If you have ever wondered what is the difference between meditation and mindfulness, you’re not alone.

The two practices are very related and embody many of the same principles; yet, there are some differences. We’ll break it down here for you and share some resources so that you can hopefully feel empowered to incorporate both practices into your life (that is, if you don’t already).

Meditation

Meditation is considered to be more of a formal practice that you set aside a specific amount of time for. There are a lot of different ways, or methods, of meditating that range from taking a just a minute to practicing simple breath awareness to using mantras, or repetitive words/phrases, to help you focus, to sitting in stillness for longer periods of time.

Creating a meditation practice that supports you best might require trying a few different methods out. What helps you to relax, create more ease or become more mindful could also change depend on your overall day. We often think it’s helpful to know of a few different meditation techniques, that you can feel that you have in your own personal mental health toolbox. So, here are few different practices that members of the TYP team find to be helpful -

Guided Body Scans

Guided body scans are an opportunity to practice awareness of different regions of you body, and to allow yourself to really experience how they feel. Practicing guided body scans is said to help you get more in touch with your body, to provide balance to all the busyness of life, and to help train your attention.

Body scan meditations can be done on your own by bringing your awareness to your feet and then slowly working your attention all the way up your body all the way to your head, noticing each part. It can also be practiced by starting at your head and working your way down. Whatever is the most comfortable for you. Or, you can try following along with a guided body scan. Here’s one recorded by one Amanda, a TYP team member and instructor -

Mantra Meditations

Mantras are words or sounds that are often repeated during a meditation practice to help you focus and concentrate on the present moment. If you have ever been to a yoga class where they chanted the sound of Om….. that’s a mantra.

You can create a mantra yourself by bringing to mind a statement, or even one word, that you want to embody at that moment. Or, you can practice specific mantra meditations. “So-Hum” is a breath-focused mantra meditation that TYP Instructors occasionally use in classes. The words “So-Hum” roughly translate from Sanskrit (the language Yoga was written in) to English to mean “I am That” or “I am of All,” which reflects our inherent interconnectedness. The breath is a reminder that we are always connected. Here is how to practice “So-hum” mantra meditation:

  • Find a comfortable position - either seated or laying down. Allow your body to relax as much as possible into the support.

  • Bring your attention to the natural rhythm of your breath. As you start to feel and notice your breath, try to begin to incorporate the mantra “so-hum.”

  • As you inhale, silently say “so” to yourself.

  • As you exhale, silently say “hum” to yourself.

  • Repeat for a minute or longer feeling the breath, connecting to the words and even the feeling that they may provide.

Breath Focused Meditation

You can meditate by also dedicating a certain amount of time to focus on your breathing. Breath awareness is often considered to be a concentration meditation, as it provides you something to focus your attention too. Allow yourself a little bit of time, get as comfortable as possible, and see if you can focus on taking full breaths. It will be quite natural for your mind to drift from place-to-place, see if you can notice its happening and then just gently bring your attention back to you breath.

There are even certain breathing techniques you can try. Katy, one of team members, recorded a guided meditation focuses on expanding exhales. We love listening to it after a really busy day to help us relax. Listen to it on YouTube.

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Mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being aware. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, defines mindfulness as “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” sometimes with the purpose of gaining “self-understanding and wisdom.” When you are actively being mindful, you are noticing and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, movements, and also the effect they have on you and on others.

Mindfulness can be practiced anytime and anywhere, whether formally (which would include meditating) or informally (which could be while you do an activity, like brushing your teeth or showering). You can be mindful anytime you are showing up and really engaging with what you are doing and even while you are interacting with another person, i.e. in conversation and through truly listening and connecting. Mindfulness can be incorporated throughout your day.

Learn more about simple mindfulness practices for self-care in a recent blog post.

Be sure to follow TYP on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for mindfulness tips and guided meditations and practices in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month. We are creating a movement to #Mediate4MentalHealth as research support the mental health benefits of meditation.

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