‘Right effort’ may not be the effortful activity which we may have imagined. It is more about using our mind like a gymnast. Just as a gymnast can do anything with their body so we can do anything with our mind. They are healthy, flexible, and can move anywhere - they can’t be pinned down. They are not stuck in one position; they dodge out of the way of any attack. So if we get this translation wrong and we think of it as just lots of effort – like weight training – we may end up being a gymnast who can’t flip out of the way because they have developed such huge muscles (they are no longer much of a gymnast). As beginners we may easily approach meditation with a sledgehammer; i.e. with far too much effort! Sometimes a beginner to meditation may even be handed a sledgehammer! As we progress we leave behind this sledgehammer. We are no longer trying to smash down the wall in front of us – we discover instead that there is a door we can just open and walk through.
However, it is understandable if we do start off our spiritual life using a sledgehammer; we may not yet have a mind like a gymnast. The more out of balance we are the more force will need to be applied to create re-balance. Sometimes it's just hard work preventing and eradicating unskilful mental events and developing and maintaining skilful ones, and gymnasts need training too; perhaps they might resort to a sledgehammer if they were a bit out of shape. So this is necessary effort, but approach this more like a gymnast rather than as a sentence of hard labour."