The Qualities of Wise Effort
Wise effort is one of the tenets of the eightfold path and it happens to be one of my favorites to practice. Living in NYC effort has a flavor of urgency around it and ‘doing’ more is easy to get entangled in. For myself, I know I hear that voice of judgement and that pull of guilt when I have not produced a new article or achieved a certain milestone in my life that seems appropriate by society standards.
When these feelings arise I try not to get hooked into their grips, instead turning towards the sensations in my body - usually unpleasant and meet them with a kindness and patience. As a first suggestion when practicing wise effort is grounding in the body, using breath and contact as an anchor. The pathway towards a sincere contribution in the world always begins with seeing, caring and responding within our own mind, body and heart first. If we avoid what is happening inside us in order to derail the feelings of inadequacy with more doing, we will continue to feed the beast. We will become more addicted to the desire to produce as a means to pacify negative emotions and create a lot of internal suffering by way of guilt and expectations.
Wise effort is the quality of receptivity. We simplify and surround ourselves in an environment where it is available to see, care and respond to what is right here in the moment. It may seem like we are being lazy or even avoiding what we should do but this is fact not the case. By taking these skillfull pauses, we are actually efforting quite intently, turning towards our nature so our actions will be rooted in clear responsiveness rather than conditioned reactivity.
Your wisdom and most authentic effort lives inside.