Are Meditation And Mindfulness The Same Thing
Meditation and Mindfulness are easily confused. There are so many different types of meditation available to us. Some meditation practices focusing on the breathe and guide us to simply inhale and exhale. Others are mantra based where meditators repeat phrases or sounds such as OM. Then there are are kindness meditations where meditators send messages of loving kindness others or to the world as a whole. And then there is a Mindfulness Meditation – where meditators are encouraged to experience the moment, how they feel, what they can hear and what sensations and emotions are present.
There are so many different types of meditation it can be quite confusing especially to the beginner. Coupled with the fact that you can practice a ‘mindfulness meditation’ it’s easy to understand where the confusion comes from.
Meditation is a practice that you engage in for a certain period of time, but when the bell rings the practice is over. Mindfulness however is a continuous way of thinking. Meditation can be done in so many different ways, you can even meditate whilst walking or drawing as well as the traditional eyes closed methods.
But at its core Mindfulness is a focused awareness. It’s simply paying attention to the present moment, to your thoughts, your feelings, your sensations and the world around you as a whole. Yes, this can be done in mediation, but true mindfulness is done outside of meditation.
Mindfulness and Meditation are often interchangeably used, and the increased confusion comes from the fact there are also ‘mindfulness meditations‘. But if we look at mindfulness as more of a quality of mind, that can help us gain some clarity.
Mindfulness meditation is about not concentrating our energy on the thoughts that permeate the present, but settling into the thoughts of our mind and putting ourselves in a state that goes beyond thinking.
While mindfulness can be defined as a mental state that involves fully focusing on the now so that we can acknowledge and accept our thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment, meditation can also be combined with other mental states, such as insight meditation or even meditation practice.
I like to think of mindfulness as a conscious way of being. With mindfulness, we are conscious of each moment. The air brushing the leaves, the sound of the car tyres on the tarmac, the warmth of the air as it exits our bodies and our emotion in that moment.
There are so many aspects to mindfulness, and there is no right way to become more mindful other than to practice.
If you’re new to mindfulness, you can start by scheduling just five mintues in your day to stop whatever you are doing and appreciate the world around you.
This can be done by ideally going outside, and witnessing nature. Even if youre in an urban area, being able to see trees, grass or plants can help. Then you simply witness. Look at the colour of the sky, the green of the plants, the air temperature. Think about the miracle of nature, how that tree even got there, how the sun nourishes all things on the planet. How water brings life. How the same molecules in the trees are also in your body.
You see where I’m going here. The miracle of the moment is so powerful when you consciously think about all the things you are able to experience. And that’s just on your own!
Practicing mindfulness around others is incredibly powerful and can dramatically improve emotional intelligence. Being able to use a brain that is well versed in mindfulness when you’re in the middle of a disagreement with someone truly helps to shift anger and confusion into compassion and understanding.
The benefits of mindfulness are widely known, including improving overall mental health and wellbeing. There’s a reason why medical professionals often recommend mindfulness nowadays even the NHS and NICE recommend mindfulness as a practice to help with depression.
But neither meditation nor mindfulness are magic pills. They are tools that can help us in our day to day lives but sometimes we need more, and if you are suffering with something like depression or anxiety then please seek professional advice as well as practicing meditation or mindfulness.
Whatever is going on in your life. You can incorporate mindfulness into your day. And it becomes so much easier the more you do this.
When I started my own mindfulness and meditation practice, I was in a terrible state. I was recovering from a burnout that left me paralysed, I was also healing from an abusive relationship, and quite frankly I was miserable. I was living my life in a state of fear and hate. But all that was doing, was making my life harder.
But I was determined not to be beaten. So I set about a regular practice. And at first, whilst I tried to appreciate the moment, my brain would still go back to how awful my life was. But by gently going back to appreciating the moment, eventually my brain stopped with that negative pattern. And then I started to discover that I was so grateful for my life. I was grateful for the air I was breathing, for the people in my life, for the money in my account for every aspect of the life I had experienced so far.
Mindfulness leads to a gratitude unlike any other. My gratitude practice following being consistently mindful exploded! I now have a gratitude practice that includes 20 points a day and I could keep writing!
So in short, mindfulness and mediation are interchangeable but the important thing to remember here is that both are incredibly powerful and beneficial to our mental health and our overall wellbeing.
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