If you search the internet for various topics about mindfulness and meditation, you may be surprised to see that there are hundreds of thousands of available resources at your disposal.
Although both of these words can be used interchangeably, they are not the same and have different concepts.
Whether you’re a beginner or an immediate practitioner, it still might be confusing for you the difference between mindfulness and meditation.
Understanding the distinction between these two is important to ensure that you carve out properly your practices that will meet your specific needs.
Mindfulness is allowing you to stay in the present – neither thinking of the past nor the future – without making any judgment. Meditation is a practice where you focus the attention of your body and mind to achieve effective mindfulness.
In this article, we will discuss in more details what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation. We will also tackle the health benefits of doing both practices. Read on to learn more.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of pushing aside your worries of the past and the fears of the future. It allows you to be present at the moment without making any judgments.
You only focus your thoughts on what you’re seeing, hearing, doing, and feeling at the exact moment of your situation.
When you are mindful of your focused thoughts and intentions, you become more engaged with your environment and the people around you at the exact moment.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice that helps cultivate proper mindfulness. You can meditate by sitting, walking, or lying down.
It’s an exercise that trains your mind to not get distracted and focus yourself on deep breathing. Once you notice that your thoughts start to wander, you can refocus your mind back.
To achieve effective meditation, you need to consistently practice it in a quiet place where you won’t get easily distracted. By continuously practicing meditation, you will be able to do it longer over time.
5 Differences Between Mindfulness and Meditation
Knowing the description of mindfulness and meditation is not the only thing that you should consider. In this section, we will discuss the key differences between the two practices.
1. Meditation is a practice; Mindfulness is a quality
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times above, meditation is the practice of training your mind for awareness and attention that allows you to achieve emotional calmness, mental clarity, and a state of stability.
With constant and consistent practice, you can develop the different qualities of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a way of living that is cultivated by continuous practice. It’s a way of living that you can practice any time of the day and anywhere you are.
There are many different categories to achieve mindfulness meditation and knowing what you have to do is important for you to achieve your goals.
2. Practicing meditation is one of the many ways to achieve a mindful living
Because meditation is a practice of clearing your thoughts and focusing your mind. Proper meditation will allow you to develop mindfulness.
This is effective for people who have busy minds and are having difficulty concentrating. Practicing meditation provides the discipline to act mindfully every day in all your actions.
3. Mindfulness can be used in the treatment that does not include meditation
Several therapies help people achieve a wise mind and this includes Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which is a treatment that helps clients become mindful without the practice of meditation.
Mindfulness is associated with many positive aspects which include mental health benefits such as self-acceptance and self-esteem.
Thanks to its many benefits, many practitioners help guide their clients to cultivate mindfulness who are not receptive to the practice of meditation or are willing to build meditation habits in their everyday lives.
4. Mindfulness can be practiced informally and formally
The practice of meditating means that you’re “not doing” anything. Meditating requires you to adopt a non-judgmental stance in which you provide minimal effort to become an observer of your world.
Meditation counters everything that we do every day. We are raised to think about our past, present, and future. To strive to achieve good grades, get a degree, get a good job, build a family, and survive every day.
Practicing formal meditation requires you to sit for a long time, clear your mind, and not think about the world around you.
Even though practicing meditation has a lot of benefits, not many people are willing to spend so much time practicing formal meditation. However, even if you don’t do formal meditation, you can be mindful of the things that you do every day.
Practicing mindfulness can mean having a mindful conversation, mindful eating, or mindful walking.
Informally practicing mindfulness means that you put all your intention to being mindful which requires you to suspend any judgment, be present at the moment, slow down your life, and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.
5. Mindfulness is only one aspect of meditation
One of the goals of doing a meditation practice is by achieving mindfulness among the other aspects of it. Both exercises require concentration, without any formal practices and with the pressure of external stimuli, our thoughts can start to wander in a thousand places even in a split second.
When your mind starts to wander, you are unable to maintain your focus on proper meditation practices.
Consistent training and building a strong habit are important if you want to master both meditation and mindfulness.
5 Senses Practice
Practicing meditation and mindfulness is as easy as doing your everyday tasks. If you practice mindfulness, like doing your exercise, brushing your teeth, or doing your hobbies, you must focus on your five senses – taste, hearing, smell, sight, and touch.
For each sense that you use, give at least two to three insights on what you notice.
For example, when you’re brushing your teeth:
- You smell the paste through your nose.
- You see your reflection in the bathroom mirror.
- The cooling sensation.
- The flavor of the paste on your mouth.
- If there’s a tingling sensation of the brush on your teeth and gums.
Practicing this enables you to tune into your thoughts and surroundings. Being more present allows you to have more awareness of your inner thoughts. If you practice this every day, you will be able to build a strong positive habit for both your body and mind.
When you practice both meditation and mindfulness, it enriches and supports your ability to think through your thoughts and emotions. You can strengthen your mindfulness, focus, and presence in almost all aspects of your life.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
As we’ve mentioned many times above, practicing mindfulness can provide many benefits for your mind and body. Once you pay more attention to your environment, thoughts, feelings, and sensations, you can form a sense of acceptance of your being.
Some of the benefits you may notice include a decrease in depression, strengthening your relationship, lowering your stress, improving your memory, and more. We will discuss more below.
• Decreased Depression
Mindfulness relieves the symptoms of depression and can even help prevent the return of it in the future.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBTC) incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness-based stress cognition (MBSR). This practice is a brief therapy that takes around eight weeks and utilizes several group sessions that incorporates mindfulness practices.
Other practices allow you to meditate and be mindful all the same time. Some exercises include yoga and body scan exercises.
• Increased Emotional Regulation
Identifying and managing your feelings are also some of the benefits that you can get when you practice mindfulness. Emotional regulation is the ability to control your emotion even if there are several situations ahead of you.
This mental ability is important because multiple external stimuli can affect your emotions and feelings. Some of the conditions that will help with borderline personality disorder and depression.
Being able to increase your emotional regulation will make it easier for you to cope with your feelings which can improve multiple areas in your life.
• Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Because of all the problems that we face in society today, many people experience chronic stress that affects certain health problems. Practicing mindfulness can help manage and reduce your anxiety and stress.
Some programs and treatments address your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
Although, it’s important to remember that mindfulness does not affect your thinking when you’re in a moment of crisis. There’s a study that suggests practicing deep breathing is more effective when you’re experiencing a problem than doing mindfulness tactics.
• Better Memory
A study done in 2019 suggests that people who practice mindfulness boost memory both old and new. With proper training and exercise, you may be able to improve your memory significantly.
Since memory problems are a common problem with many people today, you must start practicing mindfulness to improve your short-term memory.
• Cognitive Improvements
Mindfulness isn’t only a practice to improve your thoughts and memory, it can also improve your ability to think clearly and flexibly. Practicing mindfulness and meditation allows you to be more aware of your thoughts without making any judgment.
Some of the other cognitive improvements that you may notice is focusing your attention for a long time, being able to shift your thoughts and attention no matter if there are distractions, and suppressing other thoughts that may interfere with your focus.
• Stronger Relationships
Since you’ll be able to think better and control your emotions faster, you can build strong relationships with the people around you. You may even accept the flaws and weaknesses of your partner which allows you to grow together even further.
Accepting other peoples’ weaknesses can improve your satisfaction, empathy, and overall well-being.
The difference between meditation and mindfulness is that meditation is a practice of being steady while focusing your breathing and thoughts. Whereas mindfulness is an exercise that you can do anytime and anywhere.
Both of these practices can improve the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of your life.
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