As human beings we have the ability to focus our attention on the external world-- the world of "others", sensations, sights and sounds, or the internal world, the world of thought which can also include emotional feelings, and inner sensations. Depending on our personality and predispositions, on an active day we may frequently shift back and forth between paying attention to and interacting with the external world, and paying attention to how we as "me" are thinking and feeling internally. In modern life, the external world is constantly demanding our attention, 24/7. It takes some effort to disengage from that pressure, to withdraw our attention, and give focus to our interior world.
This is the spiritual practice of "turning inward." Turning inward as spiritual practice can take different forms, such as meditation, contemplation, prayer, and meditative movement and postures that require focus on subtle sensations and alignment of the physical body. This is not the same as the automatic/habitual way we shift our attention in daily life. The experience is altered and shaped by our intention to disengage our awareness from the outside and concentrate on the inner within a spiritual context. That spiritual context may be broad and vague, or very specific and defined, depending on our approach.
We sharpen our capacity to focus and concentrate. We learn to manage the thoughts that cause us emotional distress and see clearly underlying assumptions that produce those thoughts. This is a way of opening up our minds and gaining greater awareness of ourselves. That awareness includes countless domains, each with potential for new realization and discovery of who we are in relationship to God, the Cosmos, this world, humanity...Life.