June 01, 2022 8 min read

Mindfulness and meditation are both courses that can offer many benefits to those who engage in them regularly. Though the two may seem similar, they do have some key differences. In mindfulness, practitioners focus on being aware of the present moment, while Meditation often involves focusing on a particular object or mantra.

Additionally, mindfulness is considered more of a secular practice, while Meditation has its roots in Buddhism. However, mindfulness and Meditation can help you live a more peaceful and productive life. Have you tried practising either mindfulness or Meditation?

Mindfulness and Meditation are often confused with being the same thing. As a result, people fail to recognize the difference between the two. At present times, when both mindfulness and Meditation have gained huge attention and significance worldwide, we need to be aware of these two terms. 

So what is the difference between mindfulness and Meditation? Are they similar practices? And why are people often confused between the two? Please read the article to clarify your mind and its confusion regarding mindfulness versus Meditation. 

What is Meditation?

Meditation is popularly known as the art of doing nothing without letting irrelevant thoughts enter your mind. It is the process of sitting still and noticing your breath, the activities occurring in and around your body, and trying not to get distracted by any thought or action too much. It is the practice that helps make a person more aware of the aura they are in. It can also be applied to being more attentive while eating, walking, or even falling asleep. 

Formally speaking, Meditation is the practice of being seated in a posture, focusing on multiple aspects and performing functions related to your body, such as expanding awareness, experiencing peace, opening your heart, calming your mind down, etc. Some examples of awareness include- 

  • Visualitsation Meditation
  • Breath-Awareness
  • Meditation Based on Mantra
  • Spiritual Meditation
  • Insight Meditation
  • Hollow Meditation
  • Guided Meditation
  • Focussed Meditation
  • Loving and Kindness Meditation etc.

The main motive of Meditation is to increase calmness inside your body, facilitate concentration, raise awareness and balance your emotions. A proper meditation process needs one to sit in a comfortable position and then bring attention to your breathing while taking your mind towards a single focal point. Then, you have to try to keep your mind focussed on that point while trying not to deviate from the focal point by driving away unnecessary thoughts. The length of a meditation session can go as long as the more profound your practice is. 

Simple Mantra Meditation

Performing Meditation with a simple mantra "So Hum" is the most prevalent practice today. The procedure is followed in the steps given below-

  1. Settle down and close your eyes. Start by cleansing your breaths. 
  2. Take in a deep breath, and chant silently "So" while doing so. 
  3. While taking it out, chant "So Hum" for as long as possible. 
  4. Make sure the humming and the vibration in the last longs as long as possible. 
  5. Continue the process, and focus on your breath and the chanting. Let no thought interrupt the process. 
  6. Try to meditate for a fixed period.
  7. After it, sit relaxed for some time, rub your hand over your eyes and face, and then slowly open your eyes. 

What is Mindfulness?

The act of paying awareness to the surroundings where you are present and your job is called mindfulness. It is the process of opening up your mind to your thoughts, behaviours, feelings, and everything inside your mind and heart. It is also about accepting your current situation and responding to the same. 

Mindfulness is not a practice to be done once in a while like Meditation. It is a practice that one needs to incorporate into their lives for their whole life. The mindfulness method makes your life more lovely and lively by making you learn how you can live in the moment. By the following mindfulness, you can learn how to be more attentive and engage in any conversation, event or activity with complete devotion. This practice is necessary for people who lack concentration and quickly drift out of an exchange or situation. 

Mindfulness can be practised any time, anywhere. You can also practice it at a particular place at an affixed time by following a posture and a time limit. On the other hand, having no attentiveness or mindfulness can greatly affect your career, relationships, and studies. Therefore, mindfulness is a must for every person to make their life worth living. 

5 Senses Practice

The five senses of a human body- sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste- are the elements that help us the most in being mindful. However, we often fail to acknowledge their presence until and unless they cause us some discomfort or trouble. Therefore, we should perform the 5 Sense Practice to ensure mindfulness and recognize our senses. 

You need to be conscious of your surroundings whenever you want to do this practice. This practice can be done anywhere. You have to notice how your senses are working to provide you with a specific taste, sound, smell, etc. For e.g., if you are in the kitchen, you can notice what you see, hear, taste and smell. Similarly, out in the park, you can feel the air, listen to it whistling and brushing against the trees, smell the plants and the flowers, and see the natural beauty with your eyes. This makes you more aware of your surroundings and, thus, is a powerful practice for mindfulness. 

Origination of the both

The practice of mindfulness has its sources in the Buddhist tradition and philosophy, around 2500 years back. It was founded and slowly spread to the Eastern Countries. Later, writers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron etc., brought the concept of mindfulness to the Western Countries. 

On the other hand, Meditation is a part of the Vedic and Yogic traditions. It goes back to 1100 BCE. In the early times, Hindu Yogis performed Meditation in India. Later, it also took its place in Buddhism and Taoism and spread to countries such as China. From the present date, Meditation has been brought to eh Western Countries by Gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, etc. 

In ancient times, Meditation was performed by individuals to attain nirvana (ultimate truth) and spiritual growth. They used to sit under giant trees and perform Meditation to connect to the god. Therefore, it was mostly spiritual. 

However, today Western Countries have recognized the health-related benefits of Meditation. It has been proved that Meditation helps cure problems such as stress, anxiety, chronic pains, etc. while having a comprehensive effect on your physical and mental health. In addition, people today use Meditation to gain high levels of self-control, patience and consciousness.  

Difference between mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness is quality, and Meditation is an activity- While mindfulness is a quality that develops within a person over time and should be retained for the whole life, Meditation is a practice that lasts a few minutes or hours. 

Mindfulness is the art of being attentive and paying attention to your surroundings, senses, and present life. Meditation is the practice in which an individual drives away disturbing or unnecessary thoughts from the mind while focussing on a single point, such as breathing. 

Meditation is known to provide benefits in dealing with health and mental issues, while mindfulness greatly affects the improvement of your life as a whole. 

Differences in the process

The process of mindfulness is where a person has to be completely aware of his mind, feelings, thoughts and procedures and the environment. It keeps on your mind's surface and requires some effort. In mindfulness, you need to be watchful of your thoughts and sort them so that the good ideas prevail and the poor ones are driven away. 

On the other hand, the process of Meditation is one of transcending the mind. The process of Meditation takes you to the depth of your being so that you can realize who you are. It is an effortless process that involves completely letting go of your thoughts to create a blank mind. In this process, a person loses the sense of time and gives their mind some space. 

The difference in the processes can be further elaborated with the following points-

  1. The Process- Being aware of the mind vs transcending the minds
  2. An active state of mind vs a no-mind state
  3. An effortful activity vs an activity that requires no effort at all
  4. Watching the thoughts vs letting go of the thoughts
  5. Being focussed on the present time vs fathoming the depth of the present time
  6. Being self-aware is being self-transcendence

Differences in the results

Meditation is known to relieve the symptoms of various physical and mental issues, including anxiety, depression, heart diseases and even high blood pressure; by following the practice of Meditation, your heart rate and respiratory rate drop. As a result, the body's oxygen consumption experiences a rise, and the carbon dioxide consequently decreases. This gives you results in the short term by relaxing your senses and reducing stress, and in a long time by making you patient and calm even in the worst situations. 

On the other hand, mindfulness provides you with multiple benefits such as self-control, higher tolerance, enhanced flexibility, improved concentration, and high levels of mental clarity. You can balance your emotions in a better way. You can endure qualities such as kindness, compassion and empathy. Mindfulness is the practice that helps you develop personality skills that improve you as a human being and your skills. 

Transcendental meditation vs mindfulness

The focus of mindfulness is to strengthen the mind and its skills, such as concentration and awareness. On the other hand, transcendental Meditation is an entirely effortless meditation that does not wish to develop your skills but provides you with a special quality of rest. 

Zen meditation vs mindfulness

There are various points of similarity between Zen meditation and mindfulness. However, while mindfulness is done by keeping in focus a particular object, Zen meditation is the process that revolves around general awareness. 

Relation between the two

Mindfulness and Meditation are two separate states of mind. However, it is observed that the state of mindfulness can be observed by practising Meditation regularly. If you meditate, you become more aware of your surroundings and inner self. This also improves your concentration and ability to stay aware of certain situations that require your focus. 

Therefore, we can say that mindfulness is one of the major benefits and results of Meditation. There is a type of Meditation, known as Clear mind meditation or mindfulness meditation, that focuses on achieving mindfulness by practicing Meditation. By practising formal Meditation, your focus and mindfulness are strengthened your whole life. 

How to learn mindfulness?

There are multiple ways of learning mindfulness: reading a book, being part of a mindfulness practice class run by a community et al. Another way to learn mindfulness is by participating in a clinical program. 

Given below is an exercise that can be conducted for you to practice mindfulness-

  1. Get settled in a comfortable place with peace and cleanliness enured. 
  2. Sit in an upright pose with your spine straight. 
  3. With your palms standing up, facing the ceiling, place your hands on your knees. 
  4. Now fully acknowledge your body and all its movements. Observe the presence of any strain, sensation or tension in any part of the body. 
  5. Observe your breathing cycle from sucking in air to releasing it out. 
  6. Concentrate on your breath for about 10 minutes, and try not to be distracted by any activity occurring near you or your thoughts. 

In this exercise, your breath is the anchor to which your focus is attached. Slowly and gradually, you will become highly conscious of your surroundings and the things happening inside your body. Then, you can practice mindfulness while eating, working, and doing any other task, whenever you feel comfortable. 

How to learn Meditation?

Today, learning meditation has become as easy as memorizing a song with the online videos and apps available on the market. However, if you want to learn professionally, you should go for trained professionals with years of experience in Meditation. A trained professional can make you an expert in the different types of meditation practices. Also, they can guide you on the health benefits of Meditation and how you can achieve them. 

Conclusion

Mindfulness and Meditation are both exercises that can offer a significant number of benefits to the practitioner. However, there are some critical differences between the two. In mindfulness, you focus on being in the present moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgement. 

This can help you become more conscious of your habits and patterns, leading to change. Meditation is also about being in the present moment, but it often involves focusing on a certain object or mantra to help you stay concentrated. Mindfulness and Meditation have offered stress relief, improved mental clarity, and increased happiness levels, among many other benefits. If you're unsure which practice is proper for you, try out a few different types until you find one.

Nikita Parihar
Nikita Parihar


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