Welcome back! Week 5 of our review of the 7 foundational attitudes of mindfulness is under way. Non-striving is about a shift in the way that we perceive our tasks in meditation. We are so driven to always be doing. I need to get up in the morning, eat breakfast, shower, dress for work, exercise….and on and on. We begin our days with tasks that we have to do.
What is different about meditation, from any other task in the western mind, is the focus. Meditation is about being. In this moment, I have nothing to do. I have only to be. What often gets in the way in our western mindset is our goal-driven, striving mindset. If I approach meditation like every other task, as a goal to be achieved, I will miss the opportunity to just be.
Non-striving is about understanding that what comes up in meditation is just that, it’s what comes up. It isn’t good or bad, but is often fleeting, passing in the next moment. Striving comes up as a result of a judgment. I must strive to do this thing in order to improve this moment. The implied judgement is that there is something wrong with this moment, or wrong with me when I don’t do this thing. Think of non-striving as the if-only phrase. If only I had more clients, then I could be happy. If only I was taller, stronger, in better shape, etc., then I could be happy. What happens in this cycle is that we never catch the thing that will make us happy. We run and run, much like a hamster on a wheel.
Non-striving is about understanding that I am what I am, in this moment. That is neither good nor bad, it just is. When I focus less on doing and more on beingthen I can start to see the patterns of mind, the habits of thought and emotion that constrict and limit my response.
In that time, each breath becomes it’s own moment. I am free to stop running on the wheel.