Home Base with Jeff Warren
Home Base with Jeff Warren
Warrior and Caregiver

Warrior and Caregiver

Training for the times

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In meditation, growth and transformation happen in two directions. One is OUT, an increase in our capacity to stay present for ever-more of life. The other is IN, an increase in our capacity to care for ever-more of ourselves. 

I call these two aspects our Warrior and our Caregiver.

Illustration by community member David Kantrowitz

The Warrior goes out into the world. She dons her doctor scrubs, takes a deep breath, and steps into the ER. The Warrior hears her baby cry in the middle of the night, and even though she hasn’t slept in six months, she gets up to offer comfort. The Warrior notices discomfort and emotional pain in meditation, and instead of throwing in the towel, finds the inner strength and poise to accept this too as part of the experience.

The Warrior is how we expand our natural capacity in the face of challenge. The primary tool of the Warrior is equanimity. But what the heck is equanimity? It’s when we neither push away nor hold on – both of which amplify the intensity of our suffering – but instead do something unexpected: we open to life. Whoosh! Then we are smoother inside, more spacious, more able to be present with whatever is here.     

There’s something thrilling about the Warrior. The Warrior is cosmic! Also there is something a bit deranged. Because who can actually live up to this? Life is always waiting to kick our ass, to push us out of our window of tolerance into something impossible. 

What happens then?

That’s when our Caregiver comes in. The Caregiver is the intelligence that understands our limitations, and backs off from intensity. The Caregiver moves us to where we feel nurtured. The Caregiver is mammalian! 

That might look like lying on the floor for five minutes, focusing on your exhale. It might look like going for a walk, or calling a friend, or binging on Netflix, or simply drinking a damn glass of water. The Caregiver embraces our coping strategies, however imperfect.

What matters is that we give our nervous system a break. A moment to settle and relax, so we’re more able to hold it together through the next life trial.

The Caregiver is an earth-bound realist: Where am I right now? What are my limits? And what have I learned about how to care for myself?

Design by our friends at The Muse Collaborative

Meditation can be an important part of our Warrior/Caregiver training. The skill of concentration helps us focus our Warrior in action. Mindful clarity helps us notice when we’re at our edge – it teaches us what over-extended feels like in our bodies and our minds. Equanimity helps us welcome what comes our way. And compassion teaches us it’s ok to pull back – it teaches us what care feels like in the first place.

The intensity of life right now is our collective training ground. We need both our Warrior and our Caregiver. One opens to life. The other loves it. Again and again.

Much love to you my friend,



This week we’re joined by dharma teacher and Buddhist Geeks founder Vince Fakhoury Horn, who leads us in a smorgasbord of short “social” practices, all designed to tap into the goodness of meditation in a bouncy, fun and interactive way.

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I’ve decided to start archiving my Sunday night “Do Nothing Project” broadcast here on Substack, for those who enjoy longer meditations. 25-minutes of not much. Enjoy!

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