Focus and Awareness:
Focus is always accompanied by some form of disturbance, agitation and confusion, because focus is effort. Focus is an effort to hold only one object in your consciousness. If I tell you to just sit and watch that apple on the tree, although it must be a very simple thing to do, you will experience great disturbance.
The more intensely you try to focus on that apple, the more agitated and disturbed your mind becomes. While you are trying to focus, you can hear the constant noise of the mind in the background: “Are you focusing correctly? You are getting distracted. You should relax more.” and so on. The easiest way out of this constant disturbance in meditation is to gently move from focus to awareness.
Awareness is very subtle. It is so subtle that you can hold pretty much anything in it. You can simultaneously hold an apple, grape, and Mt. Everest in it. In awareness, there is absolutely no problem of holding too many things, but in focus there is a tremendous problem.
In focus, you have to define the object and keep all your attention on it. When you define the object of your focus, you have to draw a boundary around it. You need to keep telling yourself, “This is my boundary of focus, and I don’t want to bring anything from outside this boundary.”
If I were to tell you to sit and watch this table, your mind immediately draws a boundary around it. It tries to push away everything else so that you can focus on the table. Focus takes effort because it is difficult to push your thoughts away. Thoughts simply don’t care for the imaginary boundary you have set. All a thought wants is to occupy the center of your mind!