Clarity is not available in the midst of emotion. That doesn’t mean emotion is bad, it just means that’s not where you find clarity. Emotion is a natural human experience…and at the same time, too much emotion takes us off center. We know this intuitively. How often have you said out loud, or to yourself: I need to think about that. I need to step away. I need to pray. Let me settle down, take a breath, have some space. Let me sit with this for a while, talk with my coach. I need to calm down. We know there is no clarity when we are caught up in emotion.
In the Bible story of the woman who has committed adultery, (John 8:1-11) Jesus gives us the perfect example of finding clarity by stepping out of emotion. The men who presented the woman and called for her to be stoned according to the law, were filled with emotion. They could not see beyond the written law. Jesus did not confront them or question the charge. Instead he bent down and began writing in the dirt. Finally he said: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” One by one the men left until everyone was gone.
If you are struggling with a decision, the way things are, what to do, how to be…if you are emotional, distraught, out of sorts…know that what you seek cannot be found in these states. Know this too: all you need exists at the depth of you. That is where calm and clarity reside. Sit a while. Breathe. It is in the calm where you will find wisdom. And the breath of God.
Here is another way to understand, from Lao Tzu: “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
Life is a practice. Practice well.