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Gillian Sanger

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

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This week's question asks:

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? And, how do you practice each of these? 

Sometimes these two separate terms are used interchangeably; at other times, they are indeed one and the same. Sometimes meditation is mindfulness (and vice versa), though they can also stand alone.

  • How do you understand these two terms to be different?
  • Do you practice both mindfulness and meditation? Together or separately?
  • Which (if one more than the other) do you feel more drawn towards?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

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Mindfulness can help us be present in the moment. Meditation helps heal us from our past. Both help increase the size of our hippocampus and reduce the size and use of our amygdala.. mindfulness is about awareness of our senses and where we are feeling them in our body; meditation is about detachment from thoughts.

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Thanks for sharing your insights @SweetPea! There are so many overlaps between the two. Just to see what would happen, I flipped your first two statements around in my head: "Mindfulness helps heal us from our past. Meditation can help us be present in the moment." I think that can be true too 🙂 

I also feel there is a difference in that mindfulness is something we can practice in any moment, whereas meditation is more of a formal practice (though mindfulness can be formal too of course). Meditation seems to be more broad since there are so many techniques - mindfulness being one of them.

 

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Mindfulness to me is being aware of what is in front of you, and then around you.  Most present to whom you are talking to with great intense attention.  Each action and movement carefully thought of before done.  Instead of just automatic running around. 

Meditation is a stillness within.  Although you can meditate when moving. Be put in a trans, per say.  For me it is being totally still physically as well as mentally and consciously.  Being able to process all emotions and thoughts one at a time and letting them go, until none are left.  

Both have saved my autistic tendencies.  The racing mind, and the leaning to depression as in my DNA history.  

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I think that mindfulness is a state of mind to strive towards.  Mindful of our words, our deeds. Mindful of nature around us when we hike, mindful of an environment we find ourselves in (work, a bus station, a restaurant, etc). Mindfulness helps us remain present in our lives.  Meditation helps us to quiet our minds so the mind/body connection can be strengthened, so we can find the space in our hearts and minds to work towards freedom of pain and suffering.  

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To me, meditation is a practice that strengthens our ability to be mindful.  Similar to how a pianist uses the scales to first learn the basics and then later warm up before playing.  The level of concentration and ability to be present with myself and my environment while meditating helps me be more present "out there" when I am off of the cushion.  Mindfulness is that act of being present and aware.  It is how I "show up" with myself, others and life.

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