The most noticeable progress came in the past week. I've gained the ability to almost instantly focus my attention on the space in which all sensations appear, consciousness. I can zone in within a few seconds and keep my attention focused for much longer than was possible 10 days ago. This is immensely rewarding.
To my astonishment, I'm finding no impediments to meditating eyes opened, something which would have been inconceivable a month ago. But the most impressive progress is gaining the ability to practice from nearly any location (in the metro, the dentist waiting room, while running, etc.)
Still, I have much to learn. I'm hoping that in the coming weeks, the line between practice time and normal every day waking life begins to blur. There are hints that this is where Sam is going next.
On day 32, he drops some deep knowledge on us, which I'd like to share.
The moment you notice you're lost in thought, come back to the raw sensation of breathing. Come back without judgment, without contradiction, without despair or frustration.
This is the practice – simply noticing distraction and coming back to clear seeing – so there's nothing to regret. That's the moment of real practice, simply coming back.
I had to write this down because it's such a powerful statement. I've felt frustrated when my mind wonders too much. This feeling is anchored in the misconception that meditation is about clearing one's mind. I think many people, even those with some meditation experience, hold on to this idea.
As one learns with some practice, mindfulness is the ability to notice one's thoughts, emotions, and various states of mind, and to acknowledge them. With this powerful ability, it's possible to make conscious choices about the state of one's mind.