…When we’re working, how do we sustain our effort? How do we keep the kind of steadiness and pace that allows us to put forth effort without wearing ourselves out?
In meditation, we have a chance to notice how difficulties can arise when we’re focused on trying to get or achieve something in our practice, when there’s an agitated energy of doing. Or we can notice a holding back of effort and how the mind can sink with that. With these observations we better understand how effort works, and we can apply this understanding outside of meditation as well.
When we’re working or doing any kind of chore, it’s helpful to consider how to apply effort so there’s a steadiness, not a holding back or sinking and not an agitated energy of doing. We can also examine the way we limit ourselves through perceptions of what we think we can do. When we limit ourselves with perceptions, ideas, or fears, we’re not able to put forth much effort.
Contrary to these perceptions and fears, if our effort is balanced, then the more effort we put into something, the more energy we get back. There’s a nice feedback loop of supporting energy that comes from putting forth the right kind of effort. When we learn to use effort in an appropriate way, we find ourselves buoyed up by the energy coming from that.
Being able to apply effort with steadiness and balance is an important skill. To develop this skill, we need to experiment with and look closely at how we apply effort and the results of applying effort. When we’re able to apply ourselves in a steady, balanced way, we begin to get a feel for what the Buddha meant by “unremitting energy, unwavering effort.”
According to the Buddha, this factor of effort is crucial for liberation.
This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume One, (pdf) pp. 225-226.