Calmness and Clarity
When we are calm inside, we have greater clarity of thought, our reasoning and analytical skills are sharper and we are more focused and trusting of our self and our intuitive capability. All of this leads to greater confidence and esteem, and from this place life flows with ease and joy. In short, the outer world mirrors our inner world – so it is really important to pay attention to, and work with, what is going on inside!
This inner ‘confidence’ or strength, and the stability it fosters, all stem from the ability to create a sense of calm inside. When we relinquish our fears everything falls in place, and when we have that level of trust, each moment of life is a pleasure. The result being, whether we are engaged in potentially ‘mundane’ tasks such as washing the dishes or having a shower, we are truly alive, truly enjoying the present moment. If we can train our self to be fully present in this way we don’t need to seek pleasure in some imagined future because we experience the joy of this moment.
Culturally, we don’t really seem to value a state of deep relaxation – generally speaking it is not seen as a mark of ‘success’. Ruby Wax points out in her first mindfulness book Sane New World that we are mostly preoccupied with deifying ‘busyness’, this ‘doing’ mode gives us the sense of significance we all seek, but it is dependent on external conditions. In contrast, the ‘being’ mode brings us back to our self and that is not always a comfortable place – especially if we are in the habit of judging our self harshly. Mindfulness enables us to ‘be’ with greater ease as we train our self to be less judgmental, to be kinder and more accepting of who we are, and even embrace who we are, when all of the external factors that we associate with our constructed identity, are stripped away.
When we learn to truly relax, to create the Relaxation Response in our body, calmness and clarity ensue. This is the basis of ‘peak performance’ whether that is in business, sport, spirituality, creativity, or just enjoying our life more fully. The peace we learn to create inside is the springboard for ‘leading’ a fulfilling and meaningful life.
We are all engaged in ‘self-leadership’ in each moment whether we are mindful of it or not and with greater mindfulness we can make this process a conscious one. When we realise that this mindful self leadership is the basis of all leadership, as well as our experience of life, we understand the importance of focusing on our formal mindfulness practice, on working with our self from the inside out. The quality of our life reflects the quality of our ‘mind’, and calmness leads to clarity, so to succeed in any area of life we need to prioritise establishing a calmness inside.
Naturally, we can support and promote our sense of inner calm and clarity in many ways. Maintaining a daily meditation practice is absolutely fundamental to this. Being mindful of what we ‘consume’ and making choices that support our practice are also the building blocks of calm. If we want to build on the good work of regular meditation, we need to be aware that we consume in may ways. Food and drink is perhaps the most obvious, however we also need to be aware that we consume with all of our senses. Everything we come into contact with leaves an impression on us: news; music; reading; conversations; relationships; the internet…you get the picture, the list is endless. So if we are mindful of what we are inputting, and cut out or cut down on the potential sources of fear and intolerance, we will naturally become less fearful and more tolerant. We need to fill our psyche with words, images, thoughts and people who en-courage, rather than dis-courage us.
I have ventured into the realms of ‘high-performance coaching’ and one of the questions that we use is ‘will it make the boat go faster?’ (based on a book of the same name). In other words, whatever we are engaging in from moment-to-moment, will it take us closer to where we want to be?
Now I’m off on retreat…as I know that will take me closer to where I aspire to be (i.e. more present!)
Wishing you a mindful weekend!