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Awareness and Attention

michael taft meditation

Michael Taft leads a guided meditation (about 40 minutes) and then answers questions from students. Topics center around aspects of attention in practice, using Zoom In and Zoom Out techniques — i.e. narrowly focused attention vs. broadly focused awareness.

What Is Awareness?

Awareness consists of whatever you are experiencing in the present moment. All the sights, sounds, smells and so on from the external world, as well as all our inner world of thoughts, feelings, dreams, plans, and so forth. All together, this totality of experience is what awareness consists of.

What Is Attention?

It’s possible to constrict our field of awareness down around just a single aspect or component. It’s as if the awareness tightens or constricts around this particular object. That tightening or constriction is attention. We are focused on the object; paying attention to it. The rest of the remaining field of awareness around that focus of attention can be called peripheral awareness, or just awareness.

An interesting point with attention is that it can be of arbitrary size. Attention can be focused down on something smaller than a grain of said, or short that a second in duration. But attention can also be much more broadly focused, such as on the sensations in the whole body, or the all the sounds in the field of attention, or lasting over many minutes or hours. So even though we think of attention as tight and small, it can actually be much wider.

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