The Difference Between Stillness & Mindfulness

Both are practices, but how does Stillness differ?

The Difference Between Stillness & Mindfulness

Stillness vs. Mindfulness

In this post, we’ll highlight the differences between Stillness & Mindfulness as practices.

Key Points:

  • Mindfulness has many interpretations and is thus hard to define
    • It is a culmination of practices and rituals from around the world
    • A widely accepted meaning is that it is the observation of thought
  • Stillness is the cessation of thought
    • It is the practice of completely quieting of the mind and not observing anything
    • This is what’s truly meant by the present moment
  • Simple is the removal of the unnecessary. Stillness is the fundamental state of mind off of which all others are built. 
    • This makes the practice very approachable to beginners and people with established meditative routines
    • It is a fresh route to the core of all meditative practices: a Still mind
  • There is no dogma, no doctrine, just tools to help you quiet your mind

So how is Stillness different from Mindfulness? A great question. Let’s start with some background. 

Mindfulness, or insight meditation, traces back to three disparate practices: 1) most directly to Indian Buddhist tradition; but also to 2) Zazen (Japanese meditation); and 3) Tibetan Buddhist techniques. 

All three influence Mindfulness today. The blend of three disparate practices, translated from different languages, and recently culminated into a new concept makes a clear definition difficult. Especially as so many great and wise people have a different take on the topic. 

The most widely accepted interpretations are based in either the cultivation of awareness or the observation of thought. 

What does this mean though? 

Imagine that you are sitting inside a movie theater watching the story of your life. Most of the time, the story is so engaging that you think that’s reality. By practicing mindfulness, you detach from the story and remember that you’re sitting inside the movie theatre. 

So how is Stillness different? 

Stillness is the complete quieting of the mind – one empty of thought

To use our movie theatre analogy, instead of just knowing that you’re not the movie, Stillness gives you the remote. Then you can turn off the screen for a few minutes, stretch, and  relax!

With this ability, you can begin to play with changing your state of mind like changing the channel on your remote. The fancy behavioral science term for this is volitional state control.

Why practice?

Being able to change your state of mind sharply, like turning on a dime, does not come immediately. It’s a gradual process of undoing emotional patterns learned and imprinted throughout your childhood.

Like anything worth having, it takes work. 

Actively control your states of mind

Stillness offers a wedge by which you can interrupt the flow of your emotions and detach yourself from your thoughts, allowing you to actively control your states of mind rather than passively observing them, or losing control of them.

After seeing the power of Stillness in our lives, we have committed to making Stillness attainable to anybody. If better sleep, a calm mind, and increased productivity are of interest to you, give our app, Still Life, a try.