Last week I posted a couple of articles about meditation - clearly these were also about mindfulness, so let’s stop for a moment and consider the similarities and differences!
Both mindfulness and meditation come from ancient Buddhism, but really the idea is that meditation encompasses mindfulness. Generally both mindfulness and meditation help us by calming the mind, so in some sense these terms overlap - yet they are also different and refer to unique purposes and definitions
Both meditation and mindfulness have spiritual roots. Mindfulness is thought to originate through chants or mantras; whereas early records of meditation can be found in the oldest texts of Hinduism, called the Vedas.
Meditation is the art of creating a deepened state of consciousness that is quite different from the usual waking state. Since there are many ways to practice meditation, it is a very open-ended concept.
The difference between meditation and mindfulness, simply put, is that mindfulness is a method or a way of practicing meditation.
Even though meditation originally focused on spiritual growth, over time it became more aligned to match the goals of society and was used to reduce stress, so the number of ways to practice meditation expanded to include: silence, breathing, tantra, yoga, visualization, and of course, mindfulness.
Meditation is an umbrella term to encourage the idea of reaching a blissful or happy state of concentration. There are a number of ways someone can strive to reach this heightened level of consciousness such as love, compassion and practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness itself is the act of focusing on being in the present. The idea is that by completely focusing on a current situation – such as the breath meditation I posted last week-we are not able to have other thoughts enter our minds, thus removing strong emotions. It can be quite easy to fit this kind of meditation into daily practice. It can be done while preparing and drinking a cup of tea. Eating can be another way to practice mindfulness – do your best not to allow distractions to enter your mind and focus fully on the food before you. Consider everything from the colour to the scent, and of course the various flavours that are present. Think about each time you chew and don’t take in more until you have properly swallowed.
Another simple idea is to multi-task less (yes, I know, crazy right?)! Bring your full and complete attention to what you are doing right at this moment; or perhaps try actively listening during your next conversation with someone. Ask questions during your conversation to help you gain a clearer understanding of their thoughts and feelings. This also means waiting until they have stopped speaking to formulate a response…. I know it sounds easy, but in our hurried world, we seldom take the time to hear what others are saying before we are mentally preparing our response.
As you know from my previous post, there are many health benefits to adding mindfulness or meditation to your day. There is now also important research showing the effect that positive thinking and mindfulness can be of benefit to breast cancer patients, impacting their DNA.
It seems we are only just beginning to discover the effects that meditation and mindfulness can have in our lives and that the reach of our actions may be much more extensive then we currently know!