1. Focused awareness is an act of concentration where you focus the mind and attention on a particular internal state, external event or sensory perception.
2. The activity of focusing awareness on sensory perception helped me become aware that this type of awareness requires a level of concentration than I am used to. My habit is to eat and watch TV, read or text simultaneously, and I observed the urge to not pay attention and mechanically reach for those other activities while eating. Doing just one thing at a time is essential for practicing focused awareness, but I observe how quickly my mind wanders and strays. Regarding the act of eating, when I did achieve focused awareness I was able to eat slower and enjoy my food more thoroughly. I realize that I seldom do this.
3. Divided consciousness happens when we have to pay attention to two or more things at the same time. Given that we are a culture of multi-taskers, we are required to do this a lot. In self-observation, it is also the act of separating awareness to include the observer and the observed. For example, in the eating exercise, I would observe the sensory perception (observed) and my own reaction (observer).
4. Salemi (2010) differentiates between selective attention and divided attention. In selective attention, we tune out certain stimulus to be able to concentrate on one task. In divided attention, we try to be aware of the task we are doing and the environment and other stimulus. Salemi points out that it is not possible to really be texting and writing a paper. One activity, usually writing or editing the paper will suffer and we “lose some of the information from the task we performed most recently” (para 2). Driving and talking on the phone or texting are common in the United States. The famous filmmaker Werner Herzog’s newest documentary From One Second to the Next shows the human tragedy side of texting and driving. In his movie, Herzog reports that over 100,000 accidents occur yearly in the U.S. due to texting and driving.
To reduce the risk of driving while distracted, I suggest that people make their phone calls and send their messages before turning on the engine. Take two or three minutes to do so, and then drive with focused awareness. While driving, maybe turn on blue tooth or if your car is new, you can answer the calls remotely through the steering wheel function and built-in car speakers. If you absolutely must send a text message, pull over and do so. It is not worth risking your life or someone else’s. For example, one of the stories in From One Second to the Next follows a crippled 12-year-old boy who was injured by a driver who was texting. I think if people were to see these cases they would become more aware of the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving. Herzog discusses his movie by saying “In one second, entire lives are either wiped out or changed forever” (Haglund, 2013, para 4). Everyone should see this movie!