What is the difference? – Forbes Health

Mindfulness and meditation are similar and related; mindfulness is sometimes referred to as a form of meditation, and vice versa. The exercises “work hand in hand,” says Peter Brooks, a meditation and mindfulness teacher in Baltimore. “You can be mindful without being in a state of meditation, but you can’t be in a state of meditation without being mindful.”

Still, the terms are not interchangeable as there are important differences between them.

Mindfulness can be practiced “anywhere.”

Mindfulness means being consciously aware of the present moment with an attitude of openness and acceptance.

“In other words, mindfulness is being aware of what’s going on in the moment without judgment,” says Julian C. Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist in San Jose, California at Mindpath Health’s mental health outpatient clinic.

Mindfulness can be practiced “anywhere, anytime,” adds Brooke Schwartz, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker in Los Angeles, giving examples of mindfully watching a movie or even going to the bathroom. One style of mindfulness is grounding, where the goal is to anchor yourself in the present moment through intentional thinking and feeling. She notes that practicing mindfulness may require you to refocus your attention when it wanders.

Meditation requires intentional focus

Meditation can refer to mental training techniques, such as guided (led by someone else), movement-based (movement or body position that focuses on breathing, such as tai chi), and visual meditation (thinking of an image of something or someone and focusing your intention relative to that image) – as well as the resulting goal of the techniques, which is an altered state of consciousness that connects you to a deeper inner self.

“Traditionally, we think of meditation as a more formal and time-structured practice,” says Kiana Shelton, a licensed clinical social worker at Mindpath Health.

Brooks adds that there’s a common misconception that meditation involves “tuning your thoughts.” Instead, “a state of meditation is reached” through mindfulness, or intentional thinking and observation without judgment. All forms of meditation require mindfulness.

Mindfulness vs. meditation: when to use which exercise

Mindfulness is about being aware of the present and your surroundings without judgement. Dr. Lagoy says mindfulness is especially helpful in combating consistent negative thoughts. “It can help someone be less self-judgmental about their own feelings,” he says.

Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily require you to pause what you’re doing at a certain point, making it a good habit to practice at any time, even when you’re on the go. Schwartz gives the example of driving on the highway and getting stuck in a spiral of thoughts. “Practicing mindfulness (for example, noticing how your hands feel on the wheel or listening to the song on the radio) is probably more accessible and safer than starting to meditate,” she says.

Meditation aims to connect body and mind and bring mental and physical peace. Meditation requires more break in your day as it requires not only attention but also concentration. What you focus on, or the purpose of your meditation practice, may vary from session to session. “One person may set the goal of tapping into how their body feels while meditating,” says Schwartz. “Another might want to mentally move themselves to a quiet space.”

What is the difference? – Forbes Health

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