If you’ve ever researched mindfulness you’ve probably wondered what the difference is between meditation vs mindfulness. After all, most people are well aware of the idea of meditation yet fewer are aware of what mindfulness is, at least in my experience. The truth is both mindfulness and meditation live in the same world, often side by side and often overlap perhaps making the two more confusing from the outside. Some people even call mindfulness a type of meditation.
Regardless, meditation and mindfulness can both result in the same thing – a more peaceful mind when practised consistently. This is why most people would want to start meditating in the first place.
As the world becomes more and more hectic, more people are becoming aware of the benefits of ancient Eastern practices like meditation and mindfulness. In this post, we’ll go over the key differences between meditation and mindfulness and where they overlap and complement each other.
The quick takeaway; Meditation is more about intentional focus whereas mindfulness is more about non-judgmental observation and grounding yourself.
Meditation has been practised for thousands of years and there are many different types of meditations you can perform. Meditation is more of a formal practice where the individual focuses on their breath, for example. It’s an intentional practice to relieve stress, delve deeper into one’s mind, improve concentration and much, much more.
Intentional meditations include;
Focusing on the breath
Mantra meditations (repeating and focusing on phrases)
Visualisation meditations (personal goals or happy places, for example)
A simple meditation that anyone can do is to focus on your breath. The breath is the anchor in most meditations and is a simple thing to concentrate on. Meditation is not about completely clearing the loud voice in your, rather, it’s about allowing your thoughts to come and go whilst focusing on your anchor. You can take your meditations to many different levels by performing guided meditations, mantra meditations and loving & kindness meditations, for example. Each meditation has a different purpose and each requires a degree of concentration and commitment.
Meditation is a tried and true exercise for quieting the mind and finding a sense of inner peace whilst regaining your focus.
The benefits of Meditation are endless. Here are just a few of them;
Promote emotional health
Mindfulness is something that many schools and workplaces encourage and is essentially the practice of grounding yourself in the current moment by observing your surroundings using your 5 senses. This makes mindfulness a great practice for anyone of any age because there’s a low barrier to entry and it can be performed anywhere. You don’t need to sit or lay down anywhere and it can be done on the go.
Mindfulness has become popular as a way of curbing the wandering mind. Our lives are fast and hectic and it’s easy to become distracted by thoughts and worries throughout your day. Using mindfulness can bring your attention back to the here and now.
There are several different mindfulness practices that are popular including;
The 5 senses exercises
& and many more
As mentioned, you can practise mindfulness anywhere. For example, if you go for a nice walk in nature, simply notice the feeling of the ground under your shoes, the smell in the air, the different things you can see, if there’s a taste in your mouth and the different noises you can hear. You don’t need to label them as good or bad, just pay attention.
Whilst mindfulness is an intentional thing to do like meditation, it does not require intermediate or intense focus. If you’d like to try some quick mindfulness exercises for all ages, go here.
Here are some of the benefits of practising mindfulness;
Improve emotional health
Meditation VS mindfulness: the overlap
As mentioned, meditation and mindfulness overlap. After all, both exercises require a degree of focus. I find that I become mindful when I meditate. I am able to observe my thoughts without judgement whilst I focus on my breath. A simple breathing meditation does not require you to pay attention to your senses but you may find you naturally do so as a result.
For example, you may become aware of the sensation of your heart as it slows down during meditation or the cool feeling of your breath as it passes through your mouth. Your sense of smell may intensify as may your hearing.
Meditation does require a pause in your day where you set aside 5 or 10 minutes to sit and focus. Mindfulness does not require this however when you meditate you may become more mindful of your own thoughts and other people.
Meditation can be powerful in the sense that you might feel more compassion towards others in the long run, and have more positive feelings after you’re done which will naturally make you more mindful of other people. In my experience, meditation can make you more mindful and mindfulness is easier to practise as a by-product whereas practising mindfulness might not make it easier to meditate. However, mindfulness will enrich your meditation experiences.
However, mindfulness is a good low-barrier exercise anyone can try whenever they want that may make you want to go one step further and try meditation. The two overlap and complement each other but are at their essence, two different things.
Meditation VS mindfulness: in summary
There are really no drawbacks to trying meditation or mindfulness. I would suggest starting with mindfulness if you’ve never tried any kind of meditation before. It’s simple to do and doesn’t require anything to start.
Meditation on the other hand will require you to sit and focus. This can seem like an inconvenience however even five minutes out of your day could improve your mood significantly. All you really need to begin meditating is a quiet spot and a guided meditation video if you want something really easy to follow along with.