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NON STRIVING

In the practice of mindfulness, we usually find it most difficult to cultivate an attitude of not wanting to be somewhere else and being content with where we are at the present moment. That is the practise of “non-striving” or “non-doing” and simply “being”. Jon Kabat Zinn explains this as an ability to inhabit a moment and hold it in awareness without feeling compelled to operate on it. Even while meditating and sitting still, it is hard to not strive for relaxation. As if a mediation is supposed to make us feel a certain way as opposed to a process of curious discovery of what is coming up today? Drives like this show our built-in striving nature- “Am I doing it right?” “Others must be doing it better so I must try harder”. Our desire to always reach some goal or an arbitrarily set standard of success drives most of our efforts. Such striving is what we far too often mistake as motivation when all it does is create a distraction from what is of true value in the process of whatever it is that we are doing. To see the value of the journey as opposed to the destination. We tend to measure ourselves by what we achieve in the end, with the attitude that “the end justifies the means”, when it can be just as important to look at how the journey itself changes us. We may reach our assumed “top” but not like the person who has arrived there.

An attitude of calmness and non-striving can in fact be healing and restorative. To let things be as they are without striving for any specific circumstance or experience. “Whatever is in this moment is enough”- is a remarkably helpful attitude to cultivate. This does not mean not making any effort at all. Mindfulness teachers explain this as “rightful effort”, like a guitar string- that if we strive too much it will snap and if we become overly lax it will not play beautifully. Finding this balance for ourselves without letting external standards dictate our own rightful effort is a wisdom and discernment that is cultivated through mindfulness. To know when and how to march to the rhythm of our own tunes, to find joy and success to satisfy our individual core values as opposed to only striving for external validation at the cost of our inner joy and peace. The best aspects of ourselves can often come forward when we are not desperately striving for something and allow ourselves to just be in our truest and most natural form.

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"The middle path is the way to wisdom"

RUMI

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