Meditation vs Mindfulness: How Does One Differ from the Other?

Meditation vs Mindfulness: How Does One Differ from the Other?

For years, there has been an ongoing debate between meditation vs mindfulness and which one is the better practice. However, the truth is that both these practices offer salient benefits to their practitioners.

Both meditation and mindfulness find their roots in ancient Buddhism, though other religions also practice meditation in their own ways. Then again, these terms are commonly used interchangeably to describe the state and practice of calming your mind to help you be closer to your spiritual self.

Generally speaking, meditation and mindfulness are two sides of a similar coin. Neither one is better than the other because they offer different sets of benefits. Still quite confused?

If you want to learn more about how meditation and mindfulness differ from one another, then this article has got you covered. You will know how practicing any which one of these two will benefit you. In addition, we will also share with you how their meanings and interpretations have changed over time. First, let’s talk about meditation.

What is Meditation?

Meditation practices have long predated Buddhism, and its roots can be traced back to several ancient religions. The simplest way to explain meditation is to describe it as a practice where you intentionally try to transform your life and become in-tune with all aspects of who you are.

Meditation is not just one thing or a single technique; it involves several practices that should be done over the course of time. It can be in the form of exercise (yoga), prayer rituals, and even music, all attempting to help you self-regulate. Generally, practitioners will attempt to focus their minds to their breathing, clearing all outside distractions in the process.

In ancient times, meditation focused on spiritual growth and the transcending of emotions. It is expected to leave its practitioner in a calm and present state. However, when the practice was adopted in the West, it took many forms.

Its paramount goals were realigned to suit those of secular yet modern society. Today, it is used as a method for stress relief and health improvement. Meditation is still used in Hinduism, and some Christians claim that they “meditate upon the Word of God.” This type of meditation is, obviously, used for the purpose of spiritual growth.

What is Mindfulness?

One way to understand mindfulness is to think of it as being in the present or as “newness.” Mindfulness can be described as the essence of bringing the mind to the present moment. It is about removing overpowering emotions from the mind.

In that sense, you can say that mindfulness is a form of meditation. In mindfulness, you focus your full attention on an object, person, or task. During meditation, taking account of your breathing, in a way, also means practicing mindfulness as it helps keep you aware of your present.

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Buddhists call this mindfulness meditation as Samatha. When practiced informally, being mindful simply means that you are attempting to be more aware of what you do, as well as of the things around you.

The program Five Mindfulness Training was introduced by a modern Buddhist monk. However, his student popularized and promoted mindfulness as a stress-reliever with a health-based approach. As a result, mindfulness is now being used in the treatment of patients who are chronically ill.

As we have mentioned earlier, mindfulness and meditation differ from one another. However, there are instances that they overlap. To understand this further, let’s us compare them side-by-side.

Meditation vs Mindfulness

Meditation is a broad term, and it encompasses mindfulness and several other techniques. It involves reaching one’s ultimate level of consciousness and concentration so that the mind can be self-regulated.

Additionally, it also involves following and practicing the virtues of love, patience, compassion, and, well, mindfulness. They may have their similarities, but there are some aspects of being mindful that is not necessarily considered as meditation.

For instance, you can bring your mind to focus fully on one thing such as eating, but it is not meditation as it is not formal. Applying mindfulness to your formal meditation practices, however, is meditation.

One of the many things that Buddhism teaches is that if you focus entirely on your breathing, or you are mindful of it, then it would help you to meditate more quickly.

That being said, there are benefits in combining these two ancient practices. So, ideally, there should really be no competition between meditation vs mindfulness.

Meditation and Mindfulness Combined

If you are keen on doing something, then you might as well try your best to get the most out of it, right? In that light, you can actually combine the practice of meditation and mindfulness in order to reap all of its many benefits.

You can learn to be more mindful in your daily life for the purpose of stress-reduction and to improve your mental, spiritual, and physical health. In fact, it is believed that practitioners of mindfulness are better able to fight obesity and combat unhealthy eating habits.

Additionally, mindfulness practitioners also experience an improvement in the quality of their sleep and focus. They are also less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Now, those are just some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. We all know that meditation helps a person relax as well as develop self-awareness and self-love. So, imagine combining the two?

Conclusion

Meditation is seen as a way of transforming the mind and clearing it of external distractions. On the other hand, mindfulness is when you are aware of your present state. Therefore, they are two different things. However, there are times that they overlap.

The truth is that people can actually practice mindfulness without consciously practicing meditation. Mindfulness meditation is probably one of the most popular types of meditation where you fully focus on a single object.

While both meditation and mindfulness may seem like practices that you want to embody in your daily life, to derive true health and spiritual benefits, you may need to attend in-person, instructor-led class. In that way, you will be able to learn valuable techniques from certified teachers.

The journey to learning both meditation and mindfulness can be a bit challenging. However, as the experts advised, you have to focus on being mindful in order to have a stable stepping stone in improving your meditation experience.

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