Cultivating mindfulness requires a little more than just following a set of instructions or guided meditations. In practising mindfulness, you will have to bring your whole being to the process. You can’t just assume a meditative posture and think something will happen or play a tape and think that tape will ‘do something’ for you. The attitude with which you undertake the practise of paying attention and being in the present is crucial.
These attitudes are both needed for practising mindfulness and are in turn cultivated by its practise. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to develop the others. Working on any one will rapidly lead you to the others.
In a series of small blogs, Urban Mindfulness will discuss the different attitudes that form the pillars mindfulness practise.
5 – Non-striving
You could say that meditation is the art of not doing anything, or non-doing. There is a tendency to compare whatever is present to something you have experienced before and to judge weather it’s a good or a bad thing. Within yourself you might recognize an urge to change and improve yourself. This urge can sometimes be very clear or hidden from your awareness, but is almost always present in a very tenacious way.
When you meditate with the goal to become relaxed, calm your mind or control your pain, you may very well become tense and frustrated because the thought ‘I have to relax’ is a source of stress in itself. With that you have introduced an idea in your mind on where you should be and that you are not okay as you are right now.
You don’t have to do anything to be yourself. You are good as you are and don’t have to become something else to be just you. Now this does not mean that setting goals is a bad thing. Sometimes we need them, but at other times they can be totally counterproductive. The attitude of non-striving differs much from what you may be used to and carries a paradox in it: by not striving, you move towards your goals.