When we start to meditate, we may find that we fall asleep, as we are not used to the reduction in external stimulation. After a while, we my become able to hold our concentration for short periods of time. It is common only to be able to do this for a few seconds at a time, before the mind wanders onto its usual worries and speculations.
Later in our meditation training, we begin to be able to sustain our focus for a minute or two at a time, before our minds go astray. Eventually, we may be able to keep our mind alert and focused for several minutes at a time, or even longer. This could be regarded as unusual control, as we are so used to letting our thoughts wander.
These periods of a few minutes of focus can be precious. During them, our mind is protected from its usual suffering, and is able to maintain balance, or equipoise.
Much later, we may become able to retain such focus in between meditation sessions. To be able to go about a normal day, but at the same time to retain alert mindfulness and mental equilibrium, is a great achievement. There are so many stimuli that assault us during a day, and it shows mastery to be able to handle such stimuli without losing balance and concentration.
Once we have achieved such ability, we may be able to keep an even mood whatever the day throws at us.
CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
At first, it may seem unnatural to remain aloof from our usual moods and responses. We might be afraid of seeming callous or uncaring. After all, if someone tells a joke, or a sad story, will we still be able to laugh or cry?
The answer is that we will, but that our laughter and tears may be moderated by our perspective. We may not be so able to laugh at other people’s expense. Equally, we may not wish to cry so much at our own misfortunes.
These two changes are a result of an increase in compassion, and an increase in ability to detach and take a non-selfish, non-competitive perspective.
On our meditation journey, we may become able to stay focused for longer and longer, and eventually to retain mindfulness outside the meditation session.
We will become more protected from suffering, and less dependent on external stimulation. Our mood will stay more even and balanced.
Because we will achieve a less self-centred perspective, we will be able to watch the world without worrying about our own good or bad fortune, or the good or bad fortune of others.
We will be content, and even happy, independently of the usual round of cause and effect. Nothing will be consequential enough to disturb us. We will be at far greater peace.