I think that the core of what you are trying to say, somehow, lies in this quoted sentence. But it is a bit too poofy for me to just let it alone.
A sensation is a group of electrical potentials. It is initiated when sense organs (inner ear hair, retinal cell, skin heat sensor etc) are stimulated. The electrical potentials travel to the brain via nerve fibers. The brain has many memories of previous sensory experiences, stored in a way that allow the memory to be activated back into its original electrical potentials by the arrival of new electrical potentials (see Eric Kandel's model of long term memory). The comparison of the current sensation with memories of other, remembered sensations, imparts meaning to the new sensation and is instrumental in formulating the response to the stimulus.
Objects in the environment which send similar patterns of body sensor activation can become mental categories. So Rover the bloodhound and Clifford the big red dog send a similar pattern to the brain, and a category "dog" is born, based on those similar patterns of sensor firings.
Awareness is driven by volition. We are aware of what we need to be aware of at any given moment, and nothing else. Volition is either innate, as in the felt need in all living things to remain alive, or it is learned.
Having tasted chocolate ice cream, I am always on the lookout for it, and I will be aware when it is in my environment. So I have a learned a volition towards chocolate ice cream.
The environment, as it is, can not be known. Some say it's a soup of electrons and quarks, whatever that means. Some say its all vibrating strings. Whatever it is, it certainly seems qualitatively different from our conscious view of the environment. Just what is out there stimulating our body sensors. We'll never know.
Perhaps there's nothing out there and our body sensors fire spontaneously and randomly to create our mental world.
What we do know is the conscious environment, and that is not made of solids liquids and gases, but it is made of relationships. Relationships are learned through their similar electrical potential patterns.
Consciousness can be modeled as a deterministic chaotic system. We are born and we die. What happens in between depends totally on what the environment throws at the living being. The environment takes the raw material of the living being, with its capacity to remember and to compare, and builds our conscious world out of it. Each new thing is learned in the terms of things we already know, via analogy. Each new experience is determined by previous experience.
Is that a monistic or dualistic view of reality? Does it really make any difference what we call it?