Is There a Difference? Meditation and Mindfulness

Buzz word: mindfulness.  Soon to be an energy drink that you pay a premium for because someone was clever and came up with a cool way to package it.  Of course if it isn’t organic, free trade and sold in a biodegradable format it’s not up to par.

So before you could possibly answer the following: 

Does the process of meditation differ from being mindful?   

One has to ask: 

What is your perception/description of  mindfulness? 

A lot of questions sprout up around this topic, like is mindfulness 

a spiritual Trojan horse to get around the defiance of the ego and assimilated into one’s life because there is a difference in how some people receive both words?

Mindfulness good, seems like a simple concept.  Meditation bad, it’s that boogeyman concept as a child where we thinks it’s safer to hide under the bed, the very same place the boogeyman resides.   

Inherently do we know it’s good for us but like apple cider vinegar tastes crap?   I know I was pretty ignorant at the stage in my life when I entered the Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai twenty some odd years ago to do a 21 day sit in silence.  My infamous first words, “What are we going to do , sit around all day and do nothing?”  Fuck was I in for a surprise.  Mindfulness as taught to us as part of that style of meditation seems to be different than what it‘s espoused to be in the countless articles present today. or people just say be mindful but there’s no real explanation nor is there a consensus.  

So what is mindfulness?

Consider this: somewhere it was said that the mind can only hold one thought at a time. What is a thought?  It’s something the mind has latched on to perhaps instigated by one of many forms of stimulus; sight, sound, physical feeling, emotional or energetic impulse, etc.  

The white board of your mind is just that, usually vast empty nothingness with many things floating into perception. 

So mindfulness revolves around how one pays attention to the moment.  What is in the moment of your mind’s focus is the rub.  The premise of mindfulness as taught to us in the temple is simply this:  One word actions describing the current moment inside our heads, not articulating them verbally out loud.  Basically, one word play by play descriptors.

When someone refers to a mindful way of being or doing something mindfully other factors have come into play that revolve around consideration.  Case in point, mindful eating is not just the attention to the physical act of eating so you stay in the moment.  (This article is not a how to but there will be something like that available shortly centering around the concept of eating).   It can include reverence and gratitude for the hands / sentient beings involved in the creation of the meal.  It can involve making a choice based on not supporting industries that destroy rain forests, or deciding not to eat a substance because it is harmful for the harmony of your body’s function. 

Which gets back to the original question:

Is there a difference between meditation and mindfulness?  

The thing here is that the essences of meditation are present in mindfulness but there’s more to meditation.  So this is where language is disempowering and it’s in experience and application that this seemingly simple question becomes known as answer.  If and when you meditate as a way of living you may come to realize that life is a meditation and all the colors and hues just bleed from one. 

Mindful being is about being in the present moment physically.  It’s an extension of the process of meditation of which one element is to harness the mind to be in the moment without obstruction. 

Based on the multitude of embarrassing instances where I’ve been mindless, like that split second where I didn’t put the lid on the blender jar (not to say that being mindless is always embarrassing), I’ll always defer to being mindful because the effort is worth it. 

Being mindful is probably one of the most powerful yet hardest and most underrated factors in successful behavior modification processes.  Reprogramming our conditioning is not the easiest especially in some areas when it comes to abolishing something that brings physical pleasure. Meditation is probably only second to love in bringing about great change on an individual and collective basis. Meditation we can control.  Love is love.

Written by Merlin X, practitioner and instructor of meditative methods for over 20 years. Author of Clear Your Mind, An Interactive Guide to Meditation. Connect on IG: nurtureurnature.ca

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