How much effort does it take to be present right now? How much effort do you need to feel the breath, observe the body sitting, hear the sounds around you, or let go of distraction and worry? Adjusting the quality and quantity of effort is one of the most important meditative skills. If we strive too hard, we may distort and manipulate what is happening rather than be mindful of it. But if we hold back, procrastinate, or don’t connect with our experience completely, then laziness and complacency may dull the mind.

Balancing our effort is the art of meditation. But balance is not a static state. Balance is attained by continuously responding to what is needed now. If your face is tense, perhaps you can relax that excess muscular effort. If your thoughts wander habitually to past dramas or future plans, perhaps a stronger determination to be fully present is needed. Right now what is the quality of engagement that you need to be fully awake, fully committed, and responsive  to whatever is happening within and around you?