“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Ram Dass
A clear mind is one of the most beautiful things you can have. A clear mind means there is no more tumult in your mind and clarity is the result of an aware control of your thoughts.
In general there are two understandings of clarity.
The first is the more practical side of a clear mind which means your thoughts are very focused on one single thing and not confused and disturbed, just clear.
The second is the spiritual side of having a clear mind, or in other words of no-mind.
My Personal Story in Regaining Clarity
Now I know that this isn’t as easily done as it sounds. My personal experience goes back a long way to a time when I was desperately longing for brief moments of clarity. At the age of 19 I suffered from a clinical depression which was caused by my brain not finding solutions to my problems. It created that kind of learned helplessness in my brain and it basically shut off. The result was an awful period of feeling numb and unable to think clearly for more than a year. I can remember asking myself if I would ever be able to feel my consciousness clearly again…
Luckily I was. And I not only regained the ability think very clearly, I was also able to find higher states of consciousness that gave me much more clarity than I ever had before my depression (more on my journey here). So here is what I learned to regain clarity while going through this experience:
1. Put (the Right) Demand on Yourself
The external demand I got from teaming up with people who were passionate about the same thing and going for founding a company made me grow. That kind of friction was needed to develop the necessary skills and challenged me to come out of my comfort zone. This personal development helped me to clear my mind and find happiness again.
2. Make a Real Decision
To end an ongoing internal discussion you have to do one and only thing: make a real decision! A decision means to cut off every way but the one way you decided for. Don’t look back and question your decision again. A good decision can create total clarity. It clears everything up and opens the path going forward.
I decided to go after my passion which helped me to follow my heart and stay true to myself. Listening to what your conscience is whispering to you and not ignoring it helps to keep your inner space unclouded.
3. Reinvent Your Focus
A lack of clarity usually comes with a fuzzy focus. During my depression I could certainly attest to that. Focusing the mind most effectively needs training like you train a muscle. In the age of distraction of the omnipresent internet with Twitter and Facebook our environment trains us to divide our focus too much. The attention span is often only seconds. But is this flood of information really necessary?
For a powerful mental focus you need undivided attention for a longer period of time. Only then you may even get into The Zone and become one with what you do. In this state of flow you can create your best results effortlessly. To reach flow you need to put in 30 minutes or more of undivided focus.
4. Set a Clear Goal
And nothing makes clear focus easier than to know exactly what you want. Set one clear goal that really excites you and write it down. Keeping it in front of you helps to keep your focus and to stay at it until it’s finished. Very important.
During the time working with my friends on building up our dream company, learning goal setting was a game changer for our productivity.
Many write about goals, and I was a little hesitant to even include it for clarity, because you might feel you already know this. But the question is always: are you doing it on a regular basis? If you don’t do it, you don’t know it.
5. Let it Go
I know, letting something go that currently occupies your mind is a tough thing to do. So maybe we reframe this: don’t let it go, just let it be.
It is probably not that important as you make it at this moment. When thoughts are spinning in your head, try to turn away and recognize that it probably doesn’t matter that much. For clarity, sometimes we need some distance between what is happening and our representation of it. After that it may be much easier to refocus on the same topic and find a solution without the mental fight.
6. No Mind
No mind is the complete absence of thought. What happens then is, of course, emptiness. But underneath the emptiness is your awareness shining through. This is the state of presence, and meditation aims to get you there.
Four years ago, after consuming personal development and success literature at alarming rate, I opened up for more spiritual ideas. I found The Power of Now from Eckhart Tolle to be awakening. This showed me a completely new kind of clarity and I’m thankful to have this kind of balance between doing and being now.
Just as in the zen story “A Cup of Tea” it is very refreshing and sometimes even necessary to let something new inside your mind:
A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
You have to empty your cup for clarity to arrive.