Few things happened after I published the post “How To Meditate At Office Without Freaking Out Your Colleagues” that made me thought of writing a simple article on what is mindfulness and meditation.
1. Mindfulness Is Not Meditation
A kind-hearted reader pointed out that closing your eyes and bringing awareness to your breaths for 30 seconds is not meditation.
She’s absolutely right. It’s a mindfulness exercise.
Which leads to the point on why I used the term meditate instead of mindful, where in fact those are all mindfulness tips at work.
Sometimes, Mindfulness Is Easy When You Don’t Think About it.
Some of my readers are busy professionals or parents who are finding it hard to meditate or finding the time of it.
I doubt they would have the time to go through a 2000 words article of what meditation is only to be followed by another equally long article about what mindfulness is all about.
And they are checking out if there are alternatives for busy people like them?
I thought of putting a quick guide of how they can bring mindfulness to their workplace and benefit from the practice instantly, regardless of how well they understand the concept of mindfulness or meditation.
I believe that particular post has achieved its goal of solving the issues of busy people who don’t have time to meditate but still want to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness in their work.
If you disagree with how I achieve my ends with the means, feel free to leave a comment later.
But now, let me share my views of what mindfulness and meditation are for those who are particular of the terms and the practice itself.
What Is Mindfulness?
I’m not really good at writing formal Wikipedia style article and I’m not going into one here.
You’ve probably heard that mindfulness is about living in the present, being here and not dwelling in the past (or future). Or mindfulness is about being aware of what you’re doing.
These are pretty generic definitions. I’ll try to go with more specific examples.
1. Mindfulness Is Being Aware That You’re Angry But Not Responding To Your Anger.
When was the last time you shouted at someone just because you’re offended by his or her actions? What if you are able to watch those angry thoughts calmly without suppressing or exploding in actions that you would later regret?
Think about angry thoughts like a furious stream of a river. You can choose to get caught in it, or you can observe it without getting your feet wet.
2. Mindfulness Is Planning Your Future Without Getting Caught Away
Mindfulness may be all about being in the present, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make plans for your future. But it is so common that you lost yourself in imaginations when you start setting visualizing your goals.
Planning to buy a new house often leads your thoughts to the interior designs, having a family, and the wonderful BBQ party you’ll do every weekend. Only to have those clouded by thoughts of how you’re going to afford the mortgage, getting a promotion, making more money, etc.
Before long, you are lost in your wild imaginations rather than taking realistic steps to follow your plan.
There’s a difference between planning and drifting away with unrealistic expectations. Being aware of your thoughts keep you on solid ground.
3. Mindfulness Is Not Forgetting Where You Put Your Keys
You’re in a shopping mall when you realized that you don’t have your house keys with you. You remembered that you took your keys with you when you leave your home. But you can’t seem to find it in your pockets.
You rushed to your car panicking, but there’s no sign of it there either. With your shopping mood long gone, you rushed back home hope fearing the worst.
Yes. You found that you did not lock your house before leaving.
This is mindfulness, or rather the lack of it in your daily life.
4. Mindfulness Is Knowing When You Make Emotional Decisions
But taking into consideration the logic and facts as well.
It’s easy to say that you should stay away from making emotional decisions. But we are all emotional creatures and making cold decisions based on logics alone is almost impossible.
Mindfulness allows you to have the ability to stop yourself from making impulsive decisions based on emotion alone.
(And you wonder why people got scammed online or landed themselves into massive credit card debts.)
5. Mindfulness Is A Living Skill
Yes, it is a skill where you train your mind to be more aware of its thoughts and actions that precede them. It is a skill just like walking, writing, talking but it can be hard to grasp because of it’s an abstract concept.
Which is why I created this post to get people to take mindful action without spending time analyzing it.
No. Thinking about mindfulness is not the same as practicing it.
And if you want further explanation of what mindfulness is, my blogging friend James wrote a good article about it here.
What Is Meditation?
Sitting in a half lotus posture with eyes closed and contemplating great thoughts on life?
You’re half right, except it is more on building your awareness or the various faculties of your mind. You become more focus, compassionate, or mindful as a result, depending on which types of meditation you practiced.
Yoga International put it as,
Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.
Check out the full article here.
Else, read on.
Now, if you think mindfulness as a skill, then think meditation as the environment conducive to learning and practicing the skill.
Just like you want to learn chemistry. You can start reading some guides and start mixing chemicals around by yourself.
Or you can get into a college where you have courses and labs for you to experiment safely. And a lab technician watching over you in case you blew up the place.
Well, that’s what meditation is all about. It’s for you to turn inward to your mind and develop the various faculties that you can apply in your life.
There are many types of meditation that you can learn. This article gives you a comprehensive list of 23 Types of Meditation. Some involve visualization and mantras. Others may be more about building awareness.
My favorite? Mindfulness meditation.
Why? Because the technique practiced in mindfulness meditation can be easily adapted to our daily life.
I’m not putting down the other forms of meditation (I did practice a few forms) but I’m reasoning on how we can use it effectively in our busy lifestyle.
Mindfulness Meditation Doesn’t Belong To Any Religion (Or Culture)
I think this deserves an article by itself do justice, as mindfulness meditation is a popular practice in the Buddhist culture. It goes by the name of Vipassana meditation (loosely translated as insight meditation).
I’m not going to go into detail on what’s the difference between Vipassana and the secular mindfulness meditation here. It’s safe to say that the core technique of mindfulness meditation is not religious.
What does awareness of your thoughts and breathing have anything to do with religion? Nothing at all.
Practicing mindfulness meditation doesn’t make you more “Buddhist”, and vice versa. The technique is secular in nature. And the benefits are proven scientifically. Check out this mega list of proven benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Can You Practice Mindfulness Without Meditation?
The short answer is yes.
My post on How To Meditate At Work has received a good response from readers. It gives them an option to practice mindfulness without meditating.
Here’s one of the feedback.
When people actually benefit from the practice of mindfulness without meditating, what are the chances that they will actually allocate time to meditate if the awareness and the benefits are many times more intense for a practicing meditator?
Either way, if you are looking for further reading on bringing mindfulness practice into your daily life, you can check out this book, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World on Amazon.
Or you can check out my review of a 5 weeks online meditation course by Giovanni Dienstmann.
If you think this article has been helpful to you, do share with your friends.
Over To You.
What are your beliefs on meditation and mindfulness? Are you convinced that you’ll fare better in life and work incorporating mindfulness into what you do? What’s stopping you from meditating? Share your thoughts with me.
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