Mindfulness VS Meditation

“What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?”

One of the questions I was asked a few times, and this answer below is based on my practice and understanding.

There are two types of meditation, broadly speaking. One is with focused attention. So for example, when you focus on your breathing, a word, a prayer, the candle light, you let go of anything that comes into your attention, and keep redirecting your attention to the thing that you are focusing on. (One example of this type of meditation here).

Another type of meditation, is with widen attention (awareness). It’s like you are in a stadium when no game is being played. You watch the whole space. You watch your whole experience, like an observer, or like a third party, non-judging, and not reacting. You allow things to come and go.

This second type of meditation, is a mindfulness practice! The definition(s) of mindfulness generally includes being present, being aware, non-judgemental, and acceptance (not overly reactive). When you practice Leaves on the Stream, you are mindful of what’s going on in your mind. You can of course generalise this to your daily life, and be mindful of where you are, what you do, what you think/feel etc.

You can practice mindfulness anytime anywhere. Eating, drinking, working, typing, driving, exercising, walking mindfully (i.e. staying present, being aware of what you do, and being accepting). You can’t do all that while you meditate though.

Some people might meditate while they walk, run or swim. This can be with either first (focused, narrow attention) OR second type of meditation (broaden attention). With first, you might be saying “one, two, one, two, one, two…” in your mind, or noticing your breathing in and out. With second, you will be observing your whole experience, how your muscle move, what you see, hear, sense, how you feel etc.

I’d say both are meditation, but only the second one is being mindful. I hope I’ve made it clear?! Feel free to share your views!

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