This post is part of a series of journaling prompts exploring Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - a book of guidance for mindful living in the modern world. Whatever your level of spiritual practice, I believe there are useful insights to be gained from reflecting on these seven concepts and considering what difference adopting them could make to your life.
Each of the seven posts in this series will explore one of the spiritual laws further, and then offer writing prompts for you to reflect on your responses. This is the fourth, the Law of Least Effort, and it's one of my favourites!
'Nature's intelligence functions with effortless ease... with carefreeness, harmony and love.'
In the Western world it might be common to have a knee-jerk reaction to this prompt as laziness. We associate success with hustle and striving, and are often very shaming of complacency and ease.
This law provides a wonderful reframe, and describes not 'inaction' but choosing the path of least resistance. 'Grass doesn't try to grow, it just grows.' I have a meditation I love listening to which uses the analogy of a river, and a person in a rowing boat trying to row upstream. It is so exhausting to work against the current, and so joyful to surrender and go with the flow (if a little scary to release control sometimes!)
Of course there are a hundred ways you could unpick this idea. 'What if the place you need to go is upstream?' or 'There might be a dangerous rapid down river!' In life we can always find evidence for what we choose to believe, and this way of thinking might not be for everybody. I wrote a post recently about my own intention to adopt more ease and release the need to battle, protect and struggle. Making space for success and the cliche 'getting out of my own way.' This quote from the book sums it up well:
'When your internal reference point is the ego, when you seek power and control over other people or seek approval from others, you spend energy in a wasteful way. When that energy is freed up, it can be re-channeled.'
Chopra outlines three key steps in the law of least effort: acceptance, responsibility and defencelessness.
Accepting each moment (and therefore using less energy than struggling against it) doesn't mean you can't wish for things to be different in the future. It just relieves the stress involved in fighting against what is the current reality. Think about the theory that in each situation, we are not reacting to the situation, but to our own feeling around it.
This is where the responsibility comes in. Trying not to blame anyone or anything for our situation, which can be pretty challenging! If everything is a result of our own past choices (revisiting a concept from the Law of Karma) then we are at least slightly responsible for what is happening, and perhaps have something to learn. Again, there are of course arguments against this, but if you can put these on hold, try to entertain how empowering it could be to accept responsibility for things that are happening, rather than feeling powerless and like they are happening 'to you.'
(This is a much bigger topic to debate, which is why I am careful to outline these as conceptual ways of approaching things, not firm beliefs that should be swallowed whole without question. Awful things happen, for example, a young child becoming seriously unwell, and it would feel very hard to suggest that they were in some way 'responsible' for what was happening. In my mind, this law works well for more trivial experiences. For example, if I have a friend who is always letting me down, then rather than complaining and blaming them, I could take a look at my own role in the relationship. Is there something I can learn or change about my behaviour?)
The third law is defencelessness - which ironically may be triggered by some of the concepts in these seven laws! This means relinquishing the need to convince others of your point of view, and would save a huge amount of energy. Finding a balance of learning and sharing ideas whilst remaining flexible and open. This fascinates me and is often in my mind when creating and sharing content. My favourite tone to write in is: 'here are these ideas, are you curious about them?' I always try and check myself to see that my writing doesn't adopt a pushy, preachy approach which I wouldn't like at all! We cannot force anything on anyone else, and can protect our own energy by choosing not to do so.
Journaling Prompts for The Law of Least Effort
Are there examples of when you have been struggling against something, met by resistance?
How would it feel to choose a small thing where you can release control and just go with the flow?
What is your response to the concept of acceptance?
Is there anything that you are not currently taking responsibility for, that might help you feel more empowered if you were to do so?
What does it feel like to imagine being 'defenceless'?