Concerning mindfulness serving or not serving as the meditation: some deluded people appear to concentrate with rigid fixation and believe that keeping their mind hostage is the meditation of mahāmudrā. That is nothing but their personal fault. The authentic great Kagyu masters took self-cognizant mindfulness as their practice, which is identical to the primordially pure self-awareness of the dzogchen system. Thus, despite different terminology, there is no difference in meaning. Neither system, mahāmudrā nor dzogchen, considers that meditation is the conceptual mind that fixates on mindfulness.
-- Tsele Natsok Rangdröl
In my experience, it feels like I have two choices: try to allow the mind to relax and settle, in which case it does the opposite and relentless distractions and daydreams sap the entire session, no matter if I sit for 10 minutes or two hours. After meditation, the result is a strong feeling of restlessness and dissatisfaction.
Or I try to remain aware of an object as a reference point, "fixating on mindfulness" perhaps. When the volition behind this focus invariably wanes, the restlessness comes. Then volition comes back, goes away, comes back... the result is a tug of war that results again in restlessness and dissatisfaction. Meditation books often say as you practice coming back to the object, you can stay with it longer. That has not been my experience at all.
I have some sense of awareness and cognizance of all thoughts and feelings, since I recall the contents of the daydreams and easily recognize mental objects. But because there seems to be something amiss somewhere, my meditation nearly always results in tension and restlessness. Meditation is becoming more and more unpleasant.
I have no clue how to approach what Tsele Natsok Rangrdröl is talking about.
I also found this related passage from Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
What is this non-meditation? How do we meditate without meditating? Whatever situation mind is in, whether there are discursive thoughts of good, bad, clean, unclean, and so on, if you drop all of these so that you are without even a whisker of the conceptual activity of mind, the nature of mind whatever it is will shine forth as non-stopped clarity and that is called self-arising rigpa. This does not need to be created or produced or purchased; when you let mind itself, just as it is, shine forth and stay in that, that is called self-arising rigpa.... That self-arising rigpa and thamal gyi shespa are the same thing.
So how am I to drop conceptual activity without engaging in dropping conceptual activity? "Stopping concepts" is another conceptual activity isn't it? It feels like letting things drop away has been my approach so far but clearly there's something I'm not getting. I've been meditating for at least an hour a day for a good while, and I feel like I'm lost in a thicket of distractions with no compass. Hence my umpteenth thread on this subject!
Thanks for any input
edit: I found this link in another thread and it seems to speak directly to this: http://www.purifymind.com/ObstaclesPath.htm