Go Deeper: Right Effort (Eight-fold Path)

Post 6/8 of #Eightweeksofmindfulness posts based on the Eight-fold path

Having just ended, or perhaps just begun a journey this evening, through the depths of heartbreak, loss, fear, doubt and also physical pain that comes along with suffering through the arduous journey of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, all the while, still sitting in silent solitude in my apartment, as I closed the back cover a memoir, in which the protagonist hoped her three month hike might also be a path leading towards her true self, a simple, two-word phrase came to my mind…

Go Deeper. It rang loud and clear in my head, permeating my silent moment. It’s come to me before, time and time again. And tonight, I wanted to sit with it.

Many times throughout this novel, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”, I found myself, within her story, not necessarily in the nature of all her experiences, but in our shared humanity, our shared suffering.

The being lost and the being found.

The being found that comes only from hurling yourself into the great unknown, allowing yourself to be displaced. For Strayed, it was isolating herself for months, to conquer thousands of miles of rugged terrain, and to wrestle with her grief, all the way from the Mojave Dessert in California to Portland, Oregon. For me, it has been number of experiences, thus far.

The first of these experiences was moving to Bordeaux, France in 2012, and all the many things I experienced there. How profoundly alone I had felt, and how much of that time spent in solitude in a foreign country that allowed me to really understand myself, as I was then, for the first time. It allowed me to deal with things I’d been locking up inside of myself, pushing them further out of sight for months and years, that were then almost forced to become front and center, the only option being to face them head-on, to conquer them, to release them, and finally, to heal.

Another instance was just this past August, uprooting my East Coast life, moving to Southern California, with only what few possessions I could fit in my little Subaru Impreza, and a friend, who, luckily, for me, at the last minute, decided to join me on my cross-country feat.

I’ve come to discover the only way of finding myself time and time again, is throwing myself into the unknown, or rather, where I am unknown, where I can come to find the nature of who I really am, and where I fit in among the vastness of the world.

To me, this is the essence of Right Effort. Perhaps we don’t always need to be in solitude for a prolonged period of time to make this sort of effort, but it certainly can help.

The essence of Right Effort is always, to turn inward, to Go Deeper… to explore that which is within you, to address your fears and faults and wounds and to begin to repair yourself, simply because you owe it to yourself.

When you come into the place of Right Effort, you come into the place of abandoning all unwholesome states ( five hindrances: sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, worry, doubt) which you have previously harbored, choosing to work towards preventing further unwholesome states which have not yet arisen, while you work towards cultivating wholesome states and maintaining those in your daily life and practice.

When I think of Right Effort, and what that means to me, I think of Going Deeper in all aspects of my being: It is my wish to meditate more deeply on my feelings and why certain feelings arise, to utilize this insight in my relationships with others. I wish to explore more deeply the nature of my thoughts, as well as go deeper in my writing, becoming less worried about being vulnerable and honest on the page. In general, I would like to challenge myself to Go Deeper in all matters of the heart: to feel fully, to express and share myself more fully with others, and essentially, to BE fully and unabashedly.

This is my challenge of Right Effort, for myself.

Feel free to be brave with me, by exploring and looking inward.


-A.K.