Meditation is more a formal practice with the intention of finding stillness and calm while mindfulness is the act of becoming aware in the moment.
There are many forms of meditation practice including Transcendental meditation, Japa (or mantra) meditation, Vipassana meditation, Metta meditation and the list goes on. While all of these meditations within themselves have differences each ultimately have the intention of leading us to a place of centred calmness. Meditation is the formal practice that supports our mental health, reduces stress and promotes self-awareness in the moment that we sit in that practice.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation, there is absolutely no doubt. The biggest difference that I have found between other meditation practices and a mindfulness practice is that mindfulness invites us to take what we learn in the practice off the meditation stool (or cushion) and apply it into our daily life in the shortest possible way.
Mindfulness doesn’t just promote self-awareness in the moment we sit down to practice, it encourages self-awareness in every moment we live. Mindfulness can be a formal practice, where we sit in awareness or it can be an informal practice where we find awareness as we complete daily tasks.
Mindfulness teaches us to observe something without expectation or judgement of that object. It allows us to look at life from a more open, wider perspective. While some forms of meditation have a similar intention, many forms of meditation teach a practice that involves emptying the mind of all thoughts. Mindfulness is not about stopping our thoughts or emptying our mind. Mindfulness practices will undoubtedly slow thoughts and even seemingly time down but those thoughts are still present. What happens in mindfulness meditation is we learn to observe the thoughts without attachment..
Both mindfulness and other forms of meditation have helped me become a calmer, happier person. I have been able to find balance in times of chaos and have found I have developed a more open perspective. Through practice I have been able to reset the way I see a situation and I no longer take just a one-sided view. When I am centred through my practice, I am able to see many different perspectives of the one situation. Of course, when I am not ‘on practice’ I tend to have a narrower perspective however I am able to remind myself quickly that I am just seeing this view because I am off centre – I am not seeing it from all angles because I am fixed. Mindfulness and meditation both allow me to move from where I sit in times of high stress and take a bigger field of vision.
Both mindfulness and meditation can be used conjointly in a practice to enhance the experience. Mindfulness will support a meditation practice while a meditation practice will expand a mindfulness experience. So even though there are differences between mindfulness and meditation they both have valuable application to leading a more balanced life. We all need a bit more calm in this busy world we live and we can all learn to expand our self-awareness to look at life with an open mind.
Quick look at mindfulness and meditation
- Formal practice
- Aiming for nothing
- Many practices of meditation
- Meditation supports a mindfulness practice
- Intention to find stillness, calmness, peace
- Awareness of something
- Both a formal and informal practice
- Mindfulness can support a meditation practice
- Intention to become aware of the moment
- We can use mindfulness in our daily life – as we move through our daily tasks we can be mindful