While mindfulness and meditation have a few similarities between them they have both been in practice for a very long time, come from Buddhist philosophy, and are practiced for their benefits when it comes to stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression. They are both very popular because of their accessibility (with online resources, they are free!) and ease of use. The two overlap and interrelate in many areas, and in many instances, they enrich each other.
Still, there are distinct differences between the both of them no matter how similar they may seem. There may be some confusion as to the two, which could also be an obstacle for those new to both mindfulness meditation. And that’s an obstacle to feeling peace and healing.
So it’s important to distinguish mindfulness from meditation. We have to do that in order to determine whether mindfulness or meditation or even both, better suits our individual goals and needs.
Let’s go over some of the differences between mindfulness and meditation:
1. Meditation is a practice, mindfulness is an awareness
According to John Kabat-Zinn, who is the creator of the highly popular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR), mindfulness can be defined as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” On the other hand, a researcher on the topic of meditation defines meditation as such: “Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.”
2. Meditation doesn’t always have mindfulness and vice versa
Yes, you can practice meditation without having to include mindfulness. Mindfulness can absolutely enhance meditation while meditation can enrich mindfulness but you can practice one without the other. Sometimes, pure concentration paired with peace is enough to accomplish what you want to accomplish with meditation. On the other hand, mindfulness can be practiced at any time of the day.
3. You can practice mindfulness informally
Bouncing off of the previous item on our list, mindfulness is something you can do “informally” in contrast to meditation, which you have to prepare yourself and your surroundings for. This makes mindfulness perfect for those who do not want to or cannot practice it formally so they can still reap its wonderful benefits. Examples of informal mindfulness practices include mindful eating, well-wishing, and mindful walking. You simply have to do these things with intention.
4. Some forms of meditation are about mindfulness
Meditation comes in many forms and some of them are intended to enrich and nurture mindfulness but not all of them. Some kinds of meditation are meant to help you with relaxation or calming the self, sometimes which has to do with ‘shutting out the world in a way; which is something that goes directly against the tenets of mindfulness. These kinds of meditation don’t boost mindfulness and in the end, their goals are completely different.