What Is The Difference Between Mindfulness vs. Meditation?
Every health journey, regardless of why you started it, is about both the mind and the body. If you ignore one piece of this duo, you can only get so far along that journey.
If you are anywhere on the mental health side of this path, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across the terms “mindfulness” and “meditation.” Sometimes these are used interchangeably, which can make figuring out how to incorporate them into your health practice difficult. When it comes to anything—especially your health—knowledge is power. So, let’s break down these two concepts and explore how you can use them in your life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the quality of being conscious about yourself and your surroundings in the present moment.
Mindfulness is all about awareness. Think about yourself right now. What time of day is it? What colors and smells are around you? What does the seat you’re sitting in (or ground you’re standing on) feel like against your skin and the muscles beneath it? How do your clothes feel on your body? How is the quality of your breath?
As you consider these questions and feel your mind moving around the room to sense the answers to them, you’re experiencing mindfulness. The purpose of this is to be present, to be in this very moment that’s happening to you right now. But what’s the point of that?
Well, being present and mindful can boost performance, reduce stress, and provide an environment for you to really consider any issue in. Being mindful allows you to have perspective, to recognize what’s important to you. We still need to consider the future when making choices and we need to acknowledge our pasts in order to move forward, but being present helps you put all of those ideas and worries onto the backburner so you can fully engage in the present moment.
What is Meditation?
What going to the gym is for the body, meditation is for the mind.
Meditation is a practice whereby we consciously take some time—be it thirty seconds or two hours—to train our sense of awareness.
When you think about meditation, an image of a peaceful Monk in saffron-colored robes sitting with their legs crossed just might come to mind. While Buddhist Monks do train for a very long time to master meditation, the art isn’t exclusive to them. Meditation is a skill that has been and can be developed by people all around the world and there’s a good chance that you’ve actually done some meditative exercises without even realizing it (if you’ve ever prayed or paused for a second to take a deep breath while stressed, you’ve already dipped your toes into this practice).
There are many types of meditation, but they all serve the same purpose: training awareness to help us get some perspective. Some types are meant to calm us down, others to develop qualities like compassion or gratitude.
The benefits of meditation are actually pretty similar to those of mindfulness (we’ll get to why that is later), and include improved sleep, focus, self-awareness, and more, and is an excellent way to get to know yourself in your body and become more present.
Mindfulness vs. Meditation
We love this quote from Positive Psychology: mindfulness is a quality, meditation is a practice.
We seek to be mindful all the time; moving through life while enjoying the present is what cheesy-but-accurate wood-carved signs are made of (“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow,” anyone?). Mindfulness is one of the keys to enjoying life and taking full advantage of it as it goes by.
Meditation is more of a skill, that’s why it’s called a “practice”—you really need to practice it for it to work and improve your life. While we should strive to be mindful all day, meditation requires you to set aside a few moments to get your practice in. Think of it like going to the mental gym.
Mindfulness and meditation are certainly connected, but they’re definitely not interchangeable concepts. It can be confusing when terms like “Mindfulness Meditation” (which is the practice of meditation specifically dedicated to cultivating more mindfulness) come into play.
One way to wrap your head around this is to recognize that when we practice meditation, we are being mindful, but when we are being mindful, we aren’t always practicing meditation.
How Do I Practice Mindfulness And Meditation?
As we said, mindfulness is all about living in this moment. Since the default for most of us is not being mindful, there are a few things we can stop doing to improve mindfulness—like endless phone scrolling and TV binging, doing multiple things at once, and spending too much time, a. fretting over the past and b. worrying about the future.
Meditation can be practiced in so many different ways, so how you want to approach it is really a personal decision. You can follow guided meditations on digital platforms like iChuze Fitness. You can go to a sound bath. You can even use physical movement like yoga to meditate. We have a whole blog post completely dedicated to how you can get started.
Regardless of whether you decide to simply find more mindful moments in your life or to dedicate hours a day meditating, the pursuit of being present is always one full of potential for health and happiness. If you would like to get started today, try a 7-day free trial on iChuzeFitness.com and join in on a guided meditation with us.