Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Are you interested in learning about meditation and mindfulness? Perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of both and are wondering what the difference between meditation and mindfulness is?
Having a regular meditation practice offers many benefits and can help to improve your health and overall wellbeing. Mindfulness techniques allow you to focus on what is happening in the moment, rather than having your mind moving from the past or future. Mindfulness can also help to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.
This article will look at both meditation and mindfulness and will compare the two. It will also give you some tips and techniques about how to get started with both practices.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
Mindfulness and meditation have many similarities, and both these practices overlap slightly. However, there are a few differences between the two terms, and they are not interchangeable.
In recent decades meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and other Eastern philosophies have become common and are practiced by a large percentage of the population. Its been scientifically proven that meditation and mindfulness have positive benefits on practitioners’ lives. Many people are confused about exactly what meditation and mindfulness mean.
Let’s take a look at meditation and mindfulness in more detail.
The practice of meditation usually involves sitting and focusing on your breathing. Meditations may be practiced at home or in a more formal setting, such as after a yoga class or at a spiritual gathering or temple. While meditation originated from eastern religions, you don’t need to be religious to practice meditation. Nowadays, meditation has lost its religious connotations and is practiced by many people for its health benefits.
A common misconception about meditation is that people think they have to clear their mind of all thoughts. This isn’t the case, while meditation will help calm a busy mind, its unlikely that you’ll stop thinking altogether. Instead, focus on breathing in and out and allow thoughts to come and go without getting too involved in them.
There are several types of meditation, and these are designed to help you relax, focus, and open your heart. While at the same time expanding your awareness and helping you to experience greater feelings of wellbeing.
Some examples of common meditation are breath-awareness meditation; as mentioned above, your breath becomes your primary focus. In this type of meditation, you can sit calmly and breathe deeply.
Mantra-based meditations involve repeating a sound or mantra to yourself. This helps to clear your mind as you repeat a word over and over again. Commonly, mantra-based meditations use Sanskrit words, such as So Hum.
There are many guided meditations online, and some people find it easier to get into a meditative state if they hear a meditation track. These are likely to include relaxing music or sounds from nature as well as a teacher who gives instructions. Some guided meditations will also include visualization to help change the neurons in your brain. You may be asked to visualize yourself in your favorite place to help you get into a relaxed state.
Meditation is an intentional practice. During meditation, you’ll focus your attention inwards to create calm, focused states and become more emotionally balanced. Meditation is usually carried out in a seated position, and you’ll start by breathing deeply. People who regularly meditate put aside a chunk of time to focus intensely and tune inwards. The amount of time varies from person to person but is usually somewhere between one minute and one hour.
Mindfulness can be applied to your daily life and is more about being aware. While this is part of meditation, mindfulness does vary slightly. The main difference between mindfulness and meditation is that mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day; you don’t need to put aside time to practice mindfulness.
With mindfulness, you can carry on with your life, whether you are at work or home. You can be actively mindful by paying attention to what is going on with your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You’ll also be able to see what effect you are having on the people who surround you.
Mindfulness aims to stay present and keep your mind focused on what is happening in the here and now. Many people’s thoughts are jumping around all over the place. They may be thinking about things that happened in the past or thinking about the future. This could be as simple as worrying about what’s going to happen at work or what's for dinner. Many people think negative thoughts a lot of the time, which then has a negative effect on their moods and how they feel about themselves. Staying mindful helps you to become aware of the impact your thoughts are having on you.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and at any time, simply by being fully engaged with what is happening at the moment. Pay closer attention and be present, no matter what you are doing. If you’re having a conversation with someone, focus on that person 100% rather than thinking about something else. When you’re mindful, you’ll be actively involved in the activity you’re doing. You’ll be able to use all of your senses and notice things that you may not have done before, rather than allowing your mind to wander. Mindfulness can be applied to your daily life and to any situation you choose.
It can be hard to get your mind to stay in the present moment for long periods. It’s normal to carry out daily tasks on autopilot, and a study carried out by Harvard University found that people spend, on average, 46.9% of their day thinking about something other than what they are doing. It’s common to focus on the past and have regrets and worry about the future.
Allowing your brain to run on auto-pilot is likely to cause unhappiness and even depression and anxiety. It’s, therefore, a good idea to practice mindfulness as much as possible. The more you practice mindfulness, the more in the present you’ll be, and the easier it will become.
Choose a simple task and focus on it with greater concentration. Tune into all five of your senses. What can you see? Listen out for any sounds in the room. Pay attention to what you are touching; how does this feel? Are there any smells? What can you taste? For each of your senses, find two to three examples of things that you’re noticing while completing the task.
Paying attention to your senses will help you to become more in the present and will help you to be more mindful. This activity will help you to tune into your surroundings and will help you to become more aware. Practice this exercise with a selection of daily activities, and this will allow you to notice things about your surroundings that you may have missed.
As you can see, there are slight differences in mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness can be practiced during meditation or at other times during your day. It may be beneficial to practice a mixture of mindfulness and meditation, as this will help you become more focused and aware and increase overall feelings of wellbeing. Regular meditation will help you to bring more clarity and focus into your everyday life.