Practicing meditation and mindfulness regularly will change how you relate to your life. If you practice mindfulness all the time, then there is no need to make a distinction between meditation and mindfulness. Until then, it is good to distinguish between the two practices. Mindfulness is an approach to life that involves bringing your awareness and compassion to the present moment. Meditation is taking devoted time to practice sustained focus. If you meditate regularly, you naturally practice mindfulness throughout your day. If you are mindful regularly, you naturally find times to meditate throughout your day. When this becomes your normal way of being, you just do it.
If you do not have a regular meditation practice, you can still practice mindfulness. Being mindful doesn’t take any extra time, it doesn’t take any extra energy. To practice mindfulness, you need to check in with your mind and body. We do this naturally when we get hungry, thirsty, tired, or have to go to the bathroom. We get signals that we have to take care of our body. When we notice those feelings, we act and take care of our body. Mindfulness is like that.
Our whole experience comes to us through our body. We see, hear, touch, smell and taste through our bodies. Our mind takes all of that in and makes an experience out of it. Being mindful is simply noticing what is happening, recognizing the experience, and finding compassion to ease pain.
When you practice mindfulness, you recognize that everything is constantly changing. You also recognize how you relate to each change. You see what changes feel good and what changes hurt. Rather than wishing that things wouldn’t change, or wouldn’t hurt, you continually address the hurt you encounter with compassion. Compassion recognizes, engages, and soothes the pain. If the pain moves on, it releases the pain.
Your brain and body are constantly changing too. Your current brain and body has created your current mind. As you practice mindfulness, you allow your wisdom the opportunity to influence the change process. Your brain, body and mind naturally become more compassionate and aware.
A simple mindfulness practice involves checking in with your body throughout the day. Take time to breathe. A conscious breath is a compassionate breath. Notice your sighs, they are your body relieving tension. When you bring your attention to a sigh, it becomes an act of compassion. When you notice your pain or the pain in others, take a moment for compassionate reflection. When you change activities, take a moment to notice that you are changing. Let go of the old and engage in the new. When you walk, notice your steps. When you eat, taste your food. Meet the good sensations with appreciation and the difficult sensations with compassion. Keep noticing what you notice.
You can start a mindfulness practice as you go about your daily routines and notice your awareness. If you want to increase your mindful abilities, add a meditation practice. If you want to start with a meditation practice, begin by meditating. Try to confine your mindfulness to the 20 minutes that you spend meditating. You won’t be able to contain it. It will spill out into your day. That is how meditation leads to mindfulness.
Your wisdom loves to reorganize your brain, body and mind to feel alive and well. Meditation and mindfulness lets that happen.