Which Mindfulness Is It?

It took me a long time to concede that there are at least three (mutually exclusive) definitions of mindfulness from the Buddhist traditions. 

Many secular Mindfulness Teachers use the term to mean the whole gamut of mindfulness practices. Many of these practices use several mind-technologies that are definitely not their chosen definition of mindfulness. 

That’s why I ended up with a new set of terminology: which avoids “mindfulness” but covers ALL the technologies of meditation. I had to find a way to present the various parts (the 7 mind-technologies) so people have the knowledge they need to identify what they are doing. It helps with diagnosing problems with your meditation. When you know what each part does and how to develop them, it also facilitates achieving your goals.


Excerpt from the Book

It doesn’t matter which definition of mindfulness they have taught you. The important thing is: to cover the ideas for those three definitions. With that knowledge, you know what is happening and why. It is also vital that the terms are consistent within the framework.

The framework presented here is not meant to replace the traditions. It’s an explanation for those who have no intention of joining a tradition. To help you, there is also a Glossary at the end of the book.

Back to the three mind–technologies described by Vipassana teachers, Tibetan scholars, and others. Here is how my framework describes them:

  1. Intentional Awareness (IA) is an observation of what is available to your awareness. In some Theravada Buddhist traditions, and mindfulness teachers outside of Buddhism, IA is mindfulness. Whatever arises within your awareness is a good candidate for IA. This mind–technology lets you know what’s there, right in front of you.
  2. Engrossed Attention (EA) is a reply to your wish to know more deeply. When your meditation focus is narrow (EA), the details become more distinct. It remembers your intention and steadies the awareness. EA equates to concentration meditation from some Theravada Buddhist traditions — but you don’t concentrate on anything. EA is called mindfulness in Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
  3. Question or Introspect (QI) asks questions for a deeper understanding. Introspection also acts as a guide for staying within your meditation — like the raven analogy above. Some Theravada Buddhists say this is a part of mindfulness. Some Tibetan Buddhists tell us it is introspection.

All three mind–technologies work together during most meditations.

~ There Are Only 7 Ways to Meditate, by Q.C. Ellis

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Q.C. Ellis, with his books and app

About the Author

Colin (Q.C. Ellis) has been on meditation retreats in silence and solitude for longer than some monks. He has been studying meditation for over 23 years.

Known as a meditation maverick, he teaches methods to awaken your body’s natural restorative abilities and fire up your inbuilt happiness.

Keeping it real and grounded in personal experience, he is a Transformation Coach, Meditation Teacher, and founder of IntrAnaut™ Academy.

In person, Colin is approachable and would love to hear from you. For ways to connect, click HERE – ColinEllis.info

For additional resources, download his FREE mobile app – MeditationWellbeing.app