The fifth element, or habit, of mindfulness is Non-Striving. Non-Striving is described as “the state of not doing anything, just simply accepting the things that are happening in the moment just as they are supposed to”. This is a very tough challenge for many people in our American culture. We pride ourselves on being busy, productive, driven, and goal oriented people. In addition to this many of us are also control freaks who want to alter the outcomes of as much as possible to suit our own agendas and needs. The idea of non-striving and allowing life to unfold as it sees fit is almost abhorrent to us. We spend a great deal of energy holding on when the best move might be to simply let go. Many of us are wound a little tight because of the tension within ourselves that is caused by our driven, competitive, and controlling natures. Keep in mind, however, that Non-Striving is not the same as being lazy or not caring. I think Non-Striving is like white water rafting. You don’t necessarily allow yourself to be tossed to and fro by the rapids of life. You learn to be one with the running water. Some of the time you just flow with it. Other times you use your paddle to make the occasional course change to avoid crashing into a rock. If you fight the river or attempt to change the course of the river you will eventually crash and sink your boat. Those with skill learn to flow with the river and tap into its energy.
The final element, or habit, of mindfulness is acceptance. In this scenario, acceptance is defined as “completely accepting the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs that you have and understanding that they are simply those things only”.
Today we finish my thoughts on mindfulness. When it’s all said and done, a lot of mindfulness is accepting reality as it is without judging, with patience, with a child-like “Beginner’s Mind”, with trust in our personal abilities to deal with the moment, allowing life to unfold as it will by non-striving, and finally, what is often the most difficult part, acceptance. Whatever our individual moments add up to be, for most of us they are not the moments we probably dreamed of in our youth. I’ve always felt like most of my life was an accident. The life I have is not really the life I wanted. It is, however, the life I have. Just because the life I have is not the realization of my early dreams does not mean it’s all bad. I strive to not see anything as good or bad . My life is what it is and many twists and turns brought me to this point. I can bemoan the fact that it’s not everything I hoped for or I can accept it and strive to better understand why I am where I am and what I am supposed to do with what I have been given. Such acceptance does not come easy and I am not totally there. However, even my feelings must be accepted as “they are what they are”.