One of the main signs of progress is being more relaxed about making progress. Our practice never changes in a constant, linear way. There are always ups and downs. One day you unexpectedly find that you’re moving well and almost totally without distraction. The next day you’re all over the place. This is normal, and it’s good to relax, and not be obsessed about “getting somewhere.” Yes, it’s good to have the aspiration to move in the direction of greater aikido, but the expectation that this is going to happen will bring us nothing but pain. Bearing in mind the aspiration, we simply work with whatever arises, not worrying about whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practice.
Also, not all changes are noticeable in the short term. It’s now known that when you practise you rewire your brain in helpful ways. Can you tell whether or not new neurons have been generated, or whether new connections between neurons have been built? Of course not. But it’s happening anyway. It might take months for those changes to manifest in anything perceptible. So in the meantime, just relax and get on with the practice.
Adapted to aikido from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation by Bodhipaksa http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness/three/progress