Discovering Right Effort

It is common to bring a misplaced effort to awareness meditation.

Zazen (simply sitting), is immersing into the activity of the posture with no judgments about it nor judgments about whatever might arise in the mind. The attention and effort of awareness meditation is simply to become the posture. Full presence as posture includes noticing when the mind has wandered away. In that noticing, there is already the return to the activity of simply sitting. The breath is an anchor to bring attention to the present. Breath is always in accord with NOW, so it is a most perfect anchor.

There are two actualizations of return or presence:

Ordinary. The sensations/activity of breath-body-mind are known through intellectualizing—from the vantage point of an observer. This is not simply sitting. The assumption of an observer hinders the clarity that is presence. This type of return, however, is a worthy practice—and completely appropriate—for the opportunity of clarity can be found in right in the midst of this assumption.


Beyond ordinary. Fullness without comment. The sensations/activity of breath-body-mind are realized as wholeness (without boundary) and emptiness (without division). The sensations/activity of breath-body-mind are simply the unfolding of life in its fullness. The activity of presence is open response and full participation.

The observer can vanish. Immerse into any task fully and—though observing is included—a specific enduring observer cannot be found. Awareness itself is realized.

While meditating, if waiting or watching for enlightenment (or something special) has arisen… just notice that mental activity. With practice, the noticing itself is the shift in awareness that is realized as life unfolding NOW. Allow breath to be an anchor (or sound might be an anchor, or touch, or smell). Eventually breath (or any other sensation) is no longer known as an object, but rather the full expression of reality unmediated by the sense of ego.

Meditation—wholeheartedly attending to life here/now—is the opportunity inherent in any expression of this life. Wake up to this life unfolding, by the simple, effortless effort of noticing.

© 2013 Bev Forsman and Letters from Emptiness. If you share this material, please include direction to the original content. Thank you.

9 thoughts on “Discovering Right Effort

  1. Ernie Coleman says:

    Thank you for your insights Bev. I feel fortunate to be on this mailing list.
    Also, I am grateful to be an online member of Dharma Field where I have heard many of your wonderful talks.


  2. joseph duffey says:

    I am grateful for your posts, Sitting practice with right effort is particularly interesting to me. Perhaps, if you find time, in a future post you might say something about right effort in our day to day “living” practice off the mat?


    • Bev Forsman says:

      I appreciate your interest…

      …and thanks for the request. Just last week I decided to write more often on personal experiences that illustrate waking up to habits of mind–something similar to Fingering “me” and Waiting. What Is It?, but I found this latest piece, long forgotten in my “drafts” folder. I’ve got more than a few ideas to play with for examples of everydayness. Each day finds a constant source.


  3. andre says:

    Yes, this ongoing effortless effort, of simply noticing, is real practice.
    Discovering right effort, delighted to read your words.
    Thanks for sharing!
    I’ve been asked, on different occasions, where does one find, objectless awareness, and what is real meditation?
    Subtle questions, where there is, no conceptual answer.
    But hey, you’ve got to say something, lol
    So, my response, has always been.
    It’s closer than your own heartbeat.
    And, where is that?
    Your breath.


    • Bev Forsman says:

      Thank you for your comment Andre.

      As you say there is no conceptual answer…

      Where is breathing? Where does breath go? Can’t pin anything down.


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