We can create a shift in awareness by moving from the contents of consciousness to consciousness itself. Or put another way, moving from content to context. The contents are the objects that we are aware of, while the context is the space in which the contents are arising, or, put simply, awareness itself.
Awareness is a more subtle aspect of mind that is always there in the background and so is harder to notice. We can begin to tune into this experience by using the following questions to guide our inquiry. Do not seek to answer these questions intellectually but through direct experience. It is best to take one question that resonates with you and simply drop it into the mind, giving it some space to play.
‘What, in me, is aware?’
‘What part of me is aware right now?’
‘Where is awareness located?’
‘Where am I aware from?’
These questions can shift our attention from the noisy contents in the foreground of our mind, to the quieter, more peaceful presence that is always in the background.
The contents of consciousness can be compared to waves arising out of the ocean, while consciousness (or context) is the ocean itself.