Have you ever tried to meditate and convinced yourself it’s not for you? Yeah, me too, every other week actually. But it is for us. We resist using it as a coping mechanism because it’s easier to default to what we know. (Does anyone else like to self soothe with chocolate? 🙋) And, where you are right now isn’t wrong or bad; it’s just where you are at right now. But the best part is right now doesn’t have to be always.
Meditation vs. Mindfulness
I hear people say all the time that they don’t think mindfulness is for them because they’re not the meditating type, can’t turn off their thoughts, or are too busy. But this confuses a meditation practice with a mindfulness practice, and they are not exactly the same.
Meditation is a formal mindfulness practice, and a mindfulness practice is an informal perspective shift. Stick with me. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.
Meditation, of course, looks a little different for everyone. But, generally speaking, when you meditate, you intentionally set out to be more presently aware of our thoughts. You sit or lay for a fixed amount of time, notice your thoughts, and label them without attaching to them or concentrate on your breath, visualization, or whatever else you may choose to pay attention to for the duration of your practice, always remembering to gently refocus your attention when your mind wanders (as it will). In other words, it is not necessary to stop thoughts altogether to be a successful mediator.
Mindfulness is an even more informal approach focused on general awareness in this moment — the right here, right now experience — regardless of what you’re doing or how long you’re doing it for. You notice the experience you’re having, from the emotions you feel to the sounds you hear, without trying to change any of it — simply noticing it for what it is and getting curious about its impact on you.
Brushing your teeth? If you focus on just that moment and how the bristles feel as they glide across your teeth, the sound it makes, or how this routine is impacting you on any level, you’re practicing mindfulness. The hard part is remembering to do it. Far too often our minds wander to what we have to do next or what happened yesterday, and we don’t realize that’s one of the reasons we’re so damn tired at the end of the day: Our mind is always racing away from where we actually are. But you can calm that mind down. It just requires diligence, so if you struggle to make new habits stick, it’s time to get mindful about those habits. And if you’re still stuck, hire a wellness coach. 😉
Both meditation and mindfulness are about paying attention on purpose. Meditation can help us strengthen our ability to be mindful in our daily routines, but it isn’t the only way to cultivate calmness. An informal mindfulness practice is just as capable of getting us there, and a calmer life is absolutely for everyone. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to live in the moment at least a few times a day?
Still not sure if this is for you?
It helps me to remember that meditating doesn’t have to be done for long periods of time to be effective. Even as little as a minute each day can build the healthy habit we will eventually use regularly enough to notice real change.
Benefits of Meditation
If you’re looking to improve your health from a holistic point of view, mindfulness-meditation is legitimately the best thing you can integrate starting today. You don’t have to be in shape or change your eating habits. You don’t even need special equipment of any kind. What’s more is that most health issues today are linked to stress anyway. That alone should be a powerful motivator to start this healthy habit today.
According to Healthline.com, there are at least 11 scientifically proven benefits of meditation:
- Reduce Stress
- Controls Anxiety
- Promotes Emotional Health
- Enhances Self-Awareness
- Lengthens Attention Span
- Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
- Generates Kindness
- May Help Fight Addictions
- Improves Sleep
- Helps Control Pain
- Decreases Blood Pressure
Can you spend 1 minute just breathing today? Eyes open or closed – it’s your preference – just pay attention to your breath and notice the thoughts that pop-in while gently refocusing your mind on your breath. Inhale and exhale your way to a healthier you!