About The CEC
To make meditation and personal growth practices fun and relevant and accessible to all.
We do this both locally – at our weekly Monday night exploration in Toronto – and globally, via articles and guided meditations and community support materials on our website. We also offer workshops and courses throughout the year, and in the late summer we host a popular meditation retreat – a four-day smorgasbord of existential eyes-closed asswhoopery, as the Buddha himself once said, after a particularly invigorating meditation party in the forest.
The CEC is a registered not-for-profit that survives on the hard work and commitment of mostly volunteers. To help us keep doing what we do, check out our Patreon page.
A New Model
The Consciousness Explorers Club offers a fresh model of meditation practice, personal growth, and community connection. The idea is once a week – whoever you are and whatever your income – you can join us on a Monday night, and learn more about the challenges and gifts of being human. Each week, one of our facilitators offers an original guided meditation for part one, and an inventive interactive or group practice for part two.
Everything human can be a theme: insight, creativity, boundaries, emotions, world-views, relationships, work, service, movement, body, art, parenting, responsibility, and on and on – you name it, we explore it. In terms of the practices themselves, many of the meditations we guide are inspired by Buddhist and mindfulness practices, but we also sample from other traditions, and we spend a lot of time designing and creating our own practices. This pluralism and creativity are two of our most passionate values, along with the importance of being your own teacher – for only you can truly understand the quirks of your unique mind and body.
For part two, we take the themes and insights explored in part one, and apply them to how we live and interact with each other. This can take many forms, from art practice to small group discussion, from movement and music practice to mini-contemplations. Each week is curated in a different way, so it’s always a surprise. We also invite guest teachers. We’ve had Gestalt therapists, voice coaches, movement and trauma specialists, nondual teachers, professional photographers and many more. The possibilities are endless – and thrilling! The idea is not only to experience different meditation techniques and therapeutic/contemplative modalities, but also to explore and discuss together how they seem to work, and how the insights they bring might be applied to our lives.
We do all this in an open and non-dogmatic way, always circling back to the idea of community as teacher. We are here to learn from each other, to share our various neurotic life strategies in a safe space, so we can then laugh uproariously at them together, in a spirit of dumbfounded incredulity.
CEC Core Values
Service. The practices we explore at CEC have many different intentions – some promote insight, some creativity, some compassion, some focus – the list goes on. Ultimately, we are interested in helping people figure out what intentions they want to cultivate, towards themselves, towards their relationships, towards the world itself. That’s our main service. We are still trying to figure out how to talk about “service” in a way that isn’t creepy or annoying.
Pluralism. The CEC is quality-controlled spiritual pluralism. We honour the traditions and techniques we explore, and we also try to tease out implicit assumptions and interpretations, including our own. Guidance is usually based on the clear language of inner and outer experience: sights and images, inner and outer sounds, feelings and intuitions, imagination and sensation. We are inspired in this approach by teacher/mentor Shinzen Young, whose Unified Mindfulness system, scientific rigour, and ability to draw cross-cultural connections between contemplative practices have been a great influence on the teaching style at CEC.
Honesty. We often say “the community is the teacher.” It means that insofar as you can be honest about your actual experience – your insight, your challenge, your imperfection – then you create the possibility that someone who’s listening can learn from your honesty, can learn something they didn’t know about themselves.
Exploration. Exploring is the fucking best. It redeems restlessness. What is over that next hill? Only one way to find out. The mind’s terrain – like the heart’s – is filled with weird adventures. Also long boring stretches of highway where nothing seems to be happening and we wish – pray – for a meteor to blow up a gas station. In other words, we like to explore consciousness, and we like to explore how to be more conscious in life.
Jackassery. We would have liked to put “irreverence” here, but sometimes it just isn’t that smart. What this really means is we occasionally realize how ridiculous existence is – including ourselves – and at these times we try to practice not caring, although actually we DO care, because we’re insecure social primates and we secretly wish to be accepted by our peers.
Creativity. The CEC is a laboratory for generating new meditation slants and – we hope – relevant social practices. Many of us are arts professionals, so we try to apply the creative practices and insights of writing, theatre, film, visual arts, photography, philosophy, psychotherapy and humanism in general to the fields of inner experience and personal growth. This also means that sometimes our stuff is rubbish. Welcome to creativity!
Safety and Inclusivity. The CEC is committed to providing an environment free from bigotry, discrimination, coercion, and harassment of all kinds. We aim to be a community of mutual respect and support, and are operating from the belief that living mindfully includes fostering an awareness that our interactions with each other are shaped by the biases and inequalities within our society. We welcome your feedback on incidents that you have observed or experienced involving CEC teachers and fellow meditators, as well as insights about effective ways we could respond. Anyone with a concern or a grievance is encouraged to talk to one of the CEC facilitators.
Acknowledgement and Gratitude. The CEC was born in Kensington Market, Toronto, Canada, which is traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabek, the Haudenosaunee, the Mississauga Nation and the Wendat peoples, and is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit. We are grateful to those communities for the ongoing stewardship of this land and for the Indigenous contemplative traditions that inspire us. We are committed to using our mindful awareness to engage in the process of truth, justice and reconciliation for Indigenous people.
We also offer our gratitude and appreciation for the Asian cultures and lineages that form the foundation for much of contemporary mindfulness practice. We acknowledge the harm of cultural appropriation, and the painful legacy of dominant cultures indiscriminately taking what they’ve wanted from other cultures. We hope to mitigate some of this suffering by practicing appreciation instead of appropriation, by acknowledging our influences, and offering respect to the contexts from which they emerged.