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Meditating on time

“There is much value in focusing on being present (as we are often so un-present!). Ideally however, our meditation should include developing our skills in experiencing the past and the future as well”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is a simple meditation practice to help you master your experience of time, I hope you enjoy it!
Two quick reminders: My beginners meditation  workshop will be this Sunday, September 13th, 3pm start.
The Men’s Group – The path of conscious manhood begins this  Monday 14th, there is currently one place available for this left.

In the spirit of time,


Meditating on time

Often meditation and mindfulness are placed in the category of simply being more present moment oriented. This is true to a degree, and for many of us there is much value in focusing on being present (as we are so un-present!). Ideally however, our meditation should include developing our skills in experiencing the past and the future as well. What I am going to explain here is a simple meditation that lasts for 15minutes that we can use to master the past and future as well as the present.

The practice

For the first five minutes, take as your focus the past. Notice the way in which your mind tends to think about and envision the past, notice the commentary that goes with it. After noticing for a short while, try and be gently pro-active about the past events that come up. Try to deliberately think and envision your past in the context of appreciation, curiosity and acceptance. Notice what approaches help you to experience your past in the best way possible.
For the next five minutes, take as your focus the future. Notice for a little while the instinctive way in which your mind thinks about and envisions future scenarios, be curious about this. Then try gently shaping the experience of the future that your mind is dwelling on. Invite optimism and images of best- case scenarios. You can acknowledge fears that you may have, whilst at the same time opening to excitement around possibilities.
For the final five minutes, come to the present moment. Let your attention dwell primarily upon your sensory experience; the weight or the body, the breathing, whatever is absolutely in this moment. Let go of the past and future and notice the sense of unity, relaxation and singularity that comes from being present. When you are ready end the meditation.
This simple meditation helps us to develop the skill of transitioning skilfully and easily between past, present and future modes of processing our reality, ensuring as far as possible that they are helping each other and helping us to remain balanced as we navigate our experience of all three.
Since we are always either focused on the past, present or future, you can see how this practice will have a positive influence on all areas of your life and experience!

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2020. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact
And thanks to Catriona Bryce for the picture!

Starting Monday September 14th – The Men’s Group – The path of conscious manhood

How can you move from coping to thriving in your life as a man?
Much is asked of men in their traditional roles as fathers and sons, partners and husbands, students and teachers, employees and employers. The men’s group is a professionally moderated and confidential forum for men. A forum is a safe place for exploring, learning and sharing the successful perspectives, skills, and strategies needed to address and manage the unique issues, problems, and triumphs in our community.

This is a six-session live weekly program starting Monday, September 14th, 7-8.30pm.
Full details

Sunday 13th September, 3.30-5pm – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now (Live & Online) – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever

This is a truly practical and super short (90min) workshop that teaches you:

  • What meditation is and how it works
  • How to start your own effective daily meditation practice with just a five minute a day commitment
  • Provides you not only with the workshop but also with support materials; MP3 meditation recordings (1×15 minute and 3x 5 minute), short articles and diagrams to help you keep meditating after the workshop.

Read full details

Saturday 19th June, 3.30-5.30pm – Mindfulness masterclass: The Power of Presence – Dealing mindfully with anger and conflict in your relationships

In this workshop you will learn:

  • What anger and frustration are, how to identify and work with them when they arise
  • Understanding the causes of negative anger and how to reduce them
  • How to make intelligent choices around the anger that you experience, particularly in your relationships
  • How to be calmer, so that you can not only manage your anger better, but also harness its power in a positive, non-destructive manner
  • Learn how to use anger for wisdom, insight and empowered action

Starts September 30th & October 3rd – High-Performance Mindfulness Bootcamp – Combining sustainable high-performance with personal wellbeing


The course can be participated in live or online.

In a sentence: Learn how to create sustainable high performance in your work, and increase your personal wellbeing through mindfulness practice. Learn to:

  • Thrive rather than survive under pressure
  • Develop and sustain higher energy levels
  • Improve your learning mindset as you face the challenges of work and life

Is this course for me?

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You head into work feeling stressed and sleep-deprived before your day has even begun.
  • Your need to make sharp, insightful decisions but you have trouble focusing.
  • You experience low energy and volatile emotions throughout the day.
  • You often sacrifice personal time for more time at work, and yet you never feel like you have enough time to complete your never-ending to-do list.
  • You don’t feel like the way you work is sustainable.

If you’re tired of feeling like you’re constantly forced to choose between work and your well-being, it’s time to restore balance to your life. Learn that the relationship between the two is not a zero-sum game; there exists an alternative that will boost your productivity without you relinquishing peace of mind or personal time….
Click here for full details!

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

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

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

Read full details

Online Integral Meditation & Mindfulness classes

Build focus, beat stress, cultivate wellbeing!

Each session involves simple practices that you can apply to make a real difference to your wellbeing and effectiveness in life…full details of classes

At a glance: All upcoming classes and workshops for at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

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

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

Sunday 13th September, 3.30-5pm – Get Your Meditation Practice Started Now (Live & Online) – The Shortest and Most Time Effective Meditation Workshop Ever

Starting Monday September 14th – The Men’s Group – The path of conscious manhood

Saturday 19th June, 3.30-5.30pm – Mindfulness masterclass: The Power of Presence – Dealing mindfully with anger and conflict in your relationships

Tuesday 22nd & Wednesday 23rd  September @ 7.30-8.30pm – Autumn equinox balancing & renewing meditation (Live & online)

Starts Sept 30th & October 3rd – High-Performance Mindfulness Bootcamp – Combining sustainable high-performance with personal wellbeing

Integral Meditation Asia

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Being mindful of the non-present moment

Dear Integral Meditators,

What if, instead of being mindful of the present moment, you decided instead to be mindful of the non-present moment? The article below explores this theme….

In the spirit of studying the non-present,


Being mindful of the non-present moment

Trying to stop all the different ways in which your mind moves out and away from the present moment can be tricky, effortful and sometimes discouraging for a lot of people. One technique we can try if our mind is active and intractable is simply to study and observe all the different ways in which our mind is not in the present moment. To put it another way we can meditate on the non-present moment!
For example, if I look at my mind in the moment I can see:

  • There are flashbacks from a movie trailer I saw recently
  • There is a discomfort with the absence of distraction, part of me wants to be distracted
  • There is the knowledge that with the click of a button I could be away from this word document and watching the highlights of the squash ‘tournament of champions’ final last night in New York last night
  • There is the part of my mind planning the way in which I am going to spend my time today
  • …and wondering about what sort of excitement might be in my more distant future
  • My mind is assessing how I can avoid the worst of a head cold bug that seems to have latched onto me
  • The physical discomfort I have makes me want to think of things in the non-present moment to take myself away from the unpleasant feeling…

And so I go on like this, studying closely all of the things that are taking my mind away from the present moment.
Some interesting side effects of this way of being mindful can be:

  • By studying the non-present moment more closely our mind quietens down substantially and becomes more present, without effort on our part
  • We have a strong sense of the non-present activity being in the present moment; it is all happening now. By observing the movement of our mind we become aware that all this non-presence is going on in the broader sphere of the present moment. Consequently, without stilling our mind we find ourselves to have contacted the present moment in a strongly experiential way
  • We discover a lot of things about ourself, and why it is we avoid the present moment. Put another way, our self-knowledge increases.

So this week, if you like spend a few minutes each day being mindful of the non-present moment, either in formal meditation or just when you have a gap.

© 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

Special 1:1 Coaching Offer at Integral Meditation Asia in January
The beginning of the year can be a great time to spend quality time on getting your mind, body and heart prepared for the challenges you are facing as the year progresses. With this in mind I will be offering a special 20% discount offer on all 1:1 meditation and mindfulness coaching services for the month of January at Integral Meditation Asia. This is a saving of Sing$120 if you book as set of 3x 60minute sessions, or Sing$44 per single session…click HERE for full details!

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Starts Tuesday and Wednesday January 10th/11th 2017 – Transformation through mindful intention –a three module meditation course

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

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

Ongoing Mondays & Thursdays – Morning integral meditation classes with Toby

Saturday 4th February, 2-5.30pm – The six Qi gong healing sounds: Qi gong for self-healing & inner balance workshop

Saturday 25th February, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism
Saturday 4th March, 10am-5pm – Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism Level 2 – Deeper into the Shamanic journey

Integral Meditation Asia

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The Tension Between What Is and what you Want

Dear Integral Meditators,

How do you deal with the gap between what you want in your life and the reality of what you actually find? The article below considers how to work with this ongoing tension in a positive way…

In the spirit of the journey,



The Tension Between What Is and what you Want

‘I wanted the meet with my date to go this way, but it didn’t’
‘I thought I’d get this work project done quickly and easily, but I’m still stuck working the details out.’
‘I want to know that I’ll have enough money to afford the things I need by the end of the month, but I have no way of knowing for sure’

In our life there is almost always a tension between the way we want our life to be, and the way it actually IS. How you experience this tension on any given day or in any given moment is a big part of whether you feel happy or sad, negatively or positively stressed, calm or frazzled.

The extreme of passivity
It’s all very well for me as a meditation and mindfulness coach to say to you ‘you have to accept what is, and be more in the moment’, but sometimes accepting what is can make us too passive; sometimes we need to try and assert ourselves in the situation and act to move things toward where we want to be. Being overly accepting can lead to the extreme of passivity.

The extreme of control
On the other hand we are all familiar with the ‘control freak’ in us; the one who wants it all to be worked out, certain, guaranteed, no risk. The problem is we are never 100% in control, life never turn out exactly the way we think it will or should. Sometimes is all seems to be fine and then disaster strikes, sometimes it seems like a disaster and then turns out unexpectedly well. Trying to make everything certain, and bend the world to our will is the extreme of control.

The middle way of acceptance and responsibility
So the middle way between passivity and control is to:

  • Accept fully what is, and where we find ourself AND
  • Take responsibility for trying to move things in the direction that we want, recognizing that this will never give us 100% control, but nevertheless we have to call ourselves to action based upon what we understand.

It is about holding the tension, not solving it or getting rid of it
I think about the tension between what is and what I want not as being something that I am trying to solve, or get rid of, but rather I am trying to learn how to hold well, to hold  mindfully and intelligently; I am not in total control of my life (or the world), but I am responsible for it. I have to accept the reality of where I am without fighting the facts, but I need to avoid over-passivity, fatalism or despondency.

Working mindfully with this tension in our daily life
Where is the tension between what is and what you want in your body, mind and heart right now? Are you holding it well? How can you hold it 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

Integral Meditation Asia


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Letting Ideas Grow Mindfully Though You

Dear Integral Meditators,

Why meditate? One reason worth thinking about is that it is a way of keeping yourself creatively energized by learning to tap into deeper levels of our collective consciousness. The article below explores this theme…

Two workshops in Singapore this Saturday, details are immediately below!

In the spirit of


Letting Ideas Grow Mindfully Though You

“If we surrendered to earths intelligence, we would rise up rooted, like trees” – R.M Rilke

A few people have remarked to me recently how substantial my article and blog output seems to be week-in week-out. They wondered how I keep it up, don’t I run out of ideas? The answer to that question is that no, I almost never find myself short of ideas. I normally have to choose what to write on from 4-5 creative ideas that are present in my mind at any given time. In this article I want to put down a few reasons as to why my creative energy doesn’t run out, and how this relates to meditation & mindfulness practice. With this in mind here are a few points and pointers.

The mediators view of the body-mind is the opposite to most conventional ideas. Rather than our mind being in our body, and specifically in our brain, experienced meditators start to realize that in many ways his/her body is in her mind. The mind is not limited to the body, and has access to a vast amount of creative energy and information that is outside of the individual body and brain. More than this, each of our individual minds are networked into what you might think of as a Universal mind or intelligence, in somewhat the same way computers are all linked to the internet.
This Universal or ‘Big’ mind (I’m using a convenient, simplistic term for something obviously deep and complex here) seeks people to grow and express its ideas through; people whose individual minds are open, receptive, balanced and resilient, and who are motivated to make a contribution to the betterment of the world.
In this sense you might think of yourself as an individual as being like the soil and sunlight in which an idea from the Universal Mind can grow like a plant. If you look at it this way you can see that the idea is not ‘yours’, it has a life of its own, you are just the caretaker and gardener for the idea to grow and enter the outer world.

Meditation – Becoming a terminal for the Universal mind
Looking at it this way you might think of meditation as like connecting a computer to the internet; when you sit still and go within you connect your own mind (the computer) with the Universal Mind (the internet) and consciously allow the Universal Mind to start ‘downloading’ creative ideas into your mind. Some of those ideas will be ideas that you have a unique ability to grow in the garden of your own mind (cue analogy shift back to gardens/plants!), for example I get a lot of ideas relating to meditation and mindfulness because I am already an expert in that domain; my ‘small mind’ is ideal soil and light for new ideas about meditation practice to grow through.

What ideas want to grow through you?
Imagine yourself sitting in a beautiful garden; it is the garden of your own mind. Set your intention; what type of creative ideas do you want to open up to? Business? Art? Relationships? With this intention relax and still your mind deeply as you sit in the inner garden of your mind. Stilling your mind with intention is like connecting it to the ‘internet’ of the Universal Mind. Patiently and without hurrying observe what sort of ideas, images, memories and intuitions start to ‘pop out’ of the stillness; what creative inspirations start to weave their way into the quietness of your garden. This stage is a bit like fishing (I know, yet another analogy!), it kind of like you just sit still and wait for a bite. You can’t push for it or try and control it.

Be playful, patient, be confident! – Once some ideas start to grow through you, how will you continue to grow them? How much time are you prepared to commit? What type of sacrifices are you prepared to make? As the ‘gardener’ it’s up to you how much you nurture your plants, but the more you do the more you’ll find that you are never ever short of creative inspiration in your life and work!

© 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:

Saturday 18th July, 9.30am-12.30pm – Growing Your Mindful Freedom – The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Three Hour Meditation Workshop

Saturday 18th July, 2.30-5.30 pm – Mindful Resilience – Sustaining effectiveness, happiness and clarity under pressure through meditation and mindfulness – A Three Hour Workshop

Wenesday July 22nd 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ Basic Essence – Meditating with your inner strength of heart & mind

Wednesday July 29th 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ Basic Essence – Meditation for connecting to a positive attitude

Saturday 1st August, 9.30am-12.30pm – Finding Simplicity in the Complexity: An Introduction to Meditation From the Perspective of Zen

Saturday 1st August, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self – A Three Hour Workshop

Friday 14th August, 7.30-9pm –  Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre

Integral Meditation Asia

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When Vulnerability Ceases to be a Problem – Three levels of self-confidence

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look back at the key times in your life when you really did something that helped your self confidence, you may find that it was a time when you had to confront your own sense of vulnerability. The article below looks at how we can mindfully approach our vulnerability on three levels, each of which enables us to grow our self confidence consistently.

I have a related workshop coming up on Sat 27th June for those in Singapore who may be interested – Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through meditation & mindfulness

In the spirit if confident vulnerability,


When Vulnerability Ceases to be a Problem – Three levels of self-confidence

Vulnerability – The feeling that we are threatened or at risk in some way.

Will people like the work I do? Am I attractive enough? What if I take a chance and the person says no, or even laughs of acts repulsed by what I do? What if I look foolish? What if they think I’m too old? We can feel vulnerable in many and varied ways in our life. What are the times, places and scenarios you meet that tend to trigger it most strongly? (Pause here for a moment if you like and sit with the question).

If we have a bad relationship with our sense of vulnerability, then it can undermine our quality of life and self confidence. If we cultivate a mindfully positive relationship with vulnerability then it can help us develop our self-confidence and playful creativity every time it arises. When vulnerability ceases to be a problem, we start to thrive on the possibilities that it offers us.
We will look at dealing with vulnerability on three levels; coping, accepting and thriving.

At this fist stage we feel vulnerable, but we ‘shut it out’ temporarily so that it does not sabotage what we are trying to do. Let’s say I am about to give a talk to a group of people, I feel nervous and vulnerable. To cope with this I ‘block’ the feelings of vulnerability and focus on something I can control; my awareness of my body, the lines I have rehearsed and so on. By temporarily blocking in this way I am able to deliver my speech with basic competence without my vulnerability sabotaging me. Like this we learn to cope with our vulnerability.

With this second stage we are able to open to and accept our feelings of vulnerability such that they do not sabotage our actions, we can open to and breathe with our vulnerability, relaxing into it. To take the example of giving a speech; as I stand before my audience I am able to accept my vulnerability as I stand there without having to block it out. This then enables me to open to the attention of the audience, gain a sense of where they are at and flow with the experience of giving a speech in a way that offers greater personal enjoyment and self-confidence. It also enables me to extend greater empathy and attention to my audience and perhaps give a better speech than I would have done if I was merely ‘coping’ with my vulnerability.

At this third stage we are at a level of working with our vulnerability where the sense of the risk that we are taking is comfortable to us. When we sense our vulnerability we become excited by the creative possibilities in our situation. We are relaxed enough to improvise and thrive off the opportunity of our vulnerability. In the example of the giving the speech, as I stand before my audience I feel excited by the uncertainty of what will happen, I feel confident to enough to speak from the heart and/or to ad-lib as appropriate. I feel open and conscious of the energy and attention of my audience and thrive on working with it consciously. Vulnerability has ceased to be a problem and has become an opportunity to thrive, to grow and to become more self confident within myself.

If we know what these three levels of working with vulnerability are, then a different times and in different situations we can use whatever level feels appropriate. If we are not feeling super confident, then we can focus on coping. When we are more relaxed we can try practice accepting. As we develop our competence and confidence we can gradually set our intention to work with level three – thriving.

Block, accept or thrive. Which area of your own life could you start mindfully working with the three levels of vulnerability today?

Related Articles: Moving From Anxiety to Excitement
Your Long Term Self-Confidence

© 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:

JUNE 2015

Wednesday, June 24th 7.30-9pm  – Integral Meditation Session @ Basic Essence – Meditating on benevolence & inner wealth

Saturday 27th June 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through meditation & mindfulness

Saturday 27th June, 2.30-5.30pm – The Call of the Wild–Meditations for Deepening Your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Green-world


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Moving From Anxiety to Excitement

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen if you could respond to the uncertainty and absence of control that you sometimes have in your life with excitement rather than anxiety? The article below explores how you can mindfully start going about doing this…

Yours in the spirit of opening to excitement,



Moving From Anxiety to Excitement

At a meditation class I facilitated last night one of the sentences that I asked people to complete as part of an exercise was ‘I often get stressed when’… It was interesting to note the number of responses that were about uncertainty and lack of control over different aspects of life. When things don’t go the way we want, when our sense of control is taken away from us, most often the instinctive response is negative stress and anxiety.

Anxiety as an indicator of a creative opportunity
Whenever we have uncertainty in our life, or when things move from predictable and ‘under control’ to unpredictable it means that there is a creative window opening up in our life; a window that if we are open to we can find opportunities to grow, learn and enjoy. We can learn to respond to our anxiety with excitement rather than stress.

Acknowledging anxiety to begin transforming it
Before you can start to transform your negative anxiety into excitement you first need to begin by acknowledging and get to know your anxiety. When you become anxious, what does your anxiety feel like in your body? What sort of thought patterns does it stimulate in your mind? If it had a musical tone or colour, what would it be? Explore your anxiety so that you can relax with it enough to begin transforming it.

Then ask: What are the opportunities that my circumstances are presenting me? What unexpected good things could happen as a result of this? What can I learn? What is there to enjoy?
By focusing on these questions try and gradually open the energy your body, heart and mind to the circumstances so that there is room for you to experience calm excitement, playful  attention and curiosity, rather than negative anxiety. With a bit of mindful practice this becomes a realistic possibility for us.

A personal example:
Right now I’m quite happy where I am living, but it looks like I will have to move out in September. Listen to my internal dialogue I can hear part of my mind talking about all the effort to move, the chances of ending up somewhere not so nice, the uncertainty of what will happen. Of course if I focus upon it in another way I see I might find a much better and more suitable place that I would enjoy even more than where I am. My new neighbours might be just the sort of people that I enjoy connecting to, a whole new positive passage of my life may be just over the horizon, awaiting my moving apartment. Nothing is guaranteed, but I can choose to make the mindful choice to be excited, curious and playful about the process, rather than negatively anxious.

What situation in your life today could you choose to respond to with excitement rather than anxiety?

Related article: What Happens When Are Not Afraid of Fear?

© 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


Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *
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Big Enough, Specific Enough (Dealing with spiky minds)

Dear Integral Meditators,

What can you do when your mind feels spiky, insecure and uncomfortable? The article below explores a contemplative approach that involves working consciously with the scale of your mind.

In case anyone missed it, you can see the schedule of live classes in May at Integral Meditation Asia HERE.

In the spirit of being comfortable with spikiness,


Big Enough, Specific Enough (Dealing with spiky minds)

One of the simplest ways to change the way you experience a difficult or challenging state of mind and emotion is to make your mind bigger.
To use an image; if think about your difficult of challenging minds as being like number of spiny sea urchins (sea picture). If your mind is small, let’s say like the size of your average black bin liner, and you put the sea urchins in there then it is going to feel extremely uncomfortable. Because of the smallness of the space, it feels like you can’t move around in your mind without getting a painful spine sticking into you somewhere. However, if you make your mind as big as you can, say big like the ocean, then you can accommodate the ‘spiny sea urchins of your mind’ very comfortably. This is not because you have changed them in any way; it’s just that your mind is so much bigger that it can happily accommodate the sea urchins without experiencing any discomfort. This is in the same way that there are literally millions of actual sea urchins in the ocean, but they don’t cause the ocean discomfort in any way.

A practical perspective
So, lets’ say over the last week I’ve been feeling uncomfortable about traditional human concerns; financial worries, ageing, career uncertainty, romantic insecurity. Using the approach I have described above I would not try and overcome the inner issues I am facing by changing them per se. Rather I would focus on making my mind as big, relaxed and expansive as I can, so that I experience the scale of the spiky thoughts as being really very small in relation to the total size of my mind. I don’t really need to change them per-se because they don’t really bother me; they just come and go in the big space of my mind.

So the basic principle; get out of the bin-liner of your head and get into the ocean of your mind!

Balancing this approach with specificity
The danger with the above approach is that it can become a bit abstract; whenever we get an uncomfortable mind we just up the scale of our mind, problem solved. But sometimes we need to do something about the issues that our spiky minds are worrying about. To ensure that we are keeping our feet on the ground, we can identify one of the issues that our spiky mind is fixed on, let’s say romantic insecurity. With this issue in mind we can work on a practical solution by completing the following sentence in 5-10 different ways in writing as fast as we can:
One of the practical things that I could do in order to improve my experience of romantic relationships might include –
If you complete this sentence several times in the way described, you may be surprised at how many creative ways you can come up with to work on your experience of romance for the better in an entirely practical, specific and down to earth way.

Make your mind big, make your approach to your problems specific, tailored and practical.

© 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

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Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships

Dear Integral Meditators,

Do you have a strategy for integrating mindfulness into your relationships? This mid-week article is an invitation to investigate four simple techniques that I have found effective.

Yours in the spirit of mindful relationships,


Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships

The following are four techniques for cultivating more mindfulness or, put another way integrating a greater degree of consciousness into your everyday relationships. Each one of them is relatively simple to understand and to put into practice on a basic level, and each one can be cultivated to deeper and deeper levels over time. Just practicing one can be very beneficial, but I have found they really come into their own when practiced together as an integrated unit.

Being the fly on the wall – Imagine you are a fly on the wall observing yourself in real time interaction with your partner, boss or child (etc…) Observe the interaction objectively for a while. What do you see happening? Are your words, behaviour and body language helping or hindering the relationship? How is the other person experiencing you? Get familiar with this new perspective on what is going on and integrate it into the way you approach interacting with others.

Taking the perspective of the other – Imagine inhabit the body, mind, eyes and so on of your partner, child, parent, friend (etc…) What is their world view? What does it feel like to be treated by you in the way that they are? Imagine your words spoken to them and their emotional reaction. Get used to really taking on the perspective of the other regularly, each day.

Acknowledging difficulties – Take time to deliberately get in touch with the emotional wounds, resentments, pain and so forth that you are experiencing in a relationship. Deliberately look them out, bring them to mind, acknowledge them and release them as they arise on a daily basis, so that they can be released as they come up. Anger, resentment, shame, jealousy and so on are not pleasant, but if we are regularly repressing them then they won’t do anything but poison the relationship.

Appreciation – Focus daily upon the gifts, positives, and other valuable attributes of your relationships. For example different stages of bringing up a child each have their own challenging sides, but they also have their delightful sides. Don’t let the different stages of your relationships go by without enjoying them, they will be gone as you move to the next stage…

You can practice these as formal sitting mindfulness techniques, or just deliberately take them into consideration as you are going about your daily relationships. After having focused on one or other of the practices for a while it can be useful to ask yourself the questions “What insight have I gained from this reflection?” and “What might I consider changing in the way I approach this relationship as a result of this insight?”

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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The Sea Snakes of the Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,
When I was young I used to enjoy snorkeling on reefs in the Philippines, where quite often I would come into contact with sea snakes, whom I really loved. The article and meditation below explains a meditation experience that that I had with them more recently. It also co-stars a seal!

Yours in the spirit of calm presence,


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Sunday August 17th, 9.30am-12.30pm –Mindful Parenting – Practical Techniques for Bringing Awareness, Appreciation and Enjoyment to the Experience of Parenting

Sunday August 31st, 9.30am-12.30pm – Call of the Wild: Meditating with Animal Guides and Familiars

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The Sea Snakes of the Mind

The story of the inner sea snakes of the mind
Back around 2008 I did a marathon meditation class series on meditating with animals. We covered about thirty or so animals over as many weeks. One of these animal guides was the seal. The seal meditation went something like this:
Imagine you are on a sunny beach somewhere in wild nature. Set your intention to meet the seal as an animal guide within ‘the reality of your creative imagination’.
Imagine from the sea comes a seal. After greeting you and playing on the beach for a while the seal invites you to follow him/her into the water. As you swim out you find yourself in shallow sea with waving seaweed and perhaps some corral. You spend time playing gently with the seal and enjoying the play of the light in the water and the small fish around you.
You come to the edge of the shallow water a way out from the shore. Here the ground drops away abruptly like a cliff and you find yourself facing the deep blue-green ocean, at the edge of your cliff.
The seal now swims off into the deep water and disappears. From just below the cliff face suddenly a group of stripped sea snakes emerges and begins to swim around you. You know they are extremely venomous, but despite your fear you understand clearly that the best thing to do is relax, breathe and stay absolutely still. If you do so then the snakes will not harm you. If you panic and thrash around however there is very real danger.
After having relaxed, stayed still and allowed the snakes to coil around you for a while, they depart, leaving you alone; still shocked but exhilarated. The seal now comes back from the deep water and invites you to come with him there. You swim out and down over the cliff face into the deep blue-green stillness with the seal into what feels like an infinity of peace and tranquility.
At your leisure you return back to the beach, give thanks to the seal and end the meditation.

The psychological metaphor of the sea snakes
So, the psychological metaphor is that the snakes are like your negative and destructive minds that threaten your happiness and wellbeing. The teaching is that if, when they arise in your mind (like the snakes in the sea) you have the presence of mind to keep calm and still, then the negative minds will hang around, but then leave you after a while without doing any harm. If however when they come up you thrash around, panic, fight with them and so on, then they will bite and poison you.
You leave them alone, they leave you alone. Negative or difficult minds come up? That need not be a problem; just don’t give them any reason to bite.

So the sea snakes are the bad guys right?
If we are saying that the sea snakes are our negative minds then I guess we could say they are the bad guys.
However, on a deeper level I think we could call them guardians. If the shallow water represents our everyday mind and thinking self, and the deep water represents deeper, more powerful and profound levels of consciousness, then the sea snakes arise at the gateway between these two levels. They come to test us; if we are not able to deal with them then we should not proceed to the deeper levels that lie beyond, as they would likely have an unbalancing and possibly destructive effect upon us.
If however we are able to pass the test that the sea snakes pose, then this indicates that we are ready and mature enough to proceed.

So then in this context the snakes are guides and guardians, complementary to the seal in his/her ‘spiritual’ role.
Many times in meditation (or in life?) when you are at the threshold of some breakthrough, apparently negative, destructive or otherwise disruptive forces arise in the mind, the ‘storm before the calm’ so to speak. If we can negotiate the storm then we are ready for the deeper calm and power that follows.

Meditating on the seal as spirit guide and the sea snakes of the mind
To meditate on the inner sea snakes of the mind, and on the seal as inner guide simply follow the story outlined at the beginning of this article in contemplation. Spend as much time as appropriate at each stage.
And when the snakes come, just remember to stay still!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, 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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Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Dear Integral Meditators,
Part of a mature meditation and mindfulness practice inevitably involves getting cozy and comfortable with feelings and emotions that most people run from as soon as they see or sense them. The article below explores two such emotions, and why we should be interested in getting to know them better.

Yours in the spirit of clarity,




Dealing Mindfully with Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two of the feelings and emotions that generally we least like to deal with. Instinctively our reaction to them is to push them out of our conscious into our unconscious mind, where we hope they will somehow disappear if we ignore them long enough.
The price of ignoring repressing and avoiding guilt and shame is that we then continue to be victimized by them, for many people therefore guilt and shame continue to bother them and obstruct their happiness thru-out their life.
The benefits of opening to our experience of guilt and shame is that we are able to process them effectively which then in turn removes a major obstacle to our fundamental experience of happiness in life. More than we remove a major obstacle to making progress in our relationships and professional development as well. Thus in terms of both personal happiness and gaining an edge in our relational and professional development we should be interested in our experience of guilt and shame.

So what are guilt and shame? I’m going to use a definition from Robert Bly, which I picked up in his book “Iron John”: “A traditional way of differentiating guilt from shame is this: Shame, it is said, is the sense that you are an utterly inadequate person on this planet, and probably nothing can be done about it. Guilt is the sense that you have done one thing wrong, and you can atone for it.”

From this we can start to see that dealing with shame involves connecting to that part of us that feels fundamentally inadequate to life, fundamentally value-less, fundamentally unworthy. It means to, with care, courage and curiosity to invite that part of us that feels shameful to come forward and talk to us, to receive support and to be healed. We can also see that dealing with shame is about connecting to a fundamental belief that we have about ourselves on some level, working each day to replace that belief with a view of self that affirms our self-confidence, self-competence and value as an individual, and acting in ways that demonstrate this.

Dealing with guilt involves looking at specific instances where we feel or believe we have done something wrong and connecting to the emotions that surround that experience. It involves checking the validity of the belief that we have done something wrong with an appropriate rational analysis (perhaps it is a preconception?), and if there is indeed something that we have done that needs correcting or atoning for, then investigating what can actually be done in terms of correcting action?

Some questions for getting to know your shame and guilt:

  • What are the times in my day and life when I really experience myself as inadequate, valueless, unworthy of being present in the situation or even unworthy of being a happy human? What beliefs perpetuate these feelings of inadequacy?
  • What in my past do I feel most guilty about? If I were to look at that past act objectively and rationally, would I consider the emotional guilt I feel as being valid?
  • If I do feel I have done something wrong, then what needs to be done to atone for it?
  • What can I do each day to demonstrate to myself that I am adequate and of value in life, and to build the foundations of genuine self confidence?

Asking yourself these questions and observing the responses that they stimulate in your mind, perhaps even writing them down is a good way to start bringing awareness to your own personal feelings of guilt and shame, and awareness of them is the beginning of your path to dealing with them in a truly mindful and effective manner.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website