The age of mindfulness and meditation is here. Once relegated to a “hippy” activity, it’s estimated that as many as 500 million people meditate worldwide, including 14% of Americans.
First a couple of definitions are in order. People use the terms mindfulness and meditation interchangeably but, while they’re closely related, they’re not exactly the same thing.
·Mindfulness means being aware of and anchoring yourself in the present moment without judgment and refocusing your attention when it wanders, often to reduce stress or anxiety in the moment.
·Meditation is a more structured practice, involving more intentional focus, and using mental training techniques.
Another way to understand the difference: meditation involves mindfulness but not all mindfulness leads to a meditative state. For instance, you may be at your desk and stressed about your work so you take a couple of minutes to close your eyes and control your breathing to calm yourself — that’s mindfulness. Meditation requires more of a hard pause, often with the help of movement-based or visual focus, over the course of several minutes or more.
Studies suggest that both mindfulness and meditation can reduce physical pain, anxiety, stress and even depression.