It’s summer time and why not take a deep dive into the cool waters of awareness? It’s a great way to keep you on track without breaking a sweat!
I’m often asked by my coaching clients…
“What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?”
And quite honestly…there’s so much on both topics. If you google them, you’ll find pages and pages of articles with much more elegant metaphors and analogies than I can ever conjure. So, here’s my “reader’s digest” version as well as some interesting links should you want to dive deeper.
Think of it as tuning inward and directing your mind for a certain amount of time, to the “not-a-thing” state. It’s about decreasing the monkey mind chatter and quieting the mind, clearing the canvas, and developing inner peace so you can paint your masterpiece.
There are as many types of meditation as there are colors in the rainbow. Just to name a few: guided, sound based, mantra based, chanting directed, point of focus, eyes open, etc. These practices are to help you see your thoughts from an observer’s perspective – letting them pass without judgment or attachment. (Hint hint – that’s the whole point of meditation…)
I ran across Elisha Goldstein’s definition of meditation and I loved it so much I have to share it with you!
So…If Meditation is preparing the canvas and creating a smooth foundation…
Mindfulness is the paint, the colors. It’s a type of meditation. It doesn’t require you to sit on a cushion and chant with your eyes closed for a certain amount of time. Mindfulness is a practice you can use anytime and anywhere, which makes it a great tool for anyone living in our busy world. When practicing Mindfulness, you are present in the moment and directing your mind to a simple awareness. You are directing it to the “Some-thing” of that moment.
The example I love to use is…
When you’re in the shower – ask yourself – am I in the shower? Or, am I already in the boardroom, at the office? Or, am I in yesterday where I should’ve said or done this? Or, am I present to the water hitting my skin, the smell of the soap?
A great tool to use when you’re practicing mindfulness is to ask yourself,
“Where are my feet?”
That will always bring you back to you in the here and now.
When practicing mindfulness, your mind isn’t guessing at the future or creating a mountain out of a mole hill. It is consciously observing what is so, without labeling or placing an opinion or judgment on it. It’s a powerful tool. Not only does it combat stress, depression and anxiety, but as John Kabat-Zinn, PhD, says, “It cultivates access to core aspects of our own minds and bodies we weren’t aware of.”
When you practice Mindful Meditation, you are intentionally setting aside time to practice paying attention to what there is in the moment. The purpose is to learn to truly be present in the moment as things arise. Accordingly, you can maintain your peace of mind by choosing a response, instead of reacting and going off the rails (so to speak).
It makes me think of Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid.
So while our hero is waxing cars, he’s also learning how to be in the moment, instead of at the tournament.
Therefore, this summer, while you’re basking in your vacay time with friends and family, even if you’re on a business trip – take some time to smell the infamous roses and practice being mindful – you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that will open up for you!