Can this translate in spiritual work? Lets say a person meditates for two weeks and practices embracing the silence and living a mindful lifestyle. However, when he/she meditates his/her mind is rambling. When he/she practices mindfulness his/her mind rambles. In other words, he/she is going through the motions but the mind is elsewhere. Do you believe there will be improvement or is he/she just wasting his time?
Of course not, meditation by definition is the silence of thought ... stillness of mind ... a meditation where your mind would be rambling is just another daydream in which only little improvement can be found ...
Silence of thought is not the definition of meditation and it is an over generalization of what meditation is. There are many varieties and techniques of meditation. One can meditate on the idea of compassion, focusing on compassion. One can meditate on the idea of God as some in contemplative prayer do, which is a form of mediation. Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is a form of meditation that Nichiren Buddhists practice. Qigong movements (which I practice along with dan tien breathwork and meditation) is often referred to as meditation in motion, though the Zhan Zhuang style of Qigong (which I incorporate into my practice) has many standing meditations.
Many people give up on meditation because they have this idea that when meditating the mind is supposed to be silent and as they sit to meditate, their mind is anything but quiet. If that is one's goal, they are surely going to be disappointed when they sit on the cushion only to find the more they try to silence the mind, the more it seems to chatter.
One wouldn't expect to be able to play Chopin or Beethoven flawlessly after a couple of weeks of first practicing the piano, so why would one expect to sit with a completely still mind within the same time frame of practicing meditation. And meditation is called a practice for a reason. This is one of the reasons in Buddhism that focus of the breath is often recommended, because it is not a matter of IF the mind will wander, but when. The focus on the breath is to bring the "monkey mind" back into focus.
Instead of trying to quiet the mind, an easier practice for beginners is to simply look at the thoughts as they arise without attaching oneself to the thought and holding onto it with judgment. Just let the thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. Often times we're not even consciously aware of all of the thoughts that come into our mind throughout the day and when we sit and meditate, we can really begin to see not only what we think, but how we seem to think. Most of our thoughts are merely deep seated grooves in a record player being played over and over, which is really not thinking at all.
As you practice this, you may begin to notice a spacious awareness surrounding all of these passing thoughts. Kind of like the sky in which the clouds can pass. As you continue to practice, you may also begin to notice gaps within these repeated record grooves where there is simply a still awareness. But if you are meditating and you notice that the mind is rambling, then in that moment the mind is no longer rambling, even if it is for a split second. You being aware of the mind's ramblings is progress. When you practice mindfulness and you become aware that the mind is rambling, then in that moment you are being mindful. That is progress.
The Yin Yang of meditation is that one should be completely engaged on the one hand and on the other, be completely passive about trying to achieve some goal in the practice. This is like the paradox in the Zen saying, "Nothing matters and everything matters."
I wouldn't be discouraged if in your short amount of time practicing, you are experiencing what you are experiencing. This is the beginning of getting in touch with your thoughts and yourself. Remember:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ~Lao Tzu