Mindfulness vs Meditation

Mindfulness vs Meditation

Understanding the Key Differences

Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that have gained popularity in recent years as effective tools to manage stress, anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Although they are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. While they share some similarities, there are also significant differences between the two practices. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between mindfulness and meditation, so you can decide which practice suits your needs best in the moment.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to focus on the present moment, usually through noticing your thoughts, feelings, and/or physical sensations with and attitude of openness, curiousity and non-judgmental awareness. Mindfulness is about being aware of what’s happening around you and within you, without getting caught up in it or reacting to it.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a more formal practice that involves training your mind to focus and concentrate, usually on a specific object, such as your breath, a sound, an image or a mantra (repeating a word or phrase). It’s about achieving a state of relaxation, inner peace and mental clarity by quieting the mind and letting go of distracting thoughts, emotions, sensations and moods.

Key Differences between Mindfulness and Meditation

Focus

One of the main differences between mindfulness and meditation is their focus. Mindfulness is about being present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, while meditation is about focusing your attention on a particular object or mantra.

Goals

Mindfulness and meditation also have different goals. Mindfulness is about developing a non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and feelings and can be practiced almost anywhere at anytime. Meditation on the other hand,  is about achieving greater self-awareness, the ability to access states of pure consciousness, and to facilitate a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity.

Techniques

Another key difference between mindfulness and meditation is the techniques used. Mindfulness is a more informal technique and can be practiced in most situations, simply by paying attention to your breath, feelings or sensory experience of your surroundings. Meditation, however is a more formal practice which typically requires a quiet and comfortable environment, and a specific technique, such as counting your breaths or repeating a mantra.

Benefits

Both mindfulness and meditation offer numerous benefits for physical and mental health. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while also improving sleep and overall well-being. Mindfulness is also great for helping you to regulate your emotions and manage chronic pain. Meditation can help reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and improve focus and concentration.

Conclusion

In summary, mindfulness and meditation are two distinct but overlapping practices, and each has unique benefits and techniques. Mindfulness is about being present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, while meditation is about focusing your attention on a particular object or mantra to achieve a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity. Whether you choose to practice mindfulness, meditation, or both, incorporating these practices into your daily routine can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or check out my Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners eBook – 44-beautifully presented pages introducing you to mindfulness meditation

Michelle xx

Befriend Your Stress

Befriend Your Stress

Most Stress Is Optional

It’s hard to admit this, and you may not believe it, but for most of my life I have allowed stress to get to me. I blame my Scottish ancestry! And my perfectionism didn’t help matters. In my work role, I was always pretty chill, but in other parts of my life, especially relationships, stress would sometimes take over, and I would get angry and upset and overwhelmed.

I hated getting stressed, but I honestly thought that it was just a part of life. A normal reaction to stressful events. I didn’t realise how much I could do to reduce my stress response. Things started to change when I started to really understand what stress is, how it impacts the body, understand my own stress triggers and learn ways to manage my reactions. I’m happy to report that over the last decade I’ve gotten a lot better at managing my stress. And now I truly believe, most stress is optional. 

In fact, I wrote a more detailed article about dealing with stress which you can read here: Befriending Stress. Some of the research I wrote about in that article was informed by a book called The Upside of Stress written by Kelly McGonigal. You can watch a short video of her speaking about Making Stress Your Friend hereI also found this 30-min video really fun & helpful: How To Deal With Stress & Anxiety – by Srikumar Rao.

My Year Without Stress

Inspired by my research into stress, I set myself a challenge at the beginning of 2020 – before Covid was even a thing – that I was going to try and have a “stress-free” year.  Of course, I knew that stressful events would still happen. And I knew that my body would initiate the stress response when stressful stuff happened. But basically I wanted to see if I could get really fast at recognising when the stress response was activated in my body and immediately make a mindset shift to embrace whatever was coming at me in that moment.

Basically, I wanted to see if mindfulness and emotional acceptance could transform stress, overwhelm and frustration. 

Well, the Universe sure served up a great year to run this experiment!! It was a hectic, challenging and change-filled year… and Covid was only a part of it. There was plenty of moments where I felt the stress-response kick-in. But armed with my new approach, I was, for the most part, able to re-centre myself and move through the stressful situation without feeling “stressed” or too bothered by it.

Mentally, the mindset shift was something like this: “…okay, here’s a stressful situation, I might not like this, but this is what’s happening right now, just breathe, accept things as they are, and use your brain to figure out a way to handle it…” Of course, I can easily call to mind a number of times where my old familiar stress reaction took a hold of me, and I became frustrated, upset or overwhelmed (like when I was prepping to move, packing, cleaning, and working full-time across 3 different locations).

But that’s okay, I wasn’t expecting perfection. I just wanted to see improvement. And overall, setting this intention to “not allow stress to take over”, made a huge difference to what could have been a massively stressful year.

I found myself able to handle situations that previously I would have allowed myself to get stressed in. I found myself approaching situations, looking out for triggers, anticipating the physical changes of the stress response, and being prepared to calmly handle whatever came my way. I had the attitude of “let’s work with our stress, rather than letting stress take over”.

This showed me that it is possible to manage our stress differently. Like anything else, it is a skill we can develop, with the right knowledge, training and lots of practice.

If stress is something that is affecting your quality of life, then check out the videos and articles I have recommended, and always know that you can come in for a chat with a specific focus on your stress triggers and better ways to manage them. Follow my lead and change your mindset about stress, and learn everything you can to learn to handle yourself better when stressful stuff happens.

Michelle xx