The difference between mindfulness & meditation, the words ‘Mindfulness” and “Meditation” are often deemed as one and same.
Both practices offer wonderful health and wellbeing benefits (such as better sleep, focus and improved mood) but many people assume they offer the same experience. In summary; both words can be translated as “tools that can still the mind to find inner peace”.
You may have noticed flyers for “Meditation” classes advertised at your local wellness centre? And just around the corner, a new “Mindfulness” class? So, what’s the difference? How can something – designed to achieve the same goal, be labelled and marketed so differently?
Many argue that they’re not so different after all. In fact, many schools of thinking suggest that Mindfulness and Meditation have to work together and often, overlap in content. Of course, there will be traditions that disagree – arguing that each practice acts independently, has their own definition and more importantly, has a specific purpose.
The ancient history of Meditation and Mindfulness evolved from early eastern religion. The very first Meditation texts were found in the Vedas: Hinduism’s oldest texts, dating back to 1700-1000 BC. Just like the practice of yoga, which branched into many different styles, so did the art of Meditation.
Originally, the purpose of Meditation was to aid spiritual growth. It was a predominant part of ancient religion and dedicated worship. Today, Meditation does not have to be attached to religion to serve a purpose. When the practice was introduced to the West (mid 20th century), Meditation was used as a tool to calm the mind and improve wellbeing.
Shortly following those early years, came the development of different types of Meditation: Transcendental Meditation, Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM), Guided Visualization and Mindfulness. Today, there are over 50 types of Meditation classes on the market, suggesting that the term “Meditation” should really be used as an umbrella term.
Looking at the word “Mindfulness” now – it is the act of being “aware” of being aware.
Schools, corporations and social enterprises have discovered that Mindfulness is easier for the Western World to adopt and practice. Mindfulness fits into our busy 21st Century chaos, as it can be practiced in any environment, at any time of day. For example, focusing on the sensation of drinking warm tea, feeling the cold air on your face whilst walking to a meeting, listening to the breath. All of these things can be described as “practicing Mindfulness”.
If we were to look at Meditation. Traditionally, it would be a seated experience. Sitting in stillness. As you can imagine, that’s much harder for the Western culture to adopt.
Some argue that Mindfulness is a form of Meditation, whilst others say that Mindfulness is an independent practice.