Mindfulness and Meditation -What's the Difference?
Mindfulness is: paying attention, on purpose, to your experience in the present moment, without judgment.
We start out living life in the present but as we grow up, most of us grow out of this way of being. This means that we actually have to relearn and then practice mindfulness so that we get better at it. Paying attention is a skill. Why is being mindful important? Because it makes you more aware and alert to the messages of your body. It allows you see more objectively the patterns and habits of your mind (thinking) and, you can tune into the information available from your emotions. In short, your life becomes enriched when you experience it in real time.
As I said, being mindful is a skill and with any skill, practice improves your ability.
This is where the idea of meditation comes in. Meditation is simply choosing to be mindful for a period of time, whether that's for 3 minutes or for an hour. Meditation is choosing to practice 'paying attention' instead of doing something else...... like folding laundry or watching TV or taking a shower. In some ways, meditation is like going to the gym: you make a decision to go. You do specific tasks there with a purpose (to gain muscle or get into better shape or to maintain your weight) and when you leave the gym you carry with you the benefits of having committed to that exercise. Meditation (practicing being Mindful) is the training that allows you to be mindful during the rest of your life.
But, the real question is: why bother paying attention to the present?
Besides enriching our everyday experience, we want to be good at being aware of the present moment because the present moment is where life is actually happening! It is the only time in our lives that we can actually influence directly. It has been said that the PAST is FROZEN , you cannot change it. The FUTURE is NOT REAL, you have no idea what it holds. CS Lewis the famous author of the Narnia series (among his other prolific writings) says, “The Past is frozen and no longer flows, but the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.” The Present is where it's all at!
Be here! Now! It is the only real place. This moment is where life is actually lived. It is where change and growth happen.
What exactly are you practicing while you are meditating? There are 3 essential skills to being Mindful:
First there is Concentration – you want to be able to pay attention to what you want to pay attention to!
Next there is what is called Open Awareness – the ability to observe your inner experience: your thoughts, emotions and body sensations.
And finally, you want to be able to do all this with an attitude of compassion. To be aware of your inner experience, without judging it.
Mindfulness takes practice, because although it is simple, it is not easy.
The place to begin is exactly where you are. Today. Right now.
If you’d like to try a guided meditation or sign up for a free Introduction to Meditation please go to the Offerings tab.