B. Alan Wallace has had a meditation practice for 30 years and has been an active participant in the dialogues about the mind between Buddhists and scientists. He states: "Few things affect our lives more than our faculty of attention. If we can't focus our attention — due to either agitation or dullness — we can't do anything well. We can't study, listen, converse with others, work, play, or even sleep well when our attention is impaired. And for many of us, our attention is impaired much of the time."

The mind falls into two ruts, excitation and laxity, and both are hindrances to attentional development. Wallace reveals the value of meditation techniques developed in India and Tibet and explains why he is convinced they can help us all improve the faculty of attention. With great élan and rigor, the author explores the ten stages of attentional development from directed attention all the way to shamatha, the last stage which may require 10,000 hours of practice. Wallace also includes interludes on the meditative cultivation of loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, equanimity, tonglen (giving and taking), lucid dreaming, and dream yoga. Along the way, he offers cogent observations on genuine happiness as a symptom of a healthy, balanced mind.