Meditation or Mindfulness? What's the difference for classes in Edinburgh today?
Some people use the terms meditation and mindfulness interchangeably, as though there is no difference. Is there? Well, it can certainly be said that the answer depends a lot on context, and in the view of Mindful Edinburgh the differences for classes/courses could be very significant.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "to focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation". In contrast this dictionary defines mindfulness as "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something" as well as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique". Even so a number of people can experience mindfulness as spiritual while others are clear that mindfulness is not a therapy.
Mindfulness and Meditation
To get a sense of how much overlap there can be between meditation and mindfulness, here are some examples from my own experiences around the world. The learning could similarly be applied to Edinburgh.
- classes / courses described as meditation and/or mindfulness being taught by religious organisations which did not feel religious at all in their content or requirements;
- classes / courses described as secular mindfulness being taught in religious institutions;
- classes / courses being described as non-religious meditation being taught in non-religious settings by an organisation saying and genuinely believing itself to be non-religious. Yet this course felt to a number of us as though it was very religious in terms of for instance its teaching style and its requirements on members.
- classes being taught as religious meditation by organisations which are considered controversial (based on google search results).
Mindful Edinburgh classes and courses
The mindfulness classes / courses currently offered by Mindful Edinburgh include some ancient meditation techniques and philosophies, however these are grounded in the sciences and arts of medicine, psychology, neuroscience, group process and adult education. So while mindfulness potentially has some practices that come from spiritual traditions, as far as Mindful Edinburgh is concerned those practices are but a strand in an enormously rich varied and diverse heritage. Our classes / courses in Edinburgh are held in non-religious settings and no references are made to religions or religious terms. As such, whether you are religious, atheist, agnostic, spiritual or none of the above, you will find a warm welcome on our courses. As such everyone is welcome on Mindful Edinburgh courses.
Most importantly, our courses and techniques are simple and and above all practical. You do not need to know their origins or their science to benefit immensely from them.
Justin - Founder.