No. 16 - On letting go of effort

I try too hard. Whether it's trying to remember the name of a song or opening up to intuition, my first instinct is to put in all the effort. And the answer never comes until I let that effort go. Perhaps you can identify with this or perhaps you have practiced enough that the letting go just comes naturally to you. Either way, I hope you will find a little inspiration in this week's letter that will help you toward a state of effortless ease in which all the answers you seek come to you.


I just don't believe that we can be in two places at the same time and that includes being in the grips of over-effort and sitting in serenity. For me, they are mutually exclusive. However, serenity can absolutely follow effort and is sometimes instant when we let go. Even if only for a moment. Here is a common technique employed by yoga teachers to move people into the serenity for Savasana, the final relaxation at the end of a physical yoga practice in most traditions: squeeze tightly, as tight as you can, all the muscles in your body (you can do this all at once or sequentially) - there is the effort - and then completely let go - there is the serenity. I think it's the same with mental effort, serenity comes with the answer you find in the letting go.


It seems counterintuitive that letting go of effort should move us forward. But think on a time where you were working so hard to make something happen. To get that something just right. However much you added effort, you seemed to make little progress. In fact, the greater the effort the slower came the result. Why? In these moments we're working against what Deepak Chopra calls "The Law of Least Effort." Instead, he asks us to take heed of nature's approach in functioning with "effortless ease". Nature puts no extreme effort put into growing zucchini, it just grows (and grows!) when opportunity strikes, the soil having been prepared and the seed planted. We seem to think that success can only come out of struggle and working ourselves to the bone with maximum difficulty and effort. We force it through our will. But reality is that most things cannot be forced and must be allowed to flow freely in their own time. When we let go of the effort things "click": words flow, connections are made, ideas bloom, good fortune accelerates, pieces fall together. So, if you have been trying to move forward by force try letting go of effort. Do what comes with freedom and allow the flow of the universe to carry you with ease.


When we are working so hard to make some objective come to fruition we create tension in our body. Even when we let go of the metal or emotional effort, often there is some physical residual tension. From fear carried in the abdomen to the all-too-common tension headache. If we don't do anything to release that tension it will accumulate and, over time, it can lead to everything from inconvenience to injury. Luckily, mother nature is replete is helpful herbs. From chamomile to mint to lemon balm (hello Nightcap), both the herbs and the relaxation that accompanies a beautiful cup of tea can make great inroads to releasing those residuals. Next time you are successful in letting go of the mental effort, remember to take care of the body and encourage sweet release.

One more thing...

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” - Lao Tzu

Until next time,
Steep Calm.

No. 16 - On letting go of effort
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