Starting Practice

TL;DR – Jump in to our free self-directed “Starter Ecology of Practices” program! 

Notification: SEoP live practice sessions started an indefinite hiatus on May 1st, 2024. Thank You Facilitators and Participants for the past 10 months! For daily facilitated practice, please check out the VF EoP program. For the self-directed SEoP, please continue reading.

Our practice dojo is designed for a wide range of experience and capacity.  Our goal is to help further the journey of transformation for each of us. 

If you are new to intentional daily practice, want to go deeper in your practice, or explore new approaches, consider the Starter Ecologies of Practice (SEoP).

It is a combination of 4 practices, done by yourself, using (up to) 30 minute practice session recordings from the live SEoP offering in 2023-2024. 

1. Journaling – learn the practice of active journaling to access and explore your inner world. The facilitator for the session will offer the journaling structure for the day, and some prompts of things to consider. Learn, and experience the practice.

2. Embodiment – we aren’t simply minds inhabiting a body! Guided embodiment sessions are either active, high energy or slower/gentle energy. Both are guided by the facilitator, with the intention of bringing awareness to the range and subtleties of our somatic experience.

3. Meditation – practice meditation together, with guidance. If you’ve never meditated before,  there’s no need to worry about ‘thirty-minutes?!’ Go at your own pace. Try for 1 min, take a break, try for 3, or just a minute and a half. You can be self-paced within the context of the larger facilitated guided session.

4. Authentic Relating – a gym for deepening relational capability. We play “relating games” to practice bringing our inner experience more fully into relationships (even just 1% more is considered success). These are highly interactive and verbal experiences we engage with as a full group, or in triads and pairings.

Sessions are easy to drop into. There are no lectures and no cost.

We recommend you try it seriously, as many days per week as is feasible for you, for at least a month. You don’t need to make any kind of commitment to us, it is simply that these practices are foreign at first. They can feel strange, frustrating, or like a waste of time. It takes time to develop a habit, but these practices gradually change our cognition – they take advantage of neuroplasticity to help us become better fashioned to live a meaningful life.  Over time, with practice, thoughts become clearer, peace more available, relationships deeper, and perspective clearer.  

But like anything worth practicing, it takes time and diligence. 

Once you feel like you have built up a habit for practice and a grasp on this ecology, please check out our Vervaeke Foundation Ecology of Practices program which offers 5-weekly 60-90m practice sessions from the VF’s pedagogical program.

Because we all lack the fullness of wisdom, especially in the 21st century. Our cognitive machinery is shaped by a culture that is increasingly adrift without wisdom institutions. Our spiritual traditions have gradually lost traction in our lives. We tend to become mired in self-deceptive and self-destructive behavior. Few of us are attuned with our emotions and beliefs, or experience a calm and peaceful mind, or have relationships that are rich with presence and authenticity. We feel a hunger for connection that often goes unsatisfied, a longing for a richer way of being.

“As the adult is to the child, so the sage is to the adult.”

Practice, done with proper orientation and rigor, strengthens connections within the brain, grants us new perspectives, facilitates the integration of our emotions, and brings us deeper into contact with reality.

The latest 4E Cognitive Science has remarkable harmony with ancient philosophical and religious practices.  

For a full explanation, please see:

  • Awakening From the Meaning Crisis: John Veraveke’s 50-hour lecture series on understanding the history and science behind our mental health crisis and the way out.
  • After Socrates: John Vervaeke’s 24-part series on the development of an ecology of practices, to grow a Socratic way of life.

There is no panacea practice.  Rather, every practice has strengths and weaknesses.  

We do not want simply one or two practices, but an “ecology.”  Some of these practices challenge and provoke, and they can catch us with unexpected reactions. A grouping of different practices can harmonize with each other, give us better balance, and help us to process the changes we experience.

For example, an introvert drawn to meditation practices needs the counterbalance of dialogue and authentic relating. Public social exercises can be complemented with private journaling. Seated practices must be set in contrast to moving embodiment practices. One deeply experienced in mindfulness requires the discipline of contemplation to connect outwardly as well as inwardly.  

We do not practice to simply “feel better” or to have an enjoyable time. We practice to develop wisdom, and so we embrace practices that we are not drawn to, letting science and the experience of others guide us, rather than following solely our inclination. And as it turns out, often the practice of cultivating wisdom can be a good time and help us feel better!

For more information, consider the Neoplatonism and 4E Cognitive Science lecture and following Q&A.

Respond’s Meta-curriculum for Wisdom Practices shows how the four sessions in our Stater Ecology offers you access across the DIME map (Dialogue, Imaginal, Mindfulness and Embodiment).

It is best to have both solo practice and practice with others.  If you are starting practice, it is demonstrably easier to do so with others, in community.  The shared connection, accountability, and richness of others is a deep part of the journey of wisdom cultivation.

In addition, when practicing for the first time, you may encounter significant distressing emotions and experiences which can be destabilizing.  Doing this alone, without support, can be extremely difficult (note, if you are experiencing any of these, please see our Get Support page). 

If you have a rich solo practice already, consider joining events for the increased rigor and experience of a community.  Workshops, courses, and group practice sessions are a companion to a vibrant individual practice.

Finally, one cannot cultivate virtues fully alone! It is only through dialogue, through relationships, through wrestling with others that we can be properly proportioned in our pursuit of wisdom.  Our goal is to provide Awaken to Meaning as a platform for responsible, communal virtue cultivation.

If you wish to supplement these events with instruction in individual practice, John recorded a “Meditating with John Vervaeke” playlist during the 2020 pandemic, that includes training in multiple wisdom practices, guidance, and recorded Q&A.  Don’t expect high production quality (he seems to have recorded it with a microwave…) but the content is exceptional. 

Our hope is that Awaken to Meaning affords many, at various levels of experience, the opportunity to engage communally in an ecology.

The list of offerings is growing regularly. Come, experience the cultivation of wisdom with others, and consider whether this is a valuable place as part of your transformative journey.

Join Practice.