Effort has a bad reputation in the spiritual world. It’s associated with stress, resistance and action which is out of alignment. On the spiritual path we attempt to do things from a place of ease, guidance and allowance. Whereas this is definitely desirable, I noticed that we tend to forget that we took our ego with us on this path which tends to twist and turn spiritual concepts to its own needs and desires.
And so it is with effortless action, also known as inspired action. We told ourselves that if things don’t just happen effortlessly or that things don’t instantly feel right, then it’s a sign that it’s not our path and we need to turn our backs to it. In some instances this might be right, but most of the time this is actually our spiritual ego trying to run away from an important life lesson we need to learn.
An easy way to know whether our decision not to put any effort into a situation comes from our Inner Being or from our ego, is to notice whether there is any confusion or doubt. As long as one side would actually want to take action and the other side feels like running away, chances are big that this is your ego’s work.
Spiritual growth is daunting and painful. It entails change and change is the ego’s least favourite action. Therefore, it will do anything in its power to prevent you from bringing about any kind of change. This self sabotage can take up a lot of different forms, anything between indifference about something you know you actually care about and immense fear about something you’ve wanted for a long time and you suddenly want to run from once it’s in front of you. The feelings can be pretty intense in these situations (even the indifference can weigh us down), so the ego convinces us that it doesn’t feel good to pursue our goal and it’s better to maintain the status quo.
What we don’t realize in those situations is that our reaction to this specific situation tells us something about ourselves and walking away is the worst option. Especially if it’s something we are actually very passionate about - a relationship, a job, an opportunity. The fact that we’re contradicting ourselves should spark our interest. Instead of dismissing the desire, hoping for a better day to come in which the relationship, job or opportunity comes falling into your lap, it is time for action.
But not the action you would traditionally expect. Now it’s not time to put effort into pursuing the goal, but instead putting effort into removing the obstacles that keep us from reaching the goal. In this case it’s our feeling about the goal. This means that we shouldn’t be pushing against our fears, doing something that completely doesn’t feel right and then hope for good results. For now, we should forget about our goal and instead make our feelings our primary goal. The reason we feel confusion or fear about this topic, is because a part of us is not in alignment. So, instead of forcing ourselves into achieving our goal, our task is to first bring ourselves into alignment.
I wrote a detailed post about getting into vibrational alignment, but in this post I will offer you the short version. First of all, sit with your emotions. Obviously, your Inner Being is wanting to tell you something. It’s wanting to make you aware of the fact that there are conflicting feelings and thoughts about this topic which bring you out of alignment. So, instead of running away from the topic all together, hoping that time will heal the wounds (which time never does, why else do we all still suffer from our childhood wounds?), it’s time to turn towards our feelings concerning the topic.
Getting intimate with ourselves, acknowledging our feelings, understanding our thoughts - this is the kind of effort we should do in these situations. But let’s do it mindfully, because our task is only to observe and to be receptive. We shouldn’t be pushing ourselves, demanding answers or solutions from our Inner Being. Just allow ourselves for once to be. We’re so cut off from just being, that it actually takes quite some effort to get to that place. Simply running away, burying ourselves in less confronting situations feels so much easier. And it is easier, but did we come to this earth to have an easy life or did we come to learn?
As long as we don’t feel comfortable about the situation as it is, we need to sit with it. It’s important to be okay with the situation in the here and now, even before we reach the desired outcome. This doesn’t mean that we need to give up wanting to reach the outcome. We simply need to acknowledge the perfection of the entire situation (including the place we are at in the present moment) as a valuable learning task. The realisation that every struggle brings about a lesson, creates gratitude instead of frustration. We can’t move forward from a place of dissatisfaction which is sometimes difficult to understand for our human brain. We think that accomplishing a specific task is what will bring us satisfaction, but we need to turn the steps around. First, we need to feel satisfaction about a topic and from there we can move towards it.
This step is really tricky which is why many people on the spiritual path (including myself) get lost here. We think that we naturally have to feel satisfaction about a topic, otherwise it’s not worth pursuing. We seem to forget how powerful and convincing the ego can be and that our souls have come to earth to learn lessons. Our egos can be the best teachers, but to turn away from potential problems and stay in the comfort zone, is like not turning up for the exam.
We’re afraid we’re not ready yet for the exam. We think it’s difficult and we’re not prepared enough. What we don’t realize is that we actually already have all it takes to pass the exam. All we need to do is to allow our Inner Being to show us the answers. These answers are hidden behind the many thoughts and feelings which form our resistance. This resistance keeps us from seeing reality. It’s crippling and makes us numb - unable to take action. These feelings can be very strong (and convincing!), but never forget that emotions are energy in motion. You need to allow them to move in your body. By suppressing them, they will continually wait for their release and in the meanwhile they will build your resistance. So, the more space and allowance you give your feelings, the quicker the resistance will fade - and that can happen pretty quickly.
Once we don’t feel any resistance anymore about our situation, we will be able to allow inspired action into our lives. From here things will come into our lives effortlessly, even though they might require some effort. To our ego any form of effort feels horrible, but effort can also be healing and enjoyable when it’s driven from the right place. A beautiful hike through nature requires quite some effort, but is that a reason not to do it? There is such a thing called eustress, also known as healthy stress. It’s the stress that we need in order to build muscles, be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. A healthy amount of stress helps us grow. Without any stress our system would eventually regress.
And so we will have to put effort into maintaining our relationships, learning new skills for the job and earning enough money for the holiday. Once we’re back into a state in which our desire doesn’t seem out of reach, dangerous or too difficult, we lose the resistance. The resistance - which is mainly made up of false beliefs and old feelings which are still stored in your body - is the only reason action feels like effort in the first place. The action itself does not need to be hard or tiresome - to the contrary. If we take action without resistance, action will flow from us and it will feel invigorating instead of draining.
Of course, at times we still might feel nervous about taking inspired action, but we will feel excitement instead of fear. A part of us will know that we need to take this step, even if we don’t know what the outcome is, but that we will be guided along the way. Once the resistance fades, we will have probably learned that our fears are nothing more than illusions. There are few things in this modern world which could really be dangerous for us and the biggest risk we take is to not fulfill our full potential. We didn’t come to this beautiful world to protect ourselves, we came to shine our light which shines brighter with every lesson we learn.