This post addresses a question that comes up frequently and also came up at the recent Khalsa family retreat that I attended.
‘How do Simran and mindfulness differ?’
Simran, meditation, anything that involves turning inward is such a personal experience. So I am only talking from my own experience and understandings of what it means to do Simran, and what it means to practice mindfulness. I am definitely not an expert in either.
My understanding is that mindfulness is an approach that helps us to gather our attention and gives us a choice about where we direct that attention. Through bringing our attention back to the breath or the body or a mantra, again and again, we are training our mind to be able to filter out unwanted thoughts/ sensations. But the key thing about mindfulness is that it is practiced without a goal, i.e of improving, changing or fixing something. It is about fully accepting what is. Practitioners find this acceptance reduces suffering because you are no longer resisting anything.
My understanding is that doing Simran is embedded in a theory about the universe, our part in it, The Creator and our purpose. So the practice of Simran is purposeful and has an end goal, which my understanding is to purify the mind so that we can experience the sound (Naam) and image of Vaheguru (Parkash), And merge with Vaheguru while we are living and merge with Him eternally after death.
So my understanding is that doing Simran may be similar in terms of the process of bringing one’s attention to a kind of single-mindedness (which automatically reduces suffering) but is different in that the process of Simran builds a relationship between the reciter and Vaheguru, with the end goal being to merge with Him.
I appreciate that this is a very simplistic look at both mindfulness and Simran. I would love to hear your own thoughts/understandings. Please comment or send me a message if you have anything to add/share.