Mindfulness and beyond: a three-month training program


Event Highlights

  • The discipline of Karma Yoga shows us how much our personal preferences want to run things, especially if we’re tired, uncomfortable, not getting what we want, or getting what we don’t want! It shows how resistance and protection use up our energy, needlessly. If we’re watching closely, we see how all of this comes and goes, just like clouds in the sky. It is an incredible experience to realize that we, and we alone, have the power to decide what state of mind we choose to cultivate.
  • Karma Yoga:
  • helps us integrate our inner meditative work with our daily lives; it actualizes the insights.
  • shows and frees us from going-nowhere patterns.
  • opens up new paths of exploration and discovery by taking us places we don’t usually go.
  • strengthens and grows our capacity for greater generosity, discipline, patience, focus, wisdom and JOY.
  • develops skill and compassion in communication and relationships, and allows us to connect more deeply.
  • boosts our creativity, clarity, and ability to act wisely, quickly.

Schedule

7-8 am Meditation
8-9 am Breakfast and clean up
9-9:15 am Daily Contemplation
9:30-12:30 pm Karma Yoga
12:30 pm Lunch
2:30-5:30 pm Karma Yoga
6 pm Dinner
7:30 onwards meditation and/or personal study

About This Event

3 month residential intensive program at Clear Sky

Mindfulness and beyond: a three-month training program. Learning and serving in conscious community.

What is the residential intensive program?

A 3 month residential program consisting of daily karma yoga (or selfless service) activities done with mindfulness, living and communicating with a conscious awakening community and inside a strong spiritual container.

Is this program a good fit for you?

Are you:

looking to spend three months, or longer, focused on fast-tracking your growth?

seeking new ways to deepen your spiritual practice?

wanting to learn to live and relate in  conscious community?

open to reaching new levels of freedom, by looking at patterns and views that limit you?

willing to consider input and training offered by others?

ready to go the extra mile to complete tasks with engagement and attention to detail?

reading carefully all of the words on this page, and not just skimming the bits you want to hear about?

If you can answer yes to all of these, we’d be a happy to receive your application for the karma yoga program.

As part of the management team and as a karma yogini, I’ve learned the wisdom of combining skillful interpersonal communication with organizational ability and compassionate training with a heart of loving-kindness.

— Linda Yamashita, January 2013

What is Karma Yoga?

Essentially, we define Karma Yoga as training in mindfulness through action. Clear Sky is a modern-day working monastery, and if you spend time here, you will be training in Karma Yoga through all the community interactions and activities that it takes to run the center.

It takes time to understand what a precious opportunity it is to engage in Karma Yoga at a place like Clear Sky. In fact, no matter how carefully we explain this in advance, we’ve found that people still arrive thinking that Karma Yoga is a fancy phrase for volunteerism, or simply an exchange of work for food and accommodation.

Instead, we’d like you to understand the potential for transformation and growth this ancient discipline offers. The people who succeed in our program, those who stay past the one month trial period, are the ones who come to understand this magical mix of service, community, mindfulness and study.

Mindfulness – moment to moment awareness

Karma Yoga is about bringing consciousness to everything we do. After all, when we practice formal meditation on the cushion, we’re really training the mind to be more focused during all the hours we’re not on the cushion. We’re training the mind to be calmer, all day. We’re aiming for moment-to-moment awareness.

Doing service, then, we treat every action, task, and interaction as a practice in mindfulness, a meditation in action. We look to see what’s going on in each moment. We look with curiosity at why one task is more interesting to us than another. When something stirs up a reaction in us that we weren’t expecting, we see it, accept it, and begin to see the unconscious patterning, the preferences and habits that have been driving us.

Immersed in a community of people doing the same, you’ll experience a sense of connection and honest communication that you may not have experienced before. This happens because compassion and the wish to free ourselves and others from suffering is our main motivation.

What Karma Yoga isn’t

We’d like to clarify a common misunderstanding that comes from the word “Yoga” itself, because of the mainstream use of the word from the practice of physical postures (Hatha Yoga). The word “yoga” derives from words meaning “unite” or “yolk.” Karma Yoga is not a form of Hatha Yoga, and to be clear, we do not teach any form of Hatha Yoga, though we absolutely recognize its value.

The Karma Yoga program, based on daily activities, is also not just a way for us to get our chores done – it really matters to us that people who come to the centre understand the nature of what we’re doing here, and engage with us.

What a dramatic shift in my view of human beings since my service stay program at Clear Sky Centre. Others are not a threat! In fact, learning to live with each others has been the most powerful and transformative experience in my life.

— Maryline Fortier, June 2015       

Study curriculum

Woven into the daily activities and life of the community, you will study and practice across three main training areas.  These follow the three pillars of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold path.  You will receive self study material, as well as guidance through periodic morning education slots and one on one check-ins with your assigned mentor.  

Ethics/integrating practices (sīla) –

This ranges from exercises and reflections using Clear Sky’s 5 principles to in depth work on communication and team work.  You could say this about is what we DON’T get taught.  We never learnt at school about healthy conflict, emotional honesty, money issues, working in teams, integrating heart, speech and body in all our actions.

We use a wide variety of resources such as Fifth Discipline, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, stretch collaboration, and non-violent communication.

Meditation (samādhi)

We will guide you in developing or strengthening your daily meditation practice morning and evening.  The program includes an opportunities for a day of practice and a short retreat.  Depending on timing you may also have the opportunity to join and receive Tibetan empowerments.

Wisdom / study (pannā)

The curriculum includes study of traditional and modern Dharma, bot Buddhist and more eclectic approaches.  There are generally an abundance of opportunities for live, informal in-the-moment teachings with our root teachers, senior students, and members of the community.  Meal times are a particularly rich time for questions and lively dialogue.  There are opportunities to join classes where available.

Example curriculum self study material:

How challenging is this residential program?

This may well be the most challenging, and rewarding, experience you could have. At times, you’ll likely come up against your limits, which may send you into intense emotions like anger and fear. Typical responses can be shutting down, wanting to escape, or going to something comforting or familiar. Imagine jumping into cold water – all the same responses may occur, and the result is feeling incredibly alive! Clear Sky exists to be the container for these kinds of moments, which are beautifully rich with potential for insights.

We know that everyone goes through these challenges, including ourselves. If we have the courage to honestly meet discomfort, we can train the mind to welcome these moments and open into joyful discovery and growth – in the end, we learn that everything opens into spaciousness. We also know that guidance from those who have experience can save us a lot of time and struggle. As a Karma Yogi you report to a mentor, who assists you in processing your expectations, hopes, and fears, and guides your work. In addition, our founding teachers are generally available for questions and help with processing issues that may arise from unrealistic expectations.

We highly value the emerged individual but we also honor the collective, and the team spirit. This experience is about being immersed in a conscious working community, where allowance for personal preferences is limited. Most find this very enjoyable and enriching, yet if you’re just looking to chill out at a meditation center for a while and expect lots of time to do your own thing, the Karma Yoga program is not for you.

If you do like a challenge, if you want to develop skills you have and find ones you didn’t know you had, if you want to share in an awake, investigating group of people who also manage to have a lot of fun, then we might just be what you are looking for.

In the past, I’ve struggled with business and had a business not work out the way I’d intended. Now, I’m launching a new business, and the reason that I feel confident in the success of this new business is the learning and growth I’ve experienced in the Karma Yoga program at Clear Sky. The training in systems, the experience of being in a team business where we reflect on our own patterns and support each other to change, these things have been transforming. This experience has dramatically enhanced and expanded the skills I couldn’t quite put together before Clear Sky. I recommend it highly.

– Stephen Gilmour, Feb. 2017

What are the benefits of Karma Yoga?

The discipline of Karma Yoga shows us how much our personal preferences want to run things, especially if we’re tired,  uncomfortable, not getting what we want, or getting what we don’t want! It shows how resistance and protection use up our energy, needlessly. If we’re watching closely, we see how all of this comes and goes, just like clouds in the sky. It is an incredible experience to realize that we, and we alone, have the power to decide what state of mind we choose to cultivate.

Karma Yoga:

helps us integrate our inner meditative work with our daily lives; it actualizes the insights.

shows and frees us from going-nowhere patterns.

opens up new paths of exploration and discovery by taking us places we don’t usually go.

strengthens and grows our capacity for greater generosity, discipline, patience, focus, wisdom and JOY.

develops skill and compassion in communication and relationships, and allows us to connect more deeply.

boosts our creativity, clarity, and ability to act wisely, quickly.

I’m appreciating more and more how amazing you all are. I’m very pleased how the dharma I gained at Clear Sky has not been dying out in me as I feared, but feels like a seed that is now germinating in me and promising future fruit. I’m so grateful to you all 🙂

— Vanessa Bachynsky, 2015

Daily expectations

Our residential program allows stays of three months or more, assisting in all activities involved in running the center. You may be assigned a main area of focus – such as activities in our cold climate food forest and innovative farm, or in our shared office space – depending on your skills and interest. You will also be added to the cooking rota, help clean up after each meal, and join any group karma yoga activities such as harvesting, gardening, or snow shoveling.

Aside from your karma yoga duties, you’ll be expected to participate fully in the routine of the center, because one of our mandates is conscious intentional community. Our routine includes morning and evening group meditations, study time, a daily contemplation theme, three meals, classes, morning meetings, as well as fun and exploratory activities.

Clear Sky – A working monastery lifestyle

As stated above, we embrace Karma Yoga as a practice in itself, and the purpose of the center is to provide a supportive container for this precious discipline. Life here is geared to this principle, rather than on strict adherence to the published schedule.

So, while we set out a schedule averaging out at eight hours a day of Karma Yoga in a six day period (with one day off (integration) per week), there are times when this may change based on the needs of the center. Typically, we balance this by a day at the beach, or skiing, or going out for a dinner and a movie.

A typical day starts with group meditation at 6:30 or 7:00 am and ends with a second group meditation at 7:30 pm. Aside from six hours of general karma yoga projects, everyone spends around two hours a day in the kitchen on meal preparation and cleanup.

Living so fully in community is an integral part of the program – it is both a challenge and a joy, and is the source of much of the learning and insights you can expect here.

I recently had the opportunity to work with the team at Clear Sky, to brainstorm new ways to improve their processes. I have been facilitating this kind of work for over 20 years and it is rare to discover a team that can make “change” so much fun.

-Jon Morris ASQ. Certified Quality Engineer and Six Sigma Black Belt, Vancouver, Canada

Our founding teachers living onsite

Clear Sky hosts and supports the activities of our founding teachers, Doug Sensei and Catherine Sensei, who run programs under their own website (contact info blocked). When here, they generally eat lunch and dinner with us, and they engage with the community in a very real and enlivening way, modeling compassion, wisdom, and non-clinging awareness. Those of us who have chosen to live at Clear Sky year-round are their students.

As a karma yogi, you aren’t expected to accept our founding teachers as your teachers (unless you want to, of course, – and in fact, many do!). Yet, those who get the most from the program, and tend to stay past the one month trial period, are those who see the value that the teachers offer, learning to engage with them in a open and healthy way.

When you arrive, you will notice that we serve and support the teachers as part of our daily duties. This may include setting their place at the dining table, serving them food, and assisting in cleaning their suite.

Since the teachers and teachings are an integral part of life at Clear Sky, anyone staying onsite is expected to attend all classes, meditations, and group activities. Classes and programs offered by the teachers (Planet Dharma), are given on the practice of dana.

Should you wish to spend time with the teachers while at Clear Sky, please refer to their teaching schedule. While they spend a large portion of the year here, they also travel for weeks at a time to teach in other parts of the world.

..asking, “What can I do to help the team?” is important for expanding the spectrum of how you show up.

– Founding teacher, Catherine Pawasarat Sensei

One of the reasons joy is joy is because the release of joy is preceded by the tension of effort

– Founding teacher, Doug Duncan Sensei

Finances

A Typical Daily Schedule

Typical Karma Yoga Duties

What is Dāna?

What does it mean when we serve the teachers?

Frequently Asked Questions

Intake Dates

Pre-requisites

To ensure we are a good fit for each other, we have a thorough application process including an initial application form, and two or more online interviews.  In addition, we recommend to get to know our community, as well as our root teachers.

spend time exploring Clear Sky blogs and vlogs

spend time on our root teachers website (contact info blocked) exploring their videos and blogs

join our foundational 6 week online Ignite Your Spiritual Life program when available (see our online program listings).

Ideally, join one our root teachers 4 week online courses if you have not met them before.

How can you contribute?

The program is open to any sincere seeker.  If you have particular skills or interests, let us know on your application.  Along with general karma yoga as part of the community, we typically look for particular areas where a karma yogi can best contribute and learn.

This can cover a wide range.  For example:

learning and/or sharing knowledge of food forests, organic gardening or farming, or permaculture (find out more about our farm here: Clear Sky farm website)

learning and/or sharing handyman and maintenance skills

learning and sharing recipes and kitchen skills

engaging in sharing and promoting our programs and offerings

learning and sharing IT and technical skills

Many karma yogis discover new skills and talents through the path of karma yoga, or learn new dimensions and expressions of existing abilities.  This is part of the beauty of learning together.

Your commitment

We’re looking for a commitment of three months. We invite eligible candidates to join us for a one-month trial period, after which we ask for a minimum commitment of two additional months. Staying longer is a possibility, to be discussed towards the end of the three months. (For those who stay longer, there are opportunities to include some personal retreat time in your stay, too).

We don’t offer stays of less than three months because of the commitment of time and energy to orienting, training, and supporting someone new. For shorter stays, you are welcome to register at our regular daily rates in a program that includes a mixture of Karma Yoga and meditation time, currently called the Clear Sky Experience.

No religious affiliation or meditation experience is required. Come join us, learn how to engage, enliven and grow yourself and those around you!

Tuition

Tuition is $650 per month. Karma Yoga programming, food and accommodation are included in this price.

While at Clear Sky you will learn about the ancient transformative practice of dana. Additional classes and programs offered by our founding Teachers, Doug and Catherine Sensei, are given on the premise of this practice.

Applications

We welcome all applications including those from people who have little or no experience with meditation, and are looking to explore spirituality – or however you’d like to name your call to exploration in this lifetime – in community.

Applications are welcome at all times, and we can be flexible enough to fast-track entry based on mutual benefit.

For greatest chance of acceptance into the Karma Yoga program, we recommend applying six to nine months prior to the time you wish to join us.

Those with the most flexibility may receive priority placement in the program.

If you want an experience that helps to wake you up and brings you greater personal mastery, we’d love to hear from you today.

Click here to apply for the Karma Yoga program

The karma yoga program is the kind of education I always wanted to get in school, but didn’t. It’s an idyllic environment with mountains and fresh air, and every day you’re exposed to poignant teachings that get to the core. It’s so invaluable to have those teachings once a day, instead of once a month or once a year. Living at Clear Sky is a really beautiful challenge. David Basu Roy - Karma Yogi 2016/2017

Venue Highlights

Clear Sky is at the foot of Bull Mountain in the Canadian Rockies on a 310 acre meditation cushion.

Accommodations

Depending on the time of your stay you may stay either in the main facility the Sanctuary, or in our overflow accommodations near the farm. During the busy season, you may be tenting and enjoying the beautiful summer nights.

Amenities

  • Free Wifi
  • Towels
  • Free Parking

Menu Types

  • Vegetarian
  • Meat
  • Organic

Menu/Cuisine

Many folks are surprised that we serve meat every second day and that they will likely be asked to prepare and serve meat dishes during their stay. For this reason, we ask all participants to come with a mind of curiosity and non-clinging to preferences. For vegetarians and vegans, you can expect to be well fed, however there will be less options as we do cater mostly to omnivores. We are all encouraged to use our relationships with food for meditation and exploration. We source our food from our gardens, food forest, local suppliers, and eat organic as much as possible. Most people who visit rave about how nourishing the food is.

Directions

FLYING
Pick-ups – We can pick you up from the Canadian Rockies International Airport (Cranbrook, YXC), which has regular flights from Vancouver and Calgary. It is a 45-minute drive to Clear Sky from the airport.

CAR RENTALS
You can rent a car at the local airport, or in nearby Cranbrook. Renting a vehicle in Calgary – Driving from Calgary may be cheaper than flying, depending on your length of stay and how many of you there are. It is a beautiful 4.5-hour drive. Contact us if you are coming for a program and would like to find rideshare partners.

DRIVING
Get driving directions from your location with google maps. Our address is 3567 Cockell Road, Fort Steele, BC, V0B 1N0.
Clear Sky is close to the US border, and about four hours from Calgary. We are ten minutes from the BC-93 S Highway and twenty minutes from Fort Steele, along the Wardner-Fort Steele Road.

Some navigation systems may not bring you to our driveway:
Coming from BC-93 S Highway on the Wardner-Fort Steele Road – look for Bull River Road on your right, about five minutes past the fish hatchery, which will be on your left.

Coming from Fort Steele – after about twenty minutes, look for power lines overhead, where the road will bend to the right. Bull River Road is right after this right bend, on your left. (If you see the fish hatchery on your right, you’ve gone too far).

Drive down Bull River Road for about three minutes, then turn left into Cockell Road. You’ll see our driveway on the left, at the end of Cockell Road.

Tags: karma yoga meditation residential

Reviews  
  Write a review - tell others about your experience.

  • Maryline Fortier   April 05, 2019

      Blissful stay!

    Spending time at Clear Sky is so rejuvenating. I think what makes a huge difference when I compare it to other centers is that the members of the staff are mindful and have a meditation practice. That brings a good vibe to the space and experience in general. Thank you for this week-end.

  • Irene Arriaza   August 20, 2018

      Peaceful and quiet

    Clear Sky provides a peaceful and quite environment in the middle of nature. A great location for those who want to attend a retreat or just feel the need to get away to reflect or meditate.

  • Maryline Fortier   May 31, 2018

      Real conscious community

    Clear Sky Center is a real gem to learn about conscious community living. It is where I found through meaning and purpose, through the practice of Karma Yoga (meditation in action). A bunch of dedicated people, wanting to make the best out of this lifetime and helping each other to wake up to more love, awareness and mindfulness.

Thank you!

We're glad you've joined our retreat community. See you around :)

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We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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