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Ignite Your Spiritual Life – An Online Course

September 15, 2018 - October 20, 2018

online course

The critical lost art of the spiritual container and how it can reignite your spiritual life

This course has already run

If you’re like many people, you may know what will help keep you calm and centered – like a regular meditation practice, yet you have a hard time applying it in your daily life.

Especially in these turbulent times, when it seems nobody is immune from growing levels of fear, depression, and anxiety in the world, we cignan feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Even with a regular meditation time, you may still feel pulled off-center through the day. This is because your energy drains away, little by little or even in sudden spills, like nectar would from a leaky cup with no lid.

Yet, it’s possible even on the busiest days to stay centered, alive, and engaged. You can learn to set up your life to support and protect your energy, and re-ignite your spiritual life.

How can you do this? You can forge your life into a cup that supports your precious energy, by learning about the art of the spiritual container. By repairing these holes in your metaphorical leaky cup, you can redesign your everyday life to be more like you’re in the protective space of retreat.

Sounds impractical?

Well, don’t worry. Like you, we’re not monks or nuns – not in this lifetime, at least. This is a practical course that looks at how we can thrive and grow in a busy world – it’s not about learning how to withdraw, or fit in hours of formal meditation.

The magic of a retreat – a cup that holds the nectar

So what are we talking about when we mention the supportive container of a retreat? If you haven’t been in retreat before, take a moment and open your heart to the beauty of the experience.

lady's hand touching purple flowers in a field

Imagine moving in a space where you’re calm and bright enough to notice the simple beauty of life around you. A space where, whatever happens, you’ve got energy and a sense of equanimity to keep things in perspective.

Simple chores feel joyful and alive, instead of mundane. You move from task to task with ease, seeing things just as they are and responding to what’s needed rather than reacting to what’s happening.

Picture yourself being more compassionate, friendly, and open to other people. You enjoy the space to see when confusion or negative thoughts creep in for yourself or others, and let them pass by without giving them energy to grow.

Do you recognize anything there? Those moments when the ego seems to quieten and all is right with the world? We can get contact with this on a morning walk in nature with a beloved pet, a stroll on the beach, or a slow Sunday at home.

These moments don’t have to be fleeting moments you long for, yet can’t get right now. Many moments in your daily life can be closer to this than you may think – whether you’re at work, at home, at school, or commuting, there are things you can do to bring the beauty of retreat into your day.

You won’t be able to do that, however, unless you acknowledge what’s been missing.

What’s missing? Attention to the outer supports you need for a strong container

So, what isn’t working in our daily lives? Why do people trying their best to find calm, presence, and joy still sometimes feel disheartened, stuck, or lost?

Well, in fact it’s not surprising. Especially in difficult times, the daily demands of living will stay very much in charge – unless we tweak our lives to better support us. Unless we learn to carry our cup carefully and take care of it, our precious nectar is bound to spill out or get diluted by what’s around us.

If the inner work you’re doing isn’t sustaining you, then, you’re probably missing the importance of the outer supports you need – especially if you’re one of those people who tends to take care of others, more than you take care of yourself.

Yet once you set up these outer supports, your life will be a better container for generating and sustaining a sense of calm, focus, and joy.

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 we’re talking about:

underneath view of pier on a lake with mountains in background

1. Honor your space

2. Structure and routine are your friends

3. It’s easier with others

4. Cleaning up big areas of your life frees up energy

5. Conversations shape the space where we meet


These are the factors that have made Clear Sky work, 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. 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 been time-tested over centuries.

As well as the core content on each of the principles, each webinar will include meditations and exercises to try in your daily life, and will end with question-and-answer sessions.

Are you carrying a leaky cup? 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. Click the image to open up a new page and take the quiz.

Ignite your spiritual life quiz image

Why take the course? Ignite Your Spiritual Life will help you:

** establish a more consistent meditation practice

** redesign your life to be more in line with your spiritual aspirations

** get relief from being reactive and stressed by daily events

** move through blocks and old patterns that seemed like they’d never shift

** connect with your heart and other people at a deeper level

** make bigger a difference in the world from a more grounded and confident place

** clarify where you want to direct your energy

Though not required, we highly recommend participants do a weekend retreat during or after the course to bring what they are learning deeper into consciousness, especially if they have not experienced a retreat before.

Learn more about the five principles in this 40-minute, edited recording from a live webinar, on March 29, 2017:



I am so impressed and happy with Karen and Duncan. You have done a fabulous job with this course, and have provided a role model example of working together. I loved hearing your real life stories, things that you have struggled with in life- this added another level of reality to it that was applicable to my reality too. 

Course Participant, Spring 2017

To have a weekly course like that it created space for me to reflect in a different way and to pause in a different way to focus on some of these questions.
And [the principles] are so basic, they're so important and that's why they're profound..[your course gave me] a feeling of more alignment with my path.

Meg O Leary, Spring 2018

Luana - 5 Principles testimonial
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.

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.

Luana Messena, 5 Principles Course, Brazil 2017

I found the course filled with a lot of practical information. I would recommend it to anybody interested in improving their spiritual practice. Thanks Karen and Duncan!

Course Participant, Spring 2018

The presenters were very good ... I think these principles are relevant not just for a spiritual practice but life as a whole.

Course Participant, Spring 2017

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Participant, Spring 2018

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."

Emmanuel Ponte - Five Principles Course, Brazil 2017

rita - 5 Principles Testimonial
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.

Rita Chirata, 5 Principles Course, Brazil 2017

Toward the end, I realized that the principles give you a format to bring Dharma into - which reassures you that they are deeper than just the surface.

Gretta, Mental Health Therapist, Spring 2018

Lemuel - testimonial
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 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.

Lemuel Simis, 5 Principles Course, Brazil 2017

Karen's guided meditations were lovely; they provided new ways to meditate and increase space-awareness- on the relevant issues. I'd like to go back and review them all so I can do them again. In fact, I'd be happy to review the whole course week by week, just from the recordings.

Course Participant, Spring 2017

I highly recommend the Ignite Your Spiritual Life online course. It is a great introduction for people exploring the Dharma path, but it's valuable in daily life too! The course is also a great refresher for experienced practitioners, which helps strengthens your spiritual practice and allows you to connect with the community.

Jenai Lieu, Program Coordinator, Spring 2018

I think this course is a beautiful, utterly grounded and relevant way of making the spiritual life very real and integrated with how we are living every day of our lives. I also think that this course lays an important foundation for a meditation practice that can actually go somewhere as well as allowing a practice that may already be strong to better feed the other parts of our lives for a really well-rounded and truly fulfilling life.

Ruth Levin - Movement Educator & Solopreneur - Spring 2018

It's really, really brought me back home to myself... I found myself in the past very scattered and would put off all the important things, the spiritual aspects of life, the mindfulness and so on, just to blast through my day and get things done, but now I am really taking pause. I still don't get everything done, but I don't get everything done in a much more calm way, haha, in a much more soulful way... So for me that was probably the most important takeaway from the six week program is just you can't let those things slide no matter what because when you do, you're giving up little bits of your soul and then you've really lost. ..That for me was wonderful to come back to.

Morgana from Victoria, Spring 2018

Thank you! I really felt both Karen and Duncan were so caring and sincere.

Participant, Spring 2018


Further Information – Click to read more

Details of what we'll be teaching you.

Since this course is about establishing a consistent meditation practice (the inner) and getting your life (the outer) more in line with your spiritual aspirations, we’ve made each session a balance of this inner and outer work.

We start with a guided meditation or mindfulness practice to support a deepening daily reflective practice, and then give fresh practical tips for integrating it into your daily life.

Turning to the outer, each session then focuses on one key principle for creating what we call a “spiritual container.” The container is the outer supportive conditions you can set up in your life to support your inner practice, reconnect with your heart, and help you break through old patterns that are holding you back. (See our How it Works page for more information on the 5 key principles of a spiritual container)

Each session is lively and interactive, including breakout sessions for discussion in groups, sharing via the chat function, and time for Q&A. We offer home “play” exercises (we prefer this to home “work” as the exercises are designed to be exploratory and fun!) for trying outside of the weekly sessions to explore and integrate the topics.

Week 1:   Creating a supportive space for your growth

  • Three supports for being more mindful and present in daily life.
  • The missing element. Understand what a spiritual container is, why it’s often forgotten, and why it’s so important to achieving your goals.
  • Contacting that “aaahh” feeling that a well-created space can instantly create
  • Six key aspects for creating a space to support your growth.

Week 2 :  Transforming habit and making friends with structure

  • Fresh awareness - tools for getting out of auto-pilot mode.
  • Loosening and transforming unhelpful habits.
  • Consciously choosing structures and routines so that you’re free to explore.
  • Harnessing the power of ritual.

Week 3:   Quieting the monkey mind

  • Calming internal dialog and chatter.
  • Cleaning up draining conversations and speech patterns.
  • The power of forgiveness.
  • Establishing healthy and generative communication

Week 4:    Part 1: Cleaning up big areas of your life frees up energy

  • Identifying big areas in your life that drain your energy.
  • Beginning to ease the common drain and tension around money.
  • Exploring your vision and purpose.

Week 5:   Part 2: Cleaning up big areas of your life frees up energy

  • Working with distractions and overload.
  • Getting off the “hamster wheel”.
  • Developing a healthy relationship with time.
  • Learning to “do nothing” - the importance of making space to play.

Week 6:   The power of community

  • Meditations to strengthen kindness and compassion.
  • Embracing healthy relationships.
  • The power of community to support your growth.
  • Bringing it all together - how a  strong spiritual container is a launchpad for your growth.
The people who'll be teaching you

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.

Main Hosts:

KarenKaren McAllister

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.

duncan-cryleDuncan Cryle

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.
   Tamires Low
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:

Photo credit: Brian ClarksonMichelle Heinz

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.

Photo credit: Brian ClarksonAndy Rogers

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.

Maryline_HeadshotMaryline Fortier

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!

What's included

What's Included

By joining this course, you’ll get:

Green on orange tick       Six, 90-minute interactive live webinars covering the five principles, PLUS view access to recordings.

Green on orange tick       Exercises to give you an understanding of the principles of a spiritual container and how they affect your energy.

Green on orange tick       Reflections and meditations to help you stay grounded, calm, and centred.

Green on orange tick       The following tools and support:

Weekly meditations:

Guided meditations uploaded once a week during the course. 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.

Facebook Group

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

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.

What it costs

We offer this course on the basis of dāna.  If you’re not familiar with dāna, you may have come across related approaches such as “pay from the heart.” Dāna is a Sanskrit term that translates as generosity in English. It’s radically different from the transactional way we normally interact in the world – where we give 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.

As for our part in this pay from the heart model: since we have expenses hosting the classes and we are investing significant amounts of volunteer (service) time and our combined experience in creating, teaching, and administrating the course, we are setting the minimum amount at $120 CAD. All proceeds will go to Clear Sky center.

We highly recommend taking time to check in with your heart on an amount that feels good. Find the amount you feel balances and honors your aspiration for this course, the energy we are giving to deliver the course, and what is sustainable for you.

In this pay from the heart exercise, you might also consider what you pay for different things as a matter of course: a night out with friends, a session with a chiropractor or acupuncturist, or an hour with a life coach, for example.

You’ll see equivalent live courses offered for between $120 and $360 CAD.  Over six, 90-minute classes, this represents an average of $20-$60 per class.

Why do you use a dāna-based model?


The practice of generosity is central to spiritual unfoldment, whatever path you follow. In our own Buddhist lineage, teachings have always been given 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.



September 15, 2018
October 20, 2018
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