We should always be realistic at the beginning of the path, and understand that it's not going to be a case of experiencing instantaneous results, or that our practice sessions continuously improve day after day. There are going to be ups and downs - our practice might go well today, but tomorrow it might not.
When we come to terms with this fact, and continue to practise each and every day, no matter what happened in the previous session, and without holding on to any hopes, expectations, or fears of what may happen in the next session, over time definite signs of lasting progress will arise - and this is a guaranteed by-product of consistency.
Not only do we begin to notice more ups than downs during our formal practice sessions, but we also begin to experience other signs of progress creeping into our daily lives - positive emotions begin to almost effortlessly arise instead of disturbing ones.
The more we experience all of these signs, the more we are inspired to continue on the path - and the life of the practitioner will become truly joyous.
Discipline based on karma is not morality demanding conformity to religious commandments or a social code. Karma’s perspective is more medicinal; its prescriptions are like those of a health code preventing “spiritual diseases,” which are the illusions and afflictions and their painful results. The Negative Tree illustrates the functioning of negative karma. Its roots are ignorance and the mind’s illusions, its trunk is the self-cherishing attitude, its branches are the afflictive emotions, and its fruit is the painful states of existence.