Being Human Takes Practice

The Consciousness Explorers Club is reinventing the community meditation experience. We explore together every Monday night, share audio of our meditations and our thoughts about practice, and support CEC-inspired local groups around the world.

A wise teacher, and a wise centre, needs to offer a whole range of skillful practices, because people come along at different stages of their inner development, with different temperaments, and with different sets of problems.” -Jack Kornfield

Featured Articles

Freedom from the Future

My meditation and mindfulness practice has given me this freedom from the idea that I need some perfect thing in the future to be happy.  I still want to have more impact on the world, I still want to live somewhere beautiful surrounded by people I love, I still want that partner that really gets me… but I no longer let these things distract me from the beauty of today.

Islands of Misfit Selves

There are times when it feels isolating and crazy making to be alone, to be myself, but there are also times where it feels grounding, stable, and secure. There are times where it feels suffocating and horrifying to be connected to everything around me, but there are also times where it feels awe-inspiring and reassuring. There are times where either experience can feel both good and bad, perfect and unbearable, at exactly the same time. The experience of reality always seems to exceed our conceptions of it. The world overflows us.

The Pursuit of Pleasure

A meditative practice invites us to get intimate with the self, with our desires (attachments) and our aversions. Any transformation starts with awareness. My meditation practice highlighted what I was chasing, and what I was avoiding. From that awareness, actions to make changes ensued. And they weren’t small ones. I changed my job and the whole industry I worked in. I forewent being in a relationship with someone else to exploring a relationship (intentionally so) with myself. My circle of friends began to change. I changed my diet. I changed my relationship with alcohol and caffeine. My time on the cushion illuminated where I was attaching value to pleasure, and where that pursuit was still coming up short. Contrary to being on a path to contentment and fulfillment, my relentless pursuit of pleasure was in fact what was preventing me from finding it at all.

Embodying Trees

As I sat in a small group of fellow meditators, I began to imagine each point of the posture as a feature of a tree: the base of my posture, my crossed legs, was the earth; my rooted tailbone was the roots of the tree; my balanced centre the trunk; my open heart the branches; and my crown the crown of the tree, lifted and tilted slightly forward, like a leaf on its petiole. It didn’t map perfectly, of course, but it worked for me, enabling me to feel grounded in my body, grounded in the earth. I imagined the mycelial network that connects each tree to its neighbour through the teeming earth connecting me to my fellow meditators, invisible threads providing what each of us needed in that moment, like mycelia move nutrients through the soil. I felt a kind of joy that I hadn’t felt in years, a sense of belonging to the earth, of being part of nature. I won’t claim the joy has persisted, exactly, but it opened a door for me that has stayed open, just a crack, even if I’m usually stuck on the other side.

Community Practice Activation Kit

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.

What is "Practice," Anyway?

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.

Spiritual Terrains and Challenges

This primer is about the broadest possible classes of meditation and spiritual experience. It’s a work-in-progress. Every time I come back, I find myself cutting more details, for they seem like technique-specific effects, and not the human universals I once imagined. So it goes. In a couple years there may be nothing here at all.

Pluralism as Path

Almost any domain or activity in life can be approached as an intentional practice, and the people who specialize in these domains have learned important things about being human. How can we draw this wisdom out? Introducing the Consciousness Explorers Club's new pluralistic practice paradigm :)

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