Complementarity of Focus and Awareness

Focus and Awareness are two essential inner processes that determine our productivity and our level of enjoying what happens around us. It depends only on us how we manage each of them and especially how we balance them. There are two kinds of attention: convergent attention and divergent or distributive attention.

Focus is Convergent Attention

Focus means that a person selectively concentrates on one thing from the environment, ignoring or exclusion others. It is the concentration of attention and energy on something we have to do.

Convergent attention means that our main energy, inner resources and processes converge on or toward a central point of our activity.

When we have something to do, we try to concentrate the whole attention towards what we have to do. But this fact is neither possible nor desirable. It isn’t possible because of internal factors (our human limitations) and external factors (diverse distractions). However, these limitations may be overcome by training our attention.

It isn’t desirable because it can be dangerous if we can’t notice something from our environment that may threat us (let say we walk on a street watching very attentive a beautiful cathedral but don’t notice a hole in the pavement and fall in). The soft version of undesirability is that we miss all beautiful things that happen around us while concentrate on a single and sometimes unworthy thing.

Don’t misinterpret me, I don’t say that a high level of focus is bad but that the extreme focus on one thing isn’t optimal for us because it imply excluding the state of awareness, which presuppose a distributive attention.

A high level of focus or convergent attention is highly required if we want to be productive and get things done.

Awareness is Divergent, Distributive Attention

To be awake means to be fully conscious of what happens around you. This requires a distributive attention: at the same time paying attention to all things and events that happens in our environment. But this doesn’t mean that our attention must be distributed in a perfect equal quantity.

The best choice is to concentrate the main part of your attention on the thing you have to do, but to run in the background a distributive attention. This will help you to get things done but at the same time to be aware of the surroundings and enjoy both.

Even if they seem two extremes, we don’t have to evaluate them against each other. All we have to do is balancing them.

They may negatively affect each other if you don’t keep equilibrium between them. In general they are complementary, supplying mutual needs.