The terms “awareness” and “attention” seem to have the same meaning and hence can be a cause of confusion when used in the context of thoughts.
I’ve mentioned in many posts, and in comments, about staying as a space of awareness and allowing the mind to have a free movement – what I call “conscious allowing” of the mind. I sometimes use the term “relaxed awareness” to describe this state of being.
In this post I will clarify some of the common questions people have about the terms “awareness”, attention and “letting go”.
Why practice relaxed awareness?
The practice of relaxed awareness is the starting point to not only letting go of the “fear-based” grip that you have on your mind, but to also allow the mind to release all its pent up negative momentum and come to a state of balance. In addition, this causes a release of “resistance” in your being which ensures that you become aligned with the pull of your life-stream.
If you simply follow the practice of relaxed awareness, you will soon reach a state of balance in your mind and would be aligned with your life-stream, there is nothing further you need to understand – the only reason for giving all the various understandings is to allow the mind/being to become comfortable with this state of “allowing” or “letting go”, to understand it “logically” and scientifically as to how it allows positivity to come through and how it dissolve the negative momentum.
Difference between space of awareness and attention of mind
First let me clarify the difference between “awareness” and “attention”.
Some of you may not have realized, or recognized, that as soon as you wake up, and till the time you sleep, there is a field of “awareness” that’s operating all the time in the background. Even when you are lost in thought, or when you are lost in an activity, this awareness is present in the background.
That’s why you can recollect the thoughts that you were lost in, because there was awareness even when your mind was lost in thoughts. This awareness comes from the stream of consciousness in whose space your body/mind is functioning – this stream of consciousness is who you are, in essence.
This stream of consciousness is also the energy space which I call your “life stream” which is moving towards the manifestation of desired realities, moving towards your well-being.
So in one sense, you as the body/mind is swimming in this space of awareness, and your true body is this wholeness/totality which combines your physical body and this space of awareness (or stream of consciousness, whatever term you prefer) which is directly a part of universal consciousness.
If you want to get a picturistic view of this, just imagine your body being connected to a stream of conscious energy, which in turn is connected a bigger stream (the stream of human consciousness), which connects to a bigger stream (the stream of earth consciousness), and so on, and at the base is the ocean of consciousness which connects to all streams which I call universal consciousness. Essentially, your true body includes this entirety of space of consciousness, and this “physical body” is just one creation in it – so you are this physical body, but you are also the wholeness of life. Most of us are only aware of ourselves as this body, and have no awareness of how we are actually the wholeness of life, the “one being”. It usually takes a few months for this perspective of wholeness to really sink into the mind, once you become aware of it.
Your mind also has the capacity to be “aware”, what we call – attention, or concentration or focus. The mind has a “narrow awareness”, that’s why it’s called “focus” or concentration. The mind can only, specifically, become aware of one thing at time.
For example, if you are aware of your “sight” your “hearing” becomes passive, if you are aware of your hearing your sight is on passive, if you are aware of your thoughts your sight and hearing are on passive etc (by “you”, I mean the mind here). The mind can only focus, or be aware, of one thing at a time.
The terms “attention”, focus, concentration are all terms I used to refer to the mind’s capacity to be aware of something.
I hope you can differentiate now between the awareness produced by the mind (attention), and the awareness which is present in the background all the time (coming from the stream of your consciousness). It’s very easy to realize these two aspects of awareness once you “identify” it using these pointers, it’s not complicated at all.
The term “Relaxed Awareness” is a pointer
When I talk about staying as “relaxed awareness”, the pointer is for the mind to let go of trying to “focus” or be attentive, rather to just let go, so that it can simply rest in the background awareness that’s present all the time.
If you would just let go of trying to “focus” through your mind, you will easily understand what the state of relaxed awareness is – it’s basically when the mind lets go of its constant preoccupation with “attention”.
The mind in its “fearful state” is constantly trying to give attention to every negative thought that pops in, it focuses intensely on fears because of its nature as a survival machine, and this causes patterns of “obsession” with negative thoughts (referred to in medical terms as OCD, when there is a chronic obsession with certain thoughts).
The reason why a thought becomes obsessive, is because your mind has been giving it “attention”/focus all the time out of its fear, and this happens when the mind is totally unconscious of its freedom to just let go of its focus and rest in the background of wholeness (space of consciousness).
Whenever I use the terms – space of awareness, stream of consciousness, life energy, wholeness of life, your life-stream or space of consciousness, it’s all referring to the same thing – the wholeness of life (which is conscious energy) in which your physical body/mind is operating.
If you have never recognized this background awareness/consciousness, which is always present, then it would feel like a huge revelation for you to know that you (as the body/mind) are always connected it. You are always connected to the wholeness of life, non-physical conscious energy, which basically created the “physical” you. You, as the mind, has the choice to rest in this wholeness, and let go of its chronic habit of giving “attention” to negative thoughts and thus allow the momentum of negativity to ebb away.
When your mind lets go of its “focus” and rests in this open space of awareness, the momentum of negativity, running in it, starts ebbing away, and it also allows the wisdom/intelligence inherent to your life-stream to start dissolving inner conflicts, confusions and brings forth required solutions/ideas/inspiration/right-actions that move you towards the creation of a positive reality.
Hopefully the above explanation was clear enough to drive home the meaning of letting go of attention and resting in the open space of awareness.
If you do this as a “practice”, even for 30 minutes a day, it has the power to start dissolving the inner conflicts and negative momentum in the mind, which starts a shift towards the construction of a positive external reality.
Soon (in a few months) you start feeling a sense of spaciousness in your body, as the momentum of negativity starts clearing away – you basically become an open channel to allowing the well-being inherent to your life-stream to flood into your physical reality.