If you read any sort of self help, positive lifestyle, forward thinking, go-getter, mindset information you have likely heard the terms Meditation and Mindfulness. What’s the difference?
Let’s start out with the basic definitions found in society for meditation and mindfulness. Meditation is defined as: to engage in contemplation or reflection or to engage in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Mindfulness is defined as: the quality or state of being mindful (inclined to be aware) or the practice of maintaining a nonjudgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
Confused? Don’t worry this is not uncommon. Let’s start splitting the difference so you can understand each concept and how they can support each other. Then we will discuss why and how you would want to incorporate these concepts into your life.
Mindfulness is akin to living in the moment. We have a ton of mundane tasks that propel our lives forward each day. Often when we are doing one task our thoughts are on another. This is not mindfulness.
Example of Mindfulness … when you brush your teeth, observe where your mind is and what you are thinking about. Are you concentrating on brushing your teeth or are you running through the next steps of your day? Mindfulness is concentrating on brushing your teeth. Multi-tasking is running through the next steps of your day.
Is multi-tasking better? Contrary to what I learned in 20 years of corporate working; no, multi-tasking is not better than mindfulness. Constant multi-tasking leads to stress, burnout and mistakes. Also, stop trying to be a super person who feels they have to do it all, all alone. That is a foolish concept that our society puts on us to isolate us from community.
Is multi-tasking always negative? no, not at all. There are many times it does come in handy. Example: Cooking in my house is multi-layered. We have one vegetarian, one gluten-intolerant, one toddler, and meat eaters. Aside from cooking more than one item at a time we need to account for everyone’s needs on top of balanced nutrition. Meals that have meat need to be in a separate pan from the rest of the items being cooked. Something with gluten has to be separate from the other items to prevent an allergic reaction. If I did one item, one pan at a time I would never leave the kitchen. In this instance, multi-tasking does come in handy along with mindfulness.
How does mindfulness co-exist with the multi-tasking of this situation? I need to be mindful of what is happening with each pan to prevent cross-contamination of ingredients. This ensures dietary preferences and needs are respected. Also, there are differences in cooking times between items and when to add different ingredients to the different pans to improve the flavor and quality of the meal.
Hopefully that example assists in illustrating the difference in the concept of mindfulness vs multi-tasking and how they can sometimes co-exist. Now that we have had an overview in mindfulness let’s move onto meditation. That is setting aside an amount of time to contemplate or reflect. What are we contemplating? Why would I do this? Why do I care? That depends.
Meditation can be done for a variety of purposes and there are a variety of methods that can be used to achieve your purpose. Some of the reasons to do meditation:
Mental health such as anxiety and depression (always consult a health care or mental health care professional for guidance. I am not a health care provider),
Spiritual well being to align oneself with the Universe, God, Goddess, Great Spirit or whatever your personal view is,
This is far from a complete list of reasons to meditate, however this should give you some beginning ideas for why people are drawn to meditation. Do any resonate for you? Do you have another reason to meditate? I’d love to hear.
Often the term meditation will bring to mind a person sitting in some crazy cross legged pose in silence. That is just one way to do this; crazy pose optional. There are a variety of types of meditation:
Again this isn’t a complete list but starting categories. Do you have a favorite way to meditate? Have you heard of a technique that you are curious about? Please share.
In my experience I find that mindfulness and meditation both have a place in my life. Mindfulness helps me with frustration and anger. It helps me not feel so overwhelmed with the chaos and demands of life. Also, it helps me recognize when I am feeling angry, frustrated, defeated, overwhelmed, or other negative feelings.
Just by tuning into the fact I am feeling this way I can take steps to figure out why, remove blocks and get back in flow with the Universe. Bonus, as a mom of three young kids sometimes it just tells me my personal wells (more later on this) are empty and I need a break.
Meditation aids me when I feel overwhelmed, need to make a big decision or feel disconnected from my spiritual path. If I feel very rushed and overwhelmed I make time to do this. Something I have fallen away from lately and I notice the difference in myself since I haven’t made time for it. We all slip in our practices. The key is to dive back in when you realize you have slipped.
Children. Do they need this? In my opinion yes. Mindfulness is a great way to teach them how to focus on what they are doing or the chore you have been begging them to do. Meditation is something great for when they are overwhelmed and overexcited. Another day for tips and tricks for the kids.
We are just at the beginning of this journey together. I hope to hear from you and look forward to growing and learning from each other.