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Three levels of non-striving

Dear Integral Meditators,

Is it possible by letting go of our striving to then learn how to strive better? That is the topic of this weeks article!

Mindful goals coaching offer ends tomorrow, 8th June.

In the spirit of non-striving,


Three levels of non-striving

In a previous article on non-striving I defined non-striving as “a refusal to be in conflict with yourself and your life. Put another way, rather than seeing yourself in an adversarial relationship to yourself and your circumstances, you practice accepting and working with what is there”.
What I want to explain here is three levels of non-striving that we can work with in our mindfulness practice. These three stages are:

  1. Noticing your inner conflict and striving
  2. Practising non-striving
  3. Striving better

Noticing your inner conflict
This first stage is simply about awareness. You sit down and notice all of the tension, conflict and striving that you have within yourself at this point in time. Without trying to change it, simply notice the tension you may feel about a conversation you had earlier in the day, an unfinished project, an uncertainty that you can’t control, a mistake that you wish you hadn’t made and wish to rectify, something that you are looking forward to and can’t wait for, something that you are sad about and wish hadn’t happened. Simply breath and be present to all of the different types of conflict and striving you notice. Is there one above all of the others that is stronger and stands out? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Relaxing into non-striving
In this stage the object is to progressively drop the different levels of striving and conflict that you feel within yourself.
Take a few breaths to center yourself, then encourage yourself to move into a state of acceptance of yourself, what you find within you, and whatever circumstances you find yourself in. Alternate for a while between the breathing (to center and focus yourself) and entering into a state of easy, relaxed non-striving. With each round of breathing and relaxing, try and enter one step deeper into the feeling of non-striving; learn to move easily and smoothly with whatever it is you find within. You can stay with stage two for as long as you like, it’s good to really immerse yourself in it deeply when you can.

Striving better
In stage one you practiced mindfully noticing the different types of conflict that you have in your life currently. In the second stage, non-striving, you practiced stepping out of that conflict refusing to be in an adversarial relationship to yourself, going with what you find with acceptance. In the final stage, ‘striving better’ you come back to the conflicts that you notice in stage one and ask yourself the question ‘is there any way I can strive better and more harmoniously in this situation?”

  • You might choose to strive more patiently with the project that is stressing you out
  • You might choose to make good for a mistake made without using the fact that you made it in the first place as a hammer that you keep hitting yourself over the head with
  • You might choose to emphasize being playful in a situation that you have been taking overly seriously

There are infinite potential discoveries that you might make and decide to focus on implementing at this stage, the point is that you are using your mindful intelligence to make the quality of your striving wiser, more ergonomic, more realistic.

By using these three stages we learn not just to relax by practising non-striving, but to combine our striving and non-striving into a mutually strengthening and re-enforcing whole. As always with integral mindfulness its ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday 11th June, 10am-5pm – An Introduction to Meditation from the Perspective of Shamanism

Saturday June 18th, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditation & Mindfulness for Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention – An Introduction to Contemporary Meditation Practice

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