What is mindfulness?

There is some controversy as to whether mindfulness is meditation or something completely different.

This debate in a way typifies western tradition which always has to be in a state of ‘either/or’, this or that, here or there…..

We would need to define meditation in order to decide for ourselves exactly what it is…if you really want to of course!

Feel free to use the Meditation book in A Quiet Place and decide for yourself.

I am also recommending a couple of classics to start you off, bearing in mind these have been around a while, a bit like myself and without doubt there will be more up to date books from new experts appropriate for this cycle of interest in the concept.:

1. The Miracle of Mindfulness –a manual on meditation….Thich Nhat Hanh

Above all he has probably done more to bring the concept to Western attention.


Mindfulness Meditation  for everyday life – Jon Kabat Zinn



Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras-The 8 Limbs of Yoga

In yoga practices, yoga being a way of connecting the mind and body rather than a religion in itself!

There is the flower of yoga represented so beautifully by Ianthe Hoskins below

Why, you might ask do you need to know this…you don’t but it is always enriching to have a context within which to make a sense of concepts.

The Lotus flower is used as a symbol of yoga, it grows from the mud and through the water of our emotions finally flowering in the light.

The roots are:

  1. Dedication
  2. Self -discipline
  3. Self study

For the flower to grow strong and true it is important that the roots are deep and can feed from the elemental energies of the earth. From the stem various leaves grow.

1. The first are the Yamas and Niyamas, these are not unlike the 10 commandments in the Judeo Christian tradition


  • Ahimsa-non-violence
  • Satya – truthfulness
  • Asteya –Non stealing
  • Brahmacharya – non excess
  • Aparigraha – non possessiveness



  • Saucha – purity
  • Santosha – contentment surrender
  • Tapas – Self Discipline
  • Svadhyaya –Self study
  • Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender


2. The Asanas

The physical postures that most today think of as yoga


3. Pranayama

Breath control


4. Pratayahara

Control of the senses


Using a tree as an example

5. Dharana – concentration and focus of the mind

  • At first you focus on the tree in front of you, when other thoughts come in you notice and bring the thoughts back again to that tree

6. Dhyana – meditation

  • Let your thoughts wander to all trees then back to that one, then to parts of tree, then back to the one, then to forests of trees, then back, then to the patterns of the branches like to patterns of the brain cells, dendrites and so on and so forth always controlling your thoughts as you think about or meditate upon trees.

7. Samadhi – bliss, becoming one -As you focus on the tree, you let yourself become the tree

Samsara means the ongoing journey of life and rebirth and need not concern us at this moment.


And Mindfulness? Is this to do with being or beeeeeing in the present moment aware of your senses and your breath, escaping from your head and its idle chatterings. It is not moving into blissful states of Samadhi, only occasionally when you gasp at the stars or a sunset or die the little death in an orgasm with someone you love. It is experiencing the present without judgement and the truth of that present, all be it wrapped in the rainbow cloak of your emotional past. It is the acceptance of your life in its ordinariness as well as its extraordinariness.

Be here now said Ram Dass. That is enough.