Meditation vs. Mindfulness: A Beginner’s Guide
Meditation and mindfulness are often used in a similar context, however, these words are not interchangeable. Both practices involve life skills that help you calm your mind and access your inner world by focusing entirely on the present moment. Both mindfulness and meditation offer tools to relax, overcome negative thinking patterns, and increase happiness.
The Difference Between Meditation & Mindfulness
Meditation typically refers to an intentional practice where you focus on your inner world to achieve calmness, balance, and concentration. There are many types of meditation, such as guided meditation, spiritual meditation, progressive relaxation, Zen meditation, transcendental meditation, movement meditation, mindfulness meditation, and others.
Meditation is commonly practiced in a seated position while mindfulness can be practiced both during seated meditation and informally, at any time and place.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with no intention to reflect or judge them. Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to your existing surroundings and being present in whatever you are doing.
Meditation is typically practiced for a specific amount of time, it can be exercised anytime throughout the day. In mindfulness meditation, you pay attention to the natural rhythm of breathing while sitting or walking.
Research shows that we spend about 47 percent of our waking hours mind-wandering (thinking about something other than doing). Mind-wandering doesn’t necessarily have to be wrong, as it can improve your mood and boost creativity. One of the best tools to increase useful mind-wandering is mindfulness meditation. Informal mindfulness helps you open your mind to allow positive thoughts and sensations to appear in your conscious mind without judgment.
Mindfulness and meditation often go hand in hand. For example, progressive relaxation consists of paying attention to areas of tension in your body.
Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness
Research has found that both meditation and mindfulness can:
- Help overcome negative thoughts
- Reduce anxiety
- Alleviate symptoms of depression
- Bost resilience and help cope with stress
- Reduce fixation on negative emotions
- Improve focus and concentration
- Boost mood
In short, different types of meditation can improve your mental and physical health. Research has also demonstrated that meditation can lower blood pressure, improve breathing, and reduce heart problems. Moreover, meditation can boost your immune system, lessen apprehension and fear, and enhance your executive cognitive function.
Studies proved that controlling your breath through meditation can reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your blood.
Also, mindfulness can reduce the activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain’s limbic system that plays an essential role in processing emotions. The amygdala is also a starting point for our anxiety and stress responses. By reducing the amygdala’s activity, it also reduces the level of stress and anxiety.
The practice of meditation offers a chance to calm your mind and body, feed your subconscious mind with positive thoughts, and improve self-acceptance. Both meditation and mindfulness improve your mental and physical health and enrich your life; it is the matter of preference which one you are going to practice.
In short, mindfulness allows us to get present and mediation allows space for the body to res and restore.