It is common these days to hear or read something about mindfulness and meditation. However, few people recognize these exercises for what they are and have no clue what the difference is between them.
In this article, we will discover mindfulness and meditation and how they can work in consort to aid you on your healing journey.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, like meditation, is a practice that aims to help people feel well. This is super-important when you are healing from complex post-traumatic stress disorder as often people affected by it need the calmness and sense of well-being mindfulness can offer.
The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be practiced informally and at leisure. Mindfulness can be practiced regardless of what you do, such as eating lunch or conversing.
Mindfulness is practiced by many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and even in non-religious practices such as yoga (also a form of meditation). Even prayer is a form of mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t take long and will not interfere with your everyday life. Five minutes is generally all you need to feel in control and calm. Below are just a few mindfulness techniques.
- Mindfully breathing by paying close attention to your inhalations and expirations.
- Paying attention to the taste of your food or mindful eating
- Doing a body scan by lying on your bed or the floor and focusing on how your body feels
- Making a gratitude list for what you have
- Practicing mindful appreciation by being fully present in what you are doing at that moment.
There are many, many things a person can do to practice mindfulness.
What is Meditation?
Meditation involves focusing or clearing one’s mind using a combination of physical and mental techniques. Usually, meditation is done alone while sitting down, with your eyes closed. Sometimes a mantra is recited to help reach a deeper level of relaxation.
Meditation is known for helping several health issues, such as anxiety, chronic pain, depression, and high blood pressure. Other reasons to meditate are for religious or spiritual purposes to evoke relaxation and closeness with a higher power.
Because meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and tranquility, it can relieve the jumbled thoughts, crowding the minds of those practicing it.
The meditative process can improve physical, medical, and emotional problems such as those listed below.
- Improve brain waves and breathing.
- Strengthen the brain areas responsible for memory, self-awareness, and attention.
- Calm down and regulate the sympathetic nervous system.
- Increase thinking and memory.
- Improve focus.
- Considerably lower stress levels.
There are more benefits, but for the sake of space, we shall not mention them here.
Meditation and Mindfulness are NOT the Same Things
Many people believe that meditation and mindfulness are the same thing, but as you may have surmised by now, they are not. Meditation involves focusing your mind using mental and physical techniques, while mindfulness is an awareness without judgment of one’s thoughts, surroundings, and sensations.
You can meditate without being mindful, but mindfulness often has some of the characteristics of or works together with meditation. By using meditation, one can indeed become more mindful.
Two other differences are the amount of time meditation vs. mindfulness takes and where they are practiced. While mindfulness can happen at any place at any time, meditation usually takes place for a specific amount of time in private or in a small group.
Using mindfulness and meditation, you will reap many benefits, including the following:
- Improved sleep
- Decreased depression
- Improved memory
- Reduced stress
- Cope better with pain
- Increased thinking power
- Increased attention span
- Decreased rumination
As we shall see, both mindfulness and meditation are simple, but the benefits are enormous.
So far, we have been discovering what mindfulness is; now, we will discuss some mindfulness exercises. We’ll look at meditation next.
The beauty of mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime. You can be at work, school, riding in your car, or any place where you can be alone and quiet.
Below are only a few of the mindfulness exercises you can try.
Deep breathing. This exercise is excellent for a quick cool down when you feel overwhelmed. Inhale slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through pursed lips out of your mouth. The effect on your psyche and body is almost instantaneous as you feel relaxation and control return.
Walking in mindfulness. You can take a walk outside or anywhere else in your home where you feel safe. Pay attention to your breathing and feet as they come into contact with the ground. Pay attention also to the beauty around you. Even in the wintertime, there are beautiful things to see, such as red holly growing on bushes and the crispness of the air.
Mindfulness Appreciation. When you feel overwhelmed and just can’t function anymore, concentrate on the here and now and stop projecting into the future or dwelling in the past. Be grateful for what you have, not down because of what you don’t have.
Meditation, as has been said, is not the same as mindfulness. Remember, it is usually practiced in a small group or alone. A few meditation exercises you may wish to try are listed below.
Yoga. Yoga is a meditation exercise that is a traditional practice in India where the aim is to unite the body, mind, and spirit. The practice involves physical poses, deep breathing, and concentration to improve the health of those who do its exercises.
Progressive muscle relaxation. With some discretion, this exercise can be done anywhere you need it. It is done by clenching isolated muscle groups and then releasing them. This meditation can also be completed in a group.
Body Scanning Meditation. Lie back with your arms and legs extended to your sides, then place your palms facing up. Upon closing your eyes, begin focusing your attention on each part of your body. If you find tension in some portion of your body, concentrate on releasing that muscle tension through meditation.
Ending Our Time Together
This author has written about this subject before, and the responses I received showed that I had missed the mark. This time I hope I have done a better job.
Mindfulness and meditation, believe it or not, are not easy concepts to understand fully. I understand the basics, but I find the deeper nuances of these practices challenging to conceive.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder or complex trauma causes enormous suffering and self-doubt. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help ease these problems by getting us back into contact with our bodies, minds, and souls.
Meditation, exceptionally, has been executed for as long as man has tried to defeat the negativity that society presses upon us. If you read the newspaper or your news online, you will have noticed that society is having problems coping with the growing adverse impacts that threaten our sanity.
With all the violence in the world right now, perhaps all of us need to chill out and meditate or perform mindfulness exercises to bring our emotions under control. These practices could literally change our world’s destiny.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.