The concept of mindfulness is not at all complicated but on the contrary is quite simple. Mindfulness is nothing but just EXISTING. Existing in the now, existing in your current surroundings and being aware of it.
Now the question arises, isn’t that what we all are doing already? We are alive which means we do exist. But are we? Are we even existing? Or we are so lost in the rat race of our lives that we are letting our lives fly past us. Whether we are driving our car, cooking food or taking a bath, there is always some thought cooking at the back burner of our brain. Our mind has a tendency of checking out from the present and soon we find ourselves fretting over issues that are not even real or hasn’t even happened yet. Always stressing or thinking about future or past has made us lose our touch with our present surroundings and even our own body. And that is not even existing let alone living.
Simply existing and fully concentrating on what you are doing at present is mindfulness. It is as simple as that. Being aware of your surroundings, your body and the actions you are currently doing is mindfulness. For instance, while taking a lazy stroll in the park, being aware of the noises around you, smell of trees, strain in your muscles and change in your breathing pattern is mindfulness.
Meditation is concentrating on nothing or only one thing at a time like your breathing pattern, repetitive music or chanting a mantra and slowly allowing your mind to drift towards nothingness. Meditation is a technique that needs to be practiced with diligence. However, focusing your wandering mind on a single thing can be a challenging task.
Paying attention to your body and simply letting go of your drifting thoughts are the basics of practicing meditation. It encourages practitioner to let go of the obsessive thoughts conjuring in one’s mind.
Difference Between Meditation and Mindfulness
- At your beck and call: Practicing mindfulness couldn’t be easier. Unlike meditation, which requires you to pull out your yoga mat and find a comfortable position to sit in while maintaining a straight posture, mindfulness can be practiced at any time or place to your comfort. It can be done while doing your day to day mundane activities which might seem trivial to you. For instance, while having your daily morning cup of tea. Just being aware of the sweet smell of tea, enjoying the taste of every single sip, feeling the warmth of cup in your hands and feeling the texture of liquid on your tongue as it goes down warming your body is mindfulness. Simplest of the tasks can be turned mindful by just being aware of it.
- Some-thing or No-thing: Mindfulness and meditation, however interlinked, are actually opposite to each other. Mindfulness means concentrating on something. Something being your action, body or surrounding whereas meditation means concentrating on nothing particular. During mindfulness, the practitioner needs to use all his senses to be aware of all the stimulus around him. However, meditation is a much more complicated approach. During meditation, the practitioner starts concentrating on single stimuli while shutting off other senses and slowly drifts towards concentrating on nothing. At this stage, there are no thoughts passing through one’s mind and it is having a much needed break from all the overwhelming thoughts we have running around all day!!!
- Practice / Skill: Mindfulness is a simple act and doesn’t require a guided approach to practice. Meditation, on the other hand, is a skill refined from years of dedicated practice and generally requires professional guidance. However, they are both interlinked. Mindful meditation is the most common type of meditation for the beginners whereas practicing meditation helps us being more mindful of our day to day activities by improving concentration. Mindfulness makes us aware of our own thoughts and feelings while meditation allows us to simply let go of all our thoughts without judgement.