Mindfulness vs Meditation

mindfulness and mediation

“In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

What is mindfulness? I often refer to it as “present moment awareness” yet it’s so much more than that. Jon KabatZinn has defined mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment. This helps with both physical and emotional pain. 

How do you stay in the present moment? Being mindful while doing everyday activities is a great way to start. Doing the dishes mindfully is a great trick to make an otherwise hefty task into a peaceful process. You can get to a point where it is as if you are meditating with your eyes open while washing the dishes. 

A lot of people think that being mindful is mediation, and that they don’t like to be mindful, or maybe that they’re not good at it. This isn’t the case! Meditation is a mindful practice, not mindfulness itself. Meditation allows you to get into the present moment, focusing on one thing at a time as you lay down and connect with your breath. That is mindfulness–it is about being in the present moment without judging it, and without trying to make it something different than what it actually is. Mindfulness is such a powerful tool that will help you find inner peace, joy, and harmony. Here are some easy  ways you can practice mindfulness throughout your day:

  1. Take a deep breath. Any time you connect with your breath, you are practicing mindfulness. Take a deep breath now….you just connected to the present moment and practiced mindfulness. 
  2. Be observant of your thoughts. When you observe a thought or an emotion or a physical ache WITHOUT judgment, you’ve practiced mindfulness.
  1. Try a visualization activity. Here is a great resource for guiding yourself through your own visualization. Once you have found your happy place, you can sink into it whenever you choose. 
  2. Don’t reject the reality of the present moment.  Many times clients will say: “I don’t want to feel this way”, “I don’t want to think this way”. And again, I hear that, I get that. Chances are, how you feel and what you think are really uncomfortable. Let’s start small and keep it simple. Just try and do whatever it is you’re doing, mindfully. Try to throw yourself completely into the activity, not judging it and not rejecting it. So, something as ordinary as doing the dishes can become this peaceful and pleasant action. Feeling the warm water on your hands, noticing the soapy suds of the dish soap. 

In his amazing book, Peace is Every Step, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, author Thich Nhat Hanh takes doing dishes to a whole new level. He shares how when we become present with doing dishes, we prove how each second of life is a miracle. “The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles,” he exclaims. Today, tomorrow, and everyday after that, try, no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s going for a run or doing the dishes, to be present and take away any judgement of the situation. Don’t try to distract yourself or be anywhere else but in the moment. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you! 

 Check out Episode #5 of Shortcuts to Zen with Jen! Please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. And as always, please respond and/or comment with questions, thoughts, ANYTHING. Being connected with you in this way and over these lessons helps more than you know! To read our last article on mindful eating, click here!