Why Concentration Is Not Enough? – Metacognitive Awareness Development
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― Thich Nhat Hahn
Explanation Of The Wisdom
We all have the experience of focusing on a task singularly and very intensely. From common meditation wisdom, you might think developing an exclusive state of intense concentration is what meditation is ultimately all about.
However, this is only a part of the picture. For all beginner meditators, mindfulness and awareness collapses instantly if you narrow down attention strongly and forcefully.
This is one of the fundamental reasons why you still experience distractions and sleepiness while trying to be more mindful. Even after years of meditation.
Let me explain:
Paying attention to an object without greater peripheral awareness is how we normally live our lives. Even without mindfulness, we’re always paying attention to something.
But with mindfulness, we pay attention to the right things, and in a more skillful way.This is because being mindful actually means that you’re more fully conscious and alert than usual.
As a result, our peripheral awareness is much stronger, and our attention is used with unprecedented precision and objectivity.
Mindfulness is the skillful interaction of attention and awareness.
Attention analyzes our experience, and awareness provides the overall context and background.
When one or the other doesn’t do its job, or when there isn’t enough interaction between the two, then we respond to situations less effectively. We may overreact, make poor decisions, or misinterpret what’s really going on.
Awareness provides the context and the background of events and experiences. It is open, inclusive, and holistic. It’s concerned with the relationships of objects to each other, and to the whole.
Why aren’t we naturally more mindful?
Why does mindfulness have to be cultivated?
There are two main reasons.
1- Most of us have never really learned to use awareness effectively.
2- We don’t have enough conscious power to sustain mindfulness, especially at the times when we need it most.,
The result of this is something I like to call Awareness Deficit Disorder: chronic use of attention until awareness fully collapses.
For instance, do you experience the moving sensations on your left foot’s toe while watching Inception?
An advanced meditator can experience the body fully while also wholeheartedly engaging in the movie.Body awareness is only the first step. They can watch the movie intensely and also simultaneously examine their minds, habits and mental reactions.
As a beginner meditator, you are singularly focused on watching Inception, – which is a fantastic movie – trying to follow the sequences of events.But awareness is fully collapsed. You are not aware of the body sensations as much.
The most deceptive beginner mistake while trying to balance attention and awareness is to quickly re-direct attention back and forth between the breath sensations and the body (or distractions of all forms).
This technique is called intentional attentional movement.It can be used effectively in adept stages of meditation.
However, at its currently applied form, it is not helping you to develop greater levels of awareness and mindfulness.
The Solution: You need to maintain the stability of attention first and while the attention rests on the breath, now you start to experience the entire body and mind with awareness. This is how you develop mindfulness.
You need to keep these two modalities of experience in metacognitive awareness.
Keep meditating with this in mind and you’ll get to know your mind at deeper and deeper levels with diligent practice.
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