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Monday Night Explorations for July 2017
Start time 7:30pm; address is 967 College, just past Dovercourt at Octopus Garden Yoga.
James: Our body is a mirror. During the early parts of a meditation, it shuffles with our minds. During the middle too. The end. Our body is a lightning rod. Some people say, as soon as it settles into a correct posture, even once, the process of awakening begins, and all you need do is wait. Still other people say “literally”, when they mean “figuratively”. We are going to spend the first part of this sit exploring if, with the right posture help from our good friend Tanya, we let our bodies settle, our minds will hold the direction. In the second half, we are going to try and hold our stillness upright, or with gentle movement, around that invisible, indivisible centre we carry with us wherever we go.
DATE: July 10, 2017
MEDITATION: All systems rest.
INTERACTIVE: Mixtapes vol X
James: Your electric body is infinite in shapes, its movements and sensations almost impossible to track. The membrane of your lungs alone is hundreds of square feet. Your heart to mine, our blood vessels would reach the moon. The button size drums of our ears hear whole symphonies from miles away. The ratio of what we feel to what is occurring is vanishingly small, so what do we find in those blank spaces? Rest. Quiet. Peace. This week, we are going to let those places where things aren’t, dominate our awareness, touch that blank stillness from which symphonies emerge. Then, just because I like to do it, we are going to stretch out on the cold, smooth ground, and let them carry us away.
DATE: July 17
TEACHERS: Erin Oke and Stephanie DeBou
THEME: Go with the Flow
MEDITATION: Movement in stillness
INTERACTIVE: Yoga for meditators
Erin: Our bodies are always in motion on some level. Lungs expand and contract, blood flows, toes tap, eyes twitch…In our sit, we’ll focus on the subtle movements pulsing and vibrating beneath the surface of our seemingly still exteriors.
Stephanie: Not all meditation practice has to happen sitting perfectly still. By focusing your awareness on the breath and the way your body moves, you can reap many of the same rewards that seated meditation provides. In part two we’ll go through a series of gentle yoga postures that help to ready the body, breath and mind for meditation – and provide a meditative experience unto themselves! Be sure to wear comfortable clothes you can move in.
DATE: July 24, 2017
MEDITATION: The Animal Body
INTERACTIVE: The Secret Sense
Jeff: It’s one of meditation secret sauces, a quality that deepens concentration more quickly than any other. Not equanimity, not trust, and not amphetamines (God no, just imagine the hall filled with sounds of obsessive jaw grinding). I’m talking about enjoyment. The capacity to experience sensations a hair above neutrality. This creates a rich feedback loop that potentiates attention. As enjoyment builds, concentration rides along the back of it, the energy of our friendly commitment radiating out into the body-mind, opening space and clearing blockages. It turns out that when it comes to enjoyment, you really can’t get too much of a good thing. This Monday night, we synchronize in simple pleasures. We will all be animals together.
DATE: July 31, 2017
TEACHER: Avi Craimer
MEDITATION: Bubbling Spring
INTERACTIVE: Reflexology Foot Path
Avi: Tonight we’ll explore the wonderful world of feet. Human feet are marvels with huge numbers of nerve endings. This innate sensitivity is mostly deadened by our modern habit of walking in hard soled shoes. In the meditation, we’ll focus our attention at the bubbling spring foot point, which the Taoists believe is the gate for Earth energy to enter the body. Then we’ll walk over the Dufferin Grove park to do a barefoot walking meditation on the fantastic new reflexology footpath (weather permitting).
Everything is Everything
*Image: Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicts four magenta-colored, spherical Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the process of being phagocytized by a blue-colored human white blood cells (WBCs) known specifically as a neutrophil. https://phil.cdc.gov/PHIL_Images/18167/18167_lores.jpg”
Everything is everything.
And is produced everywhere.
That was the question on my final exam for a course I took called “psychneuroendoimmunomodulation” during a brief turn as a physiologist, before becoming an emergency physician. We had two hours to answer.
What we were supposed to describe, with examples, was that no cell’s destiny was certain, that each had in it almost infinite possibility. A cell that coated an axon so an impulse could, in the right environment, become a neutrophil, swimming in our blood, ready to eat a foreign molecule that dared bob by. Or if placed in the pituitary, start secreting growth hormone. Or make a memory. This wasn’t conjecture; experiments clearly proved it. Each tiny part of us could change its use, given the need. The reasons things were arranged as they were was because that’s how they best worked. If a different pattern would serve better, well, each part of our body was prepared for that too.
Whatever the body is. Thankfully that wasn’t on the test, because if psychoneuroendoimmunology taught one thing, it was that such a notion is an ever-shifting target about which nothing can be said in particular. Except for some of the calcium bonds in our teeth, nothing really stays. The physiologists have been busy, and things are getting even weirder. Turns out there are more cells ON our body, bacteria and other living things, than what we would identify AS our body. They’re hanging out, keeping this whole moveable feast going, healing around some invisible centre that knows how to place things, just so. Each day I marvel, for I get a ringside seat to this most beautiful magic show, watching people pull themselves together until the time for pulling is over, and they change into some other form.
Sometimes I’ll help. Pull the skin closer together, use an antibiotic to tip the advantage away from bacteria with their own futures in mind. Often times, though, the disequilibrium a person tries to describe to me is not from their cells’ struggle to hold their place, but from a mind clattering over itself, searching for meaning, while in every pore, the universe blooms steadily anew.
July’s theme is body and we are going to touch the magic we hold by being microscopes unto ourselves. Outside, the weather will be warm, the plants and trees and birds talking to each other, circling the same aliveness our neutrophils are. At first, we’ll just sit in the middle, get our posture right, so we can pay attention, then we will begin exploring the body’s infinite, evolving landscape, in rest, in movement, see if we can get a sense of what it’s like to be everything everywhere.