SFH #59: Meditation vs Mindfulness

What’s the difference and how to apply to our health 🧘‍♀️

Mindfulness is practicing awareness of what’s going on in and around you, in the present moment. It can be executed at any time, wherever we are, whoever we are with, and whatever we are doing. All we have to do is show up and focus on the here and now.

Meditation is practicing concentration around a timed-based activity. When you intentionally set aside time to direct your attention on a particular object, thought, or activity.

We can be mindful without meditating in numerous ways.1

Meditation comes baked in with mindfulness, though you could sit through an entire meditation session and never bring your awareness to the present.

At this point, we’ve all heard the praises of meditation and mindfulness. There is little doubt they provide a pathway to a healthier existence. Here’s a meta-analysis breaking down the findings in 47 meditation trials.2

My question was always, how can I make a practice stick? I had tried sitting for meditations many times, only to be annoyed at the five-minute mark. Are you in the same boat?

Here’s how I successfully integrate both mindfulness and meditation across the board.

1) To start practicing mindfulness, I focused on writing. ✍🏼 I noticed that it was much easier to get present when I’d write about my day, log my activities, or find my gratitude. My favorite style of journaling is bullet journaling. It fits my personality pretty well, mainly because I can try out new styles and ‘spreads’ to organize my life.

2) I started walking at least 30 minutes a day. 🚶‍♀️I found that I get present to my thoughts pretty quickly on a walk. It’s as if the movement surfaces all the junk in my head. The beauty is that I can then shift my attention to the natural world in front of me. I’ve tried more focused meditative walking, though I prefer my regular meditation via yoga or an out-of-bed seated session.

3) My yoga practice is essential. 🧘‍♀️ And I consider it instrumental in my regular mindfulness and meditation game. Many practitioners tout that yoga is about the window of awareness we are given as we concentrate and hold our pose. In the context of yoga, meditation (dhyana) is defined more precisely as a state of pure consciousness.

4) My morning sit. 🙏🏽 I caught a streak in the summer of 2019 after learning Emily Fletcher’s technique, Ziva Meditation. It just clicked for me. I was able to structure my practice in a way that always worked. One of the biggest lessons I took from her is that you can ‘sit’ anywhere. All you need is a straight back and something to support you (no resting your head). My practice has evolved a couple of years later to a condensed and dialed-in session. I almost always do it in bed first thing, though I’ve been enjoying the sauna and hot tub sessions of late. 😜