“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.
Photo by 55Laney69
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16 thoughts on “How to Clear Your Mind and Rediscover Clarity in a Noisy World”
Good to see you here Myrko. I love your writing and I love the Change Blog.
Dan @ ZenPresence
Yep Dan, it’s great to write about clarity here! Hope you like it and if you have any questions or comments I’m here to answer them…
“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…”
Oh yes, I’ve been there. “Numb” doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet, just like you, the depression paved my way to finding clarity.
And I agree with you that the world around us is filled with too much information. I’ve long thought that schools would do well to offer a new subject: meditation. We need to find and practice ways of finding quiet inside ourselves.
Great post, thank you so much for sharing your experience.
Great story, I’ ve felt like you so many times. This world is haotic, we live so fast and sometimes I am asking where it leads? I recognize myself in you story, sometimes I can t hear my own thoughts. It seems to me that we mixes in my head, I understand you complete.
Fully agree on the meditaion to be teached at school, Bina. Same as goal-setting. Going through clinical depression is extremely tough, but can also be very purifying. Thanks for your comment.
Wow, I can so connect with your personal experience. I’m 20 right now and I too went through a major depression for about 7 months when I was 19. I felt the same, will I ever be able to get back my consciousness and level of thinking.
I did but I had to go through a lot of learning process and a bit of self discovery as well. Frankly those are the best life lessons I learned to date.
And those last lines – FANTASTIC! You gotta have an empty mind to get clarity.
Superb post! Thanks for sharing.
Aditya, I value this time of depression as well today. While it was the toughest time of my life, it was also an important lesson that gave me more depth.
I often take walks. They do wonders for clarity.
wrt #1: You would have put in a lot of effort when it came to forming a company. I was an entrepreneur myself but due to differences between the partners, I sold my stake. I am still looking for a suitable partner to startup with.
wrt #2: This is quite difficult I believe. What I am doing now is I tell my mind “no expectations” from anyone and anything but I do what has to be done, let it be work or relations.
wrt #3: Ah, still need to conquer this……..
wrt #4: Saddest part is goals change, definitely have to stick to one goal, but there should come a realization about the goal.
wrt #5: The world is not going to end if one doesn’t let off the thought to go, so just let it go!
wrt #6: Need your input on this. Do these kinds of books really help? I have always stayed away from them as I believe there should be self-realization. There is pain and time involved in self realization, but it will definitely help permanantly.
Hari, thanks for some thoughtful comments.
Looking at #2 making a real decision. It’s not difficult. It takes some courage. Maybe just try it and look how it feels. I bet it is deliberating and empowering at the same time. You have to be ok to let go of alternatives and go with the best possible option. Decide and don’t look back.
With #6, self-realization is what The Power of Now and good spiritual books are about. But it’s just be feeling your being, not by realizing yourself in the world. When real, it gives you something you cannot get anywhere else. And then you still can do what you want and be “successful” or whatever you like.
There was a time in my life when making decisions meant for me to rewind everything in my mind and rethink that decision. Was it worth it? What are it’s implications? I found it hard to stop thinking about my decisions and I often had a feeling of doubt whether the decision was right or not. Took me quite some time to embrace my decisions, become confident about them, and firmly decide. A decision is made, that’s that. There’s nothing more to think about but the future of this decision and what lies ahead. It takes a lot of courage to embrace decisions, especially life changing ones.
love it ! thanks for sharing this
That right to the point Jorge. A “real” decision means exactly that: not looking back anymore.
I want to accept the fact that there are few things in life which I don’t get no matter what I do…. No matter what decision I make, since I am not able to accept the reality, I just need few things I dream of, my decision don’t work. When it comes to Reinventing focus, I do it, I shift my focus on something else, but its momentary, I return back to my old thoughts and dreams. I don’t have a way out…. just living with it….
I really enjoyed reading your post, thank-you. I read The Power of Now a few years ago and got to a place where I was much more present. Over time I think I have stopped doing the basics and my mind activity has increased a lot. I have been thinking how I can start to re-introduce and this really helps me. Being more disciplined around putting time aside is something I really need to work on.
Hi and thank you for this piece. I especially resonated with number two. I have been thinking about how we can get into a spin and whip ourselves in a frenzy (either up and get manic, or down and get depressed). The way out is to do what you said – make a decision. Do something. Take the steering wheel of our own lives.
I just wrote a draft blog (scheduled for next week) that references something similar.
Thank you again.