Mindfulness and meditation are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are really two different but similar things. Mindfulness is a way of being present and engaged in the present, or living life in real-time and being aware of what is in your world at the moment.
Meditation is a practice. It involves doing a specific activity, such as deep breathing or focusing on a candle, and then allowing the mind to clear through concentration and returning the wandering mind back to focus. In this way, meditation becomes an element of mindfulness, or getting out of your thoughts and focusing on experiences.
Research has shown that mindfulness offers a range of different benefits. Since this is a way of being rather than a specific practice, many people find the idea of mindfulness easier to incorporate into their daily lives.
Mindfulness and Mental Health
Practicing mindfulness can be an effective option for people who are struggling with anxiety or depression. It creates a space to allow thoughts to simply flow through your mind as you enjoy the experience of being in the moment. This could include taking a minute to appreciate the sensation of the sun on your skin or the warm water as you have a shower. It is truly a grounding exercise that allows people to let go of negativity for periods of time throughout the day.
The same is true if people are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This is often due to being stuck in a mental loop about needing to get things done and imagining all the things that could go wrong. Taking the time to just sit and experience the moment lets all that go, allowing you to clear the mental clutter.
Mindfulness and Physical Health
Mindfulness as a part of daily life can help to reduce blood pressure and create both physical and mental relaxation. At the same time, studies show that mindfulness before bedtime allows people to let go of the worries and thoughts of the day, creating the ideal conditions for the brain to move more easily into the sleep cycle.
Mindfulness about what we are doing and thinking helps us to make healthier choices, with in turn provides positive reinforcement. We begin to stop and think about behaviors rather than just acting, which reduces impulsive choices in all aspects of our life.
Mindfulness is the opposite of MindFULLness. Taking the time to breathe deeply and scan your body to see what you are feeling physically is a simple exercise in mindfulness anyone can practice throughout the day. Doing this when you begin to feel stressed or anxious is a healthy mindfulness habit that is a great place to start.