2020-03-25: Viriya (3 of 5) Continuous Effort
11:45PM Jun 19, 2020
So this is only the second week that I'm really figuring out how this YouTube works and this way of broadcasting and, and our little exchanges around the mics and the volume at the beginning was actually quite nice for me and really began to break open the idea that or dissolve the idea that this whole medium, it's a little bit impersonal to see your responses and to feel your mutual support and figuring this out. Feeling it's somewhat interactive this way. I guess I just cut out the light and, and warmth and happiness to be even more so to share this with all of you. So thank you
So then to continue on this five part series on effort in practice, especially in meditation practice. The first week first day was a negotiating effort. And then it was being able to discern the appropriate places to put our effort there, right endeavor into put our life energy into those things which are supportive, helpful, freeing, skillful, and to avoid putting him into put effort into not to letting go of that which is unskillful and helpful. As we do this more as we get a sense of how to navigate and what we put our effort into how we put our effort, what we focus Focus on this is part of meditation of our engagement and involvement with the present moment. And certainly it's possible to get busy trying to adjust everything all the time. But it's also if we really take this to heart and understand this discernment this towards that which is helpful, supportive. At some point, we realize that working too hard, straining, being busy, trying to be too perfect meditation is actually counterproductive that trying to do meditation perfectly, you only end up doing it in perfectly. I like to think kind of, I don't have any, you know, it's not a hard and fast figure. But I kind of have this idea that it's kind of like meditation practice, which is 60% Good, whatever that is, is actually much better than meditation practice that we're trying to be 90% good meditator 100% that we want to give ourselves leeway and be relaxed about how things are and and not be troubled by how things are. So that there can be a greater settling a greater letting go or greater discovery of ease with what is and of course, there are difficulties as we meditate. And then the effort can be how do we not be troubled by the difficulty how do we not get reactive or constricted or tight or self critical around the difficulties and this effort, the effort to find how to be in a way that is more at ease and less reactive, less harsh, less heavy, or, or, you know, stressful? Is this ongoing effort to kind of find our way and so the right endeavoring is not a problem, but it's actually freeing, settling. And as we go along with this, we find that build up continuity of effort, continuity of kind of being engaged in the meditation, and it's nourishing to be engaged, it's settling, it's, it feels like the doors are opening to a greater calm or peace or equanimity or just kind of just or greater kind of feeling like we're authentic or connected to what's real, as opposed to fixing and manipulating and changing what's going on. And so the third kind of effort that I want to focus on today is could be called continuous effort. But that might be sound again, like a lot of work. I another way of talking about it is effort that is persistently relaxed, or with our relaxed persistence. So continuity of effort, where being at ease or relaxed is built into how we're aware, and then settling in and letting that be more continuous. And that builds naturally on its own. Every time we come back from the mind wandering off and settle back, settle back, that the momentum of being lost in thought or being thinking begins to quiet down. Like every time we start over again, we're decreasing the amount of fuel that keeps active thinking going, the amount that we decrease, it might be very small imperceptible. But if we do it 100 times in a session of meditation, it makes a difference and slowly settle.
If we come back to the present moment, and then have a gentle dedication, let's just stay here to hang out here. Let's try to be upright and have some strength and just be here with the experience. Not straining and not demanding and not expecting To be successful even, but just a dedication or maybe a devotion, let me hang here with us be with it. And then we wander off and we start again. And over time, the idea is to cultivate and find a continuity. A lot of the deeper benefits of meditation practice have come when the effort to be present, or the ability to be present as a continuity through time. And that not only is in meditation, formal meditation itself, but it's also in everyday life. Then if we can have some semblance of some connection to being attentive, aware as we go through our day. The continuity of awareness is kind of like a magnet for beneficial states to magnet for better understanding of ourselves and how to navigate and find ourselves and it gives us a greater capacity, to not Continue to fuel, unhelpful, unhelpful states, states that are maybe caught up in greed, hate and delusion or where we collapse into fear. And so, so this continuity of attention kind of provides breathing room for our life. And that's greater space greater connection to what's going on. And so that is the direction is continuous effort. And you know, so the beginning of getting into that, it takes a little bit of work takes remembering it takes valuing it, and, and it really supported by feeling the goodness of it and appreciating it. If we just keep thinking it's at work, and we keep thinking that, you know, I'm not doing a good job and we're critical of ourselves. It's not a very pleasant, inviting state for them. To stay present in but if we can find some way to hold our practice hold how we are with generosity with kindness with compassion with ease and just kind of okay non by standard not trying too hard not be rating ourselves, but kind of delight and just the capacity to be aware or appreciate the value of being real or, or value. Yes, now you can be more careful and not make mistakes and what you say or do that somehow it feels inviting and satisfying to be connected and present. So the effort to be starts being more continuous. You want to do this, you want to do this. It's maybe a little bit like, you know, if you play sports or a game or musical instrument, you know, if you really enjoy what you're doing the effort to play the to do the activity. You know, it's There's no there's no active sounds like a work, you have to do it. It's more like now I get to play and we kind of get absorbed or lost in the experience because we're so delighted by it. It is possible to have that kind of approach with meditation. It takes a while to build it up. But in order to build it up, there has to be some joy, some delight, some however small it might be, or some appreciation out this is good to be here. That doesn't come quickly in meditation practice, sometimes it takes months and maybe some years to really get a lot of the, you know, deep deep appreciation of Oh, this is home this is the continuity of effort is bringing us to towards that place. And one of the ways to practice the effort to make to get there can be kind of Maybe all of it can be held underneath the expression, relaxed persistence. Persistence by itself, the word might lend itself to striving and pushing and straining, but relaxed persistence, the relaxed part by itself might even lead to complacency or sleepiness or dullness. But these two together, relaxed persistence and they support each other, making effort, but staying calm while making the effort. So
we make the initial effort to keep showing up. And that's something that even experienced meditators are still doing because the mind is changeable and all that. So sometimes we're just doing the effort to show up, to start again to start again. And then as it We connect to what's happening, then there can be this right endeavor, we can find our bearings, understand how to be present, how to meditate in a way that's supportive. And making those adjustments. The after make adjustments that are supportive and helpful. At some point, we don't want to make too many adjustments because then we just keep agitated. We're making the adjustments that lead to greater calm and subtleness. And then as we settle in, then to have some dedication or some effort, can now let's see if I can stay here. Let me stay open, let me stay receptive. Let me stay connected. Let me stay tethered to the moment or tethered to the breath in a nice way. A wonderful image that I used many years ago, myself, my practice to help me with this continuity of it tension to my breathing. That kind of provided for me kind of something like the right tension or tightness. And this balance between relaxation and persistence was I'd imagine, I would imagine that I was flying a kite. And in my mean out, my understanding of flying a kite is that if there's a strong wind, you want to loosen up the string, so it's not too much tension on it, and let it go a little bit. And then but if there's less when you want to pull it in, so there's a little bit of air pressure against it to hold it up. So if that accurate enough, that was how I saw it for myself, that as I was breathing, I wanted to keep just the right tautness between the attention and the breathing just to write the string of attention right there. Sometimes I would let it out a little bit more and let the breathing kind of, you know, be a little more free as I was aware of it. And other times I'd bring it closer and feel it. And I was kind of, you know, with the oscillation of breathing in and breathing out this video, there was a string and I was keeping that attention there and moving with it back and forth, was one of the many ways that I've cultivated continuity of awareness through time. So as you go by about your daily life today, you might see if what, Joy delight. What, what's great about if you can just stay aware, stay receptive, stay attentive, in a more continuous way. Maybe start with 30 seconds at a time. And maybe you can increase to one minute or two minutes. Don't sit up part to high standards, but just see what the benefits come from that and what goes on. So thank you very, very much and, and I look forward to coming down here to IMC and sitting here alone with all of you. So until tomorrow be well thank you