Q: I am confused when you say, “Mindfulness without meditation is just a word.” Do you mean that in addition to practicing mindfulness whenever we can throughout the day, we also need to spend time in quiet mindfulness meditation?
A: I understand the confusion. The current mindfulness movement originated as a way to share the benefits of meditation in a medical or therapeutic setting. Although the practice of meditation was retained, the word “meditation” was not, perhaps because of its association with Eastern traditions. As a result, today there is some confusion that mindfulness and meditation are not related. Mindfulness is attention, true, but meditation is the cultivation of one’s attention. We cannot be mindful without practicing paying attention. If we are only thinking, “I am mindful,” it doesn’t get us very far. The old masters didn’t worry about words, but having practiced seated meditation, they took their concentrated mind with them throughout the day in all activities.
If one happens to only read books about mindfulness, the practice aspect may be overlooked.
Another analogy might be telling ourselves that we are full, when in fact we have failed to eat.
Good places to eat:
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Retreat
Sunday, Sept. 11, 9 am-3 pm
Hazy Moon Zen Center
Quiet Joy: A Zen Retreat for Busy People
Copper Beech Institute
West Hartford, CT