With the media coverage exploding on the current COVID19 crisis, social distancing, and adjusting to the changes in our class and work schedules, it’s not hard to believe that this is making a huge impact on our already hectic lives. It is no wonder many of us find ourselves in fight or flight mode; with increased stress and anxiety, it’s hard to find the time to take a breath. If you are like me, the first thing I want to do is run away, feeling at a loss on how to proceed. Even though stopping to take a breath won’t solve all our challenges, it allows us to step back, calm our thoughts, and have better clarity to assess our current situation.
Mindfulness and meditation are useful methods to help us “breathe.” Even though mindfulness is often confused with meditation, meditation is an exercise that can help you to become more mindful.
So… what is the difference?
Below is a description from an article from “Mindful.org” that gives a good explanation of both.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Whenever you bring awareness to….your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes” (“Getting Started with Mindfulness”).
Meanwhile, Meditation is not the same thing as mindfulness. Meditation is a practice–mindfulness is a state of being:
“When we meditate, we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a trumpet). Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others” (“Getting Started with Mindfulness”).
Stay tuned next week for more ideas on mindfulness. In the meantime, check out the Mindfulness and Meditation Research Guide. It has some great resources on mindfulness, as well as a section on meditation.
“Getting Started with Mindfulness.” Mindful, 2021, https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/