The Practice of Perspective

TEACHERJeff Warren
THEME: The Practice of Perspective
MEDITATION: Layers of Our Discontent
INTERACTIVE: The Art of Moving Out

This week, we explore perspective from two directions: in sitting practice, where we’ll tease out some of the understated and not-so understated ways we find our moments lacking (and in the seeing, a subtle freeing), and, for part two, a wonderful art practice designed to take us out of ourselves into some of the insightful and often healing perspectives that surround us.


TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Christine Pountney
THEME: Inhibition
INTERACTIVE: “All Pathology Starts with Inhibition”

“All pathology starts with inhibition.” Dr. Henri Laborit said that. I don’t know who he is either, although Wikipedia tells me he’s a dead French guy who experimented on rats. But let’s run with his idea. My friend Christine believes that whenever we willingly block the natural free flow of ourselves, we’ve passed judgment on ourselves. She asks: “What would it be like to live without judgment, to breathe and move without judgment? What would we learn from all those impulses, expressions, thoughts and feelings, if we had them before we judged them? Are we even aware of what we allow to live and what we prohibit in ourselves? How much more do we have to censor once we begin?” This Monday, we explore the pros and cons of inhibition, imagining a different world, and the freedom to be drunk on ourselves.

Not Knowing

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Not Knowing
MEDITATION: The Beautiful Bogglement of the Beginner
INTERACTIVE: Embracing the Alien

Meditation is an interplay between knowing and not knowing. Sometimes we know exactly what’s going on: inhale, distraction, butt-itch, eureka! But sometimes – just as importantly – we have no idea. We are genuinely out in the open, without even the simplest thing figured out. And oh man is this a productive place to be – the mind of the beginner, not racing for answers but allowed to float in the rich bogglement of what Zen folks call “don’t know mind.” This is not about confusion; it’s about trusting we can survive in a space where we’re no longer limited by all the crap we have crammed into our noggins.
We’ll cultivate exactly this mental space in Part One’s meditation, and then for Part Two we’ll intensify the experience with partner work, using human presence to slingshot us into our inner alien, ultimately unlearning all the good work of civilization, so you leave the zendo walking backwards on your hands and knees, bat-shit crazy and spoiled for all future employment.

God: The Abrahamic Ideal

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Avi Craimer
THEME: God: The Abrahamic Ideal

You filthy sinners! You don’t deserve to come to our God Party, particularly after last week’s shocking expose of your deranged spiritual selves. Of course now I am perpetuating the misconception that somehow the whole God thing is about sin and judgement. It is not; apparently I am guilty of the same mindlessly reactive anti-God sentiments that plague secular culture in general. In this week, my beautiful devotional compadre Avi and I team up to take the lid off God. And not just the ‘love everybody’ stuff – no, the radical heart of the Abrahamic stance, which is engaging with reality as something that is alive and intelligent and dancing with you right now, behind your back, while you read this screen and secretly pick your nose. God sees all my friend.

Premature Enlightenment: How Embarrassing!

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Sarah McCarthy
THEME: Premature Enlightenment: How Embarrassing!
MEDITATION: Preparing the Body
INTERACTIVE: Repellent Spiritual Speed Dating

For this special edition of CEC, I will be joined by my pal Sarah McCarthy, a smart Gestalt psychotherapist, who will lead the group in a delightful exploration of all that is most nauseatingly precious and sanctimonious and authoritarian about spirituality, such as, ahem, the finger-wagging moral uptightness, the desperate amphetamine-fueled seeking, not to mention the endless oppressive injunctions to “be mindful,” all of which lay like hidden traps in the jungle of our collective psyches, traps lined with bloody spikes and surrounded by the vacant-eyed skulls of the dead. And then my friends we shall bake a cake and make merry, for such are the joys of spirited jungle living.

Oh and there really will be a speed dating exercise with a most repellent and diabolical twist.

Awareness: The Nondual Ideal

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Awareness: The Nondual Ideal
INTERACTIVE: Pointing Out Guidance and Interaction

If you don’t know what “nonduality” is, I’ve written a short overview here, and provided some simple pointing out instructions here. Nowadays it’s used as shorthand for a particular approach to spiritual practice that involves orienting to awareness itself, and then trying to live from that place. It’s a good approach, although the downside is every nondual wanker out there seems to think it’s more robust and/or more fundamental that other approaches. So it goes with fundamentalists. This week we take it all with a grain of salt as we “unhook” from thinking – to use the excellent nondual teacher Loch Kelly’sphrase – and drop into the spacious timeless empty original nature of mind with a big wet farty noise. Then we see what happens when we try to maintain this awareness while playing a pitiless game of musical chairs, with cushions, to the thrilling carnival strains of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Taxi. You think I am joking but I am so not.

The Belief Effect

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Belief Effect
MEDITATION: Powers of Ten
INTERACTIVE: How Beliefs Shape Experience

We already did this one and it was awesome. Dug into whatever secret beliefs may be guiding people’s understanding of reality and their place in it, brought them out of the shadowy subconscious and into the light of open-hearted intellectual inquiry, and then replaced them with cardboard cut-outs of the entire cast of Star Trek: New Generation. Man, people were so screwed up!

The Challenge of Feeling

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Challenge of Feeling
MEDITATION: Sensitized

The inner tracking gets juicier this week, more embodied, into the primordial soup of our emotions. Once we see and feel some tough pattern, what then? One way out is through: we open, we accept. In contemplative lingo, we trickle equanimity down into the interstices of our body-mind, making space for things to move. In this gradual way we begin to shift the material, paving the way for new and more adaptive permutations. Then for part two, we’ll get out the art supplies and explore – via our secret projections and half-acknowledged biases – what Carl Jung famously called The Shadow. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows” bwahaahahahhahahahaahahahha!

The Habit of Looking

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Habit of Looking
MEDITATION: Insight into The Inner World

In the beginning, all is dark. We act and we react. The notion that we may have some choice in the matter – that we don’t actually have to go along with our pinball conditioning – never occurs to us. Why should it? But then one day – call it insight – a light goes on. Patterns rise into awareness and we begin to understand the breadth and depth of our previous trance, and the giddy potential of our freedom. The work of a practice begins with looking. This Monday we’ll explore the curious world of thinking, and in part two continue on with a signature CEC social practice: walk stop move start, Devo robot-style electrocutions around the meditation hall, interacting with other humanoids, exploring our activations in real time.

The Trouble with Peak Experiences

TEACHER:  Jeff Warren
THEME: The Trouble with Peak Experiences
MEDITATION: Technology of Bliss
INTERACTIVE: Feeling a bit Peaked

Peak experiences are excellent. I mean, they’re called peak experiences – what do you expect? They’re fun and rapturous and connected and whatever other adjective qualifies as “peak” for you. There’s nothing worse than finger-wagging spiritual scolds telling you practice can’t be exciting. We are all for peak experiences at the CEC. For our main meditation we’ll explore exactly this: the technology of bliss. The “trouble” comes when we start to conflate temporary effects with achievable long-term results. This leads to a classic trap: we end up trying to stabilize a permanent high, getting ever more disappointed at the inevitable comedown. In the interactive practice, we’ll explore what part of our highs we can realistically hold on to, and what parts are best to let come and go.