Erin: Zen traditions embrace doubt and uncertainty as a pathway to insight. As someone who experiences an awful lot of doubt and uncertainty, especially in these bizarro times, I appreciate the idea that not knowing and flailing about unsure and unsteady can actually maybe lead me to stumble upon some greater understanding. Tonight we’ll amplify our confusion with some classic koan bafflements, and see what wisdom emerges.
Jeff: Again and again, meditation teachers talk about the benefits of “popping out of your thoughts” – of panning back to a more spacious perspective, no longer embedded in fatalistic loops of rumination and mood and whatever else. To successfully do this, it helps to understand the terrain of thinking and feeling in the first place. In this guided meditation – one of my favourites – we’ll put on our field naturalist binoculars, and tip toe into the dark forest of the mind, looking and listening for local wildlife. Some the creatures we may encounter: subtle imagery, flickering through the trees. Inner talk – rustling, complaining, maybe helplessly repeating that damn Tik Tok sea shanty (“Soon may the Wellerman come, to bring thumping sounds to our own eardrum!”). Vague atmospheric moods, tingling and contracting through the body’s core. And below it all, the low-level spread of subconscious processing, branching like mycelium networks through the forest floor of the mind. Exploratory good times!
James: Neurobehaviouralists suggest we experience only the surprising. Everything else gets lost into the deep blue of our subconscious mind, with its business ends of icebergs and ridiculous fishes. The connections made there are so beyond comprehension, no number could catch them. You can get a sense of what might remain unseen in at least a couple ways, though. First, reaffirm the surprising. This is what we do when we bring our attention to the moment again; we glance at its newness. It is why in many studies, a meditator’s mind finds the third ring of a bell as exciting (at least on EEG) as the first, when others, by the second, are tuning it out. The second way is to let the sea settle, and watch where the waves break. Why would we want to do that? Well, so we don’t lose energy in squalls we could avoid, so in the sit, we’re going to do that in order, and see if we can surprise ourselves with some smooth sailing.
Luke: There are SOOOOO many interesting references and symbols to inner vision in many ancient civilizations. From the ancient Egyptians and the eye of Horus to the Hindu deities and forehead adornments of the third eye to the many biblical references of the inner eye, there is an interesting reference and reverence to the forehead as being the portal to finding meaning and unlocking answers to life’s mysteries – inner vision. This portal is said to connect to the pineal and pituitary glands of the brain, the pituitary playing a major role in regulating vital body functions and general wellbeing. It is referred to as the body’s ‘master gland’ because it controls the activity of most other hormone-secreting glands. I’m not a medical expert nor am I an academic historian, I’m just a curious consciousness explorer with an interest in delving into meditation practices that have their roots in ancient teachings and wisdom. In this session we will bring our equanimous focus and attention inward and practice concentrating on the light, forms, and colours presenting themselves with our eyes closed. This combined with holding an open receptivity to what is coming up in the body will help us cultivate a hospitable inner environment for knowledge, wisdom, and meaning in our lives to manifest.
Oliver: I’ll just come out and say it: I hate the word concentration. To me it has a kind of furrowed brow, clamp-down quality that actually hindered my early years of meditation practice. Many tight, serious, headache filled sessions later, I came to better understand what my teachers meant when instructing me to “concentrate”. If you’ve studied art, you know that paintings can be analyzed by examining negative space. In music, one can study the silence in between notes. In the same way, this week I want to explore concentration by talking about its opposite and hopefully give a better understanding of what it is by checking out what it’s not.