Living Earth Acknowledgment
We invite you to open your engagement with each session (or group gathering, if applicable) by practicing a Living Earth Acknowledgment. A Living Earth Acknowledgement can nourish our relatedness and avail us to truths beyond domination. Incorporating our ecological nature as well as the calls of justice, it is an exploration, not a formula, to recognize and remember. Through practices like this, we are setting the conditions for shifting minds that are conditioned by domination into more skillful ways of seeing, speaking and acting.
Our guiding teacher Catherine McGee offers two guided meditation practices grounded in our deep relationship with the Earth: one intended for new practitioners, and one for those who have some experience with meditation. Consider choosing a practice to use at the beginning of every session, as a daily meditation practice, or any other way that feels helpful to you.
For New Practitioners
The video begins with an introduction to view and intentions of meditation practice. If you are revisiting this video, you might skip directly to the guided practice at 4:12:
For Experienced Practitioners
The video begins with a brief overview of the practice. If you are revisiting this video, you might skip directly to the guided practice at 1:25:
Each session of the training includes a set of questions for inquiry. Inquiry is its own practice. It is somewhat different from mindfulness, and it is an especially important part of the Ecosattva training. Inquiry invites us to making our learning personal, embodied, and direct.
What is Inquiry?
- Inquiry is the open-ended exploration of your immediate experience. In it we explore a “thread of meaning” in emotion, thought, image, and bodily felt-sense.
- Inquiry supports and facilitates investigation of whatever is present. There is no “right answer” to arrive at, nor is there a fixed goal.
- Inquiry is a process of discovery that can reveal our own inherent wisdom. The purpose is not necessarily to soothe or let go, although this may happen as a side effect.
- In inquiry, we practice refraining from evaluating, judging, or commenting on others’ or our own experience.
Sample Inquiry Technique
With inquiry we hold a question or theme with open-ended curiosity. Each session’s suggested questions are in bold, followed by a short commentary. We invite you to gently hold these questions. Below is one technique you could use:
- First, read a question aloud to a partner or quietly to yourself.
- Notice what arises in you as a response to the question. There is no right or wrong here. It’s the process of sensing and exploring that is valuable.
- As much as possible, remain in the present and with your bodily sensations, or felt-sense. For example you might notice, “Oh, when I read this question I feel overwhelmed. I sense this as agitation in my belly.” or “This question makes my heart feel full and I find I have more energy.”
- Allow your sense of the inquiry to unfold and change. Notice changes in the body. If the mind wanders, bring it back to the question.
- Check in with yourself after a few minutes of staying with the inquiry. See if there is any takeaway. This could be an insight, or a feeling. It could be very vague or could be precise.
- Then, move on to the next question.
Inquiry does not have to be practiced individually, silently, or on your meditation seat. You might choose to engage with each session’s inquiries in the following ways:
- Work in pairs or small groups, where one person speaks openly, exploring the inquiry aloud. Your partners just witness and listen without commenting. Then, after a few minutes, switch speakers.
- Journal a response to the inquiry questions.
- Take a walk and carry the inquiry with you as you walk.
Dedication of Merit
At the close of each session, we encourage you to dedicate the merit. Core to our path is the practice of release, not holding tight to the material, emotional, or even spiritual. Instead we offer whatever we may have gained to benefit others. You can do so in any way that feels right; you are welcome to use One Earth Sangha’s dedication, found below.
If you belong to a group, we recommend that group members take time to get to know one another in the first meeting (perhaps using Session One’s inquiries), as well as establish shared agreements.
Shared agreements remind group members of their shared intentions, build authentic connections, and protect members from harm. We offer here some starting points that you might use along with the invitation for each member to share their response to this question, “What do you want or need to feel safe in this group?”
- Brooklyn Zen Center’s Community Agreements
- East Bay Meditation Center Agreements for Multicultural Interactions
- An Inclusive Space is a Better Place for Everyone (from Designing For Inclusion)
You might decide how the group will use these agreements in subsequent sessions, e.g., by confirming them at the beginning of each gathering (following your opening of the space?) and encouraging members to invoke them when they feel that the group’s intentions are at risk.
Each session can easily support a group gathering of 60 to 90 minutes. We recommend that group members watch the session videos on their own before meeting, to maximize time for sharing and connecting. The meeting should provide time to do a brief opening, explore the provided inquiries, engage in discussion, cover logistics and close. You might choose to add an extended opening meditation. Each session will have its own page on our site that contains a sample agenda, the main video, a set of inquiries to choose from and supportive resources. Of course, groups are invited to use what works for them, removing and adding as will be most helpful.
Here’s a sample agenda for a 90-minute gathering:
- Opening: 30 min
- Discussion and Practices: 45 min
- Reflect on the most recent session: 15 min
- Explore inquiries, individually in meditation, journaling, in dyads or groups: 20 min
For group sharing methods, you might use 1-2-4-all, Conversation Cafe, or other approaches found on Liberating Structures
- Discuss practices to explore between the current and next meeting: 10 min
- Closing: 15 min
- Logistics and host appreciation
- Silence or other ceremonial ending
- Dedication of merit
Our Group Facilitator’s Guide covers alternatives to this agenda, goes into more detail and offers helpful tools.