Achieving clarity in our daily lives is often difficult. When was the last time you were totally focused? When was the last time you thought about just one thing, without your mind ping-ponging from one thought to the next?
Achieving Clarity Through Pain
When I refer to pain I mean that level of discomfort that gets and holds your attention. It’s not debilitating pain that some people deal with on a daily basis.
It’s not the type of pain that requires medication, but that could be described as a medication.
Merriam-Webster defines medicine as: a substance (as a drug or potion) used to treat something other than disease.
As a method to achieve clarity, pain could be described as a medicine. Focusing the mind on pain or discomfort blocks out all other thoughts.
The avoidance of pain is a basic survival instinct of all living things that can feel pain. When our bodies feel pain the mind immediately clears all extraneous thoughts and becomes focused.
When the mind is focused on a single thing, such as an ache or pain, clarity can be achieved.
Some people use meditation to clear their minds and achieve peace and clarity.
Achieving Clarity through Exercise
Recently while practicing Yoga I achieved clarity. While practicing Yoga I try to clear my mind and not think about everything I have to do. It is my oasis of calm in a hectic life.
When you are actively practicing you cannot day dream, space-out or drift off. You have to focus on what you are doing. Your mind is focused on maintaining your balance, posture or form.
In a class environment you don’t even have to think about how long to hold a pose or which pose to transition to. Your mind can be totally focused on what you are doing at that very moment. There are no cars outside and you’re not thinking about the person next to you and if you are “doing it right.”
You are totally in that moment and there is nothing else. That is clarity, a clear mind.
Clarity Through Pain
Often while practicing yoga I experience pain. It is the pain that comes from stretching tight muscles or moving in a way that my body is not used to.
I know how to hold a stretch and let my muscles relax. But while I am focused on the pain and working to relax my muscles, that is all that I’m thinking about.
For a brief moment the world has ceased to exist. I am one and alone with my pain. Sometimes I work through the pain and sometimes the pain lasts until the next pose.
During poses that do not cause pain I have to actively restrain my mind from wandering. While holding a comfortable pose it is easy to think about anything and everything.
Sometimes I think about clarity and peace of mind in a comfortable pose. Sometimes I think about my in-box.
Achieving clarity while practicing alone can be challenging. You have to think about how long to hold a pose, which pose do you want to transition to and did you pick up your dry cleaning!
Achieving clarity on the run
Sometimes while running alone I can achieve clarity. I have come back from a run and realized that for the past hour my mind has been clear. It may be the endorphin’s or just the magic of the run.
While running, sometimes I am solely focused on my feet hitting the pavement. Sometimes I am completely consumed thinking about my breathing, posture or speed.
I can feel my body moving and I am thinking about each motion. Sometimes I am thinking about one muscle and how it feels. My mind may not be perfectly clear, but I am relaxed and focused on the moment. There is nothing else and all stress leaves my mind and body.
You cannot experience Clarity
Achieving clarity is not the absence of thought but clarity cannot be enjoyed in the moment. If you know you are experiencing clarity, you no longer have clarity.
It’s like waking up and realizing that you were asleep. While you are asleep you cannot know you are asleep or you would be conscious. The moment you know you are experiencing clarity you no longer have clarity.
Sometimes while practicing yoga I will experience great joy when I realize I just had a moment of clarity. It may have been 10 seconds, but for a brief moment there was nothing else.
There is joy in the moment and joy in the realization of that moment.
How to experience clarity through pain
Achieving a clear and focused mind is challenging. Very few activities allow you to even attempt clarity. Being engaged in a task and loosing track of time is not the same thing. A task may have you thinking of a hundred things.
With clarity your mind is clear or completely focused on one thing. You cannot be thinking about how clarity makes you feel or how long clarity is lasting. The moment you are conscious of clarity it is gone.
For me I have been trying to relax and clear my mind as much as possible before yoga. I know I can and will achieve moments of clarity, but I am trying to make it last longer.
Clarity is peace and the release of stress. Something we all need more of in our lives.
It is difficult to leave the world at the door, but it helps if you can. Just trying to relax and put things out of your mind help.
I have found that focusing on my pain allows me to achieve clarity.
While my quads are screaming at me in Chair Pose all I can think about is pushing my hands higher and keeping my balance. I don’t see anyone around me. While I’m in downward dog all I can think about is the stretch in my back and legs and how far I can go.
Only after the pose do I think about my trembling legs or gasping for breathe.
Sometimes I am too aware of my surroundings. The air conditioning or the sound of passing cars. With so many distractions, achieving clarity is a challenge even with the benefit of pain.
Pain can deliver peace and clarity, but you have to be open to the experience. You have to be able to relax into the pain in order to push out all distractions.
Be well my Friends,