• When we are learning a new skill, we usually have to apply a considerable amount of effort and try hard. Perhaps most things that we have learned or achieved in our lives have been the product of hard work and striving. Perhaps you have started to notice that in learning mindfulness techniques, trying hard can really get in the way and can create more tension and a sense of frustration .

  • There is something profoundly paradoxical about these practices – they are based on “non-doing”, and “non-striving”, free from expectations and goals. The effort involved is more relaxed, but there is still some applied effort. We often say that this effort needs to be “not too tight, and not too loose” – it is a bit like the balanced effort required in trying to catch a feather that is falling in front of us, and not like the effort required in balancing a page of figures.

  • The quality of non-striving is embedded in the quality of acceptance. If we are in pain, we just pay attention to the pain; if we are criticizing ourselves, we just pay attention to the judging mind; if we are experiencing pleasant sensations, we just pay attention to that. We do not strive to experience anything different from what we are feeling. There is just our experience of the present moment. We are not trying to get anywhere else, or to become anyone else. We are not trying to get rid of unpleasant experiences or trying to grasp after pleasant ones.

  • Gradually, with patience and regular practice, we will see ourselves moving closer towards our goals and intentions, but we will not get there by striving for them. The quality of non-striving is one of openness, of trusting in the process and of acceptance of whatever the present moment presents to us.

Kabat- Zinn, 1990