When what we usually consider to be ourselves (our self-referential thinking) is rendered ‘insignificant’, we taste a brief moment of just being. Not just in nature, but as Nature. The distinction between us and nature collapses. Maybe this transcendent experience frees us to merge with the beauty that floods our sensory awareness. To be reunited with the larger, indivisible nature seems to bring a sense of relief.
Often in life I’ve been too ADD to meditate in the usual seated way – too jumpy, too agitated, too busy-brained. When this happens, I’ve learned to turn to these sorts of active absorption practices. This is a path of concentration, but not the Buddhist kind, or not exactly. More the athlete’s or the artist’s kind. Its external form may look like going for a run, or drawing on a canvas, or even moving the vacuum around the house.
I sat. I learned some stuff. How to turn towards those feelings I’d been pushing away, that my emotions were only an aspect of a larger experience, and that nothing, even the hardest feels, lasted forever. These new ways of noticing gave me space where once there was none. It went on like this for years, incremental bits of breathing room that kept me alive. Then something strange happened.
“That the world is loveless results directly from the repression of beauty, its beauty and our sensitivity to beauty. For love to return to the world, beauty must first return, else we love the world only as a moral duty: Clean it up, preserve its nature, exploit it less.”-James Hillman In Douglas Rushkoff’s newest book, Team Human, … Continued
We make choices all day long to either stick with a plan, a decision, a career, a person…or Surrender, and let go of the control. See how your day unfolds when you aren’t attached to a particular outcome. Trust comes in here, in a big way. Trust that your best intentions are being served, even when you’re not in charge of every decision. Step outside of being your own micro-manager of every minute and every hour. Surrender and see what presents itself. And if you have trouble doing that, I’ll lend you my daughter for a day…
How do we begin again?
According to Therese, we have no choice. We just do, because that’s where the cycle takes us, again and again, a part of nature. Take the breath, she said. Every inhale a creation, an entire life. And every exhale a destruction, a little death. And between … something unknowable.
Could I welcome my lows the way I welcomed the out-breath? Could I experience them as nourishment for the next upward movement, the seed of something new inside each ending?
Could I get better at dying?
“You are an alchemist; make gold of that.” ~William Shakespeare Alchemy was popular in Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries. While many today believe it to be a superstitious attempt to transform lead into gold, in reality it was as much an art of inner transformation as it was the precursor of modern chemistry. … Continued
“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.” ― Shunryu Suzuki Happy new year, we say, as the earth, at a hundred thousand miles an hour, whips a full ellipse around the sun. Happy new day, headlines claim, in whatever side sees the starshine and billions … Continued
We end our year by stumbling down the Path of Rock’n’Roll. Loud, messy, unapologetic…this particular path, a CEC favourite, leads us towards a freedom that comes from gleefully subverting societal expectations and embracing ridiculous, transformative, transcendent expressions. We crowd-sourced the newsletter to form a collage of inspiration culled from the rock’n’roll souls of various CEC teachers and facilitators. Here’s what this rocky path means to us
As we practice, we gradually discover what this core orientation is for us. It need not be simple, it can be multifaceted and hard to pin down. In the yoga tradition, this ideal is known as the Ishta Devata, the desired/chosen deity. For atheists, this doesn’t have to be thought of as anything supernatural, it can be anything you personally see as having ultimate value. It might be the pursuit of truth through rigorous skeptical inquiry, the promotion of human flourishing, or the cultivation of beauty through art.
As we come into relationship with an ideal through our practice, we may find that it is not simply a goal to be attained but also something we love for its own sake. That love for one’s ideal can be transformative in itself. In the yogic tradition, the love a seeker feels for their ideal is called bhakti, which is translated at devotion. Bhakti/devotion is a special kind of a love directed not toward mundane pursuits and ordinary relationships, but instead toward something higher, whatever that might be for you.