The Many Names For Mindfulness

realizationThe word mindfulness has been used in the Buddhist tradition for thousands of years to describe the state of optimum well-being and fulfillment.

Modern psychology has now adopted this term (and regularly references this state as the true cause of human happiness).

But the Buddhists weren’t the only ones to discover this sacred state. Mindfulness has been known by many other names around the world in different cultures and time periods. Here are some you might recognise…

Lao Tzu called it ‘the tao’. In the sacred yogic texts it is referred to as ‘sat-chit-ananda’ (being-consciousness-bliss).

Modern spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle calls it ‘being-ness’ or ‘presence’. St. Francis of Assisi called it ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding’. The Buddha also called it ‘awakening’.

Athletes have a name for entering this state, they call it ‘the zone’ and the grandfather of positive psychology, Dr. Mihaly Chentmihalyi calls it flow’ (the state of optimum human experience)

Some wise sages have talked of it as simply ‘self realization’, ‘pure consciousness’ or simply ‘the truth’ or ‘’awareness’.

There are countless other words used in different traditions and time periods but all these words are pointers to the same state of being – a state of wholeness, deep peace and connectedness with life.

Do you know another word used to describe the state of mindfulness? Do you have your own? Share them with us in the comments section below!

– Love Melli

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  1. Melli

    I just stumbled across this post and hope you don’t mind my commenting. I think you are confusing mindfulness with other states, and practices, such as samadhi, prajna, nirvana, living in the presence of god, and so on. The Tao, the way, can of course can refer to a manner of practice and living, or just the way things are. Mindfulness can lead to, and cross over with these states and perceptions, however to confuse them is misleading. By equating mindfulness with a variety of other states can lead people to a superficial understanding not only of mindfulness, but also of those other states, manners of perception, and experiences. This runs the risk of not only of confusing people’s mindfulness practice with a variety of concepts, but of leading those who are interested to not fully pursuing the path to those states or manners of understanding.


    • Hi Jim, I welcome your comments. I am glad you took the time and care to do so and open up a conversation. I agree with what you say in that mindfulness is not a ‘state’ at all. It is a way of attending to all states that come and go. It is a way of waking up, becoming aware of what is happening, both internally and externally. This way of waking up, to life and to our true nature, has been called many names in other cultures and time periods. Sometimes when I have this conversation people have a very different idea that what i have been taught through my study, so perhaps it would aid us both in our understanding if you’d clarify what you’re own definition of mindfulness is?

      What i am noticing is that you’re right. It’s very important that we clarity exactly what we mean when we say these terms as people use the words ‘awakening’ ‘the tao’ ‘yoga’ ‘presence’ ‘god’ ‘mindfulness’ ‘meditation’ etc to mean many different things. I clarify what i mean here

      I notice that all the world’s spiritual traditions talk about waking up out of autopilot and out of the ‘endless wandering’ of desire and aversion. The all talk about this same path of the ending of suffering. They may call it by many different names but it is the same path. The most important part of any kind of spiritual teaching though, i am sure you’ll agree, is to experience what the words point to and to have our own direct knowing of what these words really mean. Then we can know mindfulness from the inside out.

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