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Awareness and attention

One of the ways meditation helps us in everyday life is the training it gives us to choose where we put our attention. Learning how to switch between attention and awareness can help us deal with intrusive thoughts, chronic pain and difficult life circumstances.

See this big vast beautiful sky? I want you to extend your attention infinitely outwards left and right and up and down so you become like the sky - wide, open and empty.

Gently notice how you feel when you put your attention wide and open like the big, blue, empty sky?

Pretty calming right?

Words people typically use are vast, open, calm and peaceful.

(This is because we feel what we focus on.)

Now watch this video:

I am going to guess that when you watched the video you noticed the sounds (birdsong and traffic) and were drawn to the movement of the pony eating amongst other things.

Now notice your inner experience from having watched that video.

Is it as deeply peaceful and calm?

If you're truly honest, the answer will be no.

Whilst the video is beautiful and may generate wonderful feelings, your inner experience will be different as you've switched from feeling wide, open and empty like the sky, to having thoughts about the birdsong, that there's a pony eating and maybe marvelling at how cold and/or how pretty it looks.

Making a choice

I use this example to demonstrate how in meditation we are learning how to make a choice where we put our attention. We can put it on the sky (context) or the the things within the sky (content). Each will give us a different experience, with the big blue sky making us feel the most peaceful.

I invite you to watch the video again, this time ignoring all the sounds and movement and put your attention purely on the vast, open, big, blue sky.

If you successfully managed to focus on the sky and only the sky, and not get distracted by anything else (easier said than done), then your answer will be yes.

This is one of the many skills we are learning to develop in meditation. The ability to let go of mind chatter, physical aches and pains and the general "noise" in our life so that we might experience deep peace, healing and rest.

The best of both

In reality, what we are ideally working towards is to be deeply anchored in our vast open sky state, whilst having a full and complete experience of living.

Seeing as for many people that isn't the norm, we must start by reconnecting to that wide open state of awareness like we knew when we were a baby through the practice of meditation and learn to live our lives from that contextual space for better health, harmony and wellbeing.

If you have any questions about this practice or about meditation in general, please reach out to ask more!

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