The interplay of awareness and concentration
You have been learning to be aware, but from where? In your yoga practice, you are told to be aware of the right hand thumb, first finger, second finger, third finger, fourth finger. Where do you see them from? Inside or outside? You do not see your body from the outside; you take your mind into the part.
Your mind is in the finger, your mind is not in the head. The instruction is: take your mind to that part, visualize it, experience what is happening there, feel the sensations. You have been trained to go in, and when you go in your awareness is centered to a point. That focusing of awareness is known as concentration.
When you focus the awareness to come to the state of concentration, you are in reality reducing the scope of awareness. You are confining it to a single point. It is like focusing the light of a torch, bringing it closer and closer until it becomes a point. Here, the light has reduced, it has come to a point but it has reduced in luminosity.
That is your state of concentration: a reduced range of awareness. You have to change this. Normally when you hear, “Become aware of the right hand thumb,” you become aware of yourself from inside the thumb. You look around, and see this big finger all around. You might say to yourself, ‘I am in some form of a long tunnel made out of bones, marrow, blood, skin and cells.’
The next stage of awareness is to not go in; instead, to come out. I have previously given the example that even if I move my finger while talking, I am aware that my finger is moving. How is that awareness possible when my mind is not in the finger and the movement is happening naturally?
It is because I am seeing myself from the outside. Just as I can see you move your finger, I see myself moving the finger, turning, talking. I am seeing it all from outside. I am not in the finger or in the speech, I am out here above my head.
Therefore, I can even see the droplets of sweat on my face and the sparkle of the water. If my awareness was down in the body, I would not be able to see that. If my awareness is outside, I can see everything.
This is a sadhana. First you go in, so that you are able to focus your awareness into a point where you concentrate, and then you come out so that you can develop a bigger field of awareness and observe everything that you are doing from outside.
Awareness and concentration play with each other. Awareness focused becomes concentration; concentration enlarged becomes awareness. When you enlarge concentration it becomes awareness, and when you focus awareness it becomes concentration.
Munger, 26 October 2018
From the book “Yoga Chakrodaya Munger Yoga Symposium 2018, Book 2/3”, pg.29-30, Sw. Niranjanananda Saraswati