"In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up to some kind of ideal--quite the opposite. We're just being with our experience. Whatever it is."
--Pema Chodron, Buddhist Teacher and Author
At the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program in UMass Medical Center, researchers study holistic ways to help people with chronic illnesses. One of the most surprising instructions at the beginning of the program is that patients are encouraged not to try to make any progress toward their goals over the eight week session.
For example, if one of their goals is to lower their blood pressure or reduce pain and anxiety, they are instructed to not try to lower blood pressure or make pain and anxiety go away. Instead, they are invited to simply stay in the present and follow meditation instructions throughout the program.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of the MBSR program, from a holistic perspective, the best way to achieve your goal is to let go of striving.
"With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goals will take place by itself. This movement becomes and unfolding that you are inviting to happen within you," writes Kabat-Zinn. This seems counterintuitive since we have been taught to strive toward our goals. However, striving itself, may have been the root cause of our health issues.
"Meditation is like farming...the right soil is required to grow anything, nothing will grow if the soil is polluted by striving or pushing too hard." --Kabat-Zinn
Meditation helps us see our grasping relationship with the future goal of 'wellness' which keeps us in resistance to the present. We live in a perpetual state of striving to get to the next better moment. Practicing mindfulness meditation reconnects body, mind and spirit where healing can arise from presence and the coherence within. Holding a goal gently, as an intention can begin the process. Relaxing the striver happens when we see this reactive conditioned behavior with self-compassion and gentleness. Allowing ourselves to be as we are opens space for healing. "Healing is a coming to terms with things as they are, rather than struggling to force them to be as they once were, or as we would like them to be, to feel secure or to have what we sometimes think of as our own way." --Jon Kabat-Zinn,