Meditation and mindfulness; we’re hearing about it everywhere, aren’t we? It’s safe to say these are two hot topics of the moment in the Western world. But why now? It’s not like these practices are a new concept; for many countries, cultures, and religions, they’ve been around for centuries and are a part of daily life. However, with stress on the rise and the importance of looking after our mental well-being at the forefront of many of our minds, the Western world seems to be at last realising that this go-to approach to life isn’t sustainable. And that’s where meditation and mindfulness can come into play.
Both meditation and mindfulness are practises that allow us to manage the complex stressors of a fast-paced world by bringing us back into the present moment. They are both simple to use, at no cost and are accessible to anyone, anywhere.
However, although these practices have the same end goal and can be used together (see below for a simple meditation for mindfulness script), there are some subtle differences to be aware of.
The differences between meditation and mindfulness
First, let us talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness, in essence, means to be fully aware of the present moment. Headspace (a great meditation app for those new to the practice), describes mindfulness as,
‘the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.’
It is a practice that can be used in the moment, wherever you are just by finding techniques and methods to help you let go of your thoughts and focus your attention and awareness on everything present, such as becoming aware of your breath or your senses, the feel of the objects you are touching or sitting on, the earth beneath your feet.
Moreover, Mindfulness is a way of living, it is setting an intention that you are going to attune your senses, your emotions and your thoughts to the now. Difficult things will continue to happen, yes. But instead of getting caught in the thoughts of what these things represent or mean, your attention remains focused on the here and now.
The fundamental difference with meditation is it has a much broader intention than just bringing more awareness to the present moment. Meditation can be used to cultivate more compassion, more loving awareness, more patience, as well as more mindfulness.
And of course, meditation is also a more formal practice, which you set time aside to do.
Combining Meditation and Mindfulness
The great thing about combining the two as we have done in this meditation script below, is you get a double whammy of positive benefits. Some research shows a regular practice of mindfulness meditation, can positively alter our DNA!
By practising mindfulness within a regular practice of meditation, you are retraining the brain to work in a more mindful way, which in turn means in day-to-day life you will find it easier to be more aware of each moment.
A Meditation for Mindfulness Script and Guide
This mindfulness meditation utilises the method of using your body as a tool to anchor to this moment.
- Start by sitting comfortably. Roll the shoulders back and down, away from the ears. Take a full deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Clearing the air pathway
- Allow the breath to be natural and easy. No effort is required, just allow it to come in and out freely
- Slowly draw your attention to the points of your body touching the earth
- Be aware of the sensation on your skin at these points of contact
- Remember thoughts will come and go, feelings will come and go. No need to attach to them, just notice and when this happens just gently remind yourself to come back into this moment, your breath, your body
- The body is our anchor, the vessel which carries us throughout our day. It is one layer of our whole being. The other layers, our minds, our emotions, our soul, and our energy, can be all scattered in different directions and functioning at different levels. Sometimes it’s good to reground and bring all these layers back into unison. We bring them all back into our body and our body then anchors our whole being to this moment. We re-ground.
- We will do this by using a simple method of body scanning
- Starting with your full attention on your feet and toes, notice how they feel, warm/ cold, light heavy. Then with full awareness and attention begin moving through the rest of the body. Take it slowly. Full awareness of each part of the body.
- You will eventually reach the crown of the head but take your time (allow at least a couple of minutes to move your awareness through your body)
- Remember to keep breathing naturally, and easily. Just allowing it all to flow in and out
- Now that you have reached the crown of your head, pause here for a moment. Taking a full deep breath in. As you exhale allow the awareness to flood through your whole body
- Be aware of your whole body in this space, in this room, on this floor
- There is no judgement at this moment, just a simple awareness of your being, living in this moment, now.
- Take another deep breath fill your body with the energy of this moment and then deep exhaling breath out through the mouth. As you do you may slowly open your eyes.