This course has finished. Please go to the Spring 2018 course page.
How the critical lost art of the spiritual container can make you feel more alive in every moment.
There are ways to feel fully alive and engaged, with enough space to reconnect more deeply with your heart, and with other people, even on the busiest days.
How? By learning how to live your everyday life more like you’re in a retreat. And no, we’re not talking about living in silence, or renouncing the world.
The magic of a retreat
Imagine moving in a space where you’re calm and bright enough to notice the beauty around you. Where, if something happens, you’ve got the energy and space to deal with it. Simple chores feel joyful. Imagine moving from task to task with ease, feeling like whatever happens, things are happening just as they should. Picture yourself being compassionate, joyful, and confident with other people.
This can be true for you when you’re at work, home, school, or you’re traveling the world.
However, you won’t be able to do that consistently unless you acknowledge what you’re missing.
The reality of our daily lives
You’d like to be feeling a sense of genuine, ongoing transformation. Yet somehow, you still see your habits strongly in place – holding you back – while your aspirations get buried in the busyness of life.
So, what isn’t working in your daily life? Why, even with a spiritual practice, and when you’re a good person trying to make a difference in the world, do you sometimes feel disheartened, stuck, or lost?
What’s missing? Attention to the outer supports you need
While the inner work is indeed essential, it could be that you’ve skipped over the importance of having the outer conditions to support you.
Once you set up these outer supports, you’ll have a better container for holding the energy, focus, and joy you need.
Outer support: The Five Principles of a good spiritual container
From years of running a retreat centre, and applying what we learn to our own lives, we’ve rediscovered five ancient principles that help create the right outer conditions that we’re talking about:
- Honor your space
- Structure and routine are your friends
- It’s easier with others
- Cleaning up big areas of your life frees up energy
- Conversations shape the space where we meet
These are the factors that have made Clear Sky work, as a place that wakes people up and supports their practice. And these same principles can transform and support our daily lives, too.
That’s why we created this course. Starting April 19th, we’ll share with you the insights and learning we’ve had from creating Clear Sky – a physical and virtual centre for awakening – in the form of these five simple, yet empowering principles that have actually been time-tested over centuries.
Try the quiz!
See how you’re doing in terms of the Five Principles, and get simple tips for using them to free up energy
A Short Video Introduction to the Course:
Like to hear more?
Learn more about the five principles in this 40-minute, edited recording from a live webinar, on March 29, 2017:
“Learning about the five principles has been quite a twist. Although they seem like simple guidelines for a wholesome life, if deeply studied they can lead to quite a big positive transformation. I’ve recently realized how after the course I’ve been shaping my life around the five principles in every way.
My environment has changed, the way I organize my activities, my communication and trust in others … Applying those principles can hold love and clarity for even big groups, creating a genuine awakening field.”
Further Information – Click to read more
(Note 6 November 2018 - these details are currently being updated). The course is six weeks long.
Week 1: Why we need a spiritual container and how to create one
- Opening & setting our aspiration. We only get out what we put in: it’s important to name your aspiration to give energy to this course. Here we’ll set the tone with a guided meditation and begin to connect with your needs.
- The missing element. Understand what a spiritual container is, why it’s often forgotten, and why it’s so important to achieving your goals.
- The five principles. We’ll dive into the five key principles that together create a supportive and dynamic container for your spiritual growth, giving you an overview of each principle and how they work together.
- The five principles on the meditation cushion. Through practical examples and stories, we’ll illustrate how these principles can support you in a consistent and alive meditation practice.
- The five principles in your daily life. We’ll also explore how the principles can support you with continued dynamic growth at home and at work. You’ll start to see their presence – or absence – in your life right away. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in the areas where you struggle and to get inspired by those who can help.
- Practical home play exercises. We like to use “homeplay” instead of “homework” to capture the light, explorative approach we recommended for trying out and integrating the five principles into your life. We’ll give you exercises to help you make conscious key facets of the five principles in your daily life.
- Questions & Answers. Your chance to make sure you really grasp what we’re going into.
Week 2 : The First Principle:- “Honoring your space”
- Guided meditation on spaciousness. We start from a place conducive to exploring the subtleties of awareness and care for our surroundings.
- Limiting views. Together we explore and uncover some common views in our culture that limit us. By naming these limiting views with humour, we can gently drop them, and explore and embrace new approaches.
- Six key qualities that create a conducive space. What qualities in the surrounding space support your meditation and your daily spiritual explorations and growth? It’s not simply about cleaning or tidying. Honouring your space is a continual practice of mindfulness, esthetic subtleties, and the down-to-earth eye for practical needs.
- Benefits of a conducive space. There are a lot more than you might think!
- Transforming your own space. How to quickly transform spaces to support you.
- Practical home play exercises. We’ll give you some simple and fun exercises to bring this principle into your life.
- Questions & Answers.
Week 3: The Second Principle:- “Structure and routine are your friends”
- Welcome and guided mindfulness meditation. By now you’ll have learned more about the importance of honouring your space – and the space of others. The opening meditation lets us honor our mutual space by fully arriving and being present, and gives us the best platform for explorative learning.
- Mental models about structure and routine. Does the idea of agreeing to a structure make you cringe? For many of us, “routine” signifies something boring and stale. We unpack these mental models to understand how to embrace the positive aspects of structure and routine. We’ll explore how inviting conscious structure into our lives actually supports growth and increases our energy, freedom, and flexibility.
- Consciously choosing a supportive structure. What do we mean by a conscious structure? We give a range of practical examples and stories of conscious structures and routines, drawing out the qualities and benefits.
- Getting free from habit. Mindless habit isn’t our friend when it comes to waking up. We share tips and guidelines for how to use conscious structure and routine to keep you fully alive and awake, and to free yourself from the power of negative or mindless habits.
- Bringing it home. How will your week, your energy, and your life benefit from the freedom of structure and routine? As usual, we’ll give some simple, practical, and fun exercises to try during your week.
- Questions & Answers.
Week 4: The Third Principle:- “It’s easier with others”
- Welcome and opening loving-kindness meditation. Beginning with ourselves, we’ll expand our meditative mind out to others and actively send love out from our hearts. A key starting point to appreciating and harnessing the support of spiritual friends.
- The power of community. For centuries, monasteries have shown an example of how spiritual practice with others makes it more powerful. What are the mental models that lead us to try to do it all alone? We also explore the benefits of having spiritual friends and the qualities of a group of people committed to waking up together.
- Compassion and the honesty of spiritual friends. One of the most powerful aspects of spirituals friends is that they are not us. They see what we don’t see. And a friend who’s willing to not only encourage you on the path and share the joy of transformation, but also speak when others stay silent is a true spiritual friend.
- Engaging with virtual community. Many of us live part of our time online and have many of our interactions there. We look at ways to shape your virtual community to be a powerful support for consistent growth.
- Homeplay. We’ll give exercises to explore the ways and people in your life that support your awakening. What small changes could you make over the next week to appreciate and support each other?
- Questions & Answers.
Week 5: The Fourth Principle:- “Cleaning up big areas of your life frees up energy”
- Opening mountain meditation. If you live or spend time near a big mountain like Mount Fuji – or Bull Mountain at Clear Sky – you’ll find it’s like an anchor for our perspective. Similarly, if we focus our energy on compassion, awakening, integrity, or other anchors first, then we don’t go far offc ourse in life.
- Big areas of life where we tend to get stuck. For many of us, however, there are a typically a few areas in our life that are like avalanche risks or unstable volcanic pits! Money, time, relationship, family, work, and uncertainty about our life vision are some examples.
- Mental models around money. Tension and struggles around money can consume huge amounts of energy. Some people with spiritual aspirations try to ignore money, but that doesn’t address the underlying blocks in our relationship to money. We’ll touch on ways to name and liberate common patterns and blocks.
- Taking charge of our time and remembering to smell the roses. Ever make a plan for the day and then not follow it? Feel like you are always running and distracted? Or frustrated at being stuck in procrastination? How we manage our time – or don’t! – can also be a huge energy drain. We’ll give some practical tips on clearing up blocks around time management.
- Uncovering our vision. Doubts about our path in life – our careers, our aspirations, our talents – can also create a lot of underlying tension and use up your energy. What are some ways to uncover your vision and bring clarity?
- Exercises for further exploration. Which area of your life will you focus on first? How will you go about it? This week is just the beginning – there is exciting work ahead of you.
- Questions & Answers.
Week 6: The Fifth Principle:- “Conversations shape the space where we meet”
- Welcome and opening mindfulness meditation.
- The power of speech. Have you noticed how just one word can bring the best of days crashing down or can transform the worst of days into happiness and laughter?
- Barriers to communication. Do we control with talking, silence, or withholding information? Or are we listening well and making a conscious effort to focus on the topic in hand and the other person?
- Creating a positive space for conversation. Whenever we are talking to someone, we form a container, a bubble, for our interaction – a shared communication space. What are the qualities that support good communication? And how do we create and hold the space for compassionate and generative conversations?
- Exercises for further exploration. More practical homeplay exercises for you to lightly explore and play with how you communicate.
- Questions & Answers.
Week 7: Bringing the principles together.
- Opening mindfulness meditation.
- A recap of all we’ve learnt. Five simple principles, a lot to take in. Here we review and reinforce what we’ve covered in the course. If you’ve begun applying them in your life, you’ll have seen by now that they all feed into each other.
- Integrating the principles into your life. How do you take them forward and use them to create a conducive container to empower yourself, to contribute and grow in a sustainable way? Our focus in this final webinar will be largely guided by feedback during the course. We’ll share examples and stories, and focus on your questions and explorations.
- Resources to support you. Additional resources you can draw on to support you in your ongoing explorations.
- Closing celebration. We’ll end with a guided meditation to recollect, celebrate, and strengthen insights you’ve gained during the course.
Your hosts for this course have all experienced life-changing growth and unfoldment through their involvement with Clear Sky and its founding teachers. Between us, we bring years of studying and practicing in the lineage, of teaching and meditating around the world, and of governance and management of Clear Sky Centre.
Here, we’ve brought together the fruits of all our learning into the five principles, offered here for the first time publicly as an online course.
NOTE: The teachers for this course are currently being confirmed.
After meeting our founding teachers in Japan, I managed the meditation centre there for many years while serving simultaneously as part of the Clear Sky Board. In 2003, I helped search for a site for Clear Sky, looking at around 30 properties until we found our current location in the magical Kootenays.
I'm now Chair of the Board and Director of Business Development. I'm passionate to be teaching the much-ignored principles of nurturing the factors - like honor your space, structure, and communication - that create the conditions we need to wake up more in daily life. I see how I learned and embodied these principles in my different roles at Clear Sky, as the centre went from self-starter to second-stage growth. This is what I call “the hands-on way of doing an MBA with a spiritual bottom line!”
In my free time, I love travelling, speaking Portuguese and reading history, architecture, and art books.
I'm the former Clear Sky Chair, a certified Mindfulness teacher, Dharma teacher, and an IBM Executive in Toronto.
Through 15 years of teaching meditation and mindfulness, alongside an active career working all over the world, I’ve learnt a lot about an integrated spiritual path. With a Ph.D. in philosophy in my pocket, I was gung ho to join a monastery until I met my root teachers Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat in Japan in 2001, who turned my views upside down and encouraged me to grow and contribute at the busy end of life!
A founding member of Clear Sky in 2004, I’m amazed at the power that working together in compassionate service has for enriching and widening spiritual growth. Combined with a dynamic relationship and a challenging career, I have fun with a wide-ranging and holistic approach to spiritual growth. The spiritual container is a key aspect to this and I’m delighted to teach and share this course.
All of that made me more energetic, active and with the will of exploring this big world. Not only that, but gave me the strength to transform my daily practice making it more consistent. The changes and insights keep coming up and the Sangha has a giant role in maintaining my spiritual growth.
I deeply thank the teachers Karen and Duncan for not giving up on guiding us through this wonderful path.
The course has introduced complementary concepts that supported me on constructing a more consistent and deep practice, which has contributed significantly for me to see the values that are really important to me, and also gave me strength to keep them and go ahead, no matter what the external circumstances may be.
I can only give thanks for having the opportunity of being part of this group. Deep gratitude for the teachers that offered the course, to the team that created it and to the Sangha that participated on the first group, for allowing ourselves to be together on this learning.
Ana Paula Ueti
Your Other Hosts:
I began studying with the founding teachers and community of Clear Sky in 2003. With them I re-ignited that spark for life I'd been desperately missing and seeking.
I love plunging into things and that’s exactly what I did with Clear Sky. Visiting Clear Sky every summer, I started by developing the farm and land, and then joined the Board of Directors. I then moved from Japan to live at and run the centre for 8 years. I still thrive on connecting with and bringing all kinds of people and events to Clear Sky.
Now based in Nelson B.C., I'm part of a wakeful and innovative team. I help run a co-working space where I'm delighted to say that meditation, mindful collaboration and teamwork are an integral part of my work day.
Fun for me includes punning with friends, finding new ways to eat sea buckthorn berries and getting outside whenever I can.
I first got interested in meditation through a school friend of mine who went on to become a monk in Thailand. I left the UK 20 years ago, ending up in Japan for several years where I met Clear Sky's founding teachers through one of their students - and a founding member of Clear Sky - John Munroe.
I've lived at Clear Sky for long periods since 2009 and also served as Treasurer and Board Member for five years. I now offer a weekly meditation and dharma class in nearby Kimberley.
Living or spending time at Clear Sky puts you in all kinds of roles. I've cooked for 30 people, presented at AGMs, written blogs and created budgets, pulled weeds and repaired fences. And I can now see clearly that where I thrived and where I've struggled can be directly related to each of our new principles in some way. Can't wait to share them with you!
I'm now Clear Sky's head copywriter and an active member of the Business Development team - the creators of this course! I love playing golf here in the picturesque Rockies, though the golf season is painfully short! When I'm not pounding the magnetic dartboard in the Clear Sky office, I also earn a living as a copywriter.
I was introduced to Clear Sky through joining the Karma Yoga program (a 3-month service stay). I was instantly seduced by a new way of life - a way that my depth was seeking. I found a place, a community where people work together and accompany yogis like me in the awakening process.
There, I discovered what I'm passionate about: diving deeper inside, understanding what it is to be a wholesome, spiritual being - a being that is participating in the creation of an abundant life and that believes in the powerful ideal of service for the benefit of all. What an incredible journey!
Originally trained as a social work educator, my eight years of work with youth in schools have convinced me to find a better, deeper way to teach life skills to our next generation. I am now in a 3-year university course and I intend to start my own business in the fields of life skills and second-language teaching
Now, I am on the Clear Sky Sales and Business Development teams - and soon joining our Board of Directors - and my love for our offerings to the world is constantly increasing. I see how what we can provide to people is peaceful and loving states of mind. Working to support that? That's really a life worth living!
Course Dates and Times
By joining this course, you’ll get:
Six, 90-minute interactive live webinars covering the five principles, PLUS view access to recordings.
Exercises to give you an understanding of the principles of a spiritual container and how they affect your energy.
Reflections and meditations to help you stay grounded, calm, and centred.
The following tools and support:
An optional live, guided meditation - Mondays, 11am PST (check your own time zone here). This 15-minute offering is designed to help you quickly re-focus on the week’s principle between webinars, helping you apply it directly in your day and providing some welcome supportive structure - at that time of day when you most need it.
Join us and fellow participants in a private Facebook group focused on the principles. Providing you with an online community to support you between webinars was high on our list. Share about your insights, explorations, and discoveries and enjoy mutual support plus extra feedback from course teachers. We’ll also have fun practising and modeling for each other the 5th principle: discover how clear conscious communication creates a space for us to meet and share ideas.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a good match for this course?
Are you open to growth and an honest look at your patterns with a heart for changing what isn’t working for you any more? This course could be for you. You should also know that we’re more casual than formal, more direct than politically correct or touchy feely. We hope that you’ll ask questions and engage with the material to get the most you can from the course.
Will you try to convert me to Buddhism?
Nope. These principles support your growth, whichever tradition or system you’re working with. And at the same time, we’d like you to know that we’ll be referencing or using wisdom from various sources, and will offer guided meditations and reflections as we go. We encourage you to explore anything you hear with an open heart and discerning mind, and take the opportunities to ask questions.
Do I need to have or start a meditation practice to do your course?
It helps if you have done some meditation. But don’t worry if you’ve never meditated, had difficulty establishing a consistent practice, or even if you feel you’re a “bad” meditator. This course is very much about giving you the support and understanding for an alive and regular meditative practice.
How practical is this course?
We’ll be looking at the practical, everyday areas of our lives that – when in better alignment with our inner aspirations – can support our path. So we’ll be inviting and helping you to take ongoing, practical action in your day-to-day life, including things like your work, family, and relationships with other people.
What interaction will I have with the instructors and other participants?
To enrich your learning, we encourage participants to engage and share with each other in the private Facebook group. Clear Sky’s 3rd principle is about finding and engaging with others on the path, and this course is one place to truly connect with others. We’ll also open space during the live sessions for questions and answers, and we welcome your engagement and questions.
Do you offer any more advanced level courses on this material?
This material is incredibly rich. We are developing deeper dives into each principle as well as material on applying the five principles at work, at home, and even at an organizational level for heart-centred groups and social enterprises. Look for future announcements via our emails and blogs.
What is the cancellation policy?
We’d love to offer refunds, yet because this series of webinars and the bonus offerings represent hours of dedicated work and we are offering it for a very low minimum offering, there is a zero-refund policy on this course. We encourage you to register with a clear mind and heart, and in a spirit of generosity.
Early Bird Bonus Webinar
Sign up by April 5th to attend a special pre-course webinar on Wednesday, April 12th on this key topic of how to create conditions conducive to your spiritual growth where we spend a third of our day – at work.
Wondering how to align your working time more closely with your inner goals, without turning your working space into a mini-monastery or feeling like the office weirdo?
Whether you have a lot or little control over your working environment or you work from a home office, this special webinar will give you practical tips on making it into a sacred container.
“The course had a big impact on me. It not only helped me to organize my life in different aspects, like the respect towards my personal living spaces or the way I relate to others and with time, I also understood the power meditation can have in my life and how it can contribute to making more assertive choices.
I understood the impact my feelings can have over me and how not letting myself be blindly led by them. Since I am in charge, everything I need for having an awakened life is within me, everything that needs to be done is to improve key attitudes and behaviors that exist in me.
I had a very strong empowering sensation of conscience expansion and learned how to better deal with my emotions, specially my anxiety, throughout the meditation on spaciousness. Now, I understand I am a better person and for that I’m very grateful.”
Cost of the Course
The course is offered on the basis of dāna. If you are not familiar with dāna, you may have come across related approaches such as “pay-from-the-heart.” Dāna is a Sanskrit term that is translated as generosity in English. It’s radically different from the transactional way we normally interact in the world – where we give in order to get something back, either a service or thing. Instead, with dāna, we give as a mutual exchange of generosity. It’s our joy to offer this course, and we trust you’ll match our time, energy, and passion by giving an amount of money that feels good and healthy to both you and us.
Equivalent, high-quality, and live courses we believe are likely to be offered for between $150 and $375 CAD. We suggest that you offer something in this range. An exercise we highly recommend is taking some time to check in with your heart on an amount that feels good. Find the amount that you feel balances and honors your aspiration for this course, the energy we are giving to deliver the course, and what is financially sustainable for you.
If you feel in an abundant and solid financial situation, feel free to offer more. If you are struggling financially, you can offer less. Since we do have expenses such as the hosting platform used for the classes, and we are investing significant amounts of our own time and experience, after much reflection we are setting a minimum amount of $90 CAD.
Why do you use dāna?
The practice of generosity is central to spiritual unfoldment, whatever path you follow. In our own Buddhist lineage, teachings have always been taught on the basis of dāna, and we are committed to this practice and its development in the West. Dāna is also a radical and – we believe – viable economic alternative to capitalism, which our planet would really benefit from. We all know there must be something better than capitalism or its hungry cousin, consumerism. We maintain that, together, we can offer a financial model that is based in life-affirming mutual support. Please join us in co-creating this promising economic alternative.
“With this course we learned how to strengthen our practice taking care of our meditation space, creating wholesome habits, exchanging and strengthening the practice with the support of the Sangha and so on. The outside is not separated from the inside. That is why taking care of the outside with attention, generosity and joy, we meet the clarity within us.”
“When I was making my list of aspirations and plans for 2017, I realized that I was structuring it from the five principles learned in the course “Outer Clarity.” The learnings served as a good medicine for doubts about how to lead transformations I want in my life. A valuable framework that allowed me to have the clarity and to better organize the change of some bad habits around disorganization, lack of discipline, judgments around the way people communicate, just to name a few.
All the principles have reinforced for me that it is necessary to water the outside garden very carefully, with attention and presence, so that the flowers of compassion and love can flourish inside and in my relations. Thank you, dear Karen, Duncan, and Sangha.”