I have been meditating average of 1 hour twice a day for over 5 years now. Before that my practice was quite inconsistent. What I have noticed is that when I sit now, I am usually aware of my breath the entire hour. Even when there is thinking happening I still maintain awareness of breath. I dont very often get lost in proliferating thought to the point where I forget the breath. I was thinking about driving and how we can drive a car without crashing but at the same time the mind can be somewhere else. It's kind of like that except that I don't forget that I'm driving.