The Unbearable Pain of Mindfulness

The goal of enlightenment, mindfulness, being-here-now, is much sought after these days…perhaps always. Many associate it with zen or other varieties of Buddhism, and eastern religion. It is, I think, generally discussed as a state that partakes of bliss – certainly a cessation of earthly pain. Odd, then, that it is so hard to attain; that our minds and beings seem to actively frustrate our attainment of the state. Perhaps we don’t want enlightenment?

I am beginning to suspect that mindfulness is so difficult to achieve not only because it is difficult per se, but because we actively flee from it, just as some flee from love that they claim they want. Like love, mindfulness can bring pain, terrific pain?

I am lying on my bed – I have no obligations – I am free to do what I want. I need think of nothing – do nothing. My free time, free to attend to the moment, appreciate the here and now…My mind is racing like a formula one car engine, but not in gear, a high pitch scream – – “What shall I do?” Most times, I would dive into a book, do some chores, clean, watch a movie, kill time surfing the Net, read the paper, but at this moment, I don’t feel drawn to any of that. Just sit and attend, observe yourself observing the universe…and what happens? A high pitched whine as of an engine running at full-tilt without load…will it explode?

To simply spend such times attending to the what-is is so painful, so disorienting, so explosive in its energy, the tendency is to rush to fill the time with something more trivial that will get the mind in gear and discharge its energy safely. Perhaps that is the real difficulty in mindfulness. Not that we cannot stop the incessant chatter of our minds no matter how much we want to, say we want to, but that we do not want to!

The alternative is to be left naked, still, simply sitting and observing the nature of what-is at the moment. The light filtering in from the window. The complexity and simplicity of the tree branches. The calming geometry of my room. The rebus of my history that is the clutter of knick knacks around me. The then and the now…The unfathomable indifference of everything to the trivial thing that is me. The weight of the universe pressing down on a single point on my head where my mind perceives it and comprehends it…without a reciprocating care or concern. It’s too much to bear!! Where is that crossword puzzle!!

6 Responses to The Unbearable Pain of Mindfulness

  1. din says:


    I liked your blog.

    But I was wondering about such concepts as enlightenment.

    As you’re sitting there, just being, without any really important thoughts, where is enlightenment.

    What you truly are doesn’t come and go, it’s always there in all moments.

    Find out what that is.

    Hint: It’s the awareness that is taking in this post right now.

    Love. ­čÖé

  2. suburbanlife says:

    “The unfathomable indifference of everything to the trivial thing that is me.” Maybe not ‘trivial’ but maybe ‘insignificant’? That’s the toughie. Good post! G

  3. dougrogers says:

    The Unbearable Mind of Painfulness

    “Not that we cannot stop the incessant chatter of our minds no matter how much we want to, say we want to, but that we do not want to!”

    Dukkha. Clinging. Craving

  4. lichanos says:


    Yes, “insignificant” is a better choice of words than “trivial.” After all, compassion always…

  5. […] Is it just that the term ‘rebirth’ has gone out of fashion? For a discussion of the modern quest see iamyouasheisme on The Unbearable Pain of Mindfulness. […]

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