A Sneak Peek at The Clarity Cleanse

At goop, we’ve always believed that the connection between the mind and the body is central to our understanding of health, and often overlooked and underserved. In this realm, Habib Sadeghi, DO, cofounder of the integrative health center Be Hive of Healing, reminds us—in original and illuminating ways—how important it is to take care of your emotional sh*t for the sake of your spiritual and physical health.

In his new book—The Clarity Cleanse: 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing—he takes us through a process he’s developed throughout his life and career, sharing paradigm-shifting tools with which to approach your inner life and the world around you. Below, an excerpt from the first chapter—and to read more, you can find the book here on goop.

(For interested friends in Australia, you can pick up a copy via Booktopia, and in New Zealand you can find it at Mighty Ape.)

Chapter 1
What Is Clarity

When people ask me what it means to have clarity, I ask them to imagine themselves making a cup of tea. What do you need to make tea? The answers I usually get are hot water and, of course, tea leaves.

These two things are certainly necessary for making tea, but they aren’t the only requirements. They aren’t even the most important. When making tea, the first thing you need, before anything else, is a cup. You need a container in which to place the tea leaves and pour the water.

Clarity is that cup. The experiences we have and the things we do are the tea leaves and water that go into the cup. Together they can make a wonderfully tasty and nourishing tea, but it doesn’t work unless you have a cup. Imagine what would happen if you tried to make tea without a cup. When you poured water over your tea leaves, there would be nothing to contain them, so you wouldn’t get a nice cup of tea at all. All you would get would be a mess.

Like lacking a cup, lacking clarity is no small matter. Without it we are unable to contain or give context to our actions and the things that happen in our lives. It’s why so many of us are unsure of what to do when we feel stuck or unhappy. It’s why we feel unprepared for life’s challenges and traumatic events.

When I was in medical school, I memorized a phone book’s worth of information each week, but none of it taught me anything about how to live my life. That’s why, when I received my cancer diagnosis, I was lost. I knew a lot about cancer and how it affected the body, but I had no idea how to handle the fact that I was now facing it myself. Like water being poured over tea leaves without a cup, my thoughts and feelings flowed all over the place. I was a mess—until, that is, my friend Gary came along and did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He contained me. In that crucial moment, he served as my cup.

“Clarity is what allows us to take from any experience the lessons we can use—those elements that help us learn, grow, and expand our consciousness.”

Without this tremendous gift that Gary gave me, I don’t believe I would have been able to heal from cancer. That lunch in the Mexican restaurant was the start of my recovery. Later on I realized I needed to be able to do for myself what Gary had done for me. Cancer was my challenge of the moment, but it wasn’t going to be the only difficulty I would face. I couldn’t go through life hoping Gary, or someone as generous and knowledgeable, would be around every time I needed clarity. I had to learn how to serve as my own container—how to create my own cup.

A potter creates a cup by knowing which parts of the clay to keep and which to discard as she forms her vessel. In much the same way, clarity is what allows us to take from any experience the lessons we can use—those elements that help us learn, grow, and expand our consciousness. Then we discard the rest, continually clearing our cup of all the fear, resentment, judgment, sadness, and other bits and pieces that won’t serve us moving forward. Such things only get in our way, and perhaps even harm us, when we allow them to stick around.

The Theory of Containment

Clarity has its roots in a theory developed in the 1960s by British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion. The basic idea behind Bion’s theory is that, in order for us to process our thoughts and feelings fully and effectively, we must first be able to contain them. This is the opposite of what most of us instinctively do with uncomfortable or unhappy feelings, which is to ignore, dismiss, or try to change or control them.

Containing means being able to gather and hold what we’re feeling, being present with it so that we consciously experience it in a nonjudgmental and empathic way. As we process it in this way, we enable it to pass through us.

Ironically it’s this containment, this act of holding, that allows us to move through our thoughts and emotions. It’s a process that both requires space and creates space.

To understand what I mean, think about cleaning house. A few years ago hoarding became a popular subject for the cable networks. A&E had a show called Hoarders, TLC had Hoarding: Buried Alive, and the Style Network featured ten seasons of Clean House. If you’ve seen any of these shows, or know someone who hoards, you know the mess hoarders live in is something that builds up over time. It might start with a few piles of newspapers on the floor, stacks of clothes that never get put away, or dishes piling up in the sink. As hoarding habits continue, a little clutter turns into crowdedness. Then the crowdedness spreads, first across one room, then across two. If a person continues on this trajectory, pretty soon their house is overrun. In an extreme hoarder’s home stacks of stuff lie everywhere, the floor is barely visible, and the hoarder has hardly any room to move. Because they haven’t cleaned things up, they can’t move around, which makes it hard to clean since there’s no room to maneuver.

We get stuck in much the same way psychologically and spiritually, or psycho-spiritually, as I call it, when we suppress or internalize our thoughts and feelings. As the saying goes, “Feelings buried alive never die.” In other words, if we don’t make a habit of containing and processing our feelings and thoughts, our internal landscape goes through the same kind of devolution as that of a hoarder’s house. Such feelings and thoughts hang around, cluttering up our consciousness. Over time, unaddressed clutter will continue to build, not only crowding out our authentic being but festering and becoming unsanitary, even downright dangerous. When the buildup reaches this level in our internal landscape, that’s when disease erupts in our bodies or our life circumstances.

“We get stuck psychologically and spiritually, or psycho-spiritually, as I call it, when we suppress or internalize our thoughts and feelings.

Clarity, therefore, isn’t just a cup. Clarity is a clean cup. In order for our tea to be tasty, healthy, and restorative, we not only need a cup to drink from, we need that cup to be clean. Achieving clarity isn’t only about creating a container but about keeping the container decongested and free from contaminants.

The muck stuck in the bottom of our cups consists of our biases and prejudices. It’s our limiting beliefs and our many distractions. It’s repressed emotions and unprocessed experiences (bad or good) that stick with us, drain our energy, and get in our way. We need a way to process and make sense of the things that happen in our lives—all the experiences we have, the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel—so this muck doesn’t stick around and build up until it overwhelms us. Like cleaning house, this is an ongoing process. The longer we go without taking action, the more work there’s going to be when we finally start, and the more likely it is we’ll unearth something truly nasty that’s been growing unseen in the darkness.

Excerpted from The Clarity Cleanse by Habib Sadeghi, DO. Copyright © 2017 by Habib Sadeghi, DO. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

Habib Sadeghi DO, is a cofounder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles, and the author of The Clarity Cleanse: 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.