Yet there is a general three stage progression that is foundational. These elements are found in the preliminary sections of the sutta and in the "refrain."
FIRST STAGE: Learning to bring mindful awareness to the chosen object. Please notice my use of the term mindful awareness. This was intentional so as to discourage a narrow definition of mindfulness as attention. Attention is only one element. Others include qualities necessary for steady and balanced focus on the frame of reference. These require a daily formal silent practice for development and in order to establish readiness for the real potential of wisdom or insight. Without a basis in skilled concentration, further stages may be beneficial but will not yield their very rich potential.
SECOND STAGE: Requires developed concentration. In this stage we begin to use our developed, focused, balanced concentration to actually develop our connection, our relationship, with any of the possible frames of reference. We investigate deeply the qualities and characteristics of the object or frame of reference: causal relationships within various elements of experience and ability and limitations in influencing the unfolding processes.
THIRD STAGE: Equipoise. We transcend our own skill and let subtle awareness and actions lead our way. This is not something that can usually occur without our intelligent and skillful development of consciousness. The skills are not hard to do, nor hidden or secret. But they do require our active engagement, a continuous choice to take responsibility for our own body, speech, and mind.
Work with the Going Beyond course to establish the first stage. Then join us in groups online for experienced students to open to the potential of stages two and three.
Or work individually in coaching format to develop the mind and to learn to integrate the wisdom, compassion, and joy of these skills into your personal and professional life.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). Wings to Awakening: An Anthology from the Pali Canon. Dhamma Dana Publication Fund: Barre, MA. 1996.
UPDATE: This passage edited 2012 05 05 - contact author for original copy