.... 'Non-distraction is the substance of meditation' says one Tibetan Kagyu lineage text. How do you make a mental exercise out of that? Does the statement ask us to concentrate? If so, on what?
"On my breath? My breath doesn't DO anything. It just goes in and out. How boring is that?"
Try it. Intimate aware union with the breath has to be experienced. The difference between boredom and true peace is astonishing. As Eckhart Tolle has noted, "This peace is intensely alive."
'Meditation', says the sage, Nisargadatta, 'is paying attention to attention.' Have you ever attempted that? Even once? Is it something you can logically figure out how to do? No, it has to be experienced. The experience is what is called meditation. Buddhist and Advaita teachings have explored the domain of consciousness in myriad experiential ways that prove challenging to the empirically fixated, abstractly hypothesizing western mind that has such a hard time validating any experience it can't measure with a scientific instrument or a proof of equation. In truth, there is no method to this madness, rather a wonderful transcendence of method altogether. But I jump ahead.
In the early phases of meditation, it can seem that one has succeeded only in opening a Pandora's box called "my mind as it apparently is, which I have apparently ignored till now and which is now ignoring all my attempts to get it to shut up."
It can be quite a shock to realize how things actually unfold in one's mind when one simply looks at it. Lo and behold, I appear to be cosmically confused, utterly ignorant with respect to matters of ultimate importance and doomed to die. Worse, I cannot even control my mind, let alone create my own reality, as I once naively believed thanks to some New Age paperback my ex left behind.
Such inner realizations, messy though they seem at first, are extremely valuable. Persisted in, meditation helps open up an enormously important space between the whole booming, buzzing theater of my life, on one hand, and that which simply notices it all, on the other. The 'noticer' is neither cosmically confused, ignorant nor doomed to die. It just IS and it is that without which nothing shows up at all, not even we who are trying to wake up by looking within. Not without reason have many spiritual adepts called meditation, 'the crown of life.'