Tag: effort

Increasing Sensitivity

            “Here is the secret. You cannot increase your sensitivity unless you reduce your effort.”                                                                                                                                                     – Moshe Feldenkrais

16. Seek Harmony

Tzu_SunEfforting.
Striving.
Inefficiency.
Rushing.
Strain.

These are all buzzwords for the superfluous and non-harmonious.

Close your eyes and imagine you are watching your favorite performer – dance, theater, sports, music, driving, whatever you can envision. Your performer is “ON”. His or her performance flows without effort, without a single distracting step or note. Everything is perfection. Performer and performance are one. All is harmony.

What you see is the result of hours and hours of training (i.e., learning). It is also the result of letting go of anything and everything that is NOT the performance.

Michelangelo famously noted that he did not create a sculpture. Instead, he chipped away at the marble to release the sculpture that resided within. He cut away anything and everything that was not part of the figure he was carving. He took away the superfluous and what was left looked effortless. And beautiful.

Michelangelo’s sculptures did not materialize overnight. They took time – lots of it. Likewise, they took work. Michelangelo spent hours and expended much energy on his creations. Still, he did not struggle or force or rush the results. Had he done any of those things, no matter how skilled he was with hammer and chisel, the effort would have shown. The harmony of his David would have been disturbed and the sculpture would have been less than the marvel we know it to be.

The same goes when YOU learn to do something better. When you try too hard, it shows. When you push and force and hurry, the result of whatever you are hoping to improve can only fall short of its potential. On the other hand, when you look for harmony between all the elements of what you are doing and working toward, the result is efficiency, ease of effort, and, dare I say it, a sense of pleasure.

As you go about your learning, ask yourself:
Where am I forcing?
Where am I trying to make something happen?
Where am I rushing?
Where am I holding onto preconceived ideas of how something “should” be and not allowing the natural results to flow?
Where am I holding back?
Where am I resisting?

Then see if you can let go and allow yourself to learn at your own distinct pace, with the lightest of efforts. And know that as you let go into the abyss of wonder and knowledge, your skill WILL increase. Your speed will also increase – WITHOUT you having to do anything special to make it happen. You will find that what you do brings pleasure – to yourself and to others.

And when you least expect it, you will be your own performance.

15. Easy Does It

Rohe_GlassIf you’re like the rest of us, you were brought up to believe that life is hard. Guess what – IT IS.

If it hasn’t already, Life will challenge you in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. And yet…

Learning IS NOT Life!

How you apply yourself in learning to do whatever it is you wish to do better, needn’t be cause for struggle, or hardship, or pain.

In learning – Struggle is optional. In fact, struggle actually impedes learning.

Learning is the progeny of your nervous system. It’s what your nervous system does AND what it achieves. Your nervous system learns through experience. It is programmed to choose efficiency. But it can only choose from among the options you offer it.

If you insist on imposing struggle, excessive effort, discomfort, pain, etc. into the learning process, you give your nervous system no choice but to select from among choices that include the very things you find so disagreeable. In other words, your nervous system is forced to select the best of the worst.

When you do less, making your efforts and actions light, small, easy, joyful, YOU teach your nervous system that those possibilities exist AND you greatly increase the likelihood that you will learn to DO accordingly.

Your nervous system is designed to differentiate. Your senses are capable of distinguishing very small differences. But, and this is a very big BUT, distinguishing and differentiating are relative. If all you ever give yourself the opportunity to feel and experience is excessive effort, then that becomes the background against which your nervous system must distinguish. Because you are already trying very hard, you must work that much harder for your nervous system to perceive a difference. The proverbial push must come to shove in order for you to feel that something is different.

On the other hand, if you experiment with ease – small shifts, gentle actions – your nervous system plays along and over time learns to distinguish (i.e., notice) smaller and smaller changes. As your ability to perceive small changes becomes greater and greater, your nervous system becomes better able to differentiate (i.e., notice the difference between) the small changes. This, in turn, allows you to make smaller and smaller shifts leading to greater refinement in whatever it is you are learning to do. Without effort, you make the shift from impossibility to possibility, from possibility to ease, from ease to elegance. YOU. The possibility exists within YOU. IF you are willing to let go of overwork.

The take-away is this – In order to achieve, you don’t need to work so hard. You have the ability to teach yourself that struggle is indeed optional.

Letting go of excess effort makes you more efficient and efficiency releases you from the bondage of struggle. Ask yourself – Where am I working hard? Where is my desire to achieve causing me to do more than is necessary? Then allow yourself to do a little less.