Optimizing Effort

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

Augusta F. Kantra

Since the end of last year I've been immersed in the tedious works that allow me to show up and teach with more ease and strength. This year I'm focusing on the foundation of yoga practice that is Asana or postures. Several Asana-focus workshops are offered so, I can take the time to deepen my practice and teaching. In addition, I'm offering handouts with the workshops for the participants to take home to practice with. This is the method in which I intend to complete my Asana-guide book -- Yoga of Intention. Apparently the Saturn has moved into the Capricorn in December and my focus shifted since then from the kumbaya mode to get down and do the necessary work of expressing the deep values I discovered in myself last year by bringing them out into the world through right actions. I'm progressing from why--knowing what I need, to how to get them, to the lessons that allow me to share the why, how, and what. No matter where or when in your life the most rudimentary requirement to live fully and purposefully is optimizing and maintaining your energy and effort. Here're how I cultivate mine.

1. Start with why. This is the cause of your intention. Without knowing in your heart what you value the most you will go for what easy and what habitual or what dazzling rather than what keep you learning and growing more into your natural ability and capacity. Even when you're happy with how things are going you cannot deny your natural desire to connect to things, which is curiosity. If you have curiosity you cannot not learn and grow into more of yourself. Your intention keeps you connected to the causes that reveal more of the authentic you. Qualities such as love, harmony, beauty, wisdom, joy, creativity, autonomy, and compassion allow you to feel, be, and do yourself effortlessly even when your life is uncomfortable or difficult. Why do you do what you do? Do your actions lead you to reveal the essential qualities in you or do they cover up your authenticity? The sense of awkwardness or feeling uncomfortable in your own mind and skin is simply the doorway to connectedness and wholeness.

2. Follow-up with how. How can you expend the least energy to get the best result? Between where you are and where you want to arrive are simply steps. You can't hop from step one to seven. It costs too much effort and increases too much risk which lead to undue stress and trauma that break you down rather than build you up. Find a path from where you are and see each step along the path clearly in your mind. If your heart responds to your vision and you feel joy in your chest, calm in your belly, and peace in your sensory organs then you've arrived at intention. Every step of the way check back to your intention so, you can let both your heart and your current circumstance lead you to the next right step. Obstacles and challenges are simply the means to a stronger and greater you.

3. Manifest your intention the way you find it. Rely on what support and sustain you. The Buddhist teaching suggests that the Practitioners rely on the three refuges -- Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. I adopt and adapt the teaching to suit my values. Your Buddha nature is effortless wakefulness and awareness. Your Dharma nature is the effortless unfolding of your reality be it the breath, body sensation, feeling, or thought. Your Sangha is the physical condition or environment you find yourself in and among. The world you live in is effortlessly friendly to you be it the gravity that supports your bones or the friend who speaks kindly to you. If you focus on their hostility your life is filled with difficulty. If you focus on their friendliness all the things existed in your environment are available to help you be you deeply, fully, effortlessly. 

The discipline is in bending your attention to the effortless state of essential experience. When your energy is optimized you experience effortless effort. The learning is through attuning your effortless Buddha nature that is awareness to the present-moment truth unfolding that is Dharma. All the while allow your body to be held and supported by the earthly substances--things and people that ground and root you as the rhythm of motion in the breath and body warms and uplifts you. The lessons build your physical coordination and social cooperation skills that optimize your energy and effort. The integration leads to greater freedom. When effort is optimized you sense yourself as a seamless and timeless evolution. All that you perceive simply returns you to the observation that you are -- effortless awareness, truth unfolding, and friendly connectedness. Moments of unconsciousness, unhelpful attitudes, emotional distress, or physical imbalances are simply  tools to understand the world that you live in and the world that lives in you.