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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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That Which Solves All Your Problems and None

Dear Integral Meditators,

All of us crave a final solution to all our problems, a place where we can go and find true peace. The good news is that such a solution it always available to us in each moment.  The challenge is that after we have solved all our problems in this way, we still have to solve all our problems. You’ll see what I mean below.

I’ll be doing a free talk on Mindful Self-Leadership on the 4th May, full information can be found HERE.

Yours in the spirit of problem solving,


That Which Solves All Your Problems and None

One of the fundamental insights from the enlightenment experience induced by meditation is that, behind every tangible experience that we have there is an experience of formless, timeless awareness which embraces, enables and transcends that experience.

The interesting thing is that, whereas the experience itself may give rise to pleasure and pain, dilemmas, anxiety, elation, depression etc, this formless timeless dimension that lies behind the experience is simply and continuously present to what is arising, witnessing what is going on with both benevolent intimacy and (to our perception), terrifying indifference.

Whereas I, Toby as a body-mind am a distinct person on a personal (hopefully developmental) journey through life, the part of me that is simply formless timeless awareness is already at the destination to that journey, and at the same time has never begun that journey in the first place.

Whilst the Toby in this world works to develop a business, become a better, kinder person, work off the weight that the Easter eggs have put on his waist line, sets goals, suffers, and has successes, the formless timeless Toby has no ambition to develop or to achieve because from its perspective everything has been achieved already, and ultimately there was no-thing to achieve in the first place.

While the Toby in time and space craves resolution to his problems, anxieties and dilemmas, as well as the fulfillment of his deepest wishes, the transcendent Toby has no problems, and even if he did (which he doesn’t) they would be solved instantly in the experience of the timeless present.

So, as I think you can start to see spiritual enlightenment, that is a living connection to the formless, timeless, ever present dimension of reality solves all of our problems ultimately, but in the mean time it solves none of them at all! We are still challenged to face off with our challenges in time and space each day with curiosity, courage and care, and do the best we can.

There is no doubt that many people come to meditation and spirituality as a means of escaping from a seemingly intractable, chaotic and painful world, and it is an easy trap to fall into. I however like to think of the peaceful, problemless space of the timeless present as an invitation to get our hands dirty in the world of time and space, to participate fully, to play the game.

As an exercise for this week if you choose, simply sit quietly and think to yourself “Ultimately all of my problems are solved”. Enter, sit with and breathe in this space where everything is well, and all problems never existed. Recognize this space, let yourself go into it.
As you reach the end of the exercise, let your mind full up again with the intractable messiness, imperfection and vulnerability of your life.

Now, go and solve your problems.

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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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Connecting to Your Spiritual Fool in the Mirror World

Dear Integral Meditators,

Normally when we think of the terms ‘you fool’ and ‘being foolish’ we think of them as derogatory, names that we would want to avoid being called or thought of at all costs. This weeks article explores a way of releasing the potential of our inner fool into our lives in a positive way using meditation and imagination.

Yours in the spirit of compassionate humor,


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia 

Tuesday 11th March, 7.30-8.30pm: Monthly Integral Meditation Class: The Way of the Enlightened Fool

Tuesday 25th March, 7.30-9.30pm: Introduction to Mindful Breathing – A Two Hour Meditation Workshop

Saturday 5th April, 2.30-5.30pm: Meditations for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention

Connecting to Your Spiritual Fool in the Mirror World

This is a creative meditation for accessing your Spiritual Fool. Your spiritual fool is that part of you that:

  • Is playful and creative
  • Combines wisdom and humor together into ‘crazy wisdom’
  • Is not afraid to take risks and chances when it is worthwhile
  • Is not trapped by the rules of conventional society (though will play by them when appropriate)

We are calling this fool the ‘spiritual’ fool as all of the above mentioned qualities are to be used for a compassionate and evolving purposes, rather than just behaving like an idiot (!)

The meditation:

You can do this meditation as an informal contemplation now if you like, as you read.

See yourself in an art gallery. You are sitting in the centre of the gallery; the floor of the gallery is smooth and reflective, as if for example made of marble. The picture in front of you is of a fool, court jester or harlequin. As you look upon the picture, feel yourself connecting to your playful, humorous, risk-taker; that part of you that is not trapped by the rigid conventions of society.
Now look down at the reflection of yourself in the floor beneath you. The reflection that you see beneath you is yourself as the spiritual fool. You may be dressed in old fashioned jesters clothing, or any way that communicates the feeling of yourself as a creative, playful, humorous being.
Now imagine that your world ‘flips’, such that the image that you see beneath you actuallybecomes you. You are dressed as the fool, your way of seeing and approaching the world is through the wise humour and compassionate playfulness of the spiritual fool.

Take as your object of meditation the experience of yourself as the spiritual fool.

During the day the idea when you are working with this meditation the idea is to keep seeing yourself as the spiritual fool, and to approach your daily activities, relationships and so forth integrating the ways of thinking, feeling and acting as the spiritual fool.
© 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 Mothers of God

“We are all meant to be mothers of God…for God is always needing to be born.” ― Meister Eckhart

Normally in meditative literature we are used to seeing ourselves being compared to children, and the Divine being compared to a mother or father figure. But what if we, as Meister Eckhart does in the quote above, reverse that and instead think of God or the Divine seeking continually to be born into the world and express itself through us?

What if we think of ourselves as the Mothers of God? How does this change our perception of who we are and what we might be capable of?

The question to then enquire in our meditations and contemplation’s for the beginning of 2014 and beyond is

  • “What is it that I feel within me that is seeking to be born and express itself through me at this time?”
  • Or alternatively “What will be my labour of love this year?”

Sit down for a few moments, see yourself as a mother of the divine. Go deep within yourself and see what the Universe has placed there there waiting to be born, wanting to be birthed.

Wishing you all the very best for 2014!

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The Way of the Rat

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you look at my website, articles and workshops, you’ll see there is quite a lot of material on transforming difficulties, re-directing negativity into positive energy and so on. Who taught me all this? Well I had a meeting with a rat 14 years ago that set me on the right track…

Yours in the spirit of fur and claws,


The Way of the Rat

When I first came to Asia as a Buddhist Monk in 1999, I stayed for 6 months or so in Johor Bahru at a small Buddhist Centre, whilst making regular trips into Singapore to explore the possibilities of setting up a meditation center there.
Over the 2-3 days of new year period 2000-2001 I was at this small centre, pretty much all alone, and at the time having doubts about my capacity to do the work that I had been asked to do. The meditation center was an apartment on the top story of a shophouse, with the stair well being the only way in and out.
During this period of aloneness and self-doubt, a large rat ran up the stairs from the street and disappeared under a cupboard before I could scare it back out. Realizing I was stuck with it for the night, I shut my bedroom door firmly before bed!
The next morning I was sitting meditating on the floor in the main shrine room, deeply relaxed, when suddenly I felt this pressure on my knee. I opened my eyes and this big rat had crept up on me and now had its front paws on my knee and was staring up at me inquisitively. He only had half of his fur, and was clearly a bit worse for wear! I had actually been in quite deep meditation, and so having a big rat suddenly leaning on my leg and staring up at me really shocked the cr**p out of me! I jumped up very quickly with a yell and he then ran off and hid in my bedroom.
I never saw him again. After checking he had moved out from my bedroom, I left front door open that night, with the metal gate shut, and I think he must have just gone down of his own accord when he found there was nothing much to eat!

Qualities of the rat
My encounter with the rat was the beginning of a series of experiences where I became aware that chance meetings with animals were actually playing and active part in my spiritual path and journey. This was a time in my life where I had really been thrown back on my own resourcefulness and capacity to survive, persist and problem solve as intelligently as I could. What better a companion, example and object of meditation could there be for me than the rat, an animal that survives and thrives in the most difficult, dirty and persecuted of circumstances?

Looking out for animals in your life
If a dragonfly flies through your window and spends a couple of hours with you while you are cooking dinner, or you go for a run and see a snake in the path, it’s worth just exploring what the qualities of the animal are and how its virtues and strengths could be applied to the challenges that you are going through right now. You may find it surprising how quickly your mind can free-associate a tangible and useful meaning between the qualities of the animal and what you need to do.

Re-awakening to our intimacy with the animal kingdom
For our ancestors living close to nature it would have been natural to feel close to animals (to both love and fear them), and to see spiritual meaning in their interactions with them. I think contemporary society has numbed our sense of intimacy with the natural world, but looking out for the coming and going of animals in your life in the way described above can be a first step toward re-awakening our own intimacy with, care for and support from wild creatures, even the dirty ones that live in our drains!

© 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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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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Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Dear Integral Meditators,

I hope you’ve had a good week, this weeks article continues the theme of last weeks article on Paradox as Therapy , looking at ways in which we can hold apparently contradictory states of awareness together in order to develop and enhance our inner wisdom.

Yours in the spirit of inner wisdom,


Upcoming Classes at Integral Meditation Asia:

Click on event titles for full details

Sunday June 23rd, 8.00-10.30am – Walking Meditations for Connecting to the Energy of Nature 

Sunday June 30th, 8.30am-12.30pm – Qi Gong for Improving your Health and Energy Levels and Releasing Your Inner Stress


Sunday 14th July, 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 

Using Your Misfortune to Enhance and Transcend Your Experience of Good Fortune

Normally we think of our good fortune and happiness as being in contrast or opposition to our misfortune and unhappiness. This article and the exercise outlined aims to help us to use our difficult experiences to:

  • Cultivate mindful acceptance of our challenges
  • Cultivate greater appreciation of our good fortune and wellbeing
  • Find a space of awareness that lies beyond and is transcendent of both that which makes us unhappy in life and that which makes us happy.

Here is what you do:

Stage 1: Select an experience of suffering, pain or misfortune in your life. Let’s say in this example that I am feeling unappreciated and uncared for by a close friend whom I expected more support from. So, the first thing that I do is to become mindfully aware of the feelings of hurt that I am experiencing in this circumstance. I sit with awareness of the feelings of being unloved/uncared for as they are. I don’t try to change them, I just accept them as they are, holding them with mindful awareness.

Stage 2: I now select an experience of good fortune/happiness that contrasts directly with the original negative experience. So, in the example here I would deliberately bring to mind people whom have demonstrated real care and appreciation of me. I focus on remembering all the times when they have demonstrated this care and appreciation, and allow this feeling of being cared for and appreciated to register fully in my mind.

Stage 3: I now become aware of a part of my mind and awareness that remains the same whether I am feeling uncared for (as in stage 1), or cared for (as in stage 2). I cultivate awareness of that part of myself that is beyond the ordinary changeability of my daily experiences, that remains a quiet witness or observer to all “different weather” of what happens in my daily life. This pure witnessing awareness is always tranquil and peaceful, even blissful in a way that transcends ordinary happiness and suffering.

Stage 4: Now I alternate between awareness of stages 1, 2 & 3 for a while, taking them all in without favoring one or another of the three. I feel the pain of being uncared for, I feel the pleasure of being appreciated and supported; I experience that part of my awareness that is beyond both ordinary pleasure and pain. Allow all three experiences to be in your mind; don’t favor one or the other. Make your mind big enough for all three.

To conclude, finish with a brief period of mental resting and equanimity.

The effect of this exercise when done regularly is to:

  1. Develop equanimity and stability when experiencing discomfort, pain, misfortune, emotional unhappiness and so forth
  2. To use our misfortune to deliberately stimulate our feeling of good fortune and appreciation of what we have
  3. To gradually learn to go beyond ordinary happiness and suffering and locate our fundamental sense of self in a place of awareness that lies beyond the fickle events of our daily life.

© 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