Stormy sea

What if wisdom comes from a clear mind?

First of all, what is wisdom? It’s a word that we use all the time and assume we know what it means. Maybe it means different things to different people. How do we recognize wisdom in the moment? Is it just something that makes sense? Is it a knowing?  

I don’t think we always recognize wisdom in the moment. Sometimes it’s only hindsight that brings about that recognition.  

So how can we know in the moment, what’s wisdom and what’s not? How can we be sure to differentiate between being wise or unwise? When sometimes the thing that sounded ridiculous to us in the moment, with the benefit of hindsight, turned out to be wisdom? When sometimes the voice of wisdom is the voice we least want to listen to? When the voice of wisdom is telling us to take the scariest route? 

Sometimes what looks like wisdom to me looks like foolhardiness to another. Like when I decided to give up a perfectly good job at the beginning of a recession and start my own business. Plenty of people warned me against that rash decision, and sometimes it did look rash, but for good or for bad that was one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure, but that was wisdom for me in the moment. It made perfect sense. I was absolutely clear that’s what I wanted to do, except for the moments when I wondered if they were right and I was wrong. Sometimes our thinking does that to us. It clouds the wisdom with fearful thinking.  

With the benefit of hindsight that decision still looks to me like wisdom. I had a knowing that everything would be ok, even though I couldn’t know that everything would work out.  

I can also see times when I ignored the voice of wisdom. I remember knowing that I shouldn’t jump into a particular relationship. My thinking clouded that voice out. I got carried away with a story in my head that everything would be ok, even though I knew it wouldn’t be. That voice of wisdom was right. But was it? It was a very dark period in my life, but then again, I learned such a lot from the experience. Was that wisdom? Is that how it works?  

What is wisdom? 

Is wisdom the choice where everything works out well, or is it the choice that brings us to see something new and fresh that enables us to deal with life with more resilience, grace and ease? If it’s the latter, then anything could be wisdom in action. The faux pas, the failed idea, the choices that lead to dark periods in our life.  

It looks to me like both could be true. That there is not one definition of wisdom. But what I do see is that I’ve been guided through my life by an inner source of knowing. Sometimes I’ve followed it and sometimes I’ve ignored it. And when I’ve ignored it, it just keeps giving me new ideas or thoughts that help me to navigate through the mire I’ve landed myself in. 

On reflection I can see that some thoughts and ideas have a certain quality to them. There’s a clarity to them. I’ve kind of known that’s what I should say or do. It hasn’t come with a whole load of ifs and buts or whys and wherefores. It’s not a shall I, shan’t I decision. It’s crystal clear. There are no real words for the knowing that accompanies this voice, just somehow we know. 

And then there’s the wisdom that comes with a level of fear attached to it, because sometimes the wise thing to do is not the easy thing. So we pay attention to the fear, which is why I’ve ignored the voice of reason in the past. The fear is a separate thing to the wisdom. I hear and feel the fear in a different way to how I hear and feel the wisdom. It’s taken me a while to be able to differentiate between the two, because they seem so intertwined. But there is a slight separation – a double vision so to speak. 

So does wisdom come from a clear mind? In the first example I felt like it came from a clear mind. I had very little experience of fear or thinking that clouded the desire to start my business. So yes, that looks like it came from a mind that was clear of negative thinking. But what about when I ignored the voice, when a load of fear came with the thoughts, that wasn’t a clear mind. Was it? 

I am the ocean and the waves – the two are not separate 

Think about it this way. I am the ocean. The waves on the ocean represent my thinking. Sometimes the waves are a gentle ripple, sometimes they are tumultuous. No matter how tumultuous the waves, deep in the ocean is quiet and still, always. This represents a clear mind. Wisdom comes from this quiet, still space, fear is in the waves.  

That quiet, still, clear mind is always there no matter how stormy our thinking might be. Yes, it’s easier to hear what’s coming from that space, when our minds have settled down, but it’s there all the time. It’s like a spaciousness that surrounds and contains the noise in our personal mind. When we step away from the noise, we fall into the spaciousness that surrounds it and where wisdom abounds. We can notice and be aware of that clear mind even in the midst of chaotic thinking.  

I find that, knowing that a clear mind is available to me all the time, knowing the difference between fear and wisdom, knowing that I can experience both at the same time, and knowing that I am not that chaotic thinking, knowing that I am the waves and the ocean, the two are not separate, then I find that I can listen to wisdom more of the time. And sometimes I don’t! 

Please, as always, do not take my word for it. Reflect on your own experiences. Notice when you know, and when you think you know better. Notice the difference between fear and wisdom. Know that you too are the ocean – waves and all. 

If you would like to learn more about how to see this more clearly for yourself please do contact us, we would love to talk about this. If you would like to join in a group conversation about this our next Live More Stress Less event, Laughter and Love takes place from 22nd – 24th November at the Ferrers Centre in Ashby de la Zouch.

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