People learning to meditate go through a series of phases. It's like anything else, really.
You blunder about for a while. It's hard to say whether you're making any progress. Everything seems strange, awkward, pointless and confusing.
But if you stick with it, you have some small wins. It's more than luck than anything, but it gives you a taste for what meditation is like.
Or rather, what you think it's like. But, hey, it's a step in the right direction.
And every step yields rewards. Hesitantly at first – maybe just enough to keep you going. You feel healthier, more focused and more energetic.
Meditation becomes easier. You have bad days and they are hard to overcome. Between those, though, you become more consistent. On a given day, you can reach a wonderful inner state.
Then your consistency begins to evolve into something else.
The control you have over your own mind accelerates. You become a completely different person. Each improvement frees you up to improve more.
You may plateau as you consolidate your transformation. Then you start improving all over again.
With each period of growth, there's an interesting by-product of your blossoming power. You begin to notice more subtle things. Meditation makes you aware of your own awareness, conscious of your consciousness.
Subtletty is underrated. A fine attention allows you to be aware of things you'd normally be unconscious about.
Then, you learn to articulate them.
This is true mastery. Describing experiences gives you control over them.
When you notice a sensation for the first time, it moves from your unconscious mind to your conscious mind. When you find the words to capture it, you have a choice:
You can enhance it or diminish it.
It's as easy as breathing.
A new meditator might say that “nothing” happens. Then, as they learn, they say it felt relaxing.
Listen to an experienced meditator describe it. If you can find a monk, even better. They talk about different degrees of emptiness, relaxation and tension. Sensations shift and evolve moment to moment, as they realize what they need to do to enhance the experience.
They use so many different words to describe the familiar. It's never just one thing to them because they can see the subtlety. They find nuances within nuances, describing what a novice would fail to notice.
This is the next thing to aspire for. Pay attention to the details. Notice what used to escape you. Mark each as a milestone in your progress.