Learn eight reasons why understanding the difference supports meditation practice
In a previous post I explained the difference between attention and awareness. Here I share why knowing that difference can significantly enhance your meditation practice and deepen your understanding of how to apply mindfulness.
When we meditate we are essentially developing the ability to both own our attention and to notice our moment to moment experience. Dan Siegl (1) compares the clarity of mind that we gain from a regular meditation practice to the detail we might see in a clear and in focus photograph.
If a camera shakes it will take 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 which brings with it a new way to related to external happenings and internal changes.
When we know the difference between attention and awareness we understand the following eight points which collectively support our meditation practice and so deepen our capacity for mindful awareness.
1) We recognise 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, it focuses attention.
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.
6) When we let go of the distraction, we k 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.
6) When we let go of the distraction, we know 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, recognising that this is how we have been unknowingly allowing our attention to behave.
8) We use this 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.
Got questions about attention and awareness? Ask me in the comments