Present moment awareness vs peripheral awareness

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Ted Lemon Ted Lemon 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #1710
    Profile photo of B Lejon
    B Lejon
    Member

    I’ve tried to find a view on this comparison but haven’t found one so I thought I asked here.

    I would like to know if there is any difference between present moment awareness and peripheral awareness and if so what is the difference.

    Now when I’m trying to overcome dullness this is something that I think of a lot because I don’t know if I’m in any way neglecting or hindering my peripheral awareness when focusing on being aware of the present moment while keeping attention on the breath.

    #1712
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Dear B Lejon,

    When someone speaks of present moment awareness, I think they are usually talking about some combination of attention and peripheral awareness. Usually the attention moves from one thing to another in the present moment, and peripheral awareness notices sensory objects that might be examined by attention.

    If you are aware of other sensory phenomena while keeping attention on the breath, I would say that you have peripheral awareness.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #1713
    Profile photo of Michael Dunn
    Michael Dunn
    Member

    Hello B Lejon

    Now when I’m trying to overcome dullness this is something that I think of a lot because I don’t know if I’m in any way neglecting or hindering my peripheral awareness when focusing on being aware of the present moment while keeping attention on the breath.”

    Further to what Blake mentioned above, I would say that you are actually alternating your attention to the present moment, away from the breath sensations, while trying to keep your peripheral awareness. This is fine in the early stages and encouraged as a way to develop your awareness and as such you should use to help against dullness.

    Test this for yourself by determining if you keep sustained attention on the breath while also checking in on the “present moment”, what overlap (if any) do you see between these two?

    Michael
    – Dharma Treasure teacher-in-training

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of Michael Dunn Michael Dunn.
    #1716
    Profile photo of B Lejon
    B Lejon
    Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I will continue examining this as this is something I try to keep ‘open’ and be aware of as much as possible at the moment in my training.

    #1750
    Profile photo of Chris M
    Chris M
    Member

    So what is happening when my attention seems to be on my mind state?

    On page 33, it says (paraphrasing here) you can’t stand back and use attention observe what’s happening in your mind. Only awareness can see the current mind state. If I (using what I think is metacognitive introspective awareness) observe what’s going on in my mind right now, I’m able to stably rest in that state for some time, and my mind state is the focus.

    I’m sitting here, I’m conscious that I’m here right now and it seems like my overall mind state is in my attention. I can observe a thought arise and pass, etc.

    So what is happening – is it that my attention is on the contents of my peripheral awareness, which is currently my mind state, and that awareness is rapidly projecting “current mind state” content into my attention?

    Thanks,

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of Chris M Chris M.
    #1752
    Profile photo of Chris M
    Chris M
    Member

    Stated another way:

    If I look at a pencil, that’s what my attention is on. If I hear the sound of a passing car, that’s what my attention is currently on. I’m conscious that that’s what I’m focused on right now. I’m sitting here [doing x].

    Suddenly, if I ‘take a step back’ and am now conscious of what’s going on in my mind, that’s no longer what my attention is on, that’s coming from my peripheral awareness? I don’t see the point of demarcation between different activities happening in attention versus awareness, when I’m conscious of all these activities in seemingly the same way.

    #1753
    Profile photo of Ted Lemon
    Ted Lemon
    Member

    If you look at a pencil, your attention is on the pencil. If you hear the sound of a passing car, your attention may flicker to the passing car, or even land on it, or it may not move to it at all. You can be aware of the passing car even if your attention never goes to it. This is difficult to see until you start doing it in stage six—you can approach it theoretically, but clearly seeing the distinction between something that is a subtle distraction in attention, and something that is in peripheral awareness, requires a lot of practice. Or at least that’s been my experience. I am meditating in stages four and five right now; the only time I’ve clearly perceived this distinction was in my most recent retreat when I was peaking out in stage seven.

    #1754
    Profile photo of Chris M
    Chris M
    Member

    Thanks Ted, I understand what you’re saying.

    However, I think my posts were confusing, that’s not quite what I was attempting to get at. I find it really tough to try to get my point across writing in English on the internet.

    What I’m trying to ask is – if I look at a pencil, it’s currently in my attention. But, if I look at my mind state, it’s somehow not in my attention, the TMI book says I’m using my awareness. Even though it feels exactly the same as looking at a pencil.

    Both things are in my conscious awareness, my main focus, but one is apparently using attention and the other is using awareness.

    I don’t get it. How can both experiences feel the same, but are being experienced in fundamentally different ways. Why can’t I use attention to look at my mind state. It sure feels like I’m doing just that.

    I will accept an answer such as – I don’t have the meditation skills to see it, it’ll become clear later. But I’d really appreciate some clarification or a pointing out of something I’m missing or misunderstanding.

    #1755
    Profile photo of Ted Lemon
    Ted Lemon
    Member

    How do you know that you are experiencing your mind state in your awareness and not in your attention?

    #1758
    Profile photo of Chris M
    Chris M
    Member

    I don’t know it, it’s only because the book (TMI, on p.33) states that “attention, on the other hand, can’t observe activities of the mind..” that I’m confused. I would otherwise be fairly sure that I’m using attention to observe anything that is my current focus – the thing that is foremost in my conscious awareness.

    Thanks Ted,

    #1759
    Profile photo of Ted Lemon
    Ted Lemon
    Member

    Ah, I see. Attention can only observe the activities after they have happened. What Culadasa is talking about here is that introspective awareness can watch the activities of the mind as they are happening. I think he talks about this somewhere in that section, but I may be mistaken.

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