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Are Mindfulness & Meditation the same thing?

Mindfulness and meditation have many similarities and their practices often overlap, but the terms are not completely interchangeable. It is possible to practice mindfulness without meditating. It is also possible to practice meditation without being mindful. And it is possible to practice mindful meditation! However, because the terms mindfulness and meditation are often used in a similar context, confusion about the differences between them is understandable. 

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we start to pay deliberate and kind attention to our direct experience in the present moment. There are many things we might pay deliberate more attention to, and become more aware of including: our senses, our surroundings, our breath, our thoughts, and our emotions. What is important is that we are aware of what is actually happening in the present moment, be it internally or externally, and that we learn to do this without judgment.

We might practice mindfulness by tuning into our senses when we are carrying out everyday activities such as washing our hands, gardening, eating or walking outside in nature. We also might practice mindfulness more formally through meditation.

Meditation is an intentional, formal practice, where we set aside time specifically to train our minds. This is usually done by bringing our attention to rest on a specific focal point. Sometimes the focal point of the meditation is a present moment experience. We might choose, for example, to focus on the sensations of breathing. When doing so, our intention is simply to be aware of the sensations of breathing. We are not trying to change the breath in any way, or to try and feel more relaxed or calm. This type of meditation is considered to be a mindfulness meditation.


Practicing mindfulness during formal mindfulness meditation supports and enriches your ability to be mindful in your everyday life. When you practice mindfulness meditation, you build your ability to focus, be present and and mindful in every other part of your life. Meditation and mindfulness nourish and support each other, but they are two different things.

There are other types of meditation that focus on cultivating certain qualities of mind and heart. For example, particular words or visualisations may be used to nourish calm, peace, loving-kindness or confidence depending on the intention of the practice. However, these meditations wouldn't be considered mindfulness practices because, although nourishing and valuable, they are not focusing on present moment reality.

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