Mindfulness and meditation; they’re one in the same, right? Not so fast! These two subjects are similar, but it’s good to be educated about them and know that they are two separate things.
Although they are practiced differently, they are extremely helpful when practiced in conjunction with one another. Both mindfulness and meditation practice can be beneficial to improving your overall well-being.
By digging deeper, you’ll be able to learn all about them, how they are different, and why they are both important. Let’s explore the differences!
If you oversimplify mindfulness, it’s awareness of yourself in the present moment — your thoughts, actions, choices, and things around you. There’s more to mindfulness below the surface, and most of us know that trying to practice mindfulness doesn’t always come naturally.
But through regular practice and with time, you will be able to have a judgment-free state of mind, positive thoughts, and more inner peace. As you change your frame of mind, you can take advantage of mindfulness’s benefits, which will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.
The goal is to let go of negative thoughts or a negative mindset, which can lead to poor choices or habits and a whole lot of stress. Mindfulness helps you “look on the bright side” without removing the validity of your emotions from your everyday troubles.
If you struggle with mental health, overwhelming negative emotions or thoughts, or a lot of stress in your daily life, changing your mindset through mindfulness may be a good place to start!
How Do I Practice Mindfulness?
Sometimes it’s easier for those who are just starting to change their way of thinking to start by paying more attention to everything around you. Take a minute to feel what you are feeling rather than reacting.
Start being aware of your surroundings and being present in your everyday life. This can be really helpful when you have trouble discerning why you feel the way you feel about something. By taking a step back and letting you feel the emotion without reading too much into it, you can more easily process it. This practice can help you try to find goodness in the mundane things.
For example, there is beauty in a sunset, in the quiet of the early morning when it feels like it’s just you and the birds. Retreating from the rush of everyday life to appreciate and see the positives, no matter how small is a great way to practice mindfulness to see a shift in your mindset. Some people need a helping hand to get started, and that’s okay!
Changing your mindset and habits can take time and work. Using something like a journal or a guided book is an easy way to begin. We have the “Little Book of Mindfulness,” which has quick, easy practices that you can fit into your current schedule and kick-start the way to change.
Meditation is also a great way to practice and maintain mindfulness, but keep reading to get an in-depth look into meditation!
Meditation has been practiced for many years, so it’s reasonable to think that it can benefit those of us in the present day. It’s more than just some deep breathing! There is evidence that meditation can have multiple health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, improved attention span, increased memory, improved sleep, and less chronic pain.
Meditation is a great tool for mental health as well; it can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. Through regular practice, the hope is that you can clear all the negative thoughts and worries to help your frazzled brain focus. It can help connect you to your body by learning to keep your attention drawn to your surroundings.
For example, let’s say you start your meditation session sitting cross-legged. You start calming your mind, focusing on the hard floor beneath you, the pressure of your feet pressing on your legs, or the quiet sound of a fan in the background.
Some people are only aware of religious meditation, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. Meditation is used in multiple religious practices, but it is not limited to religion. There are different types of meditation, all with similar goals.
Types of Meditation
There are several types of meditation, some even found on meditation apps. Let’s dive into a few options.
This type of meditation would be most associated with a religion or spirituality. The goal is to build a connection to a greater source (dependent on the religion). This can be to seek solace or comfort, find knowledge, or learn more about yourself.
One type of spiritual meditation is called loving-kindness meditation, where you visualize sending love to another human or all humans on the planet. This is also a part of transcendental meditation out of the Buddhist tradition.
Movement meditation is less of a formal meditation practice. Deliberate movement to connect you to your body is the goal of movement meditation.
This can help you focus and connect to yourself. Activities like tai chi, yoga, or martial arts are prime examples of movement meditation.
Focused meditation is to combat the normality of multi-tasking in our everyday life. During this form of meditation, you practice focusing on one task to tackle a wandering mind.
This means you are aware of all the minute things involved with the activity. This helps decrease the urge for your brain to need constant stimulation. Practicing this form of meditation can help with your overall focus.
You may be someone who finds it easier to visualize things such as a beautiful garden or mountainscape. Whether that’s in your mind or in a photo, it doesn’t matter!
This can be used in visualization meditation to calm the mind and try to bring peace to you. When you slowly build an image in your mind while being fully focused, you can reduce your stress levels and escape from the chaos of your day for a little while.
Everyone thinks of this when they think of meditation. The stereotypical “OM” with your legs crossed. However, there is more to chanting or mantra meditation than the media portrays.
This formal practice includes a chant, such as a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated to help the mind focus on the words to bring peace and relaxation to the brain. This is also used in some religious practices as well.
This type of meditation is used when you are trying to become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings. It’s a form of self-reflection that helps you transform persistent worries into passing thoughts.
It can help many people evaluate and process their feelings without judging themselves so harshly. This practice of mindfulness is very beneficial to those with mental health struggles. You can even practice mindful eating as a part of mindfulness meditation.
Just as it sounds, this type of meditation is often led by another person. This can be in person or even an audio recording. The leader will talk you through the practice.
Sometimes this guided meditation includes a body scan meditation, where you move through every inch of your body to check how it feels. If this sounds more appealing, which it often does to beginners, read our blog here to delve deeper into guided meditation.
So Which Should I Practice?
So now you’re probably thinking, do I practice mindfulness or a form of meditation? That answer is easy — both! Practicing mindfulness and meditation is a heavy hitter to start on the path to wellness and self-improvement.
As we touched on in the above information, when you practice mindfulness meditation, you are relearning how to focus your mind and becoming aware of your breathing, your thoughts, and your feelings.
This can be so helpful for those who struggle with racing thoughts, stress, and difficulty interpreting emotions. Often people just react to their thoughts or emotions; by practicing mindfulness meditation, you allow yourself to learn how not to hold on.
You’ll be able to manage those thoughts that would normally cycle constantly or those emotions that feel like a weight on your chest. When you can more readily let go of things that stress you out, you can find peace and beauty in your life and mind.
There is actually a form of therapy called mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR. This type of therapy uses a combination of mindfulness exercises, yoga, and meditation over eight weeks to teach people how to decrease stressors in their daily life.
Additionally, there is a therapy called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy(MBCT) that combines MBSR and cognitive behavior therapy(CBT); this can improve the lives of those affected by depression.
Settle the Mind
Most people would love a life with less stress, worry, fatigue, or pain. It’s reasonable to expect these things to happen, but things can feel oppressive when it overtakes your life and is every day.
Incorporating mindfulness, meditation, or mindfulness meditation is a way to combat these everyday things that affect your well-being. Thankfully meditation and mindfulness are easily accessible to everyone, and though it takes practice, it’s easy to add to your routine.
Start practicing to take back some control over your mind and body.