The container and the five principles
One of the most overlooked reasons for why people and organizations get stuck is what we call the “container.” The container includes all the supporting outer conditions needed for learning and growth.
Although it’s an ancient concept, it’s largely been lost in modern times. Even most modern spiritual teachers don’t speak about the container, but it’s critically important, and everything you do and hope for depends on it.
After many years of running a retreat center, and after studying through ancient teachings, we’ve identified five core principles that are needed to create a powerful container.
The five principles to create a container of success:
1. Honor your space
Have you noticed how you feel when you enter an environment, like a Zen Garden, that’s beautiful, spacious, and well-cared for? There, it’s no accident that your mind naturally moves towards calm, curiosity and joy. Right there, in that ‘aah’ moment, you’re feeling the aliveness and focus of attention to detail.
2. Freedom arises from structure and routine
Consciously chosen structures and routines – counter-intuitive as it may sound – give you a tremendous amount of freedom. They also give you the space for creativity, and where you can form new, healthy habits. Without a healthy outer structure, you don’t have the container needed for sustained growth and breakthrough.
3. To do what you must do alone, it’s easier when you travel with others
That whole independence thing – it’s an illusion. Yes, the spiritual path is an inner journey, one that you must ultimately do alone. Yet, with others your container for practice becomes more loving, strong and rich. It connects you to a deeper joy and vibrancy that comes with learning together, gives you compassionate feedback, and when you need courage to meet your shadow, the shared vision and support of others helps get you through.
4. Cleaning up large areas of your life frees up energy
Each time you bring outer clarity to a major aspect of your life, you free up enormous amounts of energy. This energy is otherwise is locked up in anxiety, or leaking away through distraction. Need some examples? Cleaning up your blocks and views around money frees up energy. Learning to prioritize and manage your time well – including time for playfulness – frees up energy. Gaining clarity of why you are here – uncovering your unique life’s purpose – frees up energy.
5. Words are powerful and our conversations shape the space where we meet
What comes out of our mouths, or doesn’t, has a powerful effect on the space we share with others. Do we listen, for example, and create a safe space where others can speak from the heart? Or do we fill the space with unnecessary words? Do our words open up a space for inquiry and creative conversations, or do we close things down by defending a fixed view? With conscious and skillful speech – and by being aware of our effect on the space – we can co-create a loving, honest container where deep connections can happen.
Learn more about these principles and how you can apply them: