Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand, yet there is a very subtle difference between the two.

Meditation typically involves a process of carving out a specified amount of time during your day, getting still, and setting the goal of focusing your attention on a single point. It’s a simple enough concept that can often feel very challenging to our minds, which are used to having free reign with little to no direction. During meditation we can develop an increased awareness to what is going on inside our bodies, in our minds, and in our surroundings.

Mindfulness means actively noticing and paying attention to specific elements of the present moment. This could include your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, the actions or feelings of others, or noticing your surroundings through your senses. The invitation of mindfulness is to stop, pause and just notice for one moment your surroundings. This is accessible to you at any moment, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

How are the two connected?

During meditation we exercise mindfulness to bring ourselves back to the present moment. Mindfulness occurs during the moment that we notice our attention has wandered from its intended object and we bring ourselves back.

Mindful meditation is a secular, Western style of meditation that provides a focus for the attention, such as the breath, and the practice is to bring your mind gently back to the object, over and over again, without harshness or self-criticism for erring no matter how many times it occurs (and in the beginning, it will probably be many!).