Mindfulness and mediation are often used together when addressing the topic of self-growth and empowerment. Because both concepts involve a conscious effort towards self-awareness, people often mistake them for the same thing, but what exactly is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
An excellent place to start is to define each practice, so to begin, what is mindfulness? “ Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.”
The practice of mediation will help you to increase your ability to be mindful. Meditation involves training your mind and focusing your attention on the present moment in order to achieve mental and emotional clarity; meditation can be further developed by incorporating mindfulness into the exercise.
1. Buddhist Meditation Versus Mindfulness
Comparing Buddhist Meditation practices and the art of mindfulness is an excellent way to illustrate the two concepts. “Buddhist meditation is the practice of intentionally working with your mind.”
Buddhist meditation can also involve breathwork techniques, whereas the practice of mindfulness does not. However, using breathwork and Buddhist meditation definitely helps to promote and develop mindfulness.
The type of breathwork that you incorporate into your meditation can vary greatly; some examples would include Pranayama, which is excellent for energizing the body and releasing stress, Anapana, which helps to calm the mind, Abdominal Breathing and Alternate Nostril Breathing. Primarily, breathwork is used as a tool to focus your mind, just as one could use a static object or even visualization on which to concentrate.
On the other hand, mindfulness is a goal that you can work towards when applying your practice. Among the many benefits of meditation is the ability to become more mindful.
Confusion can set in when we use the term mindful meditation because the phrase seems to suggest that the two words are one and the same. Mindful meditation refers to “ a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body.”
However, at its core, mindful meditation refers more to how one chooses to meditate. You can be aware when you meditate, and when you are consciously aware, you are not always meditating; makes sense?
Another way that we can illustrate the difference is to outline the various types of meditation:
Do you notice how there is an option for mindful meditation, but that meditation can take on many other forms? While becoming more aware is a benefit of meditation, the two concepts are not synonymous with one another.
2. Is Yoga A Form Of Mindfulness?
Sure, meditation is a great way to achieve a state of mindfulness, but the act of meditating itself may not be for everyone. Still, there are ways to develop mindfulness, and yes, practicing yoga can be one of those methods.
You may be someone who struggles to sit still; while you seek to calm your mind, your body prefers to remain in action. In addition to the physical benefits of yoga (such as strength training and balance), yoga is excellent for achieving mindfulness as the practice has roots in observing the breath, similar to how meditation uses breath to focus the mind.
There are other, simple yet effective ways to attain mindfulness that can be incorporated into your daily routine. If traditional forms of meditation or yoga don’t resonate with you, we suggest trying these techniques instead.
Take a few minutes each day to journal in a notebook. The act of keeping a journal helps to gather and process your thoughts; thus clearing space in your mind.
Enjoy deep and restorative stretches. Unlike a more structured (and possibly more challenging) yoga class, you can reap some of the benefits simply by taking ten or fifteen minutes a day to stretch at your own pace.
Practice mindful eating. Involve the senses of smell, touch, taste and sight as you take the time to feed yourself. Observe the colors of your food, chew slowly, relishing each bite and when you are finished, try sitting for a moment as your body absorbs the nutrients.
Try to stop multitasking. In this busy world, it may seem more effective to do as many things at once but it’s actually detrimental to your overall productivity. When you multitask, you inhibit your ability to remain in the present moment.
Turn your phone off for a few hours each day. Our Smartphones have a sneaky way of distracting us and interrupting our trains of thought. While phone use is important for day-to-day responsibilities, give yourself a break from technology; your neck and fingers will thank you!
3. Deep Breathing Versus Meditation
Is deep breathing the same as meditating? In a way, it is because breathing is a form of meditation. There are certain breathwork techniques that you can incorporate into your meditation routine, that in turn, promote mindfulness.
Breathing exercises can help reduce stress and can assist with clarity of the mind. Below are five examples of deep breathing that enhance your meditation practice.
Shamatha: A Buddhist form of awareness around your natural breath, without intentionally manipulating it.
Kundalini: Of Hindu origin, this breath involves controlled breath movements from the diaphragm)
Pranayama: The practice of alternate nostril breathing, with the purpose to achieve balance.
Zhuanqi: A Taoism method of observing soft breath
Kumbhaka: Holding inhalations and lengthening exhalations which determines the amount of oxygen that you are consuming
The primary difference between mindfulness and meditation is that mindfulness is a way of life; it involves how you process your thoughts and how you engage within the world around you. Meditation is a practice, a skill that you can learn and develop.
In learning the difference between meditation and mindfulness, you can increase your knowledge and the benefits and techniques of these important practices.