Mindfulness versus meditation – what is the difference?
Meditation has become very popular over the last decade or so. Many companies even offer free courses to teach their employees how to meditate. What exactly are they teaching them? Is mindfulness better?
Is meditation considered to be the same as mindfulness?
Here we touch on the differences and similarities between the two.
Firstly let’s look at what meditation is…
What is meditation?
Meditation is considered a spiritual practice. It focuses on the present, helps us get out of our thoughts, and reduces stress. This means it can benefit everyone from students struggling with schoolwork to CEOs looking for ways to improve productivity.
Meditation is becoming more popular because it helps to reduce stress. In fact, studies show that regular meditation can increase focus and help develop positive emotions and emotional intelligence.
The goal of meditation is not to force one to enter a state of deep relaxation. Meditators do not try to clear their mind either. Rather, meditators learn to accept themselves while also being attentive to changes in body, feelings, thoughts, and sensations.
There are many forms of mediation that have been practiced throughout history. They include Zen Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, and Vipassana (Mindful Awareness). Each form emphasizes different features. For example, some emphasize awareness of internal experience, others external experience. Some encourage direct insight into reality whereas others see consciousness as merely an illusion.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment while performing any task. When we focus on the here and now, our mind becomes calmer and more relaxed.
Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that arises from intentionally focusing attention on the present moment”. It is also defined as the ability to be fully aware of what is going on around us (such as our thoughts, feelings, and sensations). The practice originated in Eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism and has become popular for both secular and religious reasons.
15 differences – mindfulness versus meditation
1. Mindfulness is a quality. Meditation is a practice. To start this exploration, it is helpful to look at some definitions of these two concepts. Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying close attention, on purpose, non-judgementally. Meditation is a practice where an individual trains attention and awareness using techniques such as mindfulness or focusing on a particular object, etc.
2. Mindfulness is a mental state or process characterized by non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, acceptance of things as they are, and non-reactivity to internal and external stimuli. This state of being is cultivated through meditation. Through this practice, we learn to observe our thoughts, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and behaviors without judgment. With practice, our ability to manage these mental activities increases, allowing us to experience life more fully. Meditation is an important part of cultivating mindfulness. Although it is a very effective way to practice mindfulness, it is not the only way to cultivate mindfulness.
3. MIndfulness can exist without meditation but a meditation practice makes use of mindfulness
4. Mindfulness can be practiced whenever and wherever even while doing everyday actions where meditating is a more formal practice.
5. Meditation is only one form of mindfulness
6. There are many styles of meditation and many different forms of mindfulness
7. Being present is only one aspect of meditating
8. Meditation focuses on breathing whereas mindfulness does not necessarily use this technique
9. Mindfulness is simply just about being aware while meditation explores other concepts too
10. Anybody can meditate and anybody can be mindful – none of the above needs any experience just a willingness to start (and a little bit of curiosity goes a long way too).
11. Mindfulness can become a lifestyle
12. Meditation can also be explained as transcending the mind beyond other mental activities
13. Meditation taps into the subconscious mind
14. Meditation is used as a form of reflective relaxation
15. Meditating can take slightly more effort and dedicated time compared to being mindful as mindfulness can be incorporated into our everyday lives.
Mindfulness vs Meditation – Differences & Similarities
The biggest misconception people have about mindfulness is that it’s just another word for meditation. While there are certainly similarities between the two practices, there are several key differences as well. As someone who has studied both extensively, I’m going to explain the differences and common misconceptions surrounding these topics.
First off, let me start by saying that both mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for everyone. They are excellent tools for improving overall mental health, reducing stress levels, and allowing us to become aware of our thoughts and emotions.
However, mindfulness and meditation tend to go hand-in-hand. In order to meditate effectively, you must first focus your attention on your breath, body, or mantra (which may vary depending on the type of meditation). This allows you to quiet your mind and reduce distractions so you can truly experience the benefits of meditation.
While meditation is often associated with Eastern philosophies like Buddhism, mindfulness is often practiced within Western cultures. The main difference between these two types of meditation is that mindfulness is a more active practice where you actively engage in the experience instead of focusing on the experience itself.
Another important distinction between mindfulness and meditation is that mindfulness tends to be less structured than other forms of meditation such as yoga or guided relaxation. It’s also easier to incorporate into your everyday life when compared to other methods.