Andrew Holecek has a nice piece on the practice of mindfulness in the autumn issue of Light of Consciousness. He claims that although it’s a natural state for us, it’s been lost due to “eons of mindlessness” and we need to reconnect with it through repetition (and a fair bit of patience) before we can fully transform our lives. He also makes this great comparison to boiling water:
Put a pot of water on the stove, turn on the heat, and wait. Depending on the intensity of the heat and the temperature and volume of the water, it will boil slowly or quickly, but either way there is a period where nothing seems to be happening. All this energy is going into the water with no obvious result. The phase transformation from water into steam takes time.
Similarly, when we engage in spiritual practice, we have placed ourselves on the stove and turned on the heat. If our practice is half-hearted, then it takes time for that low temperature to transform us. If we practice wholeheartedly, the higher temperature brings us more rapidly to a boil. But either way there is a period where nothing seems to be happening. All this energy is going into our practice but nothing is cooking.
As long-term practitioners reflect over years of practice, they discover they are starting to get warm. The changes come slowly because the water that is being heated is so cold, and the heat of our practice is usually tepid. But sooner or later we come to a boil.
Source: Light of Consciousness (partial article available online)