The terms Mindfulness and Meditation are often used interchangeably, which makes it confusing and hard to understand the differences.
While they're interrelated, they are not the same thing.
Check out this article about the meaning and origin of the art of Mindfulness if your mind is still a little bit hazy about its power.
We'd also like to give credit to all the authors within our Review and Top List Sections.
Everything in this article is based upon their teachings and insights.
Credit where credit is due!
The difference between Mindfulness and Meditation
Now that we have that out of the way, let's start by taking a closer look at the definition of both Mindfulness and Meditation to gain a better understanding of both of these words.
According to John Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness is
“the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”.
If we compare this to the definition of Meditation by Cahn & Polich (2006)
"Meditation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific attentional set.... regulation of attention is the central commonality across the many divergent methods"
we can start making conclusions about their nature.
Mindfulness is a state of Mind
Mindfulness is the awareness of something.
A state of mind which can be activated through Meditation and retained over longer periods of time while doing something else by simply being aware of what you're doing without judging it.
Have a quick read on this article if you'd like to learn more about the Benefits you're expected to experience when being Mindful.
Meditation makes Mindfulness happen
Meditation on the other hand is an ongoing activity of practicing specific exercises in which you intentionally focus on increasing calmness to gain control over your emotions and body to put you into different states of mind.
Can't imagine how this looks like in reality?
Try following the steps in our Practical Awareness Meditation Guide to see its effects in action.
The connection between Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is just the tool that helps you to get into the calm stat of mind.
You can think of it as the keyboard when writing a blog post.
The keyboard merely makes reaching the goal of published article possible.
But it never was nor will be the blog post itself.
The article is just a product of using the keyboard.
It'll live forth after publishing no matter what happens to the keyboard.
Becoming Mindful can be accomplished by practicing meditational erxecises.
Mindfulness - the product of using Meditation - outlasts the moment you stop actively meditating to accompany and guide you when dealing with emotions throughout your day, week, month - life, really.
How often should you meditate to stay Mindful?
Since every human has it's own routines, opinions, anxieties and life-styles, the answer to this question is different for everyone.
We can however make a broad statement about how the basic workflow should look like.
Many people in today's society rush through their daily chores with their mind constantly wandering away from the actual engagement - the activity they're participating in.
The introduction of the personal computer and the start of the golden era of the internet have accelerated the progress and competition in just about any field there is.
The flip side of this boom lies within a ton of stress inducing events throughout the day.
You have to react to more and more stuff faster and faster to not get left behind.
Practice Mindfulness when you're not thinking of it
Mindful Meditation usually consists of practical, short and easy exercises that can be incorporated into whatever you're doing.
Anytime you're doing something and catch your mind racing, drifting of to anything but what you're doing right now, it's a good time to realize that you're not fully present in the moment and start practicing Mindfulness.
The same holds true for any (intense) negative emotion that arises during your activity.
When you're vacuuming, you ought to be thinking about vacuuming.
Practicing Mindfulness to be fully present
According to Thich Nhat Hanh there are 2 ways of doing anything:
Vacuuming to have a clear floor again
Vacuuming to vacuum
If you're only thinking of the bedroom that waits to be cleaned while you're doing the living room, you miss all the beauty of the current moment.
You're not cleaning the room to clean it but to get its task out of the way.
This can let you grow impatient and angry about the lost time you had to spent on this task.
Then cleaning just to clean the room, you can enjoy the activity and make it your own time.
One minute of actively redirecting your focus can already be enough to be fully present again so you can start paying attention to your feelings and thoughts, accepting them and moving on.
And that's about it!
Have a try at one of our 1 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Exercises to experience the effects described in the above example whenever you're feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts and feelings.
Manifesting Mindfulness in your life
The more you manage to calm yourself this way and reflect on what is actually happening instead of automatically acting out of impulses, the better your stress management and emotion regulation will get.
With more different emotions worked through with Mindful Awareness, comes more experience in dealing with them in the future.
If you're still not quite sure about all the benefits of the application of Mindful Meditation, feel free to check out this article about all the merits of Mindfulness.
What if I'm too stressed to meditate?
You can't really be too stressed to meditate, though.
That's just your brain tricking the body by overloading it with stress hormones, taking away your motivation and ability to concentrate.
The best way to start in this scenario is to accept this!
Just choose one of the super quick and easy exercises from our 1-Minute Mindful Meditation Exercise Series and have a go at it.
Be realistic about Meditation
Knowing more about what Meditation actually does to you and what you'll likely experience will help to reduce starting anxiety.
Being honest with yourself and setting up realistic expectations prevents further frustration.
Remember that Meditation is no magic spell that can instantly remove any kind of stress and flips on the switch for good mood.
You just want to accomplish awareness.
This means awareness about reality and what is happening.
Not dreaming of what you want to be happening right now!
If you get distracted, just accept it and focus on your breath as part of your meditation.
Soon you will realize that getting distracted or angry isn't something that defines you.
It's just something that happens and can be dealt with.
They are the experts!