Effort with ease: What to do when you don’t know what to do


When I am quiet and still, my mind is clear. When I move and speak and act with intention, I know what to do. I call this part of my life, effort with ease. I am working, it takes some concentration and exertion, and I am relaxed.

When I have many tasks tugging on my consciousness, clamoring for my attention, demanding completion, I become overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t focus. I am foggy and sometimes feel as though I were going around in circles. Does this ever happen to you?

It may seem counterintuitive, but slowing down actually helps us go faster. Here are some suggestions for developing effort with ease:

1. Write down your priorities, because when there are so many things clamoring for your attention, it is easy to forget. Your list might be only what you want to accomplish this morning, or today. Give yourself permission to set the parameters. Seeing the words in a list helps to keep your attention. Plus, it feels good to cross or check off the completed item.

2. Focus on mindfulness. Keep your mind on the task at hand, putting your entire concentration on this project. Train yourself not to think about what to buy your lover for Valentine’s, or that you need to check the balance in your bank account.

3. If you are working on something particularly challenging, or big, set a timer. Decide how long you want to engage your effort with ease and get to work. Take a break (decide in advance how long and set the timer for this, too), then get back to it.

4. If you find your mind wandering, stop. Close your eyes. Take three deep, slow breaths, keeping your attention on the breath, nothing else. Open your eyes and continue with the task.

5. No multitasking here! Recent research on the brain has shown that the human brain does not function well at multiple tasks (Re: texting and driving). One thing at a time.

6. Remember that tomorrow is another day. Rewrite your priorities, or pick up where you left off. AND be kind to yourself if you didn’t accomplish everything on your list.


If you would like to explore mindfulness, priorities or effort with ease, give me a buzz, or shoot me an email. 512-593-0583. melaniesomerville@yahoo.com

Peace, friends.


The mirror


What I react to is a mirror to my own learning. If I pay attention, my reaction gives me the opportunity to see myself.

Ram Dass, a wise spiritual teacher from whose writings I’ve learned so much, tell us, “What you see in another being is a projection of your own reality.” This means I see my impatience, my reactivity, as well as my kindness and compassion reflected in others. This is a heavy idea to grasp. It took me some time. It is easier to identify the positive aspects of myself in those I love. For example, my lover’s tenderness toward me is a reflection of the tenderness I extend to him and others. My mother’s generosity is my own desire to be seen in this way.

Woman Holding Blank Frame

Where I have trouble is in looking at the not so attractive parts of myself. The neighbor who pisses me off because he speaks so cruelly to his dog. The driver who pulls in front of me during rush hour. I am not cruel! I am a conscientious driver! Well, maybe not always.

The incidents I react to are potential lessons about myself. We all have parts of ourselves that we cannot or will not look at. These parts stay in the shadows, often forever. When we have the courage to look at the dark parts of our personalities, we can integrate them into the lighter parts. This may sound paradoxical. Why would I want to look at my negative qualities? Of what benefit is it?


I believe we are more complete and satisfactory humans being when we can integrate, or bring together, all sides of ourselves, including the opposites (Example: my generous self and my stingy self). Another way to look at opposites is to consider nature. We would not know dark without light, day without night, sunlight without rain. It is the contrast that makes each meaningful. When I acknowledge my dark side, it makes my bright side so much more precious. Most of us are socially conditioned not to look at, never mind accept, the dark parts of ourselves. Yet they are parts of us. And as we know ourselves completely, we have the power to change that which does not work. By noticing the dark, we let the light shine brighter.

If you want some guidance looking in the mirror and exploring all the parts of yourself, give me a call or write me an email.

Peace, friends.

Melanie Somerville, MA, LPC