Some people use these terms interchangeably.
Ehhh…they aren’t really synonymous. The differences are actually pretty wide.
Awareness is the light. Focus is the laser. Awareness is loving. Focus is discerning. Awareness is the aggregate. Focus is the specific.
If you are aware of something, you recognize its presence. If you focus on that something, you begin to look with a more discriminating eye.
Give you an example. During my meditation practice, I’ll be guided to “be aware of your breathing” at first, then be told to “focus on your breath.” “Breathing” is the state of your body, but “breath” is the behavior within that state. As I am guided, I need to be focused on the breathing. But before that guided meditation takes place, I have to be cognizant or "aware" of my breathing and the presence of its beat, rhythm, and depth. Then the focus takes place. It's the "oh, that's what that is. Let's take a closer look."
And for most of us, focus is far easier. We see immediately what crosses our visual path. We scramble for an identification within our flurry of thoughts, and we see/hear/feel these things with greater acuity.
Awareness is a calm, steady state that takes in the general vibe. Trees, cars, birds, clouds, screaming, traffic, rain…it’s all one big roll of presence. Awareness puts you in the midst of it all, without judgement or anxiety. Being aware is merely taking account of your environment.
I can be aware of what is around me without being connected or attached to the stimuli.
This is a little boring and somewhat short, but it’s worth the three hundred words to get the difference out there.
Our focus is easy. We can place our eyes on something with lightning reactions. We have points of focus every four seconds.
But if we take just a few minutes to broaden our awareness, to absorb every little thing within our perspective, we’ll be amazed at how much we really see.