It is a common expectation amongst those engaged in any form of mindfulness practice; meditation, contemplation, prayer, asanas, mantras, etc., that with practice they will achieve a permanent “zen like” state, and from that point on experience nothing but bliss.
Forget about this idea. It is not true and there is precious little evidence that any saint, sage, messiah or yogi has ever achieved such a enduring state.
If you are breathing, you are human. Part of being human is experiencing pain, real physical, emotional and spiritual pain.
However where a good mindfulness practice can make a huge difference, is in limiting the amount of optional suffering we needlessly add to the mandatory pain of life.
It is the nature of the human mind to want to resist and control change. Yet change is the one constant in life. Sometimes change brings pain. A good mindfulness practice can provide many opportunities and teachings to better accept and learn from the pain of life.
Mindfulness practices also provide many powerful tools to help you limit the amount of optional suffering the human mind will tend to add to any of life’s painful moments. Simply, do not expect the mind to stop resisting change. Do not expect the mind to cease its compulsion to obsess over any perceived thread. That’s its thing. That’s what it does. Your power is found, and peace is restored, by remembering you can always choose what to put your attention on.
When the pain of life comes, and the mind responds by going wild with excessive anticipation, planning, contingencies, judgements, resistance, remorse, etc. – simply choose, over and over again, not to feed this suffering with attention, identity or belief.
Put your attention on your: breath, body, prayer, asana, nature, etc, really anything that is here, now. And should you find your attention drifting back to the suffering, simply do not buy the inevitable thought, “you can’t do this”, “this doesn’t work for me”, etc.
Rather, take your attention off that thought too, again and again. It all gets easier with practice.