The Big Difference Between Meditation And Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness often go hand-in-hand, and both of these practices have health benefits. For example, meditation can enhance memory, relieve stress, reduce pain and blood pressure, and improve attention span and mental health (per UC Davis Health). Mindfulness has many of these same health benefits, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

At their core, these two activities are very similar. They are both intended to bring psychological peace in a hectic world. But while they do have a lot in common, they are not the same. Mindfulness expert Elisha Goldstein says inĀ Women's Health that the confusion originates in the fact that mindfulness is often used as a form of meditation.

According to Medical Daily, meditation is an umbrella term for activities performed with the intent to focus, acknowledge, and self-regulate the mind. This can take many forms, such as visualization and contemplation. Goldstein tells Women's Health that even exercising and listening to music can be considered meditation if the purpose is to clear your mind. But mindfulness is one of the most popular meditation strategies of all, and that is why many people have come to conflate the two.

Many people use mindfulness to meditate

In their quests to calm their minds, many people turn to mindfulness, which refers to concentrating and bringing one's full awareness to the present. Goldstein told Women's Health that the formal practice of mindfulness is mindfulness meditation.

According to Medical Daily, mindfulness meditation can be practiced by focusing on your breath. Another strategy is to be mindful of your food while eating, placing your full concentration on the taste and texture, and drawing your attention back to your food whenever your mind wanders. Mindfulness meditation has been used as a tool for stress relief for decades in the United States, and its roots go back even further.

The reason mindfulness meditation is so popular is that it works. A study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior found that participants who practiced mindfulness were more likely to consume healthy amounts of glucose. Medical Daily theorizes that this may be because mindfulness improves self-control. Moreover, a randomized clinical trial described in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that mindfulness meditation improved sleep quality.

All in all, mindfulness meditation can vastly improve both physical and mental health. So even in the midst of the daily hustle and bustle, don't forget to take a moment every once in a while to focus your mind and immerse yourself in your experiences.