You can find Part 1 of this blog here.
[Quick Recap – we’re looking at areas that can make our whole life into a supportive container that helps our fluency, in whatever we’re trying to learn. We need this container, whether we’re talking about the Russian language, spiritual growth, a meditation practice, or living more consciously]
3) Other people – are they in on your study plan?
So you want to speak Russian fluently, and it’s important to you.
Would you only practice your Russian pronunciation by yourself? Sure, you can get to a certain level, and yet won’t your progress be limited, with nobody to point out when your pronunciation is off?- or notice if you’re using entirely the wrong word?
When you practice with others at least some of the time, I’ve found the learning gets faster and the time more engaging. Sure, others may bug you – but after a while you realize that the reason they bug you holds a great insight for you. And you wouldn’t know that if you’d hung out alone.
Suggestion: Think of one thing you currently do alone, that you could do with someone else, instead. It might be an activity like your daily meditation that would be generous to share, or it might be something you need help with.
4) Those areas of your life that are holding you back
This is often seen as the big, juicy topic of the five. Here, we get into areas like money, career, time management, and our relationships. Wherever you get a tightness in the body – that’s likely one of those areas.
How do they hold us back? Let’s say, for example, you know that Russian lessons would really help you. Yet, you’ve never got the money or time to take them. Or, perhaps you want to visit the country and it’s never happened. Somehow, your situation has become normal, and you’ve accepted it.
What might be holding us back at times like these is unconscious behaviors, sometimes called blind spots. Our relationship with money can be a blind spot, for example, that drains our energy.
The fact is, there’s a lot of stored up energy in these “blind spots” of our lives, energy that could be freed up if they’re seen. It takes courage and honesty to look where we generally don’t want to, and yet the rewards are huge.
Suggestion: A meditation or contemplation. Find a quiet moment, ideally twenty minutes or more, close your eyes, and ask, “what’s the one thing that would give me back the most energy, if I cleaned up that area of my life?”
5) Your speech and conversations
OK, here’s my favorite part of the metaphor.
Imagine learning Russian… and never speaking it or listening to it. When you hear Russian, imagine just speaking English back to the other person, instead of seeing a chance to practice your Russian. Imagine only hanging out with people who don’t know a word of Russian and have no interest in it.
The same is true of meditation or spiritual growth. Our practice is strengthened when we remember to bring in mindfulness, awareness, and things like compassion and wisdom to our conversations. And doing that isn’t always easy, for example, at work or even around those we love when we’re in conflict or dealing with blind spots.
If we want to get fluent, then, doesn’t it help to study how to make our conversations a part of our practice? I hereby rest my metaphor.
Suggestion: Pay careful attention to all of your communication with others today, including your emails. Notice when negativity creeps in, how it affects you, and whether or not you act on it in your communication.
Why this blog was in two parts
When this article was all on one page, even one of the teachers of our upcoming course said, “that’s a lot to take in!”
The fact is, setting up our lives to support our deepest aspirations isn’t something we can do by reading a blog and trying some suggestions. These five areas are what we’ve identified at Clear Sky as key areas that are vital to creating a strong container for our meditation practice and spiritual growth. They’ve helped us individually, and they’ve helped us work together.
You’re invited to join us and dive into exploring these five areas, in our upcoming online course starting March 7. You can also try the quiz we set up, it’s designed to give you an idea of which areas are working for you right now and which you might benefit from working on.