Caitlin: Do you sometimes feel like your mind-body experience is a chaotic circus scene with multi-colored elephants parading around underneath clowns walking tightropes pushing screeching monkeys in wheelbarrows, all preventing you from deciphering the very important message your friend is trying to deliver – or is that just me? Focusing is a step-by-step meditative practice that help us access intuition and clarity around the confounding situations that sometimes arise in our lives. By tuning into our bodies and getting in touch with the felt sense of a situation, we can tap into the wisdom and innate sense of knowing that live deep within our experience. Instead of being swept up in the circus, focusing can help us become the circus master.
Jeff: In this first Monday of the month, we’ll set the stage with a classic bit of Hindu Vedanta-inspired self-inquiry. This particular version of the practice comes by way of my colleague Vince Horn, who runs the Buddhist Geeks podcast and offers many excellent courses with his partner Emily Horn over at meditate.io. Instead of asking “Who am I?”, we make it less personal, and ask “What IS this?” – as in, what is this whole existential boondoggle that we find ourselves running around inside? Not because we’re hoping to find an intellectual answer, but rather, because in the asking, we may find a new freshness and immediacy in our being here at all.
Jeff: For part one, we continue exploring concentration, this time with a master of concentration – my wife, Sarah Barmak! Every morning she makes me look bad by dropping into bliss-saturated samadhi stillness while I roll around on the floor doing my special “meditation” body exercises. How did she get so good? She followed Culadasa’s excellent Mind Illuminated protocol, that’s how. Join us for a trip into the depths.
Jeff: Concentration is the foundation of meditation. You could make the argument it’s the foundation of every spiritual and personal growth practice, since the world unfolds along the grain of our commitments . They key to getting this started is interest , and what is interesting to one person may not be interesting to another. Thus, in our Part 1 meditation, we explore multiple points of entry: from body to sound to breath, in stillness and in movement. Preview here.
Erin: To kick off the month, we’ll explore divergent directions of concentration practice, honing in on a narrow object of focus then zooming out to pay attention to the entirety of experience, and seeing how they contrast and complement one another.