Mindfulness vs Meditation: what are the differences?
Nowadays, people are finally realizing the damage that poor mental health can cause, and consequently, much more is being done to address mental health than it was decades ago.
When it comes to improving your health, both physically and mentally, there are many things you can do.
Mindfulness and meditation are two different techniques, which are prime examples of this.
As with most things nowadays, there is a lot of conflicting info out there regarding mindfulness vs meditation, and as a result, it can be easy to confuse the two.
A lot of the time, these two words are used interchangeably, with no real explanation of either one.
Considering the fact that each technique offers a wide range of scientifically proven health benefits, both physically and mentally, it’s important to understand the key differences.
Yes, the two concepts are similar, but even so, they still offer a wide range of different benefits and can both be practiced in a number of different ways.
Whether you’re looking for ways of boosting your mental health, clearing your mind, or simply leading a healthier, more productive lifestyle, here’s a look at mindfulness vs meditation and what the key differences really are.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of the most popular buzzwords of the 2020s, and while the phrase is often used incorrectly and far too frequently, the technique itself is a very important, hugely beneficial one when it comes to improving our mental health.
Mindfulness is perhaps best described as being a quality, whereas meditation is a practice.
With mindfulness, you are hyper-aware, and the mind is hyper-aware of where you are, what you’re doing, what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing, what you’re smelling, and how you feel.
Perhaps best described as a basic human ability to be completely present in the here and now, mindfulness is not only about living in the moment and being present in the moment but is also about how we react to the things going on around us.
Mindfulness, for example, is considering how your actions can affect others.
A simple comment on somebody’s weight, for example, may be made with the most innocent of intentions but may not be perceived by the recipient that way and may hurt their feelings.
Mindfulness is considering other people’s feelings as well as your own and understanding that your words or actions may have negative impacts on others.
Mindfulness is about reducing stress, not only for ourselves but for others around us, too.
It allows us to gain insights into our minds and behaviors. Mindfulness helps us to live in the present, forget the past, and not worry about the future or stress ourselves out about things that have not and may not happen.
We’ll look at the fundamental differences between mindfulness and meditation a little later on, but for now, very simply, we need to talk about the primary difference.
Mindfulness is a state of being and a way of living. Meditation is a practice and is something that you do.
You ARE mindful, and you CAN meditate.
What is Meditation?
As we’re looking at mindfulness vs meditation, it’s only fair that we now look at the art of meditation.
Meditation, unlike mindfulness, is a practice and activity.
It is something that you can do and take the necessary steps to become ultimately better at.
One of the main reasons why people often confuse meditation with mindfulness is down to the fact that with meditation, you can practice what is known as mindful meditation or mindfulness meditation.
Meditation is an activity that places an emphasis on focusing on your breathing.
With meditation, you focus on each breath as you inhale and exhale.
You are essentially training your mind to focus solely on controlling your breathing.
When you find your mind wandering and getting distracted from this task, you can train your mind to pick up on this and quickly get back to focusing on your breathing.
Like mindfulness, meditation helps you to be present in the here and now.
As you meditate, you aren’t worrying about outstanding bills, relationship troubles, or anything else, but you are instead focused solely on being in the present and controlling your breathing.
It allows us to anchor ourselves in the present rather than worrying about what has happened or what might happen.
Mindfulness vs Meditation – What Are The Differences?
Okay, we’ve established that both meditation and mindfulness are linked and are from the same metaphorical family, as it were.
Some people even say that mindfulness is a form of meditation, and meditation is a form of mindfulness.
Though the two phrases are often used interchangeably, and although they are very similar, there is, in fact, a wide range of differences that set them apart from one another.
Here’s a look at several key differences between meditation and mindfulness.
You can be mindful anywhere
Okay, in theory, you can meditate virtually anywhere as well, but in reality, it is much easier to be mindful anywhere than it is to meditate anywhere.
With mindfulness, you can be mindful regardless of where you are or what’s going on around you.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the park surrounded by nature, in your backyard, or at a crowded football game; you can be mindful no matter where you are.
Mindfulness is about being aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you.
You can be mindful when reading a book, watching a movie, taking a bath, spending time with friends, or relaxing in a spa.
The goal of mindfulness is to anchor yourself in the present and be aware of where you are and what’s happening around you. It is, of course, much easier to be mindful of where you are than it is to meditate anywhere.
Meditating in a peaceful woodland, for example, would be much easier than trying to meditate in a crowded shopping mall.
Meditation is a practice
Again, as mentioned, meditation is an activity, whereas mindfulness is a state of mind and being.
When you meditate, you make the effort to do so.
When you are mindful, this is simply a way of life. You can, of course, practice meditation as a form of mindfulness and vice versa, but in general, meditation is an activity rather than a state of mind.
Meditation is a tool for mindfulness
Many experts agree that meditation is considered a tool used on the road to mindfulness.
If your goal is to ultimately be more mindful on a daily basis, meditation can be used as a tool to help get you there quicker.
The technique will let you be mindful when practicing it, and ultimately, the more you do so, the greater your chances will be of becoming a mindful individual.
Studies have found that individuals who meditate daily, or at the very least, on a regular basis, are much more likely to be mindful as part of their day-to-day lives.
If your goal is to ultimately be mindful as part of everyday living, meditation is a fantastic activity that you can utilize to get you there much quicker.
Mindfulness can be as intense as you like
Another reason why mindfulness is considered to be so different from meditation is the fact that you can be as intense as you like with mindfulness.
With meditation, you are either meditating or you aren’t; there is no in-between. With mindfulness, however, you can be as intense as you like.
You can either be ‘all or nothing’ and can be mindful as part of your essence of being, or you can be mindful as and when you like or as and when required.
With mindfulness, you can decide how intensely to practice and when to implement your mindful traits. With meditation, you either meditate or you don’t. You can’t mediate “harder” you are either meditating, or you aren’t.
As an example, an informal way of being mindful could be to practice mindful eating.
With mindful eating, if you know that certain foods are going to upset your stomach or cause other negative health impacts, you will make an effort to avoid them.
There are many different aspects of meditation
Another thing that sets meditation apart from mindfulness is the fact that there are a number of different aspects of meditation to consider.
Of course, in order to meditate, you need to be mindful of your breathing patterns and the practice itself, but there are also several other aspects to consider. For example, you need to have good concentration to meditate.
If you have poor concentration, your mind is likely to wander, which in turn will distract you and make it much harder for you to meditate. In truth, poor concentration will impact you negatively in a wide range of other ways.
Meditation can, therefore, help you work on other characteristics and traits that may be holding you back that you would like to improve upon.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation?
Finally, before we wrap this look at mindfulness vs meditation, allow us to look at a few of the key benefits associated with both meditating and mindfulness.
Ease pain and discomfort
Even though the main benefits of meditation and mindfulness are all about improving your mental health, there are also a wide range of other benefits associated with the two activities, especially when it comes to pain relief.
Studies have found that, by practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques, individuals can noticeably reduce the amount of pain and discomfort they may be suffering from. Mindfulness and meditation help to engage mechanisms in the brain and body that support our cognitive control of pain levels.
Be a kinder person
Another advantage of mindfulness, especially, is the fact that it can help you to grow as a person and become a kinder, nicer person.
With mindfulness, you become aware of other people’s feelings and emotions.
As we touched upon earlier, this can help you to alter your behavior if there is a risk of it negatively impacting others.
If, for example, somebody close to you gets their haircut and you feel it looked better before, if you can see that they like it, mindfulness will help you to keep your opinion to yourself.
Sure, constructive criticism is one thing, but if you can see that they are happy, as it’s their hair, their happiness is the most important thing so that you can keep quiet.
Mindfulness helps you to be aware of how you’re acting, what you’re doing, and what you’re saying, and it can help you to alter your behavior and become a better person because of it.
Improved mental health
Without a doubt, one of the best things about being mindful and practicing meditation on a regular basis is the fact that they both improve your mental health.
Mindfulness and meditation are about living in the present and the here and now.
They help you to let go of the past and any past negative experiences, traumas, and emotions and instead live in the present and focus on the positives.
Not only that, but they can help tackle anxiety by helping you not to worry about what has already happened, what hasn’t happened, and what may not happen in the future.
Not only are these techniques great for tackling stress, anxiety, and depression, but they also help to lift your mood, promote feelings of relaxation and happiness, and promote a good night’s sleep as well.
Okay, so we’ve looked at mindfulness vs meditation, and we’ve established that, although similar, the two are very different and are not interchangeable with one another.
Both offer their advantages and drawbacks, but one thing we can all agree upon is the fact that they both offer a huge array of benefits, particularly those relating to our mental health.
READ THIS NEXT:
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
As a founder and chief author at InsightState.com, Bulgarea Candin helps readers on their spiritual journeys. His writings are designed to inspire creativity and personal growth, guiding readers on their journey to a more fulfilled and enlightened life.