As nouns, the difference between presence and mindfulness is that presence is presence while mindfulness is awareness.
The conventional definition describes mindfulness as calm, impartial, non-judgmental, in-the-present-moment awareness and attentiveness to physical, emotional, thinking, other mental activity, and consciousness itself.
Mindfulness allows our life to flow in a harmonious way. And it is a major and important spiritual practice. While mindfulness and presence have much in common, there are some significant differences.
Firstly, among these differences is the question of WHO is mindful or WHO is present?
In Buddhist teachings, the answer is no-one. A central principle of Buddhism is that the self is illusory. In mindfulness, there is just mindfulness, just that calm, non-grasping, non-judgmental awareness, with no one behind it. Just mindful. In practice, this experience is incredibly freeing, because we drop all the baggage of our self, all the painstakingly constructed and carefully defended structure of our self, our central illusion. There is just the awareness, just the activity of our life.
In the path of presence, we accept and value the truth of the Buddhist view of mindfulness and self, but we bring a wee bit more to it.
We look to bridge the divide between Buddha’s teaching of “no-self” and the biblical teachings of “I am that I am.”
In order to achieve the inner peace that mindfulness can bring us, it is important to consider what the practice of mindfulness really is.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is largely credited with bringing the popularity of mindfulness to the Western world and refining it through his well-known Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, defines mindfulness in this way:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
The Chinese calligraphy for mindfulness is made up of two different characters. The top character means “presence” and the bottom one means “heart.” Therefore, mindfulness literally means “presence of heart.”
Mindfulness is experiencing and focusing on the present moment.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are always focused upon things and events of the future. For example, we are constantly looking forward to the last day of the work week while we are at work, and what our weekend plans will bring. We look forward to our summer vacations. We look forward to the holidays. We look forward to our birthdays. We look forward to the end of the day when we get to crawl into bed.
In this sense, we’re never truly focused on the present moment, which is the purpose that mindfulness teaches us.
Mindfulness is a way to focus on the present moment, to create an awareness, an acute, keen, and specific consciousness of ourselves, and to center ourselves right now in the present, not sometime in the future.
Are you ready to make personal and spiritual changes in your life? Consider a one on one private session with Moira or a reading to free yourself from limitations and open yourself up to greater possibilities? I invite you to open the door.