In Zen Buddhism, the concept of Awareness also known as mindfulness is the central diamond of Zen. Without its practice, there is no Zen, no right view, no serenity, no equanimity, and no Awakening / Enlightenment.
The meaning of Awareness in Zen does not mean to know this and that. It is not cognitive.
Awareness has 2 components:
#1 It refers to a state of being fully aware of the present moment that is paying attention to what the present moment is made of such as body posture, body sensations, thoughts, feelings, and our immediate surroundings using our 5 sensorial perceptions.
#2 It is non-cognitive, non-analytic, non-judgmental, non-decisional, and nonemotional. Awareness is acting as a mirror reflecting things as they are. You become an observer.
Its first miracle is based on:
#1 Focusing on X or Y is forcing your mind to stop wondering at least temporally because our mind cannot focus on X or Y while having thought at the same time. You are therefore creating a short in your neural wiring. Awareness is a tool to control the mind even for a short period of time.
#2 The practice of Awareness is cumulative. The more you do the better you become at it
#3 Awareness affects neuroplasticity that is creating new non-emotional neuro wirings.
From time to time, your mind will take over while meditating. Don't resist, don't judge yourself,
and don't be frustrated or discouraged. This is a normal counter-attack by the mind who refuses to be told what to do that is focusing on something w/o any analytic purpose, w/o emotion. Accept these incoming thoughts and feeling during meditation, and let them go
one by one.
Try this: while walking outside, pay attention to your steps, a flower, a tree, a cloud, a sound, the grass, a star, the moon, a color, etc... whatever you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste and w/o analysis. This is Awareness pure and simple. Within a few seconds, you will become one with the object of focusing. You will feel the peacefulness if not the serenity of the moment.
At this point Awareness will bring its second miracle: experiencing Pure Consciousness delivered from its prison of ongoing conceptual thinking.
Awareness is paramount in understanding and experiencing the nature of the
the genuine, factual reality of the moment, and differentiating it from the mind-made fictional one.
Awareness is a tool:
To tame our restless minds, and enjoy moment-to-moment serenity.
To develop a deep sense of interconnectedness, compassion, and empathy towards all living beings.
To experience Pure Consciousness as the key to discovering your True Nature or True self
Remember this: when you meditate you are practicing Awareness, and this is the third miracle.