To have clarity means to see what is before us exactly as it is in reality. Often we think we are seeing clearly only to discover later we were mistaken.

We all have had the experience where a friend does not return a phone call right away. So then we may call again the next day, and follow that with a text, or may be two. As the phone remains silent we begin to get angry. “Why isn’t she calling?” We might even run into someone who mentions seeing the unresponsive friend at a local coffee shop. Soon our anger becomes hurt, as we believe our friend seems to have ignored us. We may even engage in old ruminations about our loveability or the falseness of people, which leads us to isolate ourselves and feel depressed.

Then, a week later the phone rings and it is our friend. She apologizes profusely, saying she had lost her cell phone when she was on vacation, and it had just been returned by the hotel where she stayed. She was so worried when she saw we had been trying to reach her. At that point, we recognize how much suffering we had caused ourselves when our old insecurities and attitudes started to color our thinking.

The state of yoga is about being able to focus on what is before us without any distraction. This distraction can be our attitudes and assumptions coming from previous experience or ways of seeing the world we may have adopted. These patterns of thought are like the dirt on a window. As we look through the window to see the world, it is distorted by the dirt: there is no clarity and our actions will reflect that, causing us problems.

Our yoga practice is about becoming aware of the inaccurate mental patterns that cloud our perception. Through discipline and reflection, we grow in our self-knowledge and begin to clean our dirty windows thus allowing us to perceive more accurately. When we see more clearly, our actions are based on what is really before us, so we can avoid suffering.