Relaxing with wakeful attention makes space for what is hiding in plain sight: the natural creativity of mind. Each moment of experience is already a complete display of creativity. Everything that prances across the stage of the mind – thoughts, feelings, stories, perceptions, beliefs, images, memories – is totally, artfully unique to the experiencer.
By Luke Anderson
The tools and practices we employ to help support and promote our well-being, be they musical, meditative, contemplative, creative, active or ingestible, open us to recognize and receive the insights that emerge. Sometimes in surprising ways.
We usually think of concentration like any other skill; we get better at it with practice, by applying more effort. While the former is absolutely true, the latter is not always so, and in fact trying harder to concentrate often leads to more inner turmoil. Like a Chinese finger trap, the more I tried to escape my restless, distractible nature, the more stuck in it I became.
It’s December, our favourite CEC theme: “Fuck it”.
Yes. Rescue me please from my precious pieties and grown-up self-regard.
And all the hand-wringing about “getting it right.” The tut-tutting on meditation postures and the microschools of thought on which subcontinental strand of Buddhism is most pure.
Truly: Fuck it.
That’s why I think the shared sentiment we are sitting with during these strange times isn’t grief, but heartbreak. We haven’t lost anything that was true to begin with, at least for good. Sure, we were infatuated with a future that would never love us back, a past that could never come closer. In our swooning for things that would never be, we scorned a gentler truth: the only love we had ever known, is beating through us and all living things each moment, calling out to us, again and again, like Mary Oliver’s wild geese.
In times of crisis and overwhelm, intentionally paying attention to the small pockets of pleasure or peace in our experience can be immensely sustaining. The practice of appreciation, our CEC theme for October, begins with giving yourself permission to seek out and experience goodness, and then noticing what gifts, however small or subtle, are within your reach at any given time.
By Sarah Barmak
At a time when taking action is so important — marching in the streets, moving funds to grassroots organizations, or mobilizing during an election — what role does sitting in stillness or core contemplative ideas like “acceptance” have to play?
As long as we hold onto our old selves, there is no space for a new one to be born. And this is what it’s all about, letting go and making the space for something more authentic. Instead of exploring and adopting characteristics from the outside world, an existential crisis is an opportunity to explore our inner world.
We triangulate our sense of self, balancing internal self-perception together with our perception of how others regard us. What I am is informed by the network of relationships with everybody else (including the self-looping relationship from myself to myself). This has profound implications for ethics, spiritual practice, and politics.
There is something in us that wants us to be well, and pulls us towards ever greater notions of what wholeness means.
Why would we want to be whole in the first place? Easy. So we can throw a party that includes every single person, no matter who they are, no matter what they look like. We heal because it leads to the most fun.