three or so times a day over the next week will give you a good start in your journey of letting go of your ego’s resistance to the present moment.

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com

Categories
Concentration Inner vision Meditation techniques Presence and being present Uncategorized

Meditating on the Core of Your Body

Hi Everyone,

This weeks article details a meditation that I teach quite often in my Qi Gong meditation classes; meditating upon and breathing with the core of your body. It is a simple but profound way of learning how to positively connect and direct your subtle energies.

Toby


Article of the Week:

Meditating on Your Body’s Core

Awareness and meditation upon the core of the body is a practice that you find in Qi gong, Indian yoga and Tibetan yoga practices, all in slightly different forms. This article outlines a simple practice that I sometimes teach as an aspect of my Qi gong meditation classes.

What is your body’s core?  
The core of the body (in the context of this article) is its “dead centre” so to speak. In terms of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and hips you could say that the core of these parts of the body is a line of energy running from the top of the centre of the head down through the centre of the brain, neck, chest, abdomen and hips, terminating at the perineum, the point between the middle of the legs. In particular for the purposes of this article we shall be focusing on the core of the body that runs from the lower abdomen up to about the level of the collar bone.

Why should you be interested in developing awareness of the core of your body?

Three main reasons:
1. If you check the way in which your body feels whenever you feel out of balance, physically, mentally and emotionally one thing that you will note is a feeling of being out of touch energetically with the central areas of the body, the heart and the abdomen in particular. It feels as if there are energies in these areas of the body that are dictating your experience. The core body meditation offers a technique for being able to “take back” control of these areas of the body energetically speaking, and thus gain greater volitional control of how you think and feel when under stress.

2. In general meditating on the core of the body enables us to develop the skill of moving energy from the core of the body to the surface of the skin and then back again to the core in a gentle, flowing movement that enables us to rapidly re-balance the qi or prajna within our subtle body, and release any energy blockages that there might be there.

3. Speaking a little more esoterically, the spiritual energies of our being are said to run inside a ‘central energy channel’ along the core of the body, from the top of the crown to the perineum. By meditating upon the core of our body we develop the ability to move our awareness into this subtle energy channel, which in turn enables us to develop deep spiritual states of awareness more readily and easily, though of course it takes regular practice!

Meditating on the core of your body
The nice thing about this meditation and breathing form is that it can be done either as a very short 1-5 minute meditation, or extended out to 20-40 minutes, or whatever time you have available. You simply divide your meditation time between the three steps below

Stage 1: Finding the core of your body
Sit in meditation with your hips, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders aligned in a comfortable straight line. Visualize a line of light and energy going from the crown of your head down through the dead centre of your torso, ending at the perineum, the point between the middle of the legs. The line of light can be visualized as being about 1-2cm in diameter.
Rock your body gently from right to left to get a sense of this line of light being exactly in the middle of the right and left halves of your body. Then rock your body gently forward and back to get a sense of the line of light being exactly in the middle between the front and back halves of your torso.
You can either focus on the core of the body all the way from crown to perineum, or you can shorten your point of focus so that it includes the core from the level of the lower abdomen up to the collar bone.

Stage 2: Core body breathing
As you breathe in, feel the subtle energy (qi) of your whole body flowing from the surface (ie: the skin) into the central core of the body. As you breathe out feel and visualize the qi flowing from the surface of your body into the core. Do this in a focused, gentle manner for a few minutes.
(If it feels more natural, you can reverse this breathing technique, meaning as you breathe in you visualize the energy flowing from the core of your body to the surface, and as you breathe out it goes from the surface to the core, this is a matter of personal preference).

Stage three, focusing your energy within the core of your body.
Now either at the level of your heart (middle dan tien),or your lower navel (lower dan tien) see a point of particularly bright light within that section of your body’s core. Allow your awareness to absorb and rest within this point of light within the core of your body, letting go of conceptuality and mental activity as much as possible. Remain in this state of letting go for as long as you wish.

Awareness of the core of your body in daily life.
Once you are familiar with the basic aspects of the core body meditation form, you can use the core of the body, and core body breathing as a way of centering yourself wherever you are at any time.

© 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 www.tobyouvry.com