We often hear the terms mindfulness and meditation used together because of their unique ability to give you the skills and tools you need to access your inner peace. These terms are often used in a similar context and although they aim for the same outcome they are overlapping separate practices.
Mindfulness is defined as 1- The quality or stare of being conscious or aware of something and 2- A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It encourages us to be actively aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. Being actively present allows us enjoy the simplicity and mundane of everyday moments while encouraging us to listen to our bodies when they need rest, nutrition, water or exercise. Mindfulness encourages us to give someone our full attention when we speak to them and eliminates the stress of worry about the future or making mountains our of mole hills. Through this practice we become more genuine in our daily actions and life takes on a whole new meaning.
"Listening is an art we must cultivate." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Mediation is the formal practice of finding peace within and is the perfect why to release built up stress and is known for improving sleep and strengthened brain function. There are different types of meditation, guided mediation and focused meditation for example, but they all aim for the same outcome of teaching our brains to see things from a different perspective and let go of things we cannot control. During mediation you mind travels through series of thoughts that lead to a greater understanding of the world around us and the duality of the simplicity and complexity of eradicating negative thoughts.
Using mindfulness and mediation in tandem enhances the effectiveness of the other. Yoga is a great tool for both of these practices as it encourages a connection with both the mind and body during practice. Embracing a morning and evening mediation routine has proven effective for stress reduction and you may find yourself craving those ten minutes of solitude. If that seems to much of a commitment or too intimidating to be alone with your thoughts try and simply take a 'pause' in your day to notice the things around you; the beauty in the sky, the smell of your coffee brewing, the squirrel on your back fence. Take that moment to feel yourself breath, calmly in through your nose and our through your mouth. Feel the air feeling and expanding your lungs and the peace you feel as the air leaves your body.
Practicing both mindfulness and meditation takes time but be patient because when used together they truly are the secrets to a happy life.