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Right Effort: A Noble Skill with Jewels

As I look at my watch and realize that I had used 8 hours (18,000 seconds) for sleeping of the 86,400 seconds that make up my 24-hour day, I realize that I have 68,400 seconds left to use Right Effort. And my cardiologist, nutritionist, and psychotherapist have all warned me to stop eating sweets. So Right Effort begins with a smoothie for breakfast and no pastry.

It is now 8 a.m. as I sit at my work desk and I’m looking at a work day of 18,000 seconds and no sweets for snacks. I say, “One breath, Ralph.” Knowing that the practice of Right Effort is one of the concentration skills, I feel peacefulness and energy within and around me. I open the desk drawer that has my private cooler for food and notice a slice of cake.

Desire arises. I begin guarding my good strengths and enjoy several deep breaths, but desire increases and I become restless. My body tension inspires me to abandon the unskillful qualities that are contributing to the chocolate mousse looking at me. The intensity of restlessness decreases, however then aversion towards my own effort comes in with the thought, “Grandma made this chocolate mousse just for you; not eating it would be an insult to her.” I can almost taste this awesome cake.

Having desire, aversion, and restlessness, my heartbeat increases. I push myself away from the desk and walk mindlessly to the door of the ladies’ loo. With Right Effort, I walk into the men’s room and wash my face to get control of the hindrances. Using the Four Right Exertions, beginning with the skill of abandoning, will lead into cultivating new skills which prevent me from moving further into my hell. After returning to my desk I offer the cake to a dear friend. It’s nourishing to put a smile on someone’s face.

After work a thought arises out of nowhere: “You are unworthy of love from your grandmother.” I begin tumbling into doubt. My post-work routine includes mindful walking for one-hour. With this meditation, I maintain my good qualities, abandon depressive thoughts, and decrease the intensity of doubt. After mindfully doing other activities I have one hour before going to bed, which I take advantage of by doing yoga and breath meditation to totally eliminate doubt. The hindrances of desire, aversion, restlessness, depression, and doubt never take total control.

Right Effort includes the exertion of guarding, abandoning, cultivating, and maintaining various qualities of my behavior. Finally, Right Effort has hidden jewels that cultivate clarity, leading towards Awakening.

Ahh… time for lying meditation…