Finding Comfort in Clarity

“Maybe instead of making New Year’s resolutions we can seek clarity instead.” —Denise Benitez

My new year began with several comforting rituals. I count myself as fortunate to have stopped going out the night prior and staying up too late many moons ago. Now I wake up early to take in the first sunrise of the year, sit for prayer and meditation, and eagerly imbibe the annual spiritual theme from the master of my lineage. Then I partake in a class led by one of my favorite long-time hatha yoga teachers. At this year’s class closing my teacher said, “Maybe instead of making New Year’s resolutions we can seek clarity instead.” 

What an incredible reformation of the common new year’s resolution battle cries to do or be better. So many are doing the best we can already. To pile on another heavy-handed expectation to be more than what we already are does not feel loving or respectful. It is like when you tell a trusted advisor a long list of things you’re doing to improve and they respond, “Yeah, but you have not done X!”, passing over any acknowledgement of all previous effort.

Seeking clarity holds space for all our previous endeavors up to this present moment. In contrast to resolutions, it is not another “to do” box of one more thing to become. It offers a doorway, an invitation, into which one’s greater self can appear and be witnessed. To be heard. It widens the dialectic aperture through which we speak to ourselves. It shifts “You haven’t done this yet!” to “What will you do if you can see more?” 

Clarity is the ability to see discerningly. In a serious, dedicated practice of yoga we are routinely polishing our own mirror in effort to do just this. We are removing the log from our own eye instead of the speck from our neighbor’s. We diligently aim to become more coherent, to bring our best work into sharper focus so we can improve the quality of everything we do, from our relationship to self and others to any contributions we make. We can better comprehend what the great yogic sages mean when they teach our outer world changes as we do our inner work. 

To seek clarity is sage advice. It is the pursuit of an open-ended value rather than a finite outcome. The difference between choosing to grow our ability to love fully instead of finding a specific kind of partner. Even if the specific partner is never found, we will experience the benefits of other new, loving, heart opening exchanges. It invites ongoing transformation without a contracted end goal. 

Aiming to be more pure, intelligible, and transparent will improve everything we do. As important, it will shepherd us through decision-making processes of what not to do. Our sense of personal well-being expands when we know we’ve applied our best efforts. Even when outcomes are not what we’d hoped, a comfort remains in the awareness we’re living through our values and not only our goals—sometimes reached, sometimes not. 

So, in this cold, dark, gestational season, maybe you too will explore seeking clarity. Go on the treasure hunt for new insight. Softly set aside some common expectations of an often-noisy majority and search more specifically for what makes it easier to see, hear, and feel the answers that serve you in acting in your own highest and best interest. 

Increased clarity in our own lives can bring comfort. No matter what we are working with, in any set of circumstances, we can act with more confidence in all our actions when we are clear.

Happy, happy new year! May you enjoy and reap the successes of any goals you have for 2023.

Image credit: Arthur Ogleznev