I can’t remember where I heard that phrase. A popular movie line? A famous poetic refrain? A great speech? It will come to mind when I go “softly, softly” releasing the effort to press hard for recall. I’m guessing that was the context of the original phrase; embracing the concept of easily moving toward the goal. Paradoxically, the concept that harder gets better results is more widely accepted. Perhaps it depends on the situation which concept is appropriate. Indeed, in mindfulness it's not how hard you work, it's how committed you are to the practice.
I can remember first being introduced to mindfulness practice in a group setting and how several people were hard pressed to “get it” and get on to the next steps. However, the facilitator explained “softly, softly” (that was not the exact phrase) was the approach for best benefit. I for one, was very glad to hear that; it suited my spirit and I’ve continued the practice in many years since that initial group.
A mindfulness practice may seem hard for some who are accustomed to working hard to get the best results. Yet, mindfulness as practice yields the best benefit when you are able to go “softly softly” in the quiet, stillness to focus on breathing. Initially this may be hard for some to practice, and that's where commitment comes. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to move “softly, softly” into mindfulness toward better balance and awareness of the now, present, moment.
The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace.