“The next Buddha is community” – Thich Nhat Hahn Can the world be saved? I’m split. One half of me is a realist and thus agnostic. This part sees God and the Devil, neck-to-neck. The Devil surges ahead – DT rolls back environmental regulations, mental illness spikes among teens, wildfires blaze across the West coast – … Continued
We just finished version 2.0 of our CEC Community Practice Activation Kit available for free here. The idea of this kit is to inspire people around the world to start up their own community practice groups, in a way that’s unique to them and uniquely responsive to their local needs and context.
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.
By Jude Star
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?
By Stephanie DeBou
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?
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.
By Kevin Lacroix
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.
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.
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!
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.