Internal awareness takes effort.
It is a strange kind of effort. It does not require muscular strength and endurance. Awareness requires persistent attempts to quiet the mind, to “shush” the internal chatter, to let go of trying so hard to mentally attend to external responsibilities.
It seems as if an invisible chat button is flipped on when I first sit down to feel my breath. This tidal wave of noise used to frustrate me so much that I would either sit there yelling at my internal big mouth to shut up, or just skip trying to meditate yet again. No matter how hard I yelled at the chatter, it did not stop. Duh! The effort is to leave the chatter alone, to let it slide on by, like the wind passing through a room. Resist the attempt to shut all the windows and doors. Just sit there and let it blow through, patiently waiting for the air to settle.
And the air, the mind, the chatter does eventually settle. The effort is in waiting long enough for things to settle. The internal chatter can be so annoying and repulsive that it is hard to just sit there and “not listen,” not try to shut it up, just waiting for the quiet.
And then, the moment of quiet arrives as quickly and gently as a butterfly floating onto a flower. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it is here. Now, the effort is to leave that alone too. Because just like a butterfly, as soon as you move more closely to get a better look, it takes flight again and is gone just as quickly as it came.
So, begin again. This is the persistent effort of gaining awareness.