Mindfulness and meditation are two different concepts, but they are often used together or interchangeably. Mindfulness and meditation are also defined in many different ways depending on the context, so it's no wonder they can cause confusion.
Meditation is a general concept that includes many types of mind training methods. Meditation practice include, for example, seated meditation, walking meditation and yoga. Meditation can include mindfulness, but not necessarily.
Mindfulness means the skill of awareness, which includes conscious presence and awareness of your own state of mind and the world around you. Mindfulness may include various meditation exercises, but it is not necessarily meditation. Mindfulness can be practiced as part of everyday activities, such as cooking, brushing teeth, walking in nature or running on trails.
Right. The purpose of this article is to clarify the relationship between these concepts and make it easier for you to start the path towards wellbeing.
What is meditation?
Meditation typically refers to a wide variety of formal mind training methods, where the most essential is focusing. In meditation practice, focusing is used to calm and clear the mind. The object of focusing is, for example, your own breathing, certain sounds or a repeated mantra.
Meditation is a common practice that has been part of different religions and philosophical schools of thought for thousands of years. In Western countries, meditation is now part of a wellness lifestyle and it is practiced for both therapeutic and wellbeing purposes, such as stress management, anxiety reduction, and improved concentration.
The core idea of meditation is to deliberatly stop and give yourself time by turning off everything else for the duration of the meditation practice. A meditation practice usually has a clear beginning and end and a certain duration, say twenty minutes.
Meditation is a formal tool for training the mind. Many meditation practices involve a specific posture, but not all. In most forms of meditation, the aim is to develop awareness of one's own state of mind and thoughts, and to learn to control the mind and its functioning.
Meditation can take many different forms, such as:
- seated meditation,
- walking meditation,
- mantra meditation,
- prayer meditation,
- mindfulness meditation.
Walking meditation is a good example of mindfulness meditation, where the purpose is to become aware of how walking feels.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an awareness skill that means conscious presence and awareness of one's own mind and the world around. It is the ability to live in the moment and be present in this moment without the mind wandering in the past or the future. Being present means that you don't endlessly ruminate about a long-gone work project or think over dinner that the laundry should be done too.
The key to mindfulness is learning to consciously observe one's own thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness practice is in a way the practice of being. The practice of not doing anything other than being in the moment, accepting one's thoughts and feelings as they happen to be at that moment. Mindfulness can be practiced all the time, not just two hours a week.
Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, such as through meditation, breathing exercises or body awareness exercises. In other words, mindfulness can be practiced both informally and formally. When you practice the skill of awareness in everyday life, you strive to be present and aware in everything you do and think. When you do formal mindfulness exercises, you are doing mindfulness meditation.
- Mindfulness is therefore both a way of relating to the world in general and one of the forms of meditation that focuses on conscious presence. Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common forms of meditation. The entanglement of concepts is often mainly related to this connection and overlapping.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a meditation practice that develops conscious presence and helps you focus on the present moment and accept it as it is. Mindfulness meditation practice helps you practice conscious presence in everyday life so that you can become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and body sensations.
Mindfulness meditation usually involves observing the breath, observing body sensations, conscious observation, and noticing thoughts without clinging to them. The purpose of the exercise is to also learn to notice when your mind wanders and bring your attention back to the present moment.
With mindfulness meditation, you can develop your awareness of your own automatic reactions to different things. When you are very present, you are aware of your reactions in different situations and are free to step back and change them. With mindfulness meditation, you can also learn to tolerate difficult emotions and stress, develop compassion for yourself and others, and improve your ability to concentrate.
Especially highly sensitive persons who are prone to excessive over-thinking can benefit greatly from mindfulness meditation. On the other hand, HSP's often have naturally heightened awareness of the surrounding world and oneself. Mindfulness meditation, however, helps to take a healthy distance from one's own thoughts and feelings and stop unnecessary self-criticism and worrying about things that burden the mind.
Mindfulness and meditation – the goal is wellbeing
Both mindfulness and meditation usually aim to achieve a calm and open state of mind. In mindfulness, the key is to be consciously present in the moment and observe thoughts openly and without judgment. In mindfulness, thoughts are not controlled or suppressed, but are just observed and accepted as they are.
In meditation, the goal is often to calm the mind and to reduce thoughts and let go of them completely, to an empty mind. In meditation, the perception of the passage of time can disappear, while in mindful presence you can be very aware of time.
In mindfulness and meditation, the thoughts and state of mind can be very different, but not necessarily. Experiences are individual, and even during the same practice, the state of mind can change.
The goals of mindfulness and meditation can also be different, although both aim to develop the awareness and presence of the mind.
- The goal of mindfulness is usually to develop a conscious presence and an accepting attitude towards the present moment. The goal is to learn to be consciously present in different situations in life and to learn to accept them as they are.
- The goal of meditation can be, for example, calming the mind, relieving stress or developing awareness. The goal can also be to find personal insights or to develop certain mental qualities, such as compassion, patience or concentration.
Mindfulness and meditation practices are not competitions or performances, but personal exercises aimed at developing one's own conscious presence and wellbeing.
Thompson & Waltz (2007)