The Way of the Heart

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Way of the Heart
MEDITATION: Centering Prayer

I expect this one will cause some reactivity. Many of us are fine exploring exotic Eastern practices, but mention the G word – mention prayer, mention Christ –  hoooweeee, out comes a lifetime of secular conditioning and judgment. BORING. Do you really think Indians have cornered the market on the appreciation of Being? Westerners exist too, and so did our ancestors, although they expressed their tenderness and gratitude for this state of affairs in a slightly different way. They personified it. They called it God. And guess what? It turns out that if you treat reality as something friendly and intelligent you find friendliness and intelligence directed back at you. Don’t take my word for it – go find out for yourself. In this exploration we pray – we ask – we reach a hand out and into the cosmos and … guess what? God gives high-fives.

The Direct Path

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Direct Path
MEDITATION: Self-Inquiry

Time for a trip to Hindustan. For this Advaita Vedanta-inspired practice, we send our attention backwards in an exhilarating and probably frustrating and ultimately fruitless search for yourself, or your small self anyway. Past all the schemes and tics of your personality – all that activity – what endures? Buddhists say no-self; Hindus say True Self; greedy New Age capitalists with proprietary spiritual technologies and kickass promotional DVDs say: great wealth. THEN, for the Group Practice: “Who are you?” asks your partner, again and again, as you babble off one answer after another, clearing the house, emptying the furniture, so all that’s left are a few dust bunnies and a single desiccated muffin circa 1997. Banana nut!

The Way of Sensory Experience

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Way of Sensory Experience
MEDITATION: Just Note Gone
GROUP PRACTICE: Partner Noting

OK so we’ll start this wake-up series with an old school Theravada innovation: the intent noticing of sensation. This is the classic Buddhist path of insight; it involves penetrating our immediate experience with so much clarity and equanimity that eventually we notice the ground beneath (and all-through) that experience. Shinzen’s contemporary spin on this is to deliberately focus on endings – as the man says, “just note gone.” Where do sensations go, when they go? Where do they go to? What the heck is that luminous vibrating void chewing up my reality, and can I use it to trim my out-of-control nose hairs?

Solid Ground

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Solid Ground
MEDITATION: Vase Breathing
GROUP PRACTICE: The Silent Partner

Yeah, space is fun, but sometimes you need to double-down with your feet on the ground. In the main meditation we’ll explore a Tibetan practice called “Vase Breathing” that will turn you into an immovable object. For the group practice, we’ll continue the theme of body trust. By way of context, sometimes I watch little kids hang out and it blows my mind. They hardly say anything, but they manage to communicate all kinds of weird 3-year old shit about the chunks of reality that fascinate them. How do they do it? For this group practice we’ll explore conversing without words. No furious rumination – just initiate a random strategy and see what happens. Obviously you are encouraged to make low-frequency keening noises and undulate on the floor like a worm should the urge express itself. Thanks to Malcolm for the idea.

We Live in the Space Age

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: We Live in the Space Age
MEDITATION: Sound and Space
GROUP PRACTICE: The Space Between Us

OK so first we stabilize the body, then we’ll send our minds out into the audioscape of College street, past the traffic and the streetcars to the boundary-tingling outer limits. For group practice we’ll continue last week’s theme of social edges and explore the space between us. Our bodies are wrapped in a tingling layer of awareness, a different radius for everyone. When do you sense the Other? How close is too close, and how do those limits change?

Hey Bag Head! What’s my Body’s Language?

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Hey Bag Head! What’s my Body’s Language?
GROUP PRACTICE: Most of us walk around with no sense whatsoever of the chemical energetic signature we’ve giving off.

So let’s find out. What do people notice about you, and you about them? Can you play with that signal? Maybe there are clues in the body. For this one I would like people to put bags over their heads so no one can tell who is who. Then we’ll walk around without speaking and see what our bodies say to each other. It will be fun. I’ll play a waltz. Bring a bag, with air holes. Seriously.

The Beat that My Heart Skipped

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and James
THEME: The Beat that My Heart Skipped
MEDITATION: Feelings and Sounds
GROUP PRACTICE: James is putting together a mini-DJ set for this one

We’ll work with different sounds and tones and tunes and see if we can notice how they impact our inner-verse, how we are played by the music even as we play the music. Shinzen calls this “trigger practice.” We call it listening to a good mixed tape with a bunch of neurotically observant meditator pals.

The Arrow and the River

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: The Arrow and the River
MEDITATION: Old School Vipassana Noting, with two main flavors: contentment and agitation;

Been meaning to bring back this popular social technique for a while. Partner noting ping-pong style, we’ll scour our insides and afterward have a group powwow about the possible differences between stressful agitation and healthy motivation.

Being Awesome

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
: Being Awesome
MEDITATION: The Grounded Body
GROUP PRACTICE: I am The Shit practice

Basically we’ll get into small groups and interact and, as we do, each of us tries heartbreakingly hard to be and act in a way that we imagine our best selves to be. We make it really obvious to ourselves, which is kind of hilarious, and then we talk about what we learned and why the other person’s best self was less good. And then we’ll fight and notice our manic grandiosity and whoever gets the conch is the next President.

Damn you technology!

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
: Damn you technology!
MEDITATION: Noticing the compulsive push and pull;
GROUP PRACTICE: Cell phone meditation on the absolute need to check your damn email and your text messages.

Honourary Buddhist Louis C.K. absolutely nailed it. So on this particular Monday you get to bring your phone and go ballistic consulting every platform except this time you’ll do it mindfully and we’ll see what we see and talk about it. I did this once at a talk and it was fun.