So you’ve probably heard the news: Mindfulness and Meditation are the new “it” couple
They do ok on their own, but together, they make life oh so sweet … for both themselves, and everyone around them.
Maybe you’ve tried to be more “mindful” but it only lasted a few seconds and then you stubbed your toe on the bed frame again, or your waddling toddler bolted up the stairs again, or you came home to a messy house again.
Maybe you tried to meditate, but you couldn’t stop your thoughts. “Ok here we go, shoot my nose itches, ok and we’re back, shit did I pick up avocados at the store? Ommmm, focus, breath, gah what am I going to make for dinner tonight …?”
If so, YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK because you’ve TRIED! You know there are proven benefits to having a threesome with M&M, and you’re experimenting! 😉
If not, YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK because you’re reading this post! You’re at least somewhat remotely intrigued by why people are so up in awe with this power couple and you want to know if you should have what they’re having.
Why bother practicing Mindfulness or Meditation?
Before we get into the difference between Mindfulness and Mediation, let’s get you jazzed up to WANT to incorporate these LIFE LENGTHENING and LIFE CHANGING practices into your your daily routine.
- Sharper Focus: The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to come back to focus. Whether it’s during a conversation or reading a book, it’s easy to lose attention. Practicing mindfulness trains your brain to come back to the present quicker & easier.
- Slower Aging: Studies have shown that people with consistent mindfulness practices have less cognitive decline and slower cellular aging than those who practiced less frequently.
- Longer Lifespan: Your relationships will blossom as part of your increased engagement in your conversations. Loneliness has been coined a killer, so fostering & strengthening our relationships has proven to literally increase our time on this planet.
- Better Sleep: Mindfulness practices have been shown to decrease insomnia. More sleep equates to more energy & less fatigue, allowing you to do more of what’s important to you, promoting more happiness and a healthier well-being.
So what IS the difference between Mindfulness and Mediation? Here are some quick facts:
- Think of Mindfulness as a short term, informal, mental exercise you can do in the moment. It helps you recenter and appreciate your surroundings, whether pleasant or not. You’re simply being present: not worrying about the past or future, or worrying about a present circumstance. You don’t need to feel happy, or even grateful. Just acknowledging the moment. You can do this anywhere, anytime.
- Think of Meditation as a formal practice for long-term benefits. This is where you sit quietly, slow your breath, and allow thoughts to come and go. Meditation calms your nervous system up to 5% greater than sleep! It’s best to find a quiet space to meditate, but you can get creative on where to practice this exercise. The goal is NOT to have no thoughts. That’s impossible! The goal is to simply be still and try to hone in your focus.
- Therefore, you do not need to formally meditate in order to incorporate acts of mindfulness into your day. Every time you recenter your focus during meditation or a mindful moment, that focus shift is literally a bicep curl for your brain.
- Either way, just like you practice fitness consistently to get your muscles stronger, you must practice mindfulness and/or meditation consistently to make your focus stronger.
How can you practice Mindfulness or Meditation?
Here are 5 ways to get started with a mindfulness practice :
- Mindful Breathing: Simply put, put all of your attention on your breath. If thoughts arise, don’t fret, acknowledge them and go back to focusing on your breath. Work on increasing the length of your inhales, the length of holding your breath at the top of the inhale, and the length of your exhales. You can count your breathes to 10, then start back at 1.
- Body Scan: Focus your attention on different parts of your body & begin to relax each one on your exhales. Starting from your head and working down to your toes or vice versa. It’s a chance to notice any tension you may be holding, like a clenched jaw or tight shoulders.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Similar to the body scan, but here you will actually tighten the muscle, then physically release it & feel it melt away. You’ll become more aware of the contrast between tension & relaxation. Perfect for wandering minds, as you’ll be actively working in this mindful practice.
- Visualization: Simply picture yourself where you want to be. It could be at this point in your life, or 5-10 years down the road. Just be as specific as possible. Consider all 5 senses during your visualizations to reap the full benefits.
- Meditation: We finally get to mediation. The purpose of this practice is to develop your focus & concentration, as well as compassion. The goal is to maintain relaxed breathing and focus. You may also want to repeat a word or mantra to help maintain your focus.
No matter what you’re striving for in life, what’s the point if you’re not fully there?
Meaning, you can check off the boxes of your daily to-dos, workouts, visits with family & friends, but were you really there, in the moment, fully engaged? Practicing mindfulness will help you get to that mental vacation, enjoy a longer stay, and help you crave revisiting that location much more often.
Try any of the tactics above any time you have just a few moments to yourself. Make your practice work for you and your schedule. Maybe it’s daily, but only 3 to 5 minutes a session. Maybe it’s 4 times a week for 15 minutes a session. Play with it. Do what works best for YOU and begin acknowledging how you feel after you get a bit more consistent with it.
You’re only a few minutes away from gaining new perspective on life’s endless curveballs.
Want more wellness wisdom?
- Join our Facebook Community to share common roadblocks, setbacks, wins and tips with ladies just like you who would love to be more mindful, but haven’t quite added it to their routine yet.
- Discover what’s REALLY blocking you from reaching your biggest health & wellness goals with this worksheet. It’s a 5 Step Blueprint to identify & overcome your most frustrating health blocks to finally reach your boldest health goals.
- Find a local meditation center in your area, like a Transcendental Meditation Center for example.
- Sign up for an Online Mediation Program, such as one through the University of Massachusetts: https://umassmed.edu/cfm