Mindful Attention and Mindful Awareness are very different, Mike Larcombe believes that focusing your attention can lead you to mindful awareness.
However focusing on and being attentive to your thoughts, feelings, sensations and senses only, is not in itself Mindfulness nor can it be an end goal or final destination or something that you need to hold on to, and not let go.
Attention is to do with the mind and concentrating, whereas awareness is an expansive space that is both empty and full. An empty fullness. Awareness is all there is, including nothing and everything.
Everything is held within awareness and awareness is everything.
Mindful attention is trying, failing and trying again, over and over.
Mindful awareness is noticing, observing and letting whatever is experienced come and go. Awareness is not about trying to get anywhere but noticing what is already here, noticing what you are aware of. Mindful awareness is the noticing that awareness is already here and the realisation that it always was.
The goal isn’t to become an expert at being consistently and constantly aware of whatever, but becoming aware of and connected to awareness itself, but only when you are. Only when you notice and connect with it. Only when you naturally connect with what is naturally there.
When you not aware of the present moment you don’t have to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. You don’t have to be mindful all the time or be disappointed with yourself when you are not. It’s OK not to be mindful, it’s OK to become mindful that you notice that you weren’t being mindful, and it’s OK to experience mindful awareness. It’s all OK. Awareness isn’t measuring the intensity, duration or frequency of your mindful awareness. Awareness doesn’t mind what your your experience of awareness is or how long it lasts.
Awareness can become aware of itself. An Awareness aware of awareness is a profound experience. But can anyone obtain abiding constant unending awareness? Does it matter if they can or not? Your experience matters and cannot be measured against others because it is unmeasurable.
Can you learn to become aware when you are not aware? Can you turn the practice on it’s head and become intentionally unaware? Try to get rid of awareness or try to become unaware. It is as impossible as trying to keep hold of the awareness that never leaves you. It’s impossible to concentrate and focus to the extent where you are able to stay aware. Your mind can’t do it. Your concentration may fail you but awareness will still be where it is, where you left it, right here, now. Awareness is not yours to take or leave, or to keep or lose. Your experience of mindful awareness is allowed to come and go. Can you become aware of that, of the coming and going?
Becoming aware of awareness itself is the realisation that awareness is and was already here waiting for you. It’s the realisation that awareness never went anywhere, and it will never go away or leave you. We cannot escape awareness, it is an immoveable constant.
You can focus your attention on your thoughts, feelings, senses, your breathing or stillness. You can focus your attention on any of that and this can help with connecting with, lining up with, discovering or rediscovering the awareness that is already here now, waiting. You can connect to and be open to the awareness that is already here, within you.
As you observe yourself or notice yourself focusing or giving your concentration and attention to whatever you are thinking, feeling, sensing or doing you can also look for awareness, but you can’t go to it or seek it because its not over there nor is it in the future. You will never find it over there or in the future because it is here now. It can’t go anywhere. Awareness will never leave you, it can’t.
You cannot find what is already here. An awareness that is never absent and never missing but always here. All you can do is align yourself, or tune in, to what is already here. Even doing that is too much as you are always already aligned and tuned in.
There are only two ways of being; being aware of awareness or not being aware of awareness. When you notice you are not aware then paradoxically you are aware. You notice, you don’t notice, you notice that you are not noticing – all is OK and nothing is wrong.
We can’t find awareness or manifest it but we can notice and realise what is already here. That is the most we can do. That is all we can do. That is everything.
Awareness is what was here the day you were born, what was here before you were born. It is what you were born into. It is what you are.
You were literally born into awareness.
There is nothing outside of awareness. There is no outside or inside.
There is just right now awareness.
Awareness is here right now and you are what that is.
Awareness will never leave you, as it is what you are.
You were born into awareness and you will die in awareness.
Awareness was here before you were born and will be here after you have died.
The awareness that is you will continue after your death as it did before your birth.
Looking for awareness is like being on a boat and looking for the boat and not finding it.
It’s like the boat looking for the boat and not being able to find it.
It’s the boat not realising it is the boat.
You are awareness looking for awareness and not realising that you are the very awareness that you seek.
You are looking for yourself and not realising what you are.
Awareness looking for awareness.
The world and all that is, is awareness.
There is nothing else.
Within awareness there is no separation and everything is awareness, so in that sense there is only unending wholeness.
Yet we try to be mindfully aware of awareness and then we become confused or disappointed when it seems to not be there or when we think we lost it.
You can’t find what is not lost. And you can’t lose what can’t be found.
Mindful or not, awareness is here always and you don’t have to try or do anything to get it, because it is unobtainable. It’s unobtainable because it is already here, you already have it, you are it, it is what you are.
Awareness is enterally abiding and you don’t have to become that because you already are that.
You are part of the abiding unbreakable timeless awareness and that is all there is.
You are it, and it is you.
You will never obtain the awareness that you already are. You can’t, because you already are that.
Whether you are aware of it or not, whether you realise it or not, you are the awareness that you seek.
Just be that.
About the author: Since 2001 Dr Mike Larcombe has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in Child Development and Adult Mental Health services in the UK both in private practice and the National Health Service. He has been interested in mindful awareness since 2004 when he began to attend many retreats in the USA and Europe with various spiritual teachers. Mike is interested in the dynamic between change and acceptance especially within the context of mindful awareness. The intention of Mike’s psychotherapeutic work involves helping people to change their lives by a combination of change and acceptance of how they relate to themselves, others and the world. Mike can be contacted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org