Distinction Between Awareness and the Content of Awareness


You can do this next mini-exercise with your eyes open or closed, and you can practice it anywhere it is safe to engage in reflective thinking. Take a breath or two, notice who is noticing that sensation, and then note your experience. Whatever your mind settles on–an external object, an internal sensation, a thought, a feeling, a memory, or so on-get clear on it. Then restate the experience in three forms: first, “I am aware of [state the content],” and then, after a pause, add “I am not [state the content],” and then after another pause, add “I contain awareness of [state the content].” For example, “I am aware of the television. I am not the television. I contain awareness of the television” Or “I am remembering a memory of being five. I am not a memory. My awareness contains a memory of being five.” Five or ten minutes is plenty of time for this exercise, and after the first engagement with it, you should practice it regularly for several days. Then, for ongoing practice, you can simplify the task. Just notice the experience and then state “I’m not that; my awareness contains that.” Don’t get drawn into an argument— instead see if you can touch a deeper awareness that your attachment to any content is distinct from awareness itself.