The Consciousness Explorers Club – October Events
“You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.”
– Jack Engler
The Harvard psychotherapist and early science-of-meditation pioneer Jack Engler wrote those words over 25 years ago now, as an attempt to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable perspectives: Buddhism’s recognition that higher stages of mental and emotional health depend on seeing through and beyond the self, and psychology’s recognition that, actually, establishing a healthy self is an integral part of growth and development. To do the former successfully – to become a healthy nobody – you first have to become a healthy somebody. The meditation scene is littered with “spiritual bypassers” who shoot for transcendence because they can’t handle the world – and the self – they’ve inherited. This isn’t a judgement; people are in pain, and meditation can help with that pain. But it’s important to remember that some of the issues we uncover in practice can’t be healed by meditation only. We need to actively engage with them – to “gouge them out from the multifolded brain like wood lice from under the woodpile” to quote my dead man John Updike. We must do this with bravery and – since you are so freakin’ weird – unbridled hilarity. And please don’t get all Protestant with your judgements around therapy as self-indulgence. The world is filled with dis-regulated neurotic assholes spreading their reactivity and their unconscious idiocy over everything. You work on yourself – meditatively, sometimes therapeutically – so you can be more effective at being with others, at helping others. It’s that simple. Making these kinds of connections is one of the benefits of having a functioning frontal lobe. Wow, that was reactive. So what? I’m the President of neurotic reactivity – I know what I’m talking about. Maybe I need more therapy!
Anyway, psychology, psychotherapy – they’re explorations. They are about discovery and investigation and – particularly when they lean into the social dimension – adventure. So this month, we’re gonna combine the best of both worlds. For the sits, we’ll let our meditative clarity and concentration and equanimity trickle down into the bodymind and works its non-specific magic – softening, metabolizing. And then, for some of the group practices, we’ll actively explore our triggers, and see if we can bring a little more self-awareness and clarity to our reactive pinball-machine lives. To help with this latter, I’m happy to introduce the CEC community to my pal Degan Davis, a Gestalt-trained psychotherapist in downtown Toronto with knack for incisive play. He’ll join us for a couple group practices, as we explore your inner chicken-shit / bully and a bunch of other stuff. All for the low-low-low price of $10! or $20! or $0! (for the brokeees). And speaking of dinero, your generosity IS appreciated when you come to the CEC, as there are real costs for the space and the organization and the teaching.
Other quick announcements:
1. New Meditation School offering. I ended up having to wait list a bunch of folks for my Wednesday night Way of the Consciousness Explorer Meditation School. so I’ve decided to roll out another one, on Thursday afternoons. Full schedule and testimonials and course propaganda here. Starts Thursday October 9th from1pm – 3pm, Kensington Market. 8-weeks. $350. Again, I’m only taking 12 people, so if you want to hold a spot please email me ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. **Future Retreat Survey. Our first CEC Meditate, Celebrate Activate retreat / advance was a big success. We’re planning the next one, maybe over New Year’s eve, with Zen-like clarity in the sparkling northern snow.Would you like that? If you’re the slightest bit interested in doing any kind of retreat with us – any time of year – please take 30 seconds to fill out our survey, so we can figure out when to offer it, and for how long (i.e., weekend, 4 days, one week, etc).
3. Two Retreat Announcements: James’ and my teacher, Shinzen Young, is having his next Niagara Falls meditation retreat from Nov 2nd to Nov 9th. If you feel like going deep and bypassing all your problem forever, well this is a good opportunity to do so. We have scholarships to help young broke folks attend. To register, email Choshin at choshin@bell.
And to all those looking for a winter escape, Octopus Garden super yogi Scott Davis and I have been cooking up a tasty week of meditation and yoga in Mexico from Jan 31st to Feb 7th. We’re calling it Waking Up. The idea is to explore the core principles of contemplative transformation by integrating yoga flows and meditation sits and group practices and lots of beach, surf, sand and flashy Karmic Air Miles Points. Buy a place in Buddhist non-heaven with the rest of the nobodies! Check out the location here. For more information, check out the webpage here. To hold a place, email info@octopusgardenyoga.
TEACHER: Dr James THEME: Gratitude. MEDITATION: As the armies of those we love engirth us, we engirth them, and the margins of our electric bodies blur into a thin, orange feeling of thanksgiving and thanksgetting, warm like the last rays of autumn sun. GROUP PRACTICE: We are going to roll out in small groups, and recount some of the innumerable blessings and countless steps that have carried us to where we are, give reverence that somehow, against all odds, we are deliriously, deliciously alive. Then we’re going to sing.
TEACHERS: Jeff (part 1), Degan (part 2); THEME: My Emotional Body Wants to Run Away and/or Punch you in the Face!; MEDITATION: Down and Dirty with the Emotional Body, Part Un; GROUP PRACTICE: Exploring the Assertiveness Continuum. A big line crosses the room – at one end, passiveness, at the other, aggressiveness. Somewhere in the middle (or maybe it’s orthogonal) is healthy assertiveness. Using various playful social scenarios, we’ll explore how you are an unconscious pinball machine of secret reactivity. Then we introduce you to your unflinching inner
TEACHER: Jeff (part 1), Degan (part 2); THEME: Grrr…. Couple Battle! How to Not Scupper Your Every Kind of Relationship; MEDITATION: Down and Dirty with the Emotional Body, Part Deux; GROUP PRACTICE: In relationship, there are folks who do the walking – sometimes, walking right over you. And there are folks who do the door matting – sometimes, door matting right under you! And then there are folks who walk like an Egyptian. That’s right Bangles fans. For this group practice, we’ll be rocking the meditation hall with the era’s best walking songs, as we explore each others’ passive vs aggressive walking styles, trying them on for size even as we ourselves are sized up. Life is hilarious that I get to do this shit.
Island Bonfire. Our excellent pal Sammity Sam is celebrating his fortieth birthday this week. Sam grew up on Toronto Island so we’re having a blazing bonfire on Ward’s beach this Saturday – Oct 4th, starting at 4pm. Afterwards a bunch of us will probably head out on bikes to explore Nuit Blanche. Join us for any part of it – bring a sweater and something to sip. These bonfires are invigorating – autumn wind cutting across the sand, huge october fire, the open horizon of Lake Ontario. You’ll want to elope from the city and live in a reed shack behind the sand dunes. Facebook invite here.
A final head’s up: we are planning a CEC Halloween Party for Friday October 31st. The Return of Three Wales – the legendary party venue lives on. Mark your calendars.