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Finding the perfect balance of effort and ease

Finding the perfect balance of effort and ease

Every time I walk into yoga class with my favorite teacher, I know I’m gonna learn something good.

She’s in her early forties and has been practicing since her teen years, and I sit there on my yoga block at the start of class and soak in all the juicy goodness that comes out before we head into our flow for the evening.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you probably know how I feel about hustle culture. I’m not a fan of hustling and willpowering our way through to get the results we want. However, I also recognize that discipline and focus are key to achieving the life you want.

Next, she spoke a Sanskrit expression for the in between of effort and ease.

Asanam sthirasukham

“That’s it,” I thought.

That’s the feeling I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words. There’s no perfect word for this in the English language.

It’s that feeling of pushing yourself enough to feel a challenge, while still feeling some ease, like it’s the thing you’re meant to be doing.

It’s what I want from my life. I don’t want everything to feel easy. Because it’s not fulfilling. It’s a powerful practice: working on something, seeing the progress, and knowing it’s because you’ve put in effort to improve.

This is a silly analogy, but I’m sticking with it:

I have to walk in the pouring rain to get to my yoga practice, even when I don’t feel like it. I don’t have a car, and my studio is a 25 min walk. It’s not ease, it also requires effort. It’s rewarding to put in the effort.

What if I walked in the rain and found a rock in my shoes? Would it be a problem?

It sounds silly, because who wouldn’t remove the rock…?

Many people believe that they are able to get through the pain of life by getting over it. However, we can make things easier for ourselves by taking away the cause of our suffering.

You don’t earn points for struggling for the sake of it.

There’s a difference between a worthwhile pursuit and putting yourself through struggle, when it doesn’t have to be like that. Many of us were taught hard work is the only way to achieve all good things. But I’ve learned that it’s not true.

Some good things in life don’t have to be won with hard work.

However, I believe the truth lies in sthirasukham asanam. Put in Effort makes something more worthwhile when it’s something that adds meaning and value to our life. When it feels inwardly like it’s meant to be.

It’s also why we’re scared to go after our dreams, because it’s the most worthwhile pursuit, and it requires us to give our full effort.

And we’re so scared that if we give something our full effort, what if it fails?

However, sthirasukham isanam to me signifies that the most meaningful things we do in our lives will be a mixture of effort as well as ease.

It won’t feel like an uphill battle. It’s the right amount of giving our best, feeling rewarded, and feeling like we’re moving in our lives with purpose and meaning.

Many of us feel that way. We can’t explain it but something is calling us to this thing – whether it’s as simple as a yoga practice or a career change or a person we’re drawn to.

It’s good to try to make that thing work, it almost feels like it loves you back. It’s not ease-filled, but it’s worth the energy we’re giving it.

If only we could all put effort into what loves us back – and leave the rest behind us.

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