We spend almost all our time trying to get somewhere or something. Always a goal to accomplish or a task to complete. Although accomplishing goals is obviously a good thing, have you ever noticed how our constant pushing to get something done or meet some standard gets in the way of the goal itself? Is it much of a mystery as to why we are so stressed when we are pushing to accomplish something from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning until we finally lay down at night? This constant push to accomplish and strive towards a goal undermines us daily. It becomes an obstacle to actually accomplishing goals as well as to sleep, enjoyment of friends and family, and even our overall health.
Mindfulness and mindfulness mediation teaches us to find a new balance between doing and non-doing in a principle known as “non-striving.” Mindfulness meditation is the practice of non-doing. It has no goal other than to be yourself. The irony is that you already are. The practice of Mindfulness points you towards this crazy paradox and teaches a new way of seeing yourself. By trying less you can be more. As you find a balance between doing something but not too much, you can learn how to operate out of your true self more often.
This movie clip is hilarious and it also helps to explain this confusing paradoxical truth about life.
In addition to meditation practice, consider intentionally cultivating the attitude of non-striving. We often begin a task by setting up our intention. “I am going to go into work and work extra hard today.” By doing this you introduce the idea in your mind that you should be doing more and are not okay right now. Soon you get distracted, make a small mistake and begin thinking, “if I were only smarter, more focused, calmer, or my knee didn’t bother me, I would be okay…but right now I am not okay.” Instead of all this trying, striving, and judging simply begin your daily tasks the intention of paying attention to whatever is happening. Whether there is tension, pain, disappointment, or satisfaction just watch.
Information about mindfulness principles found in Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.