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.
“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.