The word ‘meditation’ is today's buzzword to describe any inward practice with your eyes closed. But just as enjoying chocolate affects your body differently than consuming oat porridge, so do ‘Meditation’ and ‘Mindfulness’.
Each of them impacts the brain and body in different ways. This blog is crafted to introduce the differences between the two ‘M’ worlds, what makes them different & why they can’t be interchangeably used.
Let’s dive into this intriguing subject and discover the more delicate nuances between the two.
Meditation offers various styles and durations of stillness. In a nutshell, it is designed for people with busy minds and lives who accumulate daily stress.
The practice of meditation offers the body deep rest so it can heal itself from stress & strain. Imagine your brain as a computer & your body is the hardware.
Meditation de-excites the nervous system in a way that gives the body rest, which is even more profound than sleep. This rest helps the body (hardware) heal itself from the inside out to function at its best.
On the other hand, mindfulness was initially inspired by monks & their monastic way of living. It is the subtle art of deliberate focus to increase one’s consciousness. It fosters the ability to appreciate and soak in the present moment instead of finding fulfilment through external influences, objects or activities.
The practice of mindfulness creates new software for your brain (computer). The art of mindfulness helps reprogram old fight-or-flight stress reactions and encourages you to move into a more respond, not react, mindset.
Mindfulness is more like a reorganisation of the process in the brain (software) by which we understand incoming data differently.
Through this, we actively train our brains to change how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.
The How of the Meditation - Do Less, Achieve more
When we meditate, we find a comfortable spot, sit quietly, and allow a mantra or the rise & fall of every breath or affirmations to do the work for us.
The mind and body are in a completely relaxed state. No effort is made to control our attention or judge our thoughts.
We simply allow ideas to come & go without any judgment while being silent witnesses.
The goal remains to do as little as possible to encourage the body to heal.
Meditation is an intentional practice. When we meditate, we sit quietly and let the assigned focus point anchor us.
This focal point could be anything along the lines of a specific meditation led by a - mantra, breath works, affirmation, guided or visualisation.
During daily meditation, we move beyond the realm of thinking into the realm of being; or beyond the left brain and into the right brain.
While the duration could be anywhere between a short & sweet 1-minute mediation to a blissful 60-minute practice of passively turning inwards.
The How of the Mindfulness - Being present in the Now
On the other hand, the art of ‘Mindfulness’ is active. A conscious effort is made to concentrate on the immediate environment or your thoughts, behaviour patterns & feelings.
This practice creates a deliberate & conscious effort to shift our attention to the present moment to increase physical and mental awareness in the ‘NOW’.
On the contrary, we subconsciously allow our monkey minds free reign to wander into the past or future.
Mindfulness is more of a waking state, given that we are more fully conscious when it is happening.
Our bodies are relaxed, but our minds are alert and attentive— a condition often referred to as “Relaxed Readiness.”
You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere & in any situation by fully engaging all your five senses - touch, smell, sight, taste & hearing and tuning into your surroundings.
Mindfulness can be experienced even in the most mundane daily chores.
This brings a new perspective to everyday activities & allows you to embrace a more enriching way of living in the moment.
So what’s the bottom line? Meditation and Mindfulness are not the same, but they are both great for you.
Whether you practice one or both, each is a powerful tool to appreciate & live the gift of life to its fullest.