Read the new & improved version of this post: The Eightfold Path: Right Effort
Right Effort is the first practice in Mental Discipline on the Eightfold Path and involves cultivating a positive attitude and cheerful determination on your quest for freedom from suffering.
This practice is about making a persistent effort to do the right thing from day to day, and follow all the various rules and precepts. In other words, you give it your best shot. But it also means doing so without complaining when things get difficult. And things always get difficult.
It takes effort to keep going, especially when it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. This is hard enough when all you’re trying to do is lose a few pounds or learn how to play the bongos. But with the Eightfold Path your intention is to free yourself from suffering and that means being mindful of every act, every thought, every word spoken or written, every intention, every feeling and emotion, every day for as long as it takes.
Needless to say, this isn’t easy.
Right Effort means going out of your way to drop any behaviour, thought or emotion that does not serve your intention to awaken. It means deliberately cultivating compassion and mindfulness regardless of whatever else is happening in your life.
Literally everything that happens can be used to serve your practice. As Pema Chodron points out, any event can be used to either wake you up or put you back to sleep. Whatever arises from day to day is an opportunity to practise.
There is no such thing as a bad day.
There is nothing that can’t be approached with mindfulness. All it takes is a little effort, or a lot, but the effort must be made and applied across the board.
No exceptions. No excuses.
Next time: Right Mindfulness
Read the new version of this series here: Eightfold Path Series