When we start to exercise the mental muscles we start to make them fitter. So, there are two aspects that we are starting to wake up.
One is the ability to apply the mind, which we call initial application, which is the launching of your attention at whichever area of the body you want to know. The second quality we want to build is what we call sustained attention where you hold your attention in one place – you don’t wander around.
If you don’t apply the mind you will just drift around and your mind will not start to get fit. The reason we keep moving through the body every minute or so, is that it re-establishes that initial application. You have to reapply the mind so you can’t just drop off into a trance and not know what you are doing because you have to deliberately do it. By moving it launches your attention again (as you move from one finger to another), this initial application brings energy to the mind. Staying with your object (the finger in this case) without wavering is the sustained application, and this builds the concentration and mindfulness so the object becomes clearer. Now it won’t happen overnight. It’s something we are training – like when you go the gym you are training – so that the mind starts to feel less cloudy, brighter and sharper.
To begin with it is best not to sit for too long but to do some very focused work, take a break and then to do it again. It is good to see how diligent or lazy you are. Can you spend 20 minutes at really working through the hands with real application? Or do you just sit there and drift?