If you took a break between this chapter and the last and practiced a bit of mindfulness, began practicing after reading Chapter 1, or began practicing some time ago, you have surely discovered something that may be a bit troublesome. The practice can be incredibly difficult!
It sounds so simple, right? Just be objectively aware of thoughts, emotions, and other sensations as they are happening in the present moment, and try to sustain that awareness for a while. And, it is that simple. But it's certainly not easy.
The mind is crazy, isn't it? If you've made any effort to sustain mindful self-awareness without being distracted, you've likely noticed that you're frequently switching back and forth between being mindfully self-aware and being the thinking mind, often completely distracted by thinking.
Many people report that they actually feel more distracted when they first start practicing than before they began. Although this is likely not the case, it can certainly seem that way because we're likely more aware of where our attention is directed than we ever have been before. An analogy often used to describe this phenomenon is that of a really old, oily shop rag that's completely stained.
When we first start to clean the rag up a bit, we start to notice that there isn't just one big stain. There are lots of individual stains. With a bit of cleaning, ...