I just thought I'd post this about my past 5 years of zen practice.
In the years of my life I have had moments where their was intimacy(not with a lover) where I just sat and felt the wind or smelt the rain or whatever I was doing. When i started to practice it seemed that throughout my practice I began to focus more on my thoughts, analyzing and talking to myself about what I was doing. My Idea of practice became twisted through the concepts that I kept coming up with. I didn't have any realization of intimacy and just sitting for a long time. From this experience I have learned that it is tremendously easy to grasp concepts and thoughts about what practice should be instead of actually practicing.
I was actually doing the opposite of what you are supposed to do when practicing. Instead of opening attention, I was just focusing more and more on concepts, tension, and thoughts, entirely intellectual.
It's hard to say exactly when I actually paid attention to my experience (even in the slightest degree). I think it is when I started to actually listen to the sounds going on. I think that perhaps it is when bodymind or ego had had enough of this searching and analytical view of what practice is. Perhaps I had eaten and eaten without satisfaction. Perhaps I had listened to thousands of songs without real enjoyment. Perhaps I had tried so many things without satisfaction. When the only one thing that I really needed to do was just let things be.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say to anyone who might find practice difficult and tense and really troublesome, is: be careful. Don't do the opposite of what sitting is and don't be convinced by your thoughts. Be vawy vawy carefow. As Elmer Fudd would say.