Attention. Nothing is more important than attention. I make progress with love when and only if I pay attention. I don't hold with any kind of religion, Zen Buddhism included, but I steal wisdom wherever I find it:
When Master Ikkyū was asked what the most profound teaching of Zen was he replied “Attention.” When asked for more elaboration and commentary on that teaching he replied “Attention. Attention. Attention. What else is there?” The questioner grew angrier and asked “Well what is attention anyway?” “Attention is attention” was Ikkyū’s profound, quiet reply [source].
I read that story in college and it stuck with me. I didn't know what attention was back then, so it didn't do my clumsy attempts at meditation any good, but I knew it was a clue.
I find wisdom in silence. I mean that literally. When I woke up from my cannabis glut, I heard nothing inside but glorious silence for a moment before I was overtaken by intense psychological pain cause by the residue of the high dose cannabis Leela used to wake me up. In the year that followed I made friends with silence as the cannabis gradually depurated out. I came to realize silence is Leela's voice, her presence in me. Before that night my head was always filled with the ceaseless chatter of thinking. Leela's silent voice was always there too but it was drowned out by all my noisy thinking. Any time I turn to Leela and let the voices fade away I can find my way back to the sweet sound of silence.
Paying attention is a conscious act. If something merely draws my attention that's not paying attention. As a kid I let my attention be drawn. I made progress anyway because Leela put me into situations where my attention would be drawn the right way. That ended when I started taking drugs in Kenya. The mental noise caused by the drugs drowned out Leela's quiet voice. I eventually took up formal meditation, the practice of consciously paying attention in an attempt to make progress with love. I didn't make progress doing formal meditation, but I built discipline. What got me started making progress again was surrendering to Leela, giving up my thinking based approach to the spiritual quest, and putting everything in Leela's hands. Leela makes the right things happen at the right time. I have no control over what happens but I do have control over my inner state. I can make my life miserable if I worry about what might happen. That's an example of wrongheadedness. I can relieve all that unpleasantness by surrendering and trusting Leela.