Mindfulness difficulties – The Battle To Awaken

Mindfulness practice is about becoming more aware until one becomes the awareness more than the stuff one is aware of. In becoming the spaciousness of awareness we find the answers to our most heartfelt questions about meaning and the unconditional love that we all seek. It sounds simple.

It can actually feel extraordinarily difficult for a long, long time. We sit cross-legged trying to just be aware of what we see, hear and feel, or we follow or count the breath, or we stare at some object and do our mantra. Yet still our minds seem to take us into constant streams of thought after thought about anything and everything, year after year. And as we struggle on in meditation our lives can worsen. Instead of becoming more peaceful we become more and more desperate. Our lives can seem to spiral out of control.

If these mindfulness difficulties are happening then your meditation practice may be deepening, for one simple reason – becoming more aware means becoming more aware of what’s inside us. It’s like turning the lights on in a room. So we begin to see what’s in the room. Every good psychotherapist and counsellor knows what’s inside our ‘room’ – the ocean of our childhoods. The core of this is how our emotional world was treated by our parents. For most of us this means repressed and hidden emotions, pain and fear that we were taught as children to not allow and not be aware of. We are discovering our subconscious.

And we begin to see is why our thoughts are so manically active 24 hours a day. Why they don’t want to stop. To keep our subconscious emotions at bay.

Mindfulness works to break our thoughts grip on us. So practicing mindfulness, our mind’s conscious control begins to weaken. And the thoughts begin to slow down, to give in, to sometimes even stop. And when the thoughts stop, the levee that holds the ocean of emotion at bay cracks!

And so we sit, trying to be more aware. And the repressed pain, trauma and fear begins to appear through the cracks. Now an epic battle begins, a battle of desperation, a battle of survival. A battle for who I think I am. Many start this battle, and very few continue to the end. In this battle there are only two sides:

On the first side is most people we have ever known, our parents, families, teachers, friends and acquaintances, the media, everyone. They are saying: “You are a person. An individual. Separate. Some bits of you we love and like. Some bits of you we don’t like, don’t love. The bits we don’t like need to go, and you need to make another you that we prefer. You have to do as you are told.” Some of the teaching is through words. Much of it is through copying. How your parents treat each other and you kids is how you learn about life. So as children we are molded by our parents to be  ‘…….’ (just fill in the dots with your childhood world).

On the second side are very few people. Some are with you through books. You may be one of the few to have met one. They say “It’s OK to be who you are. OK to let go of who you think you are, allow and be kind to yourself, turn towards the child inside. Emotions are absolutely fine. Unconditional Love is Real. You are not separate. You cannot die, because you are awareness itself. ”

To win the battle of awakening, we have to lose. The self we (and all those on the first side) cling on to must let go – not in our imagination, but in full-blooded screaming emotional reality, here and now. All levels of repressed pain must be let into awareness, allowed to be here and let go into and through. Not to get rid of the pain, not so we become a more whole or a better person, but to let go of being that  person totally.  Kilbran’s sacred fire. This process of unfolding will take time, years. As long as it takes.

If we don’t go to the deepest level of pain inside it is because we are somebody who is too scared to love the child within. After all, beginners compassion class is learning to love a child, isn’t it? Freedom from the pain is only gained when we let go of being a scared someone, turn towards the child inside, and let it fully into awareness, with love and in kindness. Not easy, as the people of the First Side have ruled our entire life, & have us surrounded. A lot of the time it may feel more like we are going mad, or having a nervous breakdown, not loved, unlovable.

For many the quest for awakening is too fierce, the first side people are everywhere and overwhelming in their pressure for everyone to be like them. when we open opening the odds are stacked against us. Who do we know on the second side who has entered the battle and emerged free, who we could ask if it worth the years of desperate struggle and sacrifice? So we retreat back into the world of ideas, of right and wrong, of attitudes, of repressing the subconcious mind. We put on a good show and go back to clinging, with all our might.

It’s about love. If we are going to learn to love ourselves, and others, we have no choice but to let our hidden self out. And we also begin to really see that the Mind’s controlling, judging, analysing nature is not kind, is not loving. The mind justifies itself, while underneath it has cruelly locked children in dark tiny boxes inside, thrown away the key and pretended they don’t exist. Heartless our minds!

It is this seeing for ourselves the cruel nature of our minds to our very selves that helps us to keep trying to be mindful, to be willing to let our inner child out, and to experience the overwhelming emotional world of that child first hand.

Buddha Mindfulness Difficulties

Help If you are in the midst of this battle to be free, you may feel in need a bit of help. The best help possible can only come from someone who has been through this battle in themselves. Who has opened to their core, to the place where the pain pierces the deepest part of the ‘soul’ and tears it down totally. And who has woken up a day or two later to realise the battle is over, & found their eyes have been opened and they are bathed in the awareness of all that is. And who has lived in the reality of that place for a while since.

This person will not be ‘perfect’, they will certainly have very human frailties. They will have one defining characteristic – when it comes to the deepest places inside yourself, they do not back away. At all. Instead they are able to sit in a space of awareness and love with you. Consistently. More often than not. Not just in words, but in Being.

You will not find this written much in books on spiritual practice.


“listen a little deeper, below the surface world of “you” and discover the vistas of your entire life, of lives before. Then open in the same way to others, and the gulf between you and me dissolves, loneliness is conquered. Then let the fire of the intensity of being engulf you and inflame you. Until you are no more. Then you will discover who you really are “