The terms “mindfulness” and “meditation” are both spoken of quite often these days. In fact, they are often used interchangeably to describe the practice of sitting quietly in an effort to calm the mind and body. While they differ slightly in definition, these terms complement each other.
Mindfulness is the state of being in present awareness. For instance, you may be enjoying a cup of steaming coffee with your attention solely on the smell, taste, and even the texture of that java. You may notice how it comes in contact with your lips and what it feels like as the warm liquid travels through your body. Nothing else seems relevant, and your mind is lacking in thoughts about the past or the future. This is a simple way of describing present awareness or mindfulness.
Meditation is a broad term that describes the intentional act of practicing being in a state of conscious awareness. There are several methods of meditation that can be used to achieve this state of consciousness. One that is quite popular today is referred to as mindfulness meditation. This implies that mindfulness is actually a form of meditation practice.
Being mindful can happen anywhere and at any time. You may be walking along a beach and be totally immersed in the experience as it is occurring in real-time. Meditation is often a specific time set aside to sit or walk quietly without distraction. This can be practiced alone or in a group setting. Group meditation is often guided by a trained meditation teacher or practitioner.
Mindfulness meditation involves sitting or walking quietly with just the atmosphere around you. You are only aware of your immediate surroundings, including sounds and your body. A guide often instructs participants to concentrate on the breath. This can be helpful in calming the mind and removing distractions, such as racing thoughts. Mindfulness meditation might also include repeating a mantra, such as “om,” that can be helpful in keeping you present.
Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation
It is believed that mindfulness and meditation can release stress, relax tension, lower blood pressure, help with digestion, and improve attention. These are very simple ways to bring more balance into your life. It is recommended that we take a few minutes every day to meditate mindfully in an effort to still and clear a busy mind and make room for positive thoughts and affirmations. It is important to note that there is no right or wrong way to practice, and there is nothing negative or shameful in just allowing thoughts to come and go randomly.