Upwelling

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Upwelling
MEDITATION: Transverberation
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: Gratitude Letter

In the autobiography of 16th century Saint Teresa of Avila, a cherub flies through the window of her convent and jabs a blazing spear into her heart. This  “transverberation” – a superb word that must be resuscitated – apparently ushered in a new state of mystical consciousness for Teresa, and went on to inspire generations of self-sacrificing, God-loving Catholic party animals (if by “party” you mean founding convents, and by “animal” you mean founding convents). This Monday evening, we’ll dodge the cherub but explore the real heart of the experience: total body surrender. Because it turns out when you open yourself wide enough, reality comes transverberating through. Then, for part two, we’ll investigate a sweet little Positive Psychology practice called the Gratitude Letter, briefly described by Martin Seligman here.

Intentionality

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Christine Pountney
THEME: Intentionality
MEDITATION: Setting Our Own Agenda
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: Layers of Intention, Layers of Self

There are many mysteries in consciousness. One of them has to do with the curious power of our intentions to frame and order our experience. Intentions run like underground rivers through our lives; they determine, to a surprising degree, where and how we flow. And yet, for many of us, these intentions are completely unconscious. We aren’t taught to clearly articulate how we want to be, and where we want to go. This Monday, in preparation for the New Year, we’ll do two things. 1: We’ll explore the different layers of who we are and how the different parts of us may be clamouring for different things. And then, hopefully a little wiser (and more integrated), we’ll 2: create an intention-setting ceremony to raise our underground rivers into the light of day.

Giving

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Giving
MEDITATION: Silent Illumination
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: The Natural Generosity of Presence

The television told me the holidays are a time of giving; who am I to argue? There are at least two interesting and related questions here. The first: what do we want to give? I mean, beyond the stocking stuffers and the Chapters-Indigo Gift Certificates, what non-material thing do we want to give to the people in our lives and, perhaps, the people beyond them? And a second question: what do we need in order to be able to give these things? Obviously we’re not just talking about coupons and bank balances here. Today we explore our inner resources – presence, not presents.

Balance

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Balance
MEDITATION: The Seven Factors of Enlightenment
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: Mapping a Balanced Practice, Part 2

The first Monday of every month we explicitly explore challenges and questions related to practice and meditation. This Monday we’ll begin with a guided tour through the qualities known as the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Although they sound grandiose, all of us have experienced each of these qualities in different ways at different times. We’ll tick along the spiritual express lane and then, for part two, get out the arts and crafts and each create a customized map of our consciousness – of what it feels like when we’re both beautifully steady, and tottering recklessly over life’s drinks table.

Technology and Attention

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Technology and Attention
MEDITATION: Getting Still
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: Addicted to Dopamine

OK so for this evening and for this evening only everyone is encouraged to have their technology switched on, we are figuratively sponsored by Apple here, by all the great tech providers in the sky. We’ll start the evening by getting relatively still in meditation – working with space and stillness – and then for part two, our inner resolution boosted, we’re going to continue our monthly exploration of trance, this time with our own personal hypnosis devices aka oursmartphones. Have you ever really paid attention to inside experience of texting and emailing and surfing? That’s what we’ll do here. Surf the dopamine hits. And maybe get a little insight about the compulsive nature of our collective tech-habit.

Harmony and Connection

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Kevin Lacroix
THEME: Harmony and Connection
MEDITATION: A Heart so Wide and Soft
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: The Mindful Math of Overtones and Polyrhythm

“Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. If you are standing by the road and a large truck goes by, do you hear or feel the vibration?” – Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussionist. Everything is an Oscillator, from violin string to hydrogen atom to … you. Or at least you’ll become one this Monday. Overtone singing is a technique whereby we ‘mask’ the fundamental note and amplify the higher harmonics. In doing so, we not only get to hear the natural math of the harmonic series, we may also get to observe how different frequencies vibrate different parts of our bodies in different ways (sinuses, ears, cheekbones, skulls). All this while creating a crazy-huge group swirly alien-cicada song. Ka-pow! Then, once we’re high on oxytocin and endorphins from the singing, we’ll ground and groove ourselves in rhythm and polyrhythm. As with the other basic musical elements of melody and harmony, there is a math to rhythm. But the math is just a matrix… and we all know how trippy things get in the Matrix.

And We Will All Be Fools Together

TEACHER: Jeff
THEME: And We Will All Be Fools Together
MEDITATION: The Parable of Eddie
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: Embarrassing Moment Teaching Stories

For the meditation we will internalize, literally, the parable of Eddie – little Eddie in a stream, who learned to become free by unseizuring his guts and allowing the water of life (life is a river!) to come flowing through. Then, in the interactive piece, we’ll each attempt to write an embarrassing personal story parable, where, at some point in our life, a glorious ass of ourselves we didst make. A few of us will then share our parables, in grand oratory style, turning our misfortune into a comic teaching story for all.

Always Negotiating

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Always Negotiating
MEDITATION: Noticing the Push and Pull
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: A Safe Space

Buddhist call it vedana. The subtle push or pull on sensations, on our general lack of neutrality. We are always negotiating: ‘I like this, I don’t like that,’ etc, ad infinitum. Gumming up the machinery with our preferences, our biases. So much energy expended to maintain our version of things. For this meditation, we’ll try to sneak up on our tireless vedana and explore what happens when we risk living, for a short period, without preference. Then for the interactive practice, we continue with our monthly series ‘WTF: Exploring Meditation Questions and Challenges.’ This week our topic is what it means to maintain a safe and inclusive community space. Not hilarious – it’s true – but important.

Empathy vs Compassion

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Empathy vs Compassion
MEDITATION: Loving-kindness, Remixed
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: A Kind of Rapture

In the mid-90-s the American photographer Robert Bergman travelled through America’s Rust Belt and took a series of stunning photos of ordinary people in extraordinary states of openness and suffering. Bergman’s book – A Kind of Rapture – will be our departure point for exploring the experiential differences between empathy and compassion.

Shake ‘n Bake

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Shake ‘n Bake
MEDITATION: Special Secret Surprise
INTERACTIVE PRACTICE: WTF: Exploring Meditation Questions and Challenges.

Fresh from our CEC retreat (happening this coming weekend – last chance!), our first practice of the month will be decided extemporaneously, something exactly suited to the moment to prepare the whole giddy posse for our monthly salon-slash-exploration of all the ways meditation makes us, breaks us, and Kraft Shake ‘n Bake’s™ us, to use an exactly unsuitable metaphor.