There is a lot of confusion surrounding the definitions of mindfulness and meditation. So to bring some clarity to the situation, let’s first begin by defining these two practices.
We could say that meditation is the pure experience of consciousness.
Meditation occurs when we quieten the activity of mind, ground ourselves in our physicality, centre ourselves in stillness and become aware of the pure state of being that is our essence.
There’s a short definition and a long definition for mindfulness, both are important.
Here’s the short definition:
Mindfulness is just another word for meditation.
The long definition:
“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
For most people, the word meditation brings with it some baggage. Meditation conjurs up visions of holy monks, historical religious figures and intense spiritual experiences which seem distant, unattainable and far away from Western daily-life.
These religious and spiritual connotations were thought by Kabat-Zin and others to be likely to act as a barrier to many of us in the West, easily put off, as we may be, by anything that smells a bit religious or fluffy.
In exchanging mindfulness for meditation, the new generation of writers and academics were able to strip out the religious and spiritual and make the practice accessible and approachable. The new language consciously invited the Western audience in by being secular and unencumbered by cultural, religious and ethnic specificity.
So the difference between mindfulness and meditation is simply born from the richness of language. Although they may appear to be different, they are actually one and the same.
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