Meditation and mindfulness have always been confused to mean the same thing for most people, while others believe one is a result of the other.
It is clear that we need to understand both terms well and what each means separately so that we can better comprehend how they can work together towards our self-improvement journeys.
Here we are going to delve deep into what meditation and mindfulness are, and answer the question, “Do I need to meditate to be mindful?” at length in a way that we will help solve this problem once and for all, for you our readers.
So let’s jump right in.
Understanding Meditation And Mindfulness And Their Differences
Meditation can be defined as mental training that works with relaxation and focus, to help our minds become calmer and more aware through silencing of our thought process.
Meditation helps to tame our wild minds that are always processing different thoughts and encourage the constant mental chatter that is always going on in our brains which end up acting as distractions from being present, aware, calm, focused, and relaxed.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the quality of being aware of the present moment. Being mindful is about being present in the moment and being aware of what is happening in and around you.
The quality of mindfulness is cultivated through training our minds to let go of the thoughts of the past which are known to cause regrets and guilt as well as thoughts of the future that bring stress, anxiety, and worry.
Letting go of these thoughts allows us to be focused on what is happening now.
We become more mindful through anchoring ourselves or tagging ourselves on things or activities such as breathing, listening, speaking, and many others that happen in the present moment. This way we can slowly let go of past and future thoughts and only give priory to the present.
Now many people believe that mindfulness and meditation are the same thing, which is not really the case. Meditation is a practice while mindfulness is a quality. That’s the fundamental difference between the two.
With their differences, they both complement each other in one way or the other. For instance, mindfulness is an important aspect of meditation and has been used in many meditation styles as a way to ground ourselves in our meditation sessions and practice as a whole.
On the flip side, meditation is used to build mindfulness as one of the many approaches to mindfulness that are available. Although meditation is not used every time for increasing our level of mindfulness, it goes a long way when it is.
The Different Approaches to Mindfulness
Speaking of approaches to mindfulness, there are quite a number of them. Just like doing almost anything out there, there are many ways you can begin improving your level of mindfulness.
One of them is through mindful breathing. This is where we become consciously aware of our breathing process. We become aware of the air that gets into our lungs through our noses. How it feels, the texture, the effect it creates as it gets into our bodies, how our chests, diaphragm, and other parts of our bodies respond.
And we also do the same for breathing out.
Breathing is always happening in the present moment. We can’t breathe yesterday to cover for today or today for tomorrow. And by being aware of this process, we also become rooted in the present moment.
Another way to approach mindfulness is through mindful listening and speaking. When people are having conversations and we are there with them, we can make the intention to be aware of ourselves as we talk and listen.
Here, we become mindful of the words we use when speaking, how we answer questions or complement what someone has said, how we react verbally to emotional triggers, as well as how we pay attention when someone is speaking and we are listening, how we think about the things the other person is saying as they are speaking, and how we show the other person we are listening keenly to them through our gestures, among others.
By being mindful of our listening and speaking activities when in discussions, we become more present in the moment.
Another way to cultivate mindfulness is through mindful eating. This is where we intentionally pay attention to our food, moment by moment, without making judgments or forming opinions about it.
Eating mindfully allows us to be aware of our entire eating experiences, from when we purchase the food or the ingredients of the food we intend to eat, to preparing, serving, and then eating it.
We become aware of our desire to have food, the food we choose to go for, how we eat it, and our general eating patterns.
Eating mindfully involves engaging our taste, smell, feeling, seeing, and hearing senses so as to interact more with the food.
Here is a detailed beginner’s guide to mindful eating.
Mindful eating allows us to be present through our interaction with the food we consume and in turn be more mindful.
There are many other approaches including mindful working, mindful resting (for break time), and many others that help us build the quality of mindfulness in our lives.
Why Meditation is a Good First Step Towards Mindfulness
While the above-mentioned mindfulness techniques are resourceful and rewarding, they don’t involve any form of meditation.
To use meditation to build mindfulness, we work with mindfulness meditation. This is a meditation style that allows you to experience what it feels like to be in the present moment and also how your mind always keeps getting in the way through producing countless thoughts that keep you from remaining present.
Mindfulness meditation is a good practice to use to get a taste of mindfulness as it is controlled by the sessions we get involved in.
All mindfulness techniques are good to use to improve our level of mindfulness but mindfulness meditation is the best and most recommended approach for beginners to do the same.
Mindfulness meditation gives us a safe space to play around and experiment with mindfulness and build it slowly by slowly. By practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes every day, and then going about our usual activities for the day, we slowly get to start laying the foundation of mindfulness in our lives.
And after we have gotten comfortable with it and we are having an easy time being mindful in long sessions of meditation, we can then take the next step of spilling mindfulness into our daily activities through mindfulness techniques we mentioned including mindful speaking and listening, mindful eating, mindful working, and others. This approach is quite rewarding in the long run.
Do You Really Need to Meditate to Be Mindful? Not Really!
Now that we have seen that we can become mindful using non-meditation mindfulness techniques, it is now clear when we say you don’t really need to meditate to be mindful.
You can choose to work with the mindfulness techniques from the get-go and you will still become mindful in good time.
However, as we have said, mindfulness meditation is the best place to begin learning and building mindfulness and then slowly take up the other mindfulness techniques to help you increase your moments of mindfulness through your day.
In summary, mindfulness is the quality of being aware of the present moment while meditation is a practice that aims to train our minds in focus and relaxation to help them become calmer and more aware through silencing our thought processes.
Mindfulness can be cultivated through meditation although it is not a requirement. There are many techniques such as mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful speaking and listening, and many more, through which we can improve our level of mindfulness without using meditation.
Although, for beginners, it is recommended that meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation, be the first step towards grounding ourselves in mindfulness. It helps give us a feel of what mindfulness is like and also build it well enough and have an easy time spilling it over in our daily activities for more benefits.