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Deeper Meaning, Meaningless, Deeply Meaningless

Dear Integral Meditors,

What do we mean by ‘spiritual?’ the article below explores the relationship between spirituality as a quest for meaning and spirituality as a discipline that requires going beyond the quest for meaning. You’ll see what i mean when you read it!

In the spirit of the journey,


Deeper Meaning, Meaningless, Deeply Meaningless

The spiritual path – the quest for meaning
What does ‘spiritual’ and to ‘be spiritual’ actually mean? One definition is that to be spiritual means to reflect deeply and consciously about the meaning of your life, and to to bring that meaningful purpose into reality through your actions. So for example:

  • If you feel strongly connected to parenting, you might feel motivated to create a service or resource through which people can become better parents
  • If you are a businessperson, you might feel motivated to redirect your efforts so that the meaning of your activities becomes to benefit others through your business as well as make money
  • If you are an artist you may feel spiritually motivated to keep working despite the financial obstacles because making art gives spiritual meaning and direction to your life
  • If you are a meditator, your motivation for meditating may mature from simply relaxing to pursing the path of enlightenment

There are of course endless examples…

So here spiritual means living one’s life on purpose and with purpose  as opposed to living it unconsciously and without direction in a meaningless way.
The spiritual path then involves a progression from superficial levels of motivation and direction to gradually deeper and more mature expressions of meaning, which works just fine until we get to the second meaning of spiritual, which is the enlightenment experience.

Deeply meaningless – the enlightenment experience
In this context enlightenment means connecting to the formless, timeless, eternal, ever present dimension of consciousness through meditation and learning to rest ones awareness in this ‘already perfect’ state of awareness. Even if you haven’t done a lot of meditation before, if you simply relax your body, mind and heart deeply you will start to feel this open spacious feeling – that is the thing to which I am referring here, just realized on a much deeper level!
From the point of view of the enlightenment experience, everything is perfect already, so there is really no point in holding onto any ‘deeper meaning’ in life;  ultimately the meaning of life is present, right in front of you! When you connect to the enlightenment experience your life becomes ‘deeply meaningless’; there is nothing to realize and nowhere to go, you are already home and you always have been. To look anywhere other than the ‘Now’ for purpose is meaningless!

Integrating meaningful with deeply meaningless
So then to be integrated in a spiritual way means to bring together your experience of deeper meaning with the ‘deep meaninglessness’;

  • On one level you gradually, reflectively and consistently bring deeper purpose to your life through meaningful and creative action
  • On another level you realize you are, ultimately already where you want to be and there is no higher purpose or meaning other than resting in the formless timeless now!

An analogy – The mud city
In the city of Djenne there is the famous ‘mud mosque’; an elaborate and beautiful building build of mud (see picture above). Building spiritual meaning in your life is like building the mosque – you invest time and effort to build something beautiful. The enlightenment experience is like the mud – It does not matter what stage of the building you are at, the mud is always mud.
In a similar way you can work each day to build spiritual meaning in your life whilst recognizing  and resting in the ‘mud’ of the formless timeless present moment; We can meaningfully go somewhere without going anywhere!

Related article: What Does “Spiritual” Really Mean? (And What it Does Not Mean!)
Related service: Life-fullness coaching with Toby

© 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

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *
Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology
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A Meditation Map – The Art of State Training

Dear Integral Meditators,

With so many different types of meditation how can we know what it is all about? In the article below I offer one map that contains the territory of all meditation types. I hope you find it useful!

The Tuesday 9th I will be giving a whole evening seminar and practicum giving a big-picture overview of integral meditation, including these five states. If you are in Singapore do feel free to join us!

In the spirit inner maps,


A Meditation Map – The Art of State Training

There are so many different types of meditation, what are the common themes that tie them all together? One way of doing this is to understand that all meditations of whatever tradition are basically a type of state training. This basically means that when you are meditating you are training to capture and hold a particular state of mind, consciously and over an extended period of time.

There are five basic states that meditation helps us to become more conscious of and to learn to utilize in a practical and useful manner. Here they are in summarized form:

1. The Waking State – This is the state of our everyday, waking consciousness, with its attending concrete mental functions and emotions. In brain wave terms this is primarily the beta state with some alpha. The function if meditating in the waking state is to learn to use our concrete mind and attention mindfully, in such a way as to produce happiness and wellbeing rather than stress and negativity.

2. The Dreaming State – Once we get beyond the beginner level of meditation we start to work more and more consciously with the dream state, both when asleep and when day-dreaming. This is a subtle state of mind which contains many different levels. It can be very creative and when we are in this state our brain is mainly functioning in alpha and theta waves. The function of meditating in dream states is to learn to access these higher, deeper states of mind in order to enjoy them for creative, useful and positive purposes.

3. The Deep Sleep State – This is the very subtle state of consciousness and reality that is beyond the mind, it is a state of pure consciousness or being-ness. We all access it unconsciously at night during deep sleep. It is a formless, timeless ‘eternal’ dimension of consciousness. When we are in this state, our brain functions mainly in the delta wave state (though if we do so in meditation it tends to be a combination of alpha and delta). The function of meditation in the deep sleep state is to accomplish a ‘liberation’ from being solely identified with our personal body-mind, and to connect to a deeper more universal sense of identity. It is also extremely relaxing and regenerative.

4. The Witnessing State – The witnessing state is a state that accompanies all of the previous three states; waking, dreaming and sleeping.  It is an objective state of mind where we are observing as a witness the state of consciousness that is appearing to us at that time. Quite a few meditation traditions emphasize this witnessing practice as the centre of their meditation technique.

5. The Non-Dual State – This is a more advanced state of meditation where the subject-object divide between ourself and what we are observing disappears and we enter into a state of ‘oneness’ or ‘non-duality’. For example if we are meditating on a mountain we go from ‘I am meditating on a mountain’ to simply ‘mountain’. Or, if we are meditating on the formless timeless state of deep sleep, we go from ‘I am observing a formless timeless emptiness’ to a state of just formless timeless emptiness, where the self has essentially disappeared. These non-dual states are made stable by advanced meditators and make up the bulk of what you would call their ‘enlightenment experience’.

So, these five basic states are the five basic dimensions of our reality. As a meditator we learn to move consciously and deliberately between these five states, using each appropriately in order to bring about healing, personal growth and eventually ‘enlightenment’. I realize that I have covered a lot of ground in a short space of time, but it can be very useful to know about these five basic meditation states, because if you know about them, you can pretty much see where all the different meditation types fit into the model. For example shamanic meditation emphasizes mastery of the dream state; while Zen meditation emphasizes mastery of the 3rd, 4th and 5th states. It is a map you can use as your meditation practice grows and matures.

Related articles: The Five Stages of Meditation Practice from Beginners to Advanced
Five Inner Skills we develop Through Meditation

© 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

Tuesday 9th June, 7.30-9pm – An Evening of Integral Meditation – Cultivating the Awakened Mind Within Ourselves, Our Work & Our Relationships

Saturday 13th June 2.30-5.30pm – Meditations for Transforming Negativity and Stress into Energy, Positivity and Enlightenment – A Three Hour Workshop

Sunday 14th June 9.30am-12.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and for Self-Healing

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


Integral Meditation Asia


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A Benevolent Universe? (Old Men Fighting)

Dear Integral Meditators,

What do you think the Universe thinks of you? Is it for you or against you? This mid-week article examines this question with a little bit of humor.

For those of you in Singapore, next Tuesday evening , 17th June is the date for the free preview talk on Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release From Stress, see you there if you are interested!

Finally, I am currently offering a decent summer deal on the Soul Portraits I do, see details below.

Yours in the spirit of the journey,


Special Soul Portrait Summer Sale 11th-26th June!

From the 11th-26th June I am offering a 15% discount on all Soul Portrait orders. For this limited time only the prices for Soul Portraits will be as follows:

For an Individual Soul Portrait:
  • For an A4 size (297x210mm) portrait Singapore $260 Sing $220
  • For an A3 size (297x420mm) portrait Sing $390 Sing$330
  • For an A2 Size (594x840mm) Sing $585 Sing$495

For Couples* (Ideal for weddings, Anniversaries and Valentines!):

  • For an A4 size297x210mm portrait Sing $340 Sing$290
  • For an A3 size 297x420mm portrait Sing $490 Sing$415
  • For an A2 Size (594x840mm) Sing $730 Sing$620

For further enquiries or to order a Soul Portrait please contact me by email:

This is a great opportunity to get a Soul Portrait for yourself or as a gift for any of your friends or family for a very reasonable price!

To have a look at slideshows of past Soul Portraits click HERE

To look at past individual Soul Portraits click HERE

A Benevolent Universe? (Old Men Fighting)

Are the intelligent, creative forces behind the creation of our Universe benevolent toward us? That is to say are they friendly and wishing for us to succeed in our endeavours? Are they conspiring against our wishes and plans? Or are they just entirely indifferent?
At some time in our lives we have probably felt each of these three ways. At times  we have felt supported and guided, other times lost and ignored and at yet other times Beelzebub himself seems to be screwing us at each turn. What I want to do in this article is first to flag up how our own relationship to ourself affects this perception, and then relate a little story.

Your perception of your relationship to the Universe
Our relationship to the universe is directly affected by our relationship to ourself, as Emerson said “If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.” The corollary of that is that if I can maintain genuine and deep self confidence, self belief, self esteem and self trust (and demonstrate all of these things to myself through my actions) then even in the face of adversity there is the experience that, even though circumstances conspire against me the universe provides me with the solutions through the resource of myself.
So this is a first point to consider and contemplate. You can see this explored also in the recent meditation on Self-Trust that I posted.

Old Men Fighting
Recently, after finishing my regular Monday evening squash session with friends around 10pm I walk from the sports centre to a local open air coffee shop by myself,  order a beer and sit for a while sipping and contemplating the universe (you know the dodgy middle aged white blokes you see sitting alone at these places? Yup, like that).
I get up to go and as I do so a fight breaks out between two of the fifty-plus year old group of ‘serious drinkers’ near the exit. I have to walk towards them to get out, so I try and do it quietly and unobtrusively. As I’m going past I see that one of the guys is punching the other very slowly and consistently on the nose, gradually the nose breaks and blood starts to go everywhere, but it is all like watching a SLOW motion movie because they are so drunk and uncoordinated. So I put down my bag and make to break it up. I’m immediately accosted by the rest of the drunk old men who forbid me to do so. I’m not going to get into a fight with them, so feeling sad about the state of the universe (at least in this coffee shop) but clear that this is not my problem.
I’m crossing the road right next to the exit, and I see a white car with big blue letters coming towards me. Not only that, it has lights on the top, it is a police car! Joyfully I wave stop and wave my hands at it, as it slows down I point to the old men fighting. Two appropriately big and cheerful looking policemen get out, smile at me, say thanks and walk over to deal with it. I smile all the way home, safe in the knowledge that two drunk old men are now no longer punching each other in slow motion.

Who knows, perhaps the universe really is a big friendly giant? Or maybe it just has a lower tolerance level to sheer ridiculousness than other forms of human suffering.

© 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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Does God Exist? A Meditators Perspective (and what to tell your kids)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Many spiritual paths and religions and  take “God-realization” as their object of attainment, but what if you can’t find God? This weeks article takes both a playful and serious look at this issue. Complementary reading would be  the article on “The Four Less-nesses of Enlightenment” that I wrote a few weeks back.

Yours in the spirit of the God beyond God,

Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia 

Coming soon

Does God Exist?  A Meditators Perspective (and what to tell your kids)

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Sasha (8yrs) asked me “Does God really exist? After all you can’t really see him or prove he does”. This is a classic response from a child developing her rational faculties and for whom the previous concept of a creator in the sky, a little like a big father or mother, becomes obviously and patently untrue.
For many of us as we move into adulthood it seems like we are faced with a dilemma; either we accept an unseen, unknowable God on faith, or we decide that he does not exist and that there is no God.

The path of meditation offers a second, non-philosophical perspective on the existence or not of God which is put succinctly in the modern day Zen saying:
There is no-God and he is your creator

The way I answered to my daughter was as follows:

  • God exists in a place called no-thing, and no-thing is the place where everything comes from, so you can find God in everything.
  • God lives in a place called no-where, and no-where is the place where somewhere comes from. So because God is no-where he is the only person you can find everywhere.
  • Gods’ identity is in a place called no-self, which is the place where all selves arise. So at the heart of every self there is no-self, which is where you find God.

So, the idea with these three sentences is that they invite a person enquiring after the existence of God to go beyond the world of ideas, philosophy or theology and move instead into a space of experiential, non-conceptual investigation and curiosity.
With these sentences you just need to read them, and then ‘drop-in’ to the space that they invite you into and to be with that space, to be present to something that lies beyond your mind, beyond rationality, beyond ideas.

  • God is un-findable in the world of things, so if you drop into a space of no-thing, that is where she will be, although of course that would be non-be
  • There is no place where God ‘lives’, so if you go to nowhere, that is where you will find him
  • God does not have a self, so if you let go of your own self completely, then you will find God there

To the cynic this can just sound like word games, but as I say the idea is to use the words to go beyond the words to a non-conceptual, living experience that you then hold and rest in.

After finishing this article I then asked my daughter “So what did you think of those definitions of God that I gave you?”
“Good” she said, not looking up from her book.
“Really I said? Stop reading and come here for a moment”
She stood up and came over to me. I asked her the same question
“So what did you think of those definitions of God that I gave you?”
She looks at me, smiles and said “Excellent!”
Then she rolls her eyes, puts on her most ironic face, then sits down to read again.

I think that is what you call approving non-approval.
© 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

Support for you Meditation Practice 

If you enjoyed the article above, and are interested in sound technology that can help you more easily get into deeper states of meditation, the following two tracks work well with cultivating formless, timeless meditations:

Beginners Mind

Audio Serenity

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Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

Dear Integral Meditators,

For me one of the major benefits of being a meditator is that it opens us up experientially to a place and a space of rest, regeneration and renewal that we can go to at any time. It is a place  that is there for us no matter what else is going on in our life.
You could call this place Spirit if you like, though of course you could call it plenty of other things….

This weeks article is on the subject of that special space.

Yours in the spirit of Spirit,



Glimpsing Spirit – How do You Meditate on Something That is Beyond the Mind?

If you were asked to give your own definition of Spirit, that is to say of the ultimate, causal domain of reality beyond the world of the senses and of the mind, what would it be?

It is worth pausing for a moment here and seeing what you come up with in response to this question.

How do you meditate on something that is beyond the grasp of the conceptual mind? that is literally transcendent in nature? This is one of the age old problems in connecting tangibly to the spiritual dimensions of reality; it is very difficult to explain using our mind and words.

However, I feel that there are some images and concepts that really can do quite a good job of inviting us into a space where we can start to explore spirit experientially, using the images as a ‘prop’ so to speak, inviting us to go beyond the limitations of concepts.
With that in mind here are two of my favorites. The first is a traditional one from the Western Mysticism* that goes as follows:
“Spirit is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”

The second is a more contemporary postmodern/evolutionary definition of spirit**:
 “Spirit is the non-existence from which the world of existence emerges”

So at this point there is quite a lot of detail I could go into about both of these definitions both philosophically and metaphysically (and post-metaphysically for the integral geeks amongst you), but that would kind of miss the point and power of what I want to convey in this article, and that is that these words are meant to be sat with and contemplated directly in order to reveal the experience to which they are pointing.

They are not a riddle in the sense that there is a right intellectual “answer” to them that you need to find. Rather by focusing upon them in a gentle, poetic and imaginative way with your mind they have the power to start revealing something beyond themselves, giving us a feeling and intimation of that which Spirit is from an experiential, meditators perspective.

What is it that lies at the centre of everything and yet whose edge is nowhere?

What is the no-thing from which the everything emerges in each moment?


*My source here is the “Mystical Qaballah” by Dion Fortune.
** My source here is Andrew Cohen, author of “Evolutionary Enlightenment”

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Is Spirit a Place of Light of Dark?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of experience it is.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,


Is Spirit a Place of Light or Dark? 

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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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Three Types of Faith

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you are having a good weekend, this weeks article looks at how to integrate three different of faith into our life in order to improve our ability to go with the flow, decrease our stress levels and open to different patterns of meaning. I hope you enjoy it!

Final reminder for the online 2 week course starting this Wednesday, 3rd July: Going Beyond Happiness – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfillment and Wellbeing in Your Lifeif you enjoy the article below and the ones from the last 2/3 weeks, then you will definitely enjoy and get a lot out of the course!

Yours in the spirit of faith,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Click on event titles for full details

Wednesday 3rd & 10th July – 2 Week Online Meditation course: Going Beyond Happiness – Using the Wisdom of Paradox to Find a Deeper Level of Fulfilment and Wellbeing in Your Life

Wednesdays 3rd and 10th July, 7.30-9.30pm on both days – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – A Two Week Course

Three Types of Faith

 You don’t need to be religious to use a mind of faith in a practical and useful way to enhance your quality of life and wellbeing. With so many uncertainties in life we could say that faith and a sense of trust in something is actually one of the most important minds that we can learn to rely upon as the basis of our inner wellbeing.

Here are three types of faith that you can cultivate on a daily basis:

Faith in ourself: This is a sense of trust in our own integrity, care and intelligence to help us through whatever challenges we may face. We don’t need to be perfect before we develop faith and trust in ourself, but we do need to work on demonstrating to ourself our ability to care, to take a positive attitude and to find a way to survive and thrive in life.
Faith in the unfolding process of life: Life is very complex, and there are always many things going on on many different levels at any given time. Looking at the apparent chaos it can occasionally seem like there are no patterns going on, no meaning. To have faith in the process of life means to trust that, whatever way things are turning out for us there is a pattern of benevolent meaning and unfolding. It means to go with the flow of what is happening and be open to the insights and enjoyments that each moment offers.
Faith in something bigger: To have faith in something bigger can be thought of as a formal belief in God if you are that way inclined, but really it means simply to have a sense of a larger force or metta intelligence that guides and informs the process of our life, and of evolution on earth at large. We may not know why many things are happening in our life and around us, but we can nevertheless be open to the possibility that it is a part of a larger pattern of reality of which we see only a small glimpse. To have faith in something bigger is simply to relax into the flow of our life, opening to the sense that we may be being guided by a higher and deeper intelligence.

One minute mindfulness:
To be mindful of a sense of faith in our life, we simply pick one of the three types of faith, develop a feeling for it and then relax into its flow, breathing and resting in its energy for a short period of time. Out of formal mindfulness or meditation on faith we try and retain a sense of faith, trust and flow in our life as we face our daily challenges

© Toby Ouvry 2013, 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 Types of Mindful Coaching Conversation

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at one basic integral coaching model that I use both in my own coaching work and for my personal inner growth, it is simple by it has a lot of depth and nuance to explore.
The main meditation classes and course for March are the ongoing Shadow Meditation Classes, and the three hour “Mind of Ease” Workshop on the 23rd March, click on links below for the full details!

Yours in the spirit of deep conversation with our inner selves,

Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in For February and March 2013

Wednesday March 6th – Shadow Meditation Class – Healing Wounds: Working with the dark side of the shadow.
In this class we will be working with specifically the dark side of our shadow self; the parts of ourself that we most deeply reject and fear as well as the parts of us that are most deeply wounded. Many people may find this idea intimidating, but it cannot be emphasized enough how liberating this type of work can be once you get some experience of it!

Saturday  23rd March – 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: 
Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

Four Types of Mindful Coaching Conversation

When I am in a coaching session with someone, although on one level there is only one conversation going on, on another level there are four basic aspects or dimensions that I try and pay mindful attention to within the conversationthat all give me some information about where the client is coming from and what they might need in terms of advice, guidance and input. It is also a model that I use in terms of my own self care and when looking at what is happening within my own consciousness.

  • The Conscious Self – This is the daily functional self or “persona” of the client. The information that they give me on this levels is basically that which their conscious mind understands to be true with regard to the problem or challenge that they are facing. Generally this information will come through directly and explicitly in the conversation that is being had.
  • The Shadow Self – This is the aspect of the daily self or ego that is hidden to the client as it has been repressed into his/her unconscious mind, and thus is invisible to her. Sometimes I might do an exercise specifically designed to investigate their shadow, but as often as not I’ll get to know the persons shadow implicitly through the nuance of what is said, and the language that is used (or left out) in the conversation, their body language and their response to certain emotional triggers.
  • The Soul – You might think of the soul as the higher or deeper self of the client, and it is from this dimension of their being that they feel the impulse toward establishing deeper meaning and direction in their life, and toward the expression of the principles of goodness, beauty and truth. Quite often the coaching journey that I take with people is in an essential way the journey from a life of “functional meaning” directed by the ego to a life of deeper meaning and orientation based around the souls wish to creatively express goodness, beauty and truth.
  • The Spirit – On one level you might think of the spiritual dimension of the coaching conversation as being that which is concerned with helping the clientconnect to a sense of silence, presence and peace within themselves that helps them negotiate the challenges of their life with less negative stress and a greater sense of creativity and freedom. The spiritual level of the conversation involves the connection to a sense of the deepest levels of both peace and creativity within the client, and helping these to start playing a tangible part in both the conversation as we are having it, and also in their life as a whole.

Four mindful and integral self-coaching questions:
Based around the above model, here are four questions that you might like to ask yourself when presented with a challenge or opportunity in your life:

  1. What is my conscious understanding of the problem or challenge as I understand it?
  2. What hidden emotions, psychological discomfort and agendas do I sense within me that lie beneath my conscious perception of what is happening?
  3. What is my soul demanding of me in this situation in terms of the expression of meaning, goodness, beauty and truth? What opportunities does my soul see here?
  4. Viewed from the perspective of transcendent stillness and peace what is my freest and most creative response to what is happening?

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Integral Awareness Integral Meditation Integrating Ego, Soul and Spirit Meditating on the Self Meditation and Psychology Meditation techniques spiritual intelligence Uncategorized

Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope this message finds you well, this weeks article compares and contrasts the needs and desires of the ego, the soul and the spirit within us, and how we can begin satisfying their different desires for happiness and fulfillment together, rather than have them competing against each other…

When I was in my early twenties I sacrifices a lot of the needs and desires of my soul and ego in order to fulfill the wishes of my spiritual self. Although it was worth it in the sense that I got what I wanted (in terms of spiritual realization), in reality my soul and ego paid quite a price for my spiritual ambition and unwavering willpower. Over the last decade of my life I have come to realize that actually a person can accomplish spiritual realization without having to sacrifice the needs and desires of the soul and ego in quite such a drastic way as I did, and what I try and explain in my teaching practice at Integral Meditation Asia is how to balance the needs and wishes of the ego, the soul and the spirit, enabling them all to grow and develop together in harmony with each other, in such a way that they mutually support each others needs and goals!

Yours in the spirit of integral growth and development,


Fulfillment of the Ego, Fulfillment of the Soul, Fulfillment of Spirit

What might an integrated fulfilment of our happiness look like? One way of considering this question is to look at three levels of  our being, and how each one of them exerts a different set of demands upon us in terms of what they are seeking, and what will enable them to find satisfaction and happiness.

The three levels of being working with I am calling the ego-self, the soul-self and the spiritual self or true self. All of them are important to our overall level of happiness and fulfillment in life.

The ego-self , personality or “frontal self” seeks happiness primarily through appropriate and satisfying work, relationships and a healthy self-image. The sort of work and relationships that give the ego happiness are generally ones that will give it a sense of worth within the context of the society in which the person lives. The consensus idea of what satisfying work and relationships are, as well as a self-image that “fits in” with the norm of what society thinks of as a happy, successful person are likely to be satisfactory for a person who is only active on the ego level, and largely dormant on the soul and the spiritual level.

The soul or deeper self seeks happiness through the practice of virtue or, put another way through actions that is some way express what is good, and/or what is beautiful, and/or what is true. The soul-self seeks to find and express that which is unique about itself, and to find the sorts of activities and relationships that “makes the soul sing” so to speak.
Often as not the soul will seek these experiences of deeper satisfaction and virtue through a deeper enquiry into what type of work and what type of relationships really give rise to happiness, and how work and relationships can become an expression of deeper meaning and connectivity to life.
This process of enquiry may take the person away from the “societal norms” of what a good job is, or what a happy, meaningful relationship is and move them toward a less conventional way of working, being and relating that is considered somewhat eccentric by others, but which provides a much deeper level of happiness and satisfaction to the individual soul.

The Spiritual Self, or the True Self is the aspect of self that is always and already perfect, complete, fulfilled and satisfied as it is. You cannot satisfy this self by going somewhere or becoming something, you can only find happiness in this self by recognizing it, awakening to it and being it.
One of the primary ways in which you awaken to the spiritual self is through meditation, where you learn to rest in the present moment “as it is” without looking to go anywhere or do anything. The spiritual self is outside the world of time and form. there is nothing that needs to be “done” for us to find it or for it to give us happiness. The happiness of the true self or spiritual self is found simply by recognizing it and resting in it. This is incredibly simply on one level, but our ego (and often our soul also) finds it very difficult to do, as it involves letting go of everything we think we are, temporarily “dying to ourself” so to speak.

“So What Does All This Mean?”

Well, the search for integrated happiness on the ego, soul and spiritual level might then look like this:

  • On the ego level we would find happiness and satisfaction by leading a well organized life where we seek fulfilling work and relationships.
  • On the soul level, within the context of the above well organized life we would make room for a deeper sense of enquiry into the meaning and purpose of our life. We would be prepared also to make changes and accept challenges in our life that would make accommodate the needs and desires of our soul to find deeper meaning and purpose in our life, to make our life an expression of deep goodness, beauty and truth.
  • On the spiritual level we would spend time each day resting in the present moment, recognizing that there is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go to find ultimate fulfillment, as that ultimate fulfillment is here already, and we have never been separate from it.

Is it Easy to Do?

Many of the people that I coach seek out coaching because they are trying to deal with the tensions that come from awakening to a new level of their being. For example if a person has basically been functioning on the ego or personality level, and then awakens to the soul level, then suddenly many of the activities and relationships that they previously engaged in no longer appear satisfactory. They find themselves with new desires that they find difficult to understand. They experience anxiety because they feel as if they are becoming a new person without all of the old securities of the “old self” that they were. As such it is my job to discern the stage that people are at in their development, and help them make choices and engage in practices that will help them negotiate this transformative stage in their life successfully and securely, without avoiding or running away from the genuine challenges involved.

As such trying to balance out the demands of all three of these levels can be a challenge indeed, but the nice thing about engaging in the process of trying is that there are really an infinite number of levels and qualities of happiness and fulfillment that can be found in our life.

A Short Practice:

Once you are basically familiar with the three levels of self outlined above you can try asking yourself these three questions each day:

  • “What does my ego need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What does my soul need to help it find happiness and fulfillment today?”
  • “What can I do to connect to connect to the happiness and fulfillment that is already present within my spiritual being and true self?”

Listen to the answers that come back from these three questions, and act upon them.

© 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

Awareness and insight Enlightened love and loving Meditation techniques Presence and being present

Can attraction and desire be part of a genuinely spiritual love?

In my previous article on the five types of romantic love I placed the dynamic of romantic love in a larger context, to include our relationship not just with other people, but also ourself, the world/the Universe, landscape and our “art” or work.

What I want to do in this next few articles is have a look at four basic stages that any romantic relationship needs to go through in order to connect us to deep levels of authentic passion and creativity.

When I talk of passion and creativity here I am not referring just to a temporary increase in our creative energy, but a connection to deeper life forces that is continuously sustained over a long period of time.

The four stages of romantic love as I have named them are:

  1. Attraction and desire
  2. Relationship
  3. Union
  4. Creativity

In the article below we will begin by looking at stage 1, attraction and desire. I will focus mainly on the relationship between two people, but bear in mind that it can apply to the other four types of romantic experience as well.

 Stage 1: Attraction and desire

Romantic attraction and desire are often seen as the antithesis of the pure, spiritual experience of love. However, if you look at the state of mind that you enter into when you first “fall in love” with a person, a place or a type of work or art, you will be able to see that it has many magical and spiritual qualities. For example

  • The whole world seems more alive and vivid
  • You seem to be in a kind of telepathic communication with the person you are romantically involved with
  • Daily problems and anxieties fall away
  • You have more energy
  • There is a natural sense of timelessness which is in fact connected to the timeless world of spirit

Attraction and desire are the starting point for ANY romantic relationship, whether the couple are on a high level of consciousness or a low one. Attraction and desire are as natural as breathing and eating for us!

(those last two lines are my answer to the question posed by the title of this article by the way!)

One of the keys to successfully negotiating and enjoying this period of intense attraction and desire is to look closely at the motivations behind your attraction and desire.

  • If you feel attracted to a person because you feel a glaring LACK or POVERTY within yourself, then it is likely that the attachment and desire is going to lead to experiences of pain and suffering in the next stage of the romance.
  •  If you fall into an attraction and desire for someone even though you feel a comfortable sense of FULLNESS and ABUNDANCE within yourself, then it is likely that you will be able to transition to the next stage of the romance where “reality sets back in” without too much problem.

Exercise for appreciating and enjoying desire and attraction

Recall a time when you were in love with someone for the first time (or if you are at that stage in your relationship now, look at what you are experiencing now). Spend a while re-creating the feelings and experiences associated with that time. Creatively imagine your way back into the feeling and texture of your mind, body and emotions at that time. Breathe with it and enjoy it for a while.

Now let go of the specifics of the romance. Forget about the person you were with, the time, the place and so on. Just focus on the essence or essential feeling that is left inside. Breathe with this for a while.

What you will find if you do this is that experiences of desire and attraction lead us quite naturally into a mystical, enraptured, timeless state of consciousness. Most of the time we fail to capitalize on this because we mistake the object of our desire for the STATE OF MIND that he/she evokes. However, if you can let go of the object of your desire and focus on the state of BEING that has been evoked in you, you will find yourself connecting to something timeless, universal and full of life-force…

© Toby Ouvry 2010. You are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact