The terms mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably. Sure, they both help with feelings of depression and anxiety, but there are some differences between them.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in what you’re thinking and doing in the moment. The mind is attentive to the activity you’re undertaking - almost anything you do can be an opportunity for mindfulness. You can incorporate mindfulness into some of the most common everyday activities, including:
Most drivers can remember the time that they arrived at their destination and not remember the journey. It’s a concern that we’re behind the wheel and not fully attentive. Being mindful while driving will not only make you a better driver, but is also a great opportunity for being mindful. Feel the weight of the car as you turn the wheel, listen for the sound of the wheels against a rough road and all the sounds of the vehicle.
Completing your gardening chores while being mindful provides multiple benefits. You don’t need to take a walk through a forest to benefit from nature. As you garden, feel the leaves of the plants and the texture of the soil, feel the sun on your skin and the sound of the birds.
Turn off the TV and eat your meal mindfully. Concentrate on all the different flavours and the texture of your food. Eating slowly and enjoying each mouthful can help you to become more mindful when it comes to eating.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Being mindful helps reduce stress, enhance performance, be more attentive to your surroundings and anyone around you, and increase our attention to the wellbeing of those around you.
Other mindfulness benefits include:
Decreased emotional reactivity
Enhanced self insight
Better management of health conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, addiction relapse and recovery, and eating disorders.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is focusing all your attention on one thing and tuning out to everything else. Meditation is different from one person to the next. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate, but you may see differences in your meditation the longer you practice. Some of the elements of meditation include focusing on elements such as:
Relaxed breathing is an important element of meditation. By using the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs, you can achieve deep and even breaths while taking in more oxygen.
Free your mind from the distractions around you by focusing on an object, image, a phrase, or your breathing.
Meditation can be done in almost any location, whether you’re sitting, standing or lying down. Try to find a comfortable position with good posture so you can achieve the best result from your meditation.
Paying Attention to Your Body
Another form of meditation is to focus your full attention on different parts of the body and concentrating on how they feel.
Many people think of meditation as an activity you do with your eyes closed, but for some people, meditation comes in the form of reading a poem or passage and reflecting on its meaning. For others, it’s listening to soothing music or words.
The most active form of meditation is to walk. A slow walking pace allows you to focus on your body’s movements and the environment around you.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can provide a host of benefits, both emotional and physical. Meditation provides a sense of calm and balance that can help a person relax and better cope with the stresses of everyday life. It also helps with staying centered and finding inner peace by clearing the information overload we can feel.
Some other benefits of meditation include:
Allowing you to release negative emotions
Improving your imagination and creativity
Lowering resting blood pressure and heart rate
Improving quality of sleep
Reducing symptoms of some health conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and high blood pressure.
Mindfulness, Meditation, Exercise
There are physical and mental health benefits associated with all three activities - mindfulness, meditation and exercise - so why not combine them all at once? Your warm-up before exercise is an ideal time to concentrate on different parts of your body as you stretch your muscles with a clear mind, completely in the present moment.
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