When attention is intentionally brought somewhere, I notice a mental image of a bulls eye and/or a boundary that guides (a) where attention goes and (b) how large area it includes. For instance, attention may go to the sensation of the breath at the nostrils (training stable attention), the sensations of the belly, or the movements of the whole body (Breema). In the first case, the imagined boundary is relatively small, in the second a bit larger, and the third even larger. Attention respect perceived boundaries, at least to some extent.
So when the imagined boundary between the inner and outer world, or this body and the wider world, is taken as quite real and solid, it follows that it may be difficult for attention to include both at once. It tends to go outside or inside.
And when it’s all noticed as one field – of awareness, experience – then it’s natural and even effortless for attention to include “inner” and “outer” at once, since it’s one field. As I type this, there is attention on sensations in my body and emotions and feelings, and also the screen, my hands and the sounds of the keys. It’s all part of the same field. And attention includes all of this partly because there is an intention and wish for it to include these parts of the field, and partly because it’s natural and quite effortless.
I imagine that if the imagined – quite literally imagined – boundary between “inner” and “outer” was taken as more solid and real, it would take more effort to include both in attention, it may even seem almost impossible. And when it’s recognized and known as simply an image, a guide, then it’s natural and happens on its own.
I also assume that there are two ways to shift into this: (a) Examining the boundary – noticing it’s a mental image, what happens when it’s taken as solid and real, and how it is when it’s recognized as a mental image. This reveals it to be an imagined boundary, and the “inner” and “outer” as part of a seamless field, so attention can more easily embrace both. (Language gets a bit awkward here since it deals in boundaries.) (b) Practice including both within attention at once. Over time, this may reveal the imagined boundary as imagined. These two approaches go hand-in-hand, and the first seem a bit more gentle and effortless than the second.
Note: When I write “imagined boundary” its meant in a quite literal sense. There is a mental image of a boundary, so it’s imagined. And it can be taken as quite solid and real (aka taken as true), in which case it’s seen, felt and lived as if it’s real, or it can be recognized as an image, in which case it’s only a guide of practical value in some situations and not other.
Note 2: As so much of what I write here, this was discovered during the initial opening during my teens. It revealed itself. And I have some thoughts about this, for inquiry: I should be further along by now. I am still at the very basics.