try this: be innocent, faint and effortless

Posted on April 18th, 2012

If your life is feeling a little like you’re forcing shit up hill right now (and I think some of us have so far this year),  you might like to reflect on this: Sukshma.

Photo by Aquabumps

In Sanskrit it means “subtle”. Actually, it means more than that…it’s to touch life “innocently, faintly and effortlessly”. It softens. It allows compassion.

Like when a child touches your arm when they come out at night to tell you they can’t sleep.

I was taught this term when I first learned to meditate. Sometimes, when you meditate, you can go at it aggressively, forcing yourself (with internal berating) back to your mantra or third eye or candle flame or whatever when your mind wanders. And you get grumpy with yourself for “not doing it right” and not being able to stay focused. But this is highly unuseful in meditation. It kinda ruins the vibe.

My teacher taught me to try instead to return to focus with sukshma. Sukshma is a gentle steering, like we’re merely turning our head gently from the action over there to the left of us, back to centre. Gently and kindly.With no expectation of outcome. It’s feather light.

Lately I’ve been applying sukshma beyond meditation. And this, of course, is the point of meditation – to take the consciousness you foster in meditation out into the world. Who wants to stay in the cave on the bloody mountain, I ask you?! (Indeed, I asked the Dalai Lama the same and he agreed as much.)

I tend to internally berate and bludgeon myself with all kinds of silent but violent verbal abuse. It’s pretty non-stop. You’re either a carrot or a stick person. I’m a stick person. It’s got me places with my career. But at a cost. Part of that cost is a friction.

I’m always banging my little square self into round holes. The friction hurts.

I’m over the grating and so I’m trying sukshma.

You can’t try to be innocent, faint and effortless. You just be it. No questioning, no right or wrong way. And no run-up either. You just slip into it. Which is something we’re not used to doing. We tend to force things (so many of us are stick folk on this blog!). We do things. Simply choosing to be a vibe now and forever, it’s weird. Isn’t there a set of instructions we’re missing? Do we deserve this?

Yeah, you do. So shut up and just be it.

Every day I sit down to meditate for twenty minutes. I just do it. And I just be sukshma. Every day, twice a day.

This innocent, faint and effortless beingness is what is now oozing over into the rest of my life. Little by little I can feel I’m building an effortless muscle. I can see it in the way I recover from hurt when a guy doesn’t call or when an idea I’m excited about doesn’t come through. And in the way I now just sit in grid-locked traffic and calmly breathe into the steering wheel and focus on the sun that’s warming the tops of my hands.

I don’t need to go further. Enlightenment and detachment from ego are all very well. But I’m cool with sukshma. Give me sukshma and I’m complete enough for this life time, thank you very much.

I find it a Nice Thing To Do to just to reflect on what “innocent, faint, effortless” feels like. For me, it’s  like the rigid boundaries of my body release, like I’m undoing a corset, or the button on tight jeans, and my insides are able to gently expand and my cells can stretch out languidly into the space created.

My teeth relax in their sockets. My fingernails soften in their nail beds. My eyelashes soften. And I feel majestic and suspended in a doona-like cloud. What about you?


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  • Brenda

    Hi Sarah, this post resonated with me today – I’m on day 3 of sugar free – going well so far, obviously a long way to go. But what I’ve noticed about my sugar free attempt this time is, with the help of your book, that I don’t have a sense of foreboding about it – I’m just letting it sit with me, I’m being gentle with myself and I feel a sense of calm, even tho there’s other things in my life that are quite stressful right now, the sugar free business is not one of them 🙂 “I Quit Sugar” is great because it provides a structured approach – I like structure.

    There’s a group of us doing the “I Quit Sugar” together, we’ve got a facebook page set up called “Sugar Free Babes” – any chance you could head over there and write a word or two of encouragement to the crew?

    Loving your posts and all the knowledge you share – they keep me mindful and I am making small changes and always practicing small improvements – thank you!



  • I liked this post very much – thank you. I have not really done any meditation except the one at the end of my yoga classes I took years ago. I love your reference to teeth relaxing in their sockets and eyelashes softening. Sukshma seems attainable.


    dave Reply:

    Some free advice on meditation can be found at

    tm-free blog (learn tm free?) and It is not necessary to spend

    so much to learn meditation. Natural Stress Relief is another source.


  • seeker

    thanks sarah,
    i feel calm just reading that!

    its comforting but also so liberating & exciting to know that tm is there for us, whenever we (are ready) choose the path of least suffering!!
    while i do practise and have practised different yet similar types of meditation, i’m now really keen to give tm a go too! yipee!
    i practice pranayama every morning, nadi sodana (alternate nostril breathing) gives me the loveliest, calmest feeling, and times in the day that is just for me, feels special!
    love this post, thanks for reminding us how sweet life can be!
    love 🙂


    dave surge Reply:

    Hi Sara, how and where you found the money to pay for TM? It was magic?


  • Oh my!

    I am a stick girl who has also achieved quite a bit with a high price paid. This really hit me this morning and I shall reward myself by leaning ever so gently back into meditation again.

    I’m a better me when I’m slower but for some reason I just don’t allow myself this beautiful reward of inner peace. Madness really and I infuriate me.

    Let the new journey begin. You’re awesome girl – real, raw and endearing, vulnerable and courageous. Thanks!


  • seeker

    i was just wondering …. is tm very different from japa meditation or what are the differences? i know that in japa uses a chant as well, but maybe the giving of a PERSONAL mantra (in tm) for the meditator as opposed to a general chant (in japa) for everyone? does anyone know if there are there other differences?


  • I need to practice this. I find after yoga or mediation I feel great but it’s keep this state of mind after you leave the class which I find the hardest.


  • Love this post Sarah – can relate on so many levels, especially about being a stick person 😉

    I have just recently ‘cracked’ the whole meditation thing in the last few weeks so I know exactly what you mean by: “This innocent, faint and effortless beingness is what is now oozing over into the rest of my life.”

    It is a beautiful feeling indeed when, instead of grinding your teeth at traffic, or fuming in a slow moving line, you can instead employ sukshma. I feel like a different person these days … much ‘nicer’ and certainly a LOT more relaxed 😉


    Meg Reply:

    Yay Kelly…I’ve cracked into meditation (doing 15-20 mins a day) the last couple of weeks too and I’ve already noticed it creeping across the day too.


  • Sheena

    Hi Sarah,
    I find that running is meditation for me. My mind wanders where it will, my body relaxes and I feel calm and energized when I get home. When stress presents itself, I consciously think of running and tension dissipates. The gentle touch of a child resonates strongly for me, as my daughter does come to find me during the night just to be quietly close.
    Sukshma a lovely and light word perfectly suited to its definition


  • trevor otto

    I try to live with a calm energy and it is really about letting the energy in more than anything else. Buddhists emphasize equanamity and equilibrium, being centred. When one is in this state of grace, life feels effortless,joyful and it is easy to give. I don’t meditate with my eyes closed anymore as I try to live in this state, with an awareness of the True Self.
    I work in management and a lot of my effort is to just stay in a calm space and listen for solutions to the various problems as they arise. If we can take the heated emotions out of most situations then the answers to problems seem to come along more easily,


  • Wow, this post really did resonate with me today. I have been having a tough time this year, feel like I am pushing shit up a hill professionally and just feel…yuck. Objectively, I know that I have so much to feel grateful about, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling a bit ‘rainy day’. In terms of meditation, I ma much like you, I find it hard to stop and then berate myself for failing at the thing that is meant to be de-stressing me. I find that a long walk or run is great for meditating, personally.


  • nela

    my meditation teacher used the example of potty training a young puppy and when the puppy doesn’t learn right away you don’t get angry at it, but you gently move it back to the training pad.


  • Ange

    I once went to an art exhibition that was all about leaving a faint mark on the world, stating that humans are like pencils the more you press hard on this life you quickly wear yourself down, but if you make a conscious effort to live life gently you will glide through effortlessly. I’ve found this to be a helpful yet interesting metaphor.


  • Tess

    Sarah, as always… exactly what I needed to hear today. Sitting at my desk trying to work out why I am feeling so anxious, when you bring me sukshma. I asked the universe for something to resonate with me today; it just happened to be your words x


  • Anthony

    I started meditation when I was at uni and have taken that life with me into the world. I don’t use a mantra, just stillness for an hour each day. I was taught by my teachers to take it with me into all aspects of my being in the world. It does not mean you won’t get sick or shit won’t happen to you, but you will have a way through it.


  • Elisa

    I love this Sarah. I totally get this. Effortless is my favorite mantra. Sometimes I’m as far from effortless as you could ever imagine, but there’s a place inside me that is effortless and I can always return here. It feels like home xx


  • Esta

    Thank you I needed this as lately I have been a ball of frustration and aggression internally and externally. I will practice this. I love your words, they seem so honest and open. Thanks.


  • This is a really lovely article. I used to have a meditation track which was about five minutes long and the only thing I remember about it was when the narrator said ‘today I will live with ease’. That small and deceptively simple statement has stuck with me and is something I go back to at aggravating times.

    I completely agree with what you say about having no run up as well. I feel like I’m forever leading up to things without actually getting to them because I always need time to prepare. Which of course is sometimes true, but usually just bullshit.

    Thanks for the thought-food 🙂


  • Thanks for this Sarah. I have had a tough week and really needed to read this. I feel more at peace and relaxed already. xxoo


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