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?

Read More

The Body Speaks (and sometimes kicks)

Summer is finally here and for many, that means getting outside for movement, play and social time. The last thing you may find yourself wanting to do is to sit still on your cushion in your usual meditation spot. Sunny skies beckon, and I know I’d rather be in the pool, at the park doing yoga, or napping with a warm summer breeze. Summertime brings on a whole host of challenges to maintaining a meditation practice. So how does one drag themselves to the meditation cushion when clearly there are so many enjoyable things we could be doing?

Read More

What’s the sound of one foot out the door?

A common strategy for many of us in everyday life is to keep our emotions veiled, private even to ourselves. As explorers, we dig in. We create the conditions for feelings to emerge, by aligning our hearts and minds to what beats through us.  With practice, we thread the arrow of our attention into that place where all maps meet: our living heart, and the river that rushes through it.

Read More

The Art of (no)Self-Expression

In putting the Art before the Artist, Art becomes something that happens through us, rather than from us.  And then role of the ‘Artist’ becomes, perhaps, to merely get out of the way, making ourselves available to be used by muse,  genius, daemon… by Art, manifesting something unique that illuminates true nature for the benefit of all beings.

Read More

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.

Read More

The Forest and the Trees

In practice we have the opportunity to explore what works for each of us as individuals to build and stabilize concentration in practice and in life. Do you get fascinated by the whole forest of experience, or absorbed by the minutia of a single tree? Do you prefer to focus on the deep places inside yourself, or fix your gaze on a flickering flame, tune your ear to the birdsong outside? What are you interested in, pleased by, served by? Follow that. It’s hard to get any kind of traction in meditation without concentration of some kind, so let’s focus, people!

Read More

What Remains

We practice letting go so there’s room enough for what matters most. In our CEC hive-mind, letting go forms an essential part of a practice, a necessary antipode to the striving, the claiming, the aspirational special states like the one where you might glimpse, just briefly, if you stare into a bright light long enough, a universe kept afoot by a platoon of microscopic capuchin monkeys.

Read More

Rock and Roll as Path

JAMES: So we decided December is about rock’n’roll?

JEFF: It’s the perfect way to end the year

ERIN: Can we smash guitars?

Read More

The G-Word

At CEC, we’ve been working towards developing and embodying a pluralistic and inclusive model of spiritual practice. Our grand vision is to offer a place where all spiritual practices are welcomed in a big tent of exploration, dialogue and cross-pollination. Yet, we’ve struggled to integrate one prominent feature of many spiritual traditions: namely God. (shudder)

Read More