The Art of Sitting
A Six Week Home Study Experience
With Carl Rabke and Erin Geesaman Rabke
Starts May 15, 2017
Are you a meditator who would love to sit with more comfort and natural alignment and less struggle and strain?
Are you someone who’s drawn to begin practicing meditation?
Are you someone who wants to deepen an existing meditation practice?
Are you someone who would love to experience your body as an ally to your mindfulness practice rather than an obstacle?
Have we got something good for you!
For many of us who take up the practice of meditation, the physical aspect of the sitting posture can be one of the most challenging elements of the practice. The sore knees, the aching shoulders, the feet falling asleep, the aching back– most often these are just taken as a “given” of sitting practice. Or they’re so annoying, we may end up giving up. For those of us who stick with a practice over a longer period of time, we often just get used to the pains and learn to find as much peace as we can with our discomfort. We are rarely taught that our sitting can become more and more comfortable, easy, natural, aligned, and free.
Whatever the tradition, when people take up a sitting practice, there is often some basic instruction on posture. These instructions vary in details, but essentially we are invited to sit upright with the spine relaxed and long and the breath free, but what is often missing is the how. How do I have a long, relaxed spine without holding myself upright? How do I allow my breath to move when I have so much tension in my back and hips and neck? How do I prevent my head from coming forward or my shoulders from becoming rigid?
When we sit, whether meditating or just sitting at the desk, many of us try to accomplish the posture though our will. We force ourselves to uprightness and we maintain stillness through a heroic endurance of discomfort and pain. When that gets tiring (as it inevitably will) we might collapse into a slouch. When that gets uncomfortable (as it inevitably will) we push ourselves back to forced uprightness. When we are willing ourselves into stillness and uprightness it is very challenging to relax into the posture, rest our minds, ease our breath, and settle naturally into our practice.
Often, when we teach this somatic work at mediation retreats, long-time meditators will come up to us, surprised and delighted by how much their sitting has changed and ask, “Why didn’t I hear this 30 years ago when I started sitting?!“
The Feldenkrais and Embodied Life based movement lessons we work with in the Art of Sitting help to re-awaken the capacity that we had to sit with uncontrived ease as children. Young children are never trying hard to be aligned or upright. They have not disconnected from their embodied intelligence, and so they naturally, spontaneously organize themselves with the support of their bones, free to move, free to breathe. We still have this capacity as adults, but it takes some intentional somatic remembering.
We won’t pretend that after doing these lessons you’ll never have aches and pains on the cushion again. As any long-time meditator knows, your body, your state, and your experience are always changing. However, we do know without a doubt that these lessons can make sitting much easier. We know that these lessons can help you develop a new relationship with your body as an ally to your practice, rather than an obstacle. This kind of learning can give you a well-stocked toolbox of somatic resources which you can turn to anytime you want to refresh your uncontrived, upright posture.
What if the posture of meditation could feel have the same feeling? You sitting in your most natural, uncontrived body? We share the view of other teachers of embodied mediation like Russell Delman, Tara Brach, Reggie Ray, Will Johnson, and Suzuki Roshi, that the posture is not something that just supports the the practice of meditation, but the posture is none other than the practice itself. When we are fully inhabiting the posture, we are fully inhabiting our mediation and the expanse of being.The lessons we share in this series help to bring alignment and ease to sitting, but they also support a larger shift, both on and off the cushion; that of learning to more fully inhabit our bodies.
What is it?
A 6-week course to introduce you to the art of sitting with more ease, natural alignment, and embodied presence.
It’s a powerful collection of Feldenkrais-based movement lessons, inspiring talks, “quickies” (short guided practices you can use to refresh your learning anytime), plus writings and inspiring poems to support deepening your learning through many channels. We’ll host two live calls where you can ask questions and share your experiences. It’s all housed on a user-friendly online class platform where you can watch, read, listen, and interact with other participants, all in your own time.
In a word? It’s sublime.
Class begins Monday, May 15th and runs for 6 weeks. The great thing is that all lessons are recorded and posted to our online classroom where you’ll have access for years. So if you travel or miss a week, or want to repeat a lesson, no worries, you can come back to them anytime you like. We’ll post lessons throughout the week and you can work with them at your own pace and in your own timing. You can also download audio lessons to one of your devices and listen to them whenever and wherever you like.
You can participate in the class from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you have a good internet connection that will allow you to stream video and audio.You’ll also need a comfortable spot on the ground (a carpet, a blanket, or a non-sticky mat will be useful) and on occasion we’ll be doing lessons in a chair. If you practice sitting meditation on a cushion or a bench, it’d be great to have that nearby so you can check in and notice changes in your sitting before and after the lessons. Class content will be provided in audio, video, and written format.
If you have an interest in making your sitting more comfortable, whether for meditation, for centering prayer, for computing, or for sitting and talking to your friends, this class is for you. You don’t need to have experience in meditation, nor do you need to be part of any particular tradition. We recommend you bring a sense of curiosity, a willingness to learn, a sense of humor, and enough courage to begin bravely befriending your body.
The cost for the course is $200. We’re thrilled that for every course registration that comes in, we will donate 25% ($50) to the Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns. We are so happy to give back to the Tibetan tradition from which we’ve received so much benefit, in a way that will support a generation of girls who have few opportunities to escape the cycle of poverty in Nepal and Tibet. They will have the powerful gift of not only a traditional Buddhist education, but a high-quality Western education as well. You can watch a video about TNN here and learn more here. Tsoknyi Rinpoche has been one of our teachers for more than 20 years, and is one of the few feminist Tibetan Buddhist teachers we know. We wanted to make the cost of the course less that you’d pay for a weekend retreat, but with the hopes that you reap profound benefit for years to come.
Our Crystal Clear Cancellation & Refund Policy
When you sign up for one of our courses, workshops, classes or retreats, we think of it as being like buying a ticket to a concert or an event. You reserve a spot which is then unavailable to others. As such, all of your retreat, workshop, and course payments are non-refundable. This is the kind of warm-hearted tough-love policy that invites you to have a wholehearted YES about the commitments you make and to respect our time, your time, and that of other people who wish to work with us.
We invite you to be clear, to sign up for experiences you really want to be present for, and then to show up! We love it when you show up. Magic happens.
We also know from experience how easy it is to decide, “Nahhh, I don’t really feel like it now.” Or to mismanage your schedule. Or decide that you’re too busy these days and you’d rather stay home. As with a concert or event, if that’s what you decide, no problem. It’s your choice. You miss out on the experience. You also don’t get a refund or a credit. Same is true for our offerings.
To wholehearted Yesses and embodied respect!
(Special thanks to Susan Hyatt whose clarity inspired this policy.)