What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness? The two are often said in the same breath, but they aren’t the same thing.
As Muse co-founder Ariel Garten explains, “Meditation is a practice, or training, that leads to healthy and positive mindsets. Mindfulness is a skill that is built as a result.” In short, meditation is doing the workout, mindfulness is the result.
“Meditation builds the skill of mindfulness,” Ariel explains.
Mindfulness is a state of being. It means being present in the moment, and having non-judgemental awareness of your thoughts, feelings, body, and environment.
While you’re meditating, you place your focus on your breath, but your mind can begin to wander. Meditation teaches you to notice your mind wandering, and bring it back to focus on the task at hand.
The skill of mindfulness can be applied in a million little ways throughout our lives. When our mind wanders during a conversation, or while working, or traveling, mindfulness teaches us to make choices about where our thoughts go and bring them back to the present moment.
“Mindfulness makes the world feel alive and makes your world feel great!”
The training of meditation teaches the skill of being aware of where your thoughts are and making an intentional choice to be in the moment. Awareness and mindfulness are really the same things–you’re using that skill to be aware of your thoughts and make a choice on where to focus your attention.
So why is mindfulness important?
A study published in the journal Science found that: “46.9% of the time our minds are wandering,” Ariel says, “and people who have wandering minds tend to be unhappy.” Humans are unique among animals because we spend the majority of our time thinking about things that aren’t right in front of us. The study found that how often our minds wander and where they go has a big impact on our happiness.
If meditation teaches us the skill of mindfulness, mindfulness helps us be happier by keeping our mind from wandering and focused on the present. This has positive impacts on your body, your relationships, and multiple aspects of your life!
The most important thing is to stick with it! Just like any exercise, practice makes perfect and your skills improve with time.