Stillness lies beyond mindfulness


The word "stilnesse" or "stilnes " has been in use for over 1000 years. Ainslie Meares began using the term Stillness in relation to meditation about 50 years ago. He spoke and wrote of Stillness, stilling the mind and letting the mind become still. His term has been widely picked up by others. Many don't realise that he is the source of several meditation terms in common use today including Stillness.

Some meditation schools use the term "stillness" that have no relationship to Ainslie Meares' method. The discussion of Stillness here refers purely to Meares' method.


The word "mindefull" from which mindeful-ness is derived has also been used for several hundred years. Mid last century it began to be applied to certain religious - spiritual beliefs in an attempt to translate them into English.

To some "mindfulness" has become a brand. To others in management and HR departments "mindfulness" is attractive in its exhortation to focus. More focussed attention has an obvious appeal to managers seeking to tune up the production system. Those with the spiritual belief mentioned earlier, also practice tolerance of other's views, but most likely still feel unsettled by these usages.

In its common usage there is no such thing as mindfulness meditation per se. The term is now used so vaguely that it might as well be dropped and the term meditation used instead. Much of the research on mindfulness has not been on one type of meditation but on several. However, it is possible to make some generalisations. These days, in a general meditation sense, mindfulness is used to refer to deliberately focussing on one thing and or the present moment. In mindfulness meditation there is mental activity narrowed to a single focus or attending to one "thing".

Stillness lies beyond mindfulness

A full mind is not empty or still. Being mindful of one thought or thing is not an empty mind. A mindful mind cannot be still. However, people say mindfulness helps. Dulling the mind down to one thing - a monotone - is clearly helpful. Dulling is meant in a nice way.

However, less is more in the area of meditation. In Stillness Meditation there is:

- No focus on breathing. - No visualisation. - No mantras. - No chanting. - No candle gazing. - No thinking about compassion or other emotions.

Thus mindfulness is NOT Stillness. Stillness lies beyond mindfulness.

Meares' method is just a really simple relaxing experience of Stillness. There is little or no thought, little or no sensation and little or no emotion as the mind becomes still – easier to understand afterwards! You will know what is meant after you have had a taste of Stillness. At that point, you will likely recall having experienced it at certain points during your own life. Stillness is a natural experience.

People practising Meares' method call it Stillness Meditation in acknowledgement of Meares' work and as it is an excellent description. If you understand that "less is more" (see earlier) and that Stillness lies beyond mindfulness then you will appreciate why further benefits are predicted.

A first book explains and provides instructions regarding the process of Meares' Stillness Meditation. The book explains how to learn and practice it.

Next: The importance of practice or if there is no class or teacher nearby