Tasha: A flash of insight can rock our worldview and knock us into wakefulness, but like a profound dream (or film, or acid trip) the insight soon fades and we’re back in our old patterns, chasing a memory of clarity. It’s not difficult to touch the profound, but it is difficult to sustain our contact with it. The practice of shamatha develops a serene, steady, and penetrating mind that can steep in it’s insights effortlessly. It’s said that insight is like the flame of a lamp and shamatha is the glass windscreen around it. Without the flame, we can’t see, but without the steadying protection of the screen, our insight soon flickers and is blown out. In this particular practice we “touch earth and sky”, building those qualities of mind from the ground up – from relaxation, through to stability, and into the vividness of sky-like attention; the space where insights flourish.
Steph: In the Yogic Tradition (and many other lineages) everything is connected to the seasons, even the breath cycle. It is said, IN breath = the arrival of life with Spring. Breath all the way in = the fullness of Summer. OUT breath = breath gently falling away like the leaves of Autumn. Breath all the way out = the stillness of wintertime – the great pause that can sometimes feel like an eternity before the breath comes in again, and with it the nourishment, revival, and hope of Spring and a brand new breath. In tonight’s meditation we will dive deep into our breath cycle, a classic concentration meditation technique, but take it even further into the wintertime of our breath.
Jude: Lately I’ve been realizing that one of the most important aspects of meditation is learning the ins and outs of our own unique nervous system. My own system has an ever present buzz, a feeling that there’s some problem somewhere that needs fixing, and every time I’d sit down to meditate my mind would race in an attempt to locate the problem and find it’s resolution. Spoiler alert: there’s not always a resolution. So instead of trying to fix every imperfection, in this practice we are going to find ways to assure our nervous system that we can take a break from whatever it thinks is wrong and give it permission to get settled, dropping deeper into presence and finding the peace that resides there.
Kevin: Three umpires are kicking back after working a long game, discussing how they make calls. The first ump says “I call them as I seem ‘em.” The second umpire responded “I call them as they are.” To which the third umpire says ‘They ain’t nothin’ until I call them’. In this final CEC of 2020, we throw off the umpire’s mask, hold our calls, and kick back in the luxurious nothingness which, as it turns out, consists in everything.
Erin: Tonight’s the longest one of the year, the Winter Solstice. In my beloved neighbourhood Kensington Market, it’s usually the time of a huge festival of lights celebration, where we take to the streets with homemade lanterns blazing and dance around a massive bonfire. Good times. But this year, well, Covid, so we’ll have to take the celebration off the streets and into our hearts. In tonight’s meditation, we’ll stare into the fire and see what stares back. Then we’ll send all that we wish to let go of into the flames.