We heard again and again that people would have amazing, transformative experiences at Clear Sky, and then inevitably struggle to recreate this strong container for themselves in their daily lives.
It’s understandable. After all, we can only spend so much time in retreat; most of our time is spent in everyday activities, with the inevitable busyness and distractions. And this is where our energy leaks and where, despite best intentions, we lose focus on our spiritual aspirations.
Yet, we know it doesn’t have to be that way.
In 2015, we started what became an 18-month project to answer a question; How do we help people maintain a nourishing spiritual practice in their day-to-day life?
Through this project, we came up with five principles to help people feel support like that of a retreat centre, a concept we call a “spiritual container.” What we share here, we’ve taken from what works at Clear Sky, and in our lives away from Clear Sky, to contain the magical exploration we call our spiritual life:
1. Honor your space
Have you noticed how you feel when you enter an environment that’s beautiful, spacious and well-cared for? Think of the sense of uncluttered space and harmony you experience in a beautiful Zen garden. It’s no accident that your mind naturally moves towards calm, curiosity and joy. In that ‘aah’ moment, you are feeling the aliveness of attention to detail. Learning how to create this for yourself will build a strong foundation for your explorations and practice.
2. Structure and routine are your friends
Consciously chosen structures and routines give you a tremendous amount of freedom and creativity, as well as the ability to form new healthy habits. Sometimes structure and routines can feel like an imposition on our freedom and creativity, yet without a healthy outer structure, you don’t have a container for sustained breakthrough. Structure and routines are actually your allies and give you the strength to change habits that are keeping you from clarity and joy.
3. 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 and create a safe space where others can be vulnerable speaking from the heart or fill the space with unnecessary words? Do our words open up a space for inquiry and creative conversations or close things down by defending a fixed view? Do we speak when our compassionate voices need to be heard or is that when we’re silent? With conscious and skillful speech – and by being aware of our effect on the space – we can co-create a loving, honest and open container for deep connections to happen.
4. Cleaning up big 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 that otherwise is locked up in anxiety or leaks away through distraction.
For example, cleaning up your eating habits frees up energy. Cleaning up your blocks 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. By bringing clarity into these core aspects of your life, you create a strong container for bringing awareness & presence to every moment.
5. It’s easier with others
That whole independence thing – it’s an illusion. With others, your container for practice becomes more loving, strong and rich. Especially when it comes to major shifts in your life, you need the honesty and support of good spiritual friends. Community gives you strength to practise when you don’t want to. It connects you to a deeper joy and vibrancy that comes with learning together. Compassionate feedback helps you find and strengthen your personal vision. When you need courage to meet your shadow, the shared vision and support of others gets you through.
Our Founding Teachers, Qapel Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei, have developed Five Principles for Spiritual Awakening.
Once you’ve implemented Clear Sky’s Principles, which helps you create a strong container to navigate our modern world, Planet Dharma’s Principles let you manifest your true purpose: spiritual awakening in this lifetime.
To learn more about these Principles, visit Qapel and Sensei’s virtual monastery, Planet Dharma.
Would you like to bring these supportive practices into your home, work and relationships?
We’ve developed a six-week online course that provides practical applications to enrich and deepen your day-to day life.
Sign up below to receive a free pdf overview of our Five Principles for a Mindful Container.