Clarity Comes From Doing and Non-Doing


[You can listen to the audio recording of this post if you prefer. Just click on the big PLAY button on above!]

Marie Forleo says something like, “Clarity comes from doing, not thinking.” And I really like this idea because it is so easy to get stuck and you cannot get unstuck unless you actually do something. So this idea that you don’t need to have clarity in order to do stuff, you can just go ahead and try things and find clarity, is a really interesting idea to me.

But like all of these things, where you have a concept that rings true in certain situations and can be really really helpful when you realise them at a specific moment when you need that particular concept, it’s also NOT USEFUL or relevant in lots of contexts. And those would be the times when you actually need to do the OPPOSITE of act, when you actually need to NOT act in order to find clarity.

So I guess what I’m saying is, sometimes clarity comes from doing not thinking, and sometimes clarity comes from non-doing and also not thinking.


Clarit does not come from thinking

Whichever way you go at it, I agree that clarity does not come from thinking. Because thinking is about control and if you’re trying to control something you’ve got an agenda there and you’re biased. You can’t be open in the way that you need if you want clarity.

So why am I talking about this right now? Well, I’ve been having a pretty rough time lately.  And it’s not due to anything going particularly wrong in any area of my life. Like, my ebay business is going fine, and I’m writing songs, and I’m generating new material, I’m creating stuff which is what I get my joy from. And so that’s all good.

But I’ve been struggling with the amount of chaos in my life. And what that looks like is a really messy house. Now this is not a new thing. I’ve struggled with mess around me for as long as I can remember. And it’s something that I feel like I’m gradually getting better at.

I believe that ANY skill can be learned and I believe that I can learn to be tidy. However, I’ve got to find a way to do it that is congruent with who I am. So I can try to be super-focussed and really disciplined and I can say, This is something I really need to do today. That is it. I am going to draw a line in the sand and this mess is going no further.” I can do that but that is probably not going to be very effective for me.

So I guess the ongoing struggle for me is finding a way to bring order out of this chaos.

When I woke up this morning, I knew that there was a lot of chaos awaiting me downstairs. The chaos level isn’t always the same. It varies. Sometimes I do tame one little section of the room. Sometimes I actually tame an entire level of the house. That’s not super often! But generally if I’m going to have a party, or a load of people over, or if I have some really strong social motivation to do that, I will suddenly find myself amazingly capable of tidying up at an incredibly fast speed.

So sometimes my house is very tidy (ish). But when that’s not the case there’s a sort of natural deterioration into chaos that happens kind of gradually, or sometimes remarkably quickly, where I can create an incredible amount of mess in a very very short space of time. Which kind of reminds me of what very young children naturally do. They just create mess as they go along. And in a way I guess I’m quite child-like in that respect and I just haven’t learned those skills yet that would get my place tidy and maintain it at that level. But anyway, it’s really boring to talk about ways in which I’m stuck. It’s a lot more exciting to talk about ways that I can become unstuck!

So I woke up this morning and I just knew that the first thing I needed to do today to get back on track was to do a meditation. Mindfulness meditation is something that I feel quite passionate about. It’s something that I started last year and when I began doing it I had some incredible profound experiences. So even though that doesn’t happen for me every time I meditate, knowing that meditation can lead to that kind of growth keeps me passionate about it.

So this morning when I woke up, I knew that I had to do a meditation. But for some reason, instead of coming downstairs and meditating, I just stayed in bed. And I picked up my phone and started playing Sudoku on it. And I kind of rationalised this. I thought, “Oh well this is a good way to warm up my brain.” Which … I don’t know. Maybe it is.  But really, I was just procrastinating. So I played a couple of games of Sudoku.

And after that, I thought, “Well, I really should go meditate.” But that was a deadly thought for me because I am not motivated by thinking that I should go do something. I should never have paused to think that thought. I should’ve just come downstairs and done the meditation. Either that, or if I was going to stop and actually think about something, I should’ve just imagined myself doing it. That kind of visioning exercise is motivating for me.

So anyway, I chose to do the thing that was going to make me procrastinate more and that is, I thought to myself, “I should go downstairs and meditate.” Instead of doing that, I started playing a Snake game on my mobile phone which was not a brain warm-up in any way. It’s just a game where you move a snake around collecting little balls and the aim is to collect as many as you can without running into yourself (because the snake gets longer and longer as you go along). So it’s a fairly banal sort of game. I did that for … I don’t know … I think I played 3 games … maybe. And I’m pretty good at it. So that took … probably awhile. I don’t even know how long. Maybe 20 minutes. And then I looked at the time and it was 9:30. So at that point, just seeing the time on my phone made me get out of bed and come downstairs and do the meditation.

In order to tame the chaos

It’s been a long time since I have meditated. And this has been hugely unhelpful to me. This is actually directly linked to the amount of chaos in my life because in order to tame the chaos, I need to start by being still and doing nothing and finding clarity.

I know from experience that if I meditate every single day, first thing in the morning, whether that’s 10 minutes or 20 minutes or 40 minutes, it has an incredible impact on my day, on my week, on my month, on everything. I know this.

But the problem is that since I know that, I’m very tempted to think, “I should meditate.” And like I said, that is the worst thing that I could possibly think. So I need to find an approach to meditation that doesn’t involve my thinking that that is something that I should do.

One thing that I’ve learned is that if I want to implement something into my daily routine in a consistent sort of way, well first of all, the first thing I’ve learned is that that’s almost impossible for me. However, I know that I’ve got to MAKE IT POSSIBLE if I’m going to be the person that I want to be, and if I want to achieve the things that I want to achieve, if I’m want to do the things that I want to do.

So knowing that it’s important for me to be meditating every day, I need to find a way to really enjoy the meditation and also to love doing the meditation. And I need to use my imagination to conjure up these associations which are going to compel me to meditate.

And at the end of the day, for me, if I look at anything that is really good for me, that I really need to be doing, those things always turn out to be an expression of love for myself, a way that I can love myself. For me, those things go hand in hand. What’s good for me can always be viewed as an expression of love for myself. And that’s what motivates me. That’s what I need to tap into.

So anyway, I eventually came downstairs and did the meditation.  I haven’t meditated since the 4th of June. I know this because on my calendar, I circle the dates when I do a meditation and exercise. So this means that it’s been 2 weeks since I have done any exercise or meditating. Before that, it was probably another 2 weeks. So my mind is in really bad shape at the moment. I was using a guided meditation by John Kabat-Zinn called “sitting meditation” which is a 40 minute sitting meditation. And my mind kept going all over the place. And that’s okay. It’s just a reflection that I haven’t been training my mind.

So my mind was going all over the place, and I kept doing what you do when you do mindfulness meditation, which is, you bring your mind back, again and again, gently you escort your mind back to the breath, to the sensations in the body, to the present moment, to simply allowing yourself to be, to this active non-doing where you’re not striving to get anywhere or achieve anything. And every time you do that, you make a note of where your mind has gone to and you give yourself a little bit of love: you just acknowledge that your mind has gone to that place and you gently bring your mind without judging, without criticising, just accepting that your mind is doing these things. And you just keep bringing it back again and again and again, like you might teach a child.

So I was doing this and quite a ways into the meditation, I started feeling more still. And as that happened, and as I started dwelling and being more in the moment, and being still, my mind started looking like a vast blank canvas where a couple of colours were swirling around. And an image came out of this.

It was like a painting. It was a wood. It was quite Avatar-like. You could see no houses, no buildings. You could see it from a distance. And it was zoomed out so you saw this huge tree and at the foot of the tree there were what looked like little stone steps, a really wide set of stone steps. And there was a tiny figure on the stairs. And that figure was me. And I could just see the back of me. It was almost like seeing a tiny stick figure, it was so far in the distance. And I could see I was standing quite straight, and I was walking up the steps. I was not too far from the top of the steps. And I looked very calm and very deliberate. And this huge massive tree was in the middle of a big forest. And from near the top of the tree, which was at an immense height, probably about a hundred times as tall as I was, you could see filtering through the branches, this glorious warm golden light … filtering down.

That reminds me of one of my newest songs which I just uploaded last night onto (you can go there and get a free download of it)! And it also made me think of who I am and where I am in my journey. It was such a beautiful and powerful image. And it rang true.

If I just sit

It felt as though it was a picture that my heart had painted.

And as this image came to me, I realised that I can only hear myself in this way, that I can only know my heart in this way if I take the time to be still and really listen, really pay attention to myself without asking anything of myself, without trying to do anything, without trying to get anywhere or be anything. If I just sit in complete acceptance of who I am, then I can see and hear these things which help me to know who I am, and know the desires of my own heart.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this morning.

I actually wanted to write a blog about how to tame the chaos. Because it’s something that I’m in the middle of, and I feel that for anyone who can relate to really struggling with this particular process of taming a chaos that seems to naturally result out of just being yourself, … if you can relate to that, then maybe, I thought, it might be helpful for you if I share what I’m doing about that and what my experience is with that.

But I’m going to leave that for another day because I think this is a good place to start: just the idea that clarity comes from doing not thinking, as Marie Forleo says, but also, clarity comes from non-doing not thinking, as I say!

I hope that’s helpful for you!

Please leave a comment below, or say hello, or let me know what you think!

I would really love that 🙂 Thanks!



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