We decided to begin posting here instead to hopefully get more quality feedback and perhaps a bit more accountability to be consistent as well.
A little background: we've both read MBT and a lot of Tom's other content as well as a bunch of other meditation/mindfulness books. We've both been meditating somewhat consistently for the past few years and both seen somewhere around the same level of progress, albeit with different kinds of challenges and experiences.
Personally I've found journaling to a really helpful compliment to learning and progressing, so hopefully it'll serve the same purpose here.
One quick note: a lot of the language and framework we'll both use to talk about on experiences and progression comes from the book The Mind Illuminated. It essentially details the typical stages of meditation progression, what kinds of obstacles are present at each stage and how best to address them. For reference for those reading, the stages are basically like this: 2) Dealing with persistent mind wandering, 3) Dealing with forgetting the breath, 4) Catching gross distractions that lead to forgetting, 5) Dealing with subtle dullness, 6) Catching subtle distractions before they become gross distractions, 7-10) working with focused attention and subtle experience in various ways.
Meditated 1 hour this afternoon + some mindful walking earlier.
Spent the first 40 minutes or so in Stage 2 (mind wandering periods were usually brief but pretty frequent). I mainly experienced mild boredom, impatience and dullness during that period. These are the most common experiences for me when I feel unfocused; I get bored and impatient because I feel like skipping this phase and enjoying meditation states that feel more productive and pleasant. I get sleepy because of boredom and resistance.
The last 15 or 20 minutes were easier. The boredom, sleepiness and impatience mostly disappeared and I was able to focus more.
- I'm going to keep working on establishing consistency over longer stretches. On one hand, I know it's good to just accept where you're at and work with whatever comes up as best you can; in fact, that's all you really can do. But when I'm more consistent over long stretches, I feel like I can actually start to work on things, learn things, notice new things and bring my elevated level of mindfulness into challenging situations outside of meditation and be productive there as well. I do feel much better and more excited once my awareness passes that critical threshold where it starts to feel useful and exciting.
- At the same time, I'm trying to be as non-reliant as possible on my initial state of consciousness. Perhaps the biggest mistake I made up until recently was to simply sit and wait until my mind and body finally calmed down, or to really try to force that calm state through extreme effort. My mind does inevitably become more calm and easier to work with from just sitting, but I think it's definitely productive to work with it before I reach that point -- after all, that baseline is where most of my life is lived from right now.