Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Next Offerings in the School for Contemplative Practices

I am working on lining up next presenters for the Saturday sessions and came across a series of books from a publisher called Skylight Paths.  They have a series of books about various practices and it has expanded my vision… no maybe more like exploded my vision of what we might be doing.  There are a dozen different practices I never even thought of.  Running as a spiritual practice… fasting… use of herbs… bowing… loving-kindness… forgiveness… hospitality… haiku… dance… the list goes on and on.

In addition, we have in our group someone with experience with a form of divination using tarot cards and I have some experience with the I Ching.  There are many many options of where we can go.  I have an investment in this developing along whatever lines we choose collectively.  I am following up leads on Lectio Divina and Yoga as a Spiritual Practice but I want to be sure I am leading where folks want to go.

So, question #1, “What practices are you most interested in learning about?”  And question #2, “What practices are you interested in teaching to the others in the School?”

One last consideration for the moment:  I think Jon Yaffe made a good effort to get us talking to each other about our experience with meditation but I found myself curious about why we were each there and where we are coming from.  So my inclination is to do the next session on Contemplative Prayer as that is something that I feel confident to teach.  I would like to use that topic as a way to help us get to know each other better.  Less teaching… more discussion. Give me some feedback on that idea.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

First offering from the School for Contemplative Practices

Everyone seemed pleased with the first offering of the School for Contemplative Practices.  Jon Yaffe led us through an overview of the principles of Buddhism and then into a couple of periods of meditation, one a guided meditation about impermanence, and then later into a period of silent meditation.

Some left before the light lunch of soup, bread, and salad but those who stayed enjoyed a spirited conversation about the issues raised by the experience and even into the complexities of attachment.

We don’t have a firm date for the next class.  I hope to be able to announce it this next week.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meditation training next week

One week from today will be the inaugural event in the School for Contemplative Practices. We anticipate about ten participants but to get a more accurate count please sign up online. We will gather in the parlor at Pilgrim at 10 to begin the program. We will end with a light lunch at noon. The cost of the lunch is covered in your $15 registration fee but there will be a donation requested for the teaching in keeping with the Buddhist tradition of dana.

Our core topic will be the art of meditation and our teacher will be Jon Yaffe. There is more about him on the sign up page.

We will place the discipline of meditation in the context of the larger matter of contemplation. We will take a look at some of the meanings of the term and begin to clarify for all of us just what we are hoping to do in the context of the School for Contemplative Practices.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Recommendation for Introduction to CCR prior to first coming to School for Living

I hope those who attended the Sacred Soup: School for Living session last night learned as much as I did.  Of course the content wasn’t new for me, but there was something important about the process.  I hope those who attended will share their own reflections.  Here are mine.

As it happened, none of the Sacred Soup regulars were able to be there.  The only folks in attendance were new people who learned about Sacred Soup from the Meetup listing.  As a result we didn’t follow the planned program of discussing the first of the Mindfulness Disciplines and instead repeated the presentation of the first session of the School for Living, the Introduction to Creative Conflict Resolution. 

There are several propositions that are central to the core philosophy of the School for Living that are difficult to grasp because they are at odds with the dominant notions of our culture.  Indeed, one of the biggest reasons we struggle is that what we are taught is common knowledge is actually not grounded in reality.  Let me just share some of those propositions here.

·         All relationships experience conflict and our biggest conflicts are with those with whom we have the most significant relationships.  [We are told that a “good” relationship is conflict free.]
·         When we resolve conflict we actually strengthen the relationship in which the conflict arises. [We are told that conflict damages relationships.  It is fights that damage relationships.]
·         We routinely resolve conflict but we don’t appreciate how skilled we are in part because we don’t name the circumstance a conflict until we discover that we don’t know what to do.  [We are told that some conflicts are irresolvable.]
·         Because one of the primary ways we know we are in conflict is that the other isn’t doing what we want, we think that resolving the conflict depends on getting the other to do what we want. [We live in a culture that tells us that we should be able to get others to do what we want.  This is especially true for people in sales but still present for all of us.]  The truth is, we do not control the choices of others.  Furthermore, the more we try to control others, the more we damage our relationships and set ourselves up for frustration.
·         The only thing we can do, indeed, the only thing we need do, is to change ourselves.  That is where our power lies…in the transformation of ourselves.  [We are told that this is just the way we are and, once we are grown, we can’t change.]

There are other things we cover in the Introduction to Creative Conflict Resolution but they are more about techniques than about fundamental propositions.  These technical items include;

·         How to share a complaint in a way that others are most likely to hear us and are least likely to want to fight with us.
·         How to transform a reaction to a persistent pattern of conflict
·         How to make a durable agreement

If you have any confusion or disagreement about the propositions or curiosity about the techniques I strongly suggest you attend the Introduction on most any second Sunday evening of the month.  For more about the event go to

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Community Connections

In mid-December I set up a group on Meetup, a very popular online source for learning about community activities.  It uses virtual social media to create actual in-person contact.  By the end of December we had 14 people sign up. They are all people who are members of many Meetups and only one has signed up for the next meeting (January 10) but they each put time into responding to a set of questions for new members so they have a fairly high level of interest.

There are thirty-two members of the Google Group but only a half dozen have attended more than a single event.  I also have a list of folks who have expressed interest at one time or another who are not on the Google Group.

I am going to consolidate the groups by getting rid of the distribution list and only use the Google Group.  If you only get one copy of this post and you want to continue to get information about Sacred Soup, there are three ways you can be sure to get email about what we are doing.

Go to and sign up on the site.  There are actually three ways to do that by using the boxes in the right column to join by email, subscribe, or follow.  If you choose follow, others will know you joined.
Go to and follow one of the links in the upper right column to either sign up on Meetup or to join the Google Group.
Email me and ask me to sign you up.

Hope to see you at an event soon.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

School for Living: January 10

This is the first in a series of conversations about how we can begin to transform our lives in the face of “popular wisdom” that isn’t so wise. [See below for more about the series.] In this conversation we will address the tension we experience between “not letting things bother us” and “paying attention to what is actually happening in our lives.” As a discipline for addressing this polarity we offer the Bothers Me Log.

The first five disciplines are the Mindfulness Disciplines. They support our developing capacity for non-dual awareness. The conversation about each begins with our common experience of being pulled between this and that and moves to how we can honor the wisdom of both this and that in a way of being that transcends the polarity. If this doesn’t make sense to you, be sure to come to one of the conversations so you can see what we mean.

For more about this you can go to and click on the Disciplines tab.