Tip of the Week: Let It Happen (or, how to try not to try)
It's perhaps meditation's greatest paradox – we try so hard to do something that's often described as "effortless." We try to quiet the chatter of the mind and, in so doing, rev its engine. How on Earth can a person try not to try? This paradox is detailed in a great blog post on Brain Pickings, which goes into the concept of Wu-wei, which translates to "no trying." It's literally a form of "flow" state, in which one is so absorbed in the present moment of an activity that it is performed with great skill and also a sense of effortlessness.
Of course, "flow" often doesn't arise until we've gained considerable skill in a certain area through years of practice. But, this knowledge itself can be useful for those of us who didn't start meditating as children. There is no expectation that we should be able to enter this state upon our first time sitting and downloading a mindfulness app. There is a level of conditioning that pervades our minds that is terribly burdensome to undo. That's why this week's tip is, quite simply: let it happen.
If we logically know that trying to achieve Wu-wei can't possibly work, and we know that our minds will be distracted and our best efforts foiled, and that more consistent practice is the only way to achieve our goals, then the only possible option is to let it happen. Let the distractions take hold, let the body get uncomfortable, let frustration appear and dissipate. Five years of "letting it happen" will likely get someone much closer to Wu-wei than five years of trying to get there.