Being Human Takes Practice

The Consciousness Explorers Club is reinventing the community meditation experience. We explore together every Monday night in Toronto, and record audio for those who can’t make it in person.

A wise teacher, and a wise centre, needs to offer a whole range of skillful practices, because people come along at different stages of their inner development, with different temperaments, and with different sets of problems.” -Jack Kornfield

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Embracing this new story, imagining I could believe it and hold it as tightly as the previous one, I tasted a new freedom emerging, exciting and inspiring. Coming out of that retreat, the barrier of fear I’d long held between me and my loved ones began to melt away. Because stories can be generative too. Healing. There’a whole school of therapy dedicated to reclaiming and rewriting one’s narrative. My inner narrator has always been busy, constantly describing what I’m doing, making sense of what I’m seeing, telling tales (mostly cautionary!) about my past and my future. One of the great gifts that insight meditation has given me is the ability to turn my attention towards this narrative voice, recognize when it’s offering a limiting perspective based on fear and trauma, and then gently guide it in a more generous direction.

Becoming Trees

I looked at trees and was struck by their openness and patience.  I thought about how impatient I was with my own process. I wanted to change and grow, and I wanted it quickly.  I wanted to escape my suffering ASAP. Appreciating how a tree grows, I saw myself in a new light.  You can’t make a tree grow any faster than it naturally does.  You can’t yank on a branch or a leaf to try to speed it up. If you want a tree to grow at its fastest rate, all you can do it give it the proper conditions for it to thrive.  Good soil, sun, water, and air. So what were the conditions I needed to grow?

What is "Practice," Anyway?

Suddenly, we exist. Existing is complicated. We turn to practice. As we love to say at the CEC, being human takes practice. But what is a practice? The simplest definition of practice is some action – mental, emotional, physical, social – that you choose and repeat, so that it can become a habit. It is the deliberate cultivation of habits. Contemplative practices are practices that rehearse how you want to exist and relate to yourself and others.

Spiritual Terrains and Challenges

This primer is about the broadest possible classes of meditation and spiritual experience. It’s a work-in-progress. Every time I come back, I find myself cutting more details, for they seem like technique-specific effects, and not the human universals I once imagined. So it goes. In a couple years there may be nothing here at all.

Pluralism as Path

Almost any domain or activity in life can be approached as an intentional practice, and the people who specialize in these domains have learned important things about being human. How can we draw this wisdom out? Introducing the Consciousness Explorers Club's new pluralistic practice paradigm :)

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