*’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’ *- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Hi everyone, Ash here.

Over the next few weeks we are covering the 7 Pillars of Mindfulness, created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, in more detail. Sam started us off last week with Letting Go and I’m going to continue by writing about Non-Striving. I chose this one because its the pillar I find most intriguing, but also the most complex, so here goes…

What does Non-Striving mean to you? We are told from a young age that it’s important to strive to be the best that you can be. To study hard and strive for top grades, to strive at university, to strive in your workplace and ‘climb the ladder’ to more success and money. To strive to have your own house, your own car, the perfect partner, a family. If you want to be the best that you can be you better strive, right?

Well, some of the time…

Ambition, goals and intentions can be very positive, and can fuel our desire to be great, but at what cost? One thing I have learnt over the past few years of mindfulness practise is that I am very much a perfectionist and a ‘do-er’. When I’m not busy my thoughts are usually racing around at a million miles per hour, each trying to overtake the other, striving to be the most important and needing my attention first! My need to be busy stems from the belief that you must continuously be striving to be better, to be the best. Thankfully, my practise has taught me otherwise…

What happens when you allow yourself time of non-striving? Let me be clear, we aren’t just talking about rest here, although that is very important. Even when we rest we can still be striving! Maybe to finish that book, get at least 8 hours sleep, squeeze in a minimum of 2 episodes of our favourite show – rest can still have elements of striving. *It’s only when we give ourselves times of non-striving that we can allow ourselves to be fully present, to be completely mindful. *Let me tell you, this can be hard so don’t be surprised if you’re wondering how on earth you can practise non-striving if rest also has elements of striving!

The quote at the top of the email highlights *where*the non-striving takes place. The planting of the seeds is important, tending and turning the soil is important, watering the crops is important. The rest of the time… non-striving takes place. Nothing is really happening, growth and nourishment just happens from the balance of striving *and *non-striving.


How often do you apply the same principle? When was the last time you went for a walk with no destination or time in mind? When did you last go to sleep without setting an alarm? Or get up because you woke up after 7 hours sleep and felt amazing (or did you decide to go back to sleep because you told yourself you *must *get 8 hours?). *When did you last allow yourself to just be?*A couple of weeks ago I took myself out of my comfort zone and went out for the day with no agenda, no plan, nowhere to be and no one to meet. I set out to see what the day had in store for me, with no expectation, and I absolutely loved it! I felt more rested that ever before and I noticed that I was a lot more mindful of my surroundings and my feelings.

Our minds are powerful, we are each unique and it can be a good thing to strive for happiness and success. Like everything though, you normally find that *you are at your best when you are balanced.*

We would love to hear from you because we think non-striving is a pillar that is very much up to interpretation by each person (even more so than the other 6!). This is how I feel it is best explained, what does non-striving mean to you?…

Sam and Ash

Content is from Sam and Ash at SMASH London. To find out more about them visit their site:


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Sam Tank

I have been a Personal Trainer since 2015, having previously been a listening volunteer for the Samaritans, I knew that I wanted to work with people to see just how amazing we can all be! I am a lover of life and enjoy a challenge, pushing myself and others to reach various goals. I very much believe in whole body fitness and health -my mission is to inspire you to become the best version of yourself and make every day count.

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