What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

Meditation practice

By Melissa Shah

In the fast-paced world in which we live and even more so in recent years post Covid, many people are turning to healing practices such as mindfulness and meditation to alleviate stress and enhance their lives. Since starting my work as a Mindfulness and Compassion teacher, many people have asked me what the difference between mindfulness and meditation is. A common perception is that they are the same thing, and in many ways, they have similarities and certainly produce similar positive effects. However, there are some fundamental differences to explore.

Mindfulness can be defined as being engaged in the current moment, inviting awareness to your emotional and physical self, with compassion and without judgement. It is a practice that can be integrated into your everyday life and become embodied by you in everything that you do.

What is meditation?

Meditation is an intentionally chosen activity with a focal point that requires physical action from you. Time is specifically taken out to formally practice meditation in a peaceful setting. In meditation, we may use the body as a focal point, whereas, during a guided mindfulness body scan we remain present and curious about how we are feeling physically and emotionally as we encounter the different areas of our bodies.

Meditation is often a single-pointed practice e.g. looking at a candle flame, whilst blocking everything out. It is usually a more concentrative focus whereas mindfulness is an open awareness whilst paying attention e.g. to the body, to the sensate experiences, we are still aware of what’s going on around us.

Meditation can be considered as more of a ‘letting go’ experience. During meditation, the focus is to clear the mind and less time is spent considering or acknowledging distracting thoughts or noticing how they are affecting us.

What is mindfulness?

In mindfulness practice, we often refer to ‘letting things be’. We allow thoughts to pass through, acknowledging them, accepting them and then letting them flow past unchanged.

Another unique element of mindfulness practice is the integration of kindness and self-compassion, truly allowing us to be with ourselves and how we are feeling. How do we talk to ourselves, feel about ourselves? We invite kindness, gentleness and compassion into the equation which creates an opportunity for a deeper inner connection.

Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

Both practices can help with many mental and physical health-related issues, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Auto-immune deficiencies
  • Cardio-vascular
  • Regulating the nervous system

Whether it is one or the other, or perhaps a combination of both, mindfulness and meditation have certainly proven to be of great added value in creating a more healthy and happy life.

“A crowded mind leaves no space for a peaceful heart.” ― Christine Evangelou


About Melissa Shah:

I am Melissa from Quiet Coyote, a mindfulness, compassionate inquiry and sound healing community. I have always had a strong desire to connect with others and support those in need of a helping hand through this sometimes tumultuous storm we call Life.


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