Effort and exertion.
That’s what it has taken for you to succeed throughout your life.
You’ve accomplished an enormous amount through exertion. You’ve set goals, worked hard to achieve them, and then set new ones, and worked toward those. And so it goes.
This is a life of discipline, achievement, accomplishments.
Success is the result of sustained effort, and whether you notice it or not, physical discomfort. You may even feel good when you push yourself or feel a little physical pain. It’s how you know you are alive.
Congratulate yourself on your discipline and effort. This kind of striving even has its own name – it’s called virananda – the bliss of exertion.
It’s appropriate to the early years of your life.
Exertion and discipline are necessary when experience is lacking. And the only way you gain experience is by having experiences, by living them and then reflecting upon them.
Virananda, the bliss of exertion, over time, becomes an obstacle to deeper insight into your life and existence, if wisdom is what you seek.
If you want to become wise and enjoy a life of deeper meaning, you must cultivate the skills of self reflection and subtle awareness.
When you become wise you don’t need to work as hard. You live smarter.
How can you focus on the smarter and not the ‘try harder?”
You have to make time for practices that allow you to reflect on your experiences and that remove the accumulated physical tensions of years of straining. This deepens your awareness of what gives your life meaning and joy.
When you push yourself over many years, you accumulate physical and mental fatigue. It sneaks up on you.
You notice that you don’t feel as good as you used to, even though you are doing all of the right things. You eat well, you exercise, and so on, but nothing restores you quite to where you would like to be.
The cumulative tension over years means that your body is less comfortable than it used to be in small, yet significant ways. This manifests differently in different people: headaches, neck or jaw pain, back pain, knee or foot pain, wrist pain, fatigue, etc. All things that you didn’t have before.
Your tensions become obstacles to wisdom – to the discovery of the depths of your soul, to cultivated wisdom.
You become calm because you are wise.
This is The Real You. Wisdom and calm are the gifts of your soul.
You can’t exert and strain your way to expanding these gifts.
In fact, you cannot undertake the search for these, your greatest gifts, until you reach a point in your life where you are able to use the positive aspects of your character – your discipline, your dedication, your curiosity and passion – and apply them in a new way to yourself.
What is this new way?
It’s a path whose landscape is that of the gentle and subtle.
Rather than the familiar “Push Through,” “Overcome,” “Tough it out,” you explore and unleash the power of your own innate subtlety and gentleness.
The sounds of this landscape are whispers rather than shouts.
Remember times when you have whispered, and times when you have shouted. Which is the more powerful? Which conveys greater depth of meaning? Which is more likely to be effective? When do you feel more at home in your body – when you whisper or when you shout?
If you feel it’s shouting, then the degree of physical tension in your core is so great that you cannot yet attune to the power of the subtle.
How could it be that something subtle is more powerful than something bold, strong, or loud?
This is not the way you usually understand things.
You think that whatever you can see, or hear, or feel is more powerful than something you can’t.
But there’s another way to understand power. If you have ever been hurt by words, then you know the power of subtle.
Subtle is more powerful than the bold or loud.
A thought is more powerful than a word.
A word is more powerful than a deed.
How can that be?
Because without a thought you wouldn’t have a word. Thoughts give rise to words.
You think about chocolate cake. And then you create words, “I am going to eat that chocolate cake.”
And then you eat the chocolate cake.
Your thought is so powerful that it causes you to formulate words.
And the words propel you into action.
No thought, no action. This is the power of the subtle.
Your action, your deed, would not have taken place without your thought and then your words.
Your thoughts are more powerful than your deeds because it is your thoughts that propel you into activity.
You can’t see your thoughts. You can’t hear, taste, touch, or smell them.
They are extremely subtle.
They are extremely powerful.
But you aren’t used to looking for and experiencing the subtle.
Nearly everything you have done with your body and mind throughout most of your life has made attentiveness to the subtle more difficult. That’s not your fault. It's our culture now.
It’s nearly impossible to be aware of the subtle, especially the subtle within yourself, when you are filled with unnoticed core tension, and distracted by devices which just create more tension.
Here’s the wonderful secret: it isn’t necessary to strive and strain to become aware of and harness the power of the subtle. In fact, just the opposite. You must be gentle.
That part of you that’s the source of your innate peace and calm, the part of your soul that becomes wise, the source of all of your innate gifts, is what you uncover as your awareness of subtlety increases.
The hardest part of this new way is the not straining. The not doing what you’re used to doing. The hardest part is learning to be gentle and not push, not stress, not strive.
Without the strain you accomplish even greater things that enliven and illuminate everything you do.
Your Mind Body Breath – these three – are all you need on this new path. They are with you all of the time, and they are wholly and uniquely yours.
You have everything you need to become wise and calm through practices that teach you to attend to the subtle within you.
This is who you really are. It’s time for you to remember by engaging your innate power of gentle.