Clearing the skies of a cloudy career direction
“I need you to pull down your pants and turn around.” My naturopath was giving me my monthly vitamin shot to boost my energy. Although I ate healthily, exercised, and walked to work daily, I was exhausted. Work had become a fog where my mind slowly lumbered, behind on deadlines, until home time. Back home, I would collapse on the couch with barely enough energy to make dinner.
I had tried several solutions, but nothing seemed to move the fog. One day, the clouds parted enough for me to try something different: career counselling. This process thinned the clouds somewhat. I realized that I was in a occupation ill-suited for me and my interests, and this realization led me to return to university and transition from technology into communications.
Then, eighteen months ago, this career transition gave me the opportunity to move to Clear Sky, where I’m still applying my new knowledge to karma yoga (awakening in action). So here I was, doing what I love, surrounded by a supportive community where I had the daily privilege to receive profound teachings from founders Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat. It should have been sunshine every day, right?!
Although I was in an incredible environment and doing work that aligned with my values, I still felt a sleepy, heavy fog around career direction.
And then the clouds parted. How? I registered for Doug and Catherine’s Buddhas in Action retreat. If I’m honest, I was hesitant because it I knew it was an active retreat. I thought that you could only experience deep growth, calm, and transformation in silent meditation retreats.
Heart, Mind, and Body
The retreat was divided into different modules that focused on your heart, mind, and body. The heart segment was led by Clear Sky teachers Karen McAllister and Duncan Cryle, who led us through an exercise called Immunity to Change, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. The premise of this exercise is that although we want to make positive changes in our lives, we often have unconscious assumptions that secretly undermine our efforts to make those changes. For example, someone trying to quit smoking may have an unacknowledged assumption that quitting will reduce the amount of time they spend with fellow smokers at work – which would make them feel lonely, so they don’t quit.
The mind fog was heavy as I started the exercise with my partner. We were each to investigate an area of our life where we want to make changes, and try to see where the resistance to change may be hiding. Yet, I didn’t even know which area of my life I wanted to change.
“..I guess I could look at, my career direction?” I said, with an uncertainty that underlined the fogginess perfectly. Then, my partner led me through a series of questions that took me to one major, painful assumption:
“I don’t think I can be the person I need to be to achieve my career goals.”
Until now, I hadn’t realized how much this self doubt was weighing down my energy.
I suddenly saw all the areas where I unconsciously undermined myself at work. I would often freeze with self-doubt, whereas being truly successful required stepping over the doubt, taking risks, and even writing blogs about my personal life. Gasp!
One Year On
It’s been almost a year since Buddhas in Action as I write this, and I feel like a different person. I’ve overcome those negative blocks and have fire of energy burning inside.
I had assumed that I could move this heavy rock on my own through inner-focused meditation, when in reality it required forward-thinking teachings and a supportive community, working together, to move it.
And this is why I believe everyone would benefit from a Buddhas in Action retreat. We all have something that is weighing us down, conscious or not. Silent meditation retreats can help loosen that weight, but what made this retreat incredible is that it also gave me tools and support to incorporate this insight into my life.
So why do I recommend the Buddhas in Action retreat?
As our daily lives become busier and busier, we have a growing need for meditative practices that we can bring back home, to our work, and into our relationships. And that’s Karma Yoga, or awakening in action. The Buddhas in Action retreat brings together years of learning by the teachers and the Clear Sky community, in the supportive container of Clear Sky.
All the images on this page were taken during the retreat in 2017. In fact, one of the group projects was to work together creatively, while practicing communication styles, to create some fun videos for our website and the teachers’ website. Here’s one:
Buddhas in Action is an experiential retreat run by our founding teachers. Read a blog about our three-month intensive program.