When we look at whether we are progressing in a particular project, the essential concern is that a degree of progress is only meaningful when it’s compared to something else. For example, in the photo above, it is hard to tell whether the cyclist is moving or stationary at the moment the photo was taken because it is a static image. Due to this lack of information, as viewers, we can therefore interpret the photo in different ways.
Now let’s look at meditation practice. Once we have become aware that the mind has wandered and is not in the present moment, we do have information about how the current state of mind compares to the past. It’s in a better state because now we are mindful where is previously we were not. We can either lament the fact that we are not as mindful as we wanted to be or we we can celebrate the progress that we have made by bringing the mind back into the present moment. So here we have the same moment serving two very different purposes depending on which perspective we choose. The next time that we become aware that we are not being mindful, we would do well to choose an interpretation that encourages us in our practice by celebrating our progress.