Meditations Archive

Steal These Meditation Ideas

Part of the CEC’s mission is to inspire people around the world to create their own quirky, self-lead meditation communities. To that end, we’d like to share these short descriptions practices we’ve lead over the years.



Zen and the Artery

THEME: Zen and the Artery
MEDITATION: Straightshot, right to the heart. Direct-pointing – Who am I? Who am I? Who am I ? Wait…who’s asking that question?

So, everyone knows that famous Zen haiku: “There once was a monk from nantucket…”, but did you know that the poem REALLY started in Chan dynasty China, and it was about a monk from what is now northern Nepal?  No you didn’t. I know that ’cause I (James) just made it up.  Anyway, Zen is hard, especially to figure out what the hell they are talking about.  If it is “direct-pointing”, then what is this the finger pointing at-the-moon is not-the-moon bulltweet?  Isn’t it all the finger?  Or is it all the moon? Questionquestionquestion, then…..boom.  A space with none, in which the real answer flowers.  Or so it seems.  And here we go again. This Monday James will share a koan Shinzen gave him months ago that he keeps on getting wrong, then you’ll get your own koan to work on, each small group having their own chance at complete befuddlement I mean enlightenment.

Gettin’ Rigour

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Gettin’ Rigour
MEDITATION: Vipassana-style noting
GROUP PRACTICE: Partner Noting

We start the month with a bit of disciplined practice. Basic insight noting. Object: the breath – a fine object with an auspicious lineage, for under the Bodhi tree the Buddha apparently rode his breath all the way to enlightenment, whatever that means. Of course this was only after a pitched psychic battle with  the armies of Mara – ie. sloth, torpor, itchy neck, BORED – what’s the point?, I wish to sensual pleasure myself, snack attack! ‘OMIGOD is that a butter chicken roti I smell? – but Hindu dietary laws forbid such indulgences, oh vibrating-empty-void-not-remotely-personifed-as-a-God, give me the strength to keep meditating!’ And so he did, and so Mara was vanquished, and forever after the veggie roti became a reliable staple of Indian cuisine. You’re welcome for the history lesson.

Devotion 4: Ye Gods!

TEACHER: Jeff Warren and Avi
THEME: Devotion 4: Ye Gods!
GROUP PRACTICE: Inter-Personal Adventure

Psyched to welcome my new friend  Avi Craimer, a smart and rigorous Toronto-based meditation teacher with an interest in the devotional side of practice. This is rare in the West, where there is much more emphasis on dry “attentional skill” training. Check out Avi’s  fascinating article on five flavours of “bhakti” or devotional love. He carefully charts how devotion-minded practitioners slowly evolve their relationship with God, that is, with reality personified as a divine Other. For the group practice, Avi will guide us in an inter-personal adventure, as we experiment with reframing how we experience each other – not as random schmucks, but as candy-haloed Happyland Olympians. Then we’ll scream AC/DC songs at each other.

This is one of the Dalai Lama’s go to practices. Involves merging with some desired attribute (patience, compassion, etc), or representative of that attribute, until you become the very thing. Speaks to the amazing plasticity of the self-identificatiion process – Tibetan practices in particular help us see that, in a way, we are our own works of art.

Devotion 3: Giving Up

TEACHER: Jeff Warren
THEME: Devotion 3: Giving Up
GROUP PRACTICE: Let’s All Surrender

So much to explore on the interconnected themes of devotion, love and surrender. For the group practice, we’ll go inside using a form of contemplative inquiry designed to activate our intuition-rich anti-search engines. As the cliche goes, this one is about accessing your own inner guru, so you can give him / her all your money and then go down in a blaze of glory when the Texan state troopers bust the compound.

All this time you’ve tried so hard – to be good, to say the right thing, to secure all circumstances, to prove you’re allowed to be here. Well you don’t need to try anymore. In this sit we practice belonging, with one of my favourite meditation techniques: the Zen-inspired 60s Christian mystic remix known as  Centering Prayer

Devotion 2: Kung-Fu Self-Hugging

TEACHER: Jeff and Scott
THEME: Devotion 2: Kung-Fu Self-Hugging or Loving the Entire Vibrating Body Backwards in Stillness and in Motion
MEDITATION: I Love the Feeling of Having a Body

OG’s  Scott Davis will work his yoga magic as we move very slowly and deliberately into accessible and archetypally-charged postures, feeling the wonder and grace of each pose. Man I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but listen, this month is about devotion, there’s no getting around the sincerity piece. All I can say is, when you give yourself to something with openness and, yes, with sincerity, you access places more interesting than the usual arid landscapes of the Age of Irony.

I Love the Feeling of Having a Body, the itchy breathy vibrating pulse of it. The benefits of meditation accelerate NOT when certain experiences happen, but when a certain attitude to all experience happens. In this sit, we practice experiencing all sensations as a kind of intelligent caress