An experience can be described and explained in terms of thoughts, feelings and they can be a myriad of them as in happiness, sadness, peace, anger, frustration, pain and etc. Experience can be one, and also numerous and they vary between one and another although one may seem similar to another due to the nature of comparison usually through the process of recalling a past memory.
Awareness is not an experience, and cannot really be defined, except through an experience of recalling the memory of the experience where awareness was present. That too, can only be distinguished through the process of comparison and differentiation from the other moments being experienced. In awareness, the experience is a state of equanimity which can only be derived from a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment.
For example, we can be aware of the experience of being hungry and be watchful of the attitude towards the experience of being hungry; or to put it more true, the attitude towards the experience of being hungry is another experience altogether depending on the attitude – agitation, calmness, irritation, happiness and etc. In awareness, there is equanimity as mentioned above or rather, neutral reaction or response towards the whole thing, as in there is no wanting or not wanting but simply awareness and presence to what is. If we are experiencing awareness of experiencing hunger, then it is the awareness being aware of the experience of awareness of experiencing hunger. That itself is still identification with the mind, albeit in different levels if it is thought that it is experiencing awareness of the experience of being hungry.
Pure awareness does not have any meaning conjured. It is still. It does not have any thoughts of feelings. Nothing comes out of it. It is the kind of stillness which many will define as peace. Yet, peace itself is not it as peace, is still a feeling. Some will argue that stillness is also a feeling, which is true to a certain extent as stillness can only be defined when there is an experience of contrast to it, meaning to have an opposite. But this stillness that I am speaking of is not tainted by any sense of duality. In experience, meanings are conjured, defined even if it is equanimous hence the meaning of equanimous and is somewhat subject to the world of duality where happiness is accompanied by sadness, peace is accompanied by anger or frustration and etc.
For instance, if someone touches me and there is pure awareness, there will be no interpretation of the touch or any meaning or even feelings that arise from it. It will be an experience of flesh touching flesh or rather just sensations, which can only be defined afterwards out of awareness, recalling the moment. But if I am experiencing the touch, meanings will be made up which will result either in me feeling loved, aroused or disgusted, depending on the state of mind at that point in time of the touch. Having said that, during definition of the moment in awareness, awareness is still present, except aware of the one then defining the moment of awareness trying to put it into words. The stillness does not shift, unless oblivious to it.
Awareness is constantly present. Yet, what differentiates one from another is that one is aware of one being aware, while the other is not aware of one being aware. And it has many levels hence it is easy to slip in and out of it. Practice is crucial and it has to be continuous until it becomes effortless.
But remember: alertness, awareness, or consciousness, can be continuous only when it has become effortless. In the beginning effort is bound to be there, because, otherwise, how are you going to start?
You will make effort,
you will try to be mindful,
you will try in every way to be conscious,
but the effort will create a tension.
And the more you make the effort,
the more tense you will be.
There will be tiny glimpses,
but because of the tension
the ecstasy will be missed.
But you have to pass through this state also,
of making effort.
~ An excerpt from Meditation: The Ultimate Adventure by Osho ~