This brief article is by the teacher at the Buddhist (Insight Meditation) center I occasionally go to, Gil Fronsdal. I think he is very very smart.
When we do this meditation practice, we try to not judge anything as being bad or inappropriate. Rather we try to fold everything back into the attention...“Ah, I just got caught. I heard someone cough, and it reminded me that my friend was sick, and I wondered if I should visit my friend in the hospital, and I wonder how late Kaiser is open, and then I notice, 'I'm teaching a class…oh!'" So, it’s an example of getting pulled in....Rather than saying that I shouldn’t have had that train of thought, what we try to do is fold everything back into the attention. "Oh, look at that, that’s what a disruption is like. That’s what it’s like for the mind to get hooked, get carried away..."I usually can't do this—I almost always end up falling asleep when I meditate, and I haven't yet figured out how to pay attention when I'm asleep :-) (although the state I get into right before sleep is pretty interesting). But when I manage it, it's amazing.
In paying attention, there is a way of doing it where you are not caught, trapped, oppressed, influenced, or driven by what’s going on, inside or outside yourself. And that gives you a tremendous power to go about your life. If you have the ability not to be pushed around by your inner compulsions or the pressures from the outside. We learn this by learning how to use the attention in a new way.