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Making your Least Effort

Dear Fellow Travelers,

What’s the least you can do? I was watching a PBS show recently about Westminster Abbey. At one point in the program, we were treated to a view of the internal clockworks of Big Ben. The clock mechanism is controlled by a 14 foot pendulum, but it sometimes shifts and needs to be adjusted in order to keep the proper time. This huge, magnificent apparatus is kept accurate through the use of penny pieces. The attendant explained that by laying one penny piece on the top of the pendulum, he can change the speed of the clock by two-fifths of a second. This was determined after years of experimenting with different types of coins.

Watching him demonstrate how he could adjust the time of a clock huge enough to see across the city of London with a penny piece made me think about least effort. My Tai Chi instructor has shared often, that motivation is not his strong suit and he must rely on discipline. What he teaches is, that when we’re struggling, we should consider doing 2 or 3 minutes of practice at a time and tell ourselves that’s enough. In this way, we will by-pass resistance and eventually increase to much more time. This is exactly how he started and now he spends hours a day in practice.

Another way I’ve experienced the power of least in my life was as a member of a Presbyterian women’s group decades ago. This group participated in something called “Fellowship of the Least Coin” The idea was for each woman present to take out whatever coin she had of least value and put it in the donation box as she prayed for peace and reconciliation for herself and the world. Over the decades, this program has made a huge impact on women and children all across the globe.

Reflecting on these three situations where something so small as to seem insignificant has brought positive change, I have to look at how I might apply the concept of least effort to my own life.  What comes to mind is how overwhelmed I can feel when approaching a new project or discipline I would like to develop. I have a tendency to look at the whole big picture and then feel like I don’t have what it takes to accomplish what I want.  Today I’m wondering what might be possible with an attitude of least effort, like my Tai Chi instructor who started with only a few minutes of practice a day and worked up to hours.

This is a philosophy I intend to adopt for the end of this year and moving into next year. I’m going to consider what would be the least effort I could make in those times that I feel blocked, overly challenged, overwhelmed or just plain lazy or stubborn. And I’m asking you today to consider this question: “What’s the least I can do in my life?”

Now, go do it. Amazing things may come out of your effort.

Blessings & Light,

"In doing nothing . . . all things are done."
Lao Tzu - The Tao te Ching

2 Comments to Making your Least Effort:

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Beth Turek on Monday, November 07, 2016 2:31 PM
Great article. Definitely good thoughts to ponder when life gets overwhelming.
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Sherry Coffman on Tuesday, November 08, 2016 10:25 AM
Thank you, Beth. It's good to hear from you.
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