In a previous post I explained the difference between attention and awareness. Here I share eight reasons why understanding that difference can significantly enhance your meditation practice and unlock mindfulness.
When we meditate we are essentially developing the ability to own our attention. Dan Siegl (1) compares the mindfulness that arises from meditations to a clear, detailed photograph.
If a camera shakes or is bounced around it produces fuzzy and unclear images. To take sharp pictures, we need to stabilise it. So too with the mind, when we can stabilise our attention we develop sensory clarity bringing with it a new relationship with happenings around and within us.
8 reasons why understanding the difference between attention and awareness unlocks mindfulness
1) We know why it's our attention that we want to still because awareness is just the container for sensations that rise and fall away.
2) We understand why we consciously set an intention each time we sit to practice, doing so aids attention stability.
3) We realise why at the beginning of a meditation, we use our senses to settle into the present moment.
4) When we sit to focus on our breath, we know to attend with a light touch, dropping our spotlight of attention onto the place where the sensations arise.
5) When we notice we have slipped the anchor of our attention we realise that a) we have forgotten our intention and b) something has come into our awareness that has pulled our attention.
6) When we let go of the distraction, we understand why we do not need to push it away or suppress it as just by swinging the spotlight of attention back to the intended object the distraction naturally fades into the background.
7) We better understand the workings of mind so we no longer berate ourselves when the mind wanders, as this is how we have been unknowingly training our attention to behave.
8) We use the knowledge as a reason to regularly sit. The more we sit, the faster our attention is trained to sit still and the mind becomes increasingly stable.
Then one day we let go of attending to the meditation object and simply notice sensations that come and go in awareness, even if just for a few moments.
And during that time we notice external and internal happenings meeting each of them without judgement. And that is mindfulness.
Questions about attention and awareness? Ask me in the comments