Photo by simoningate/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by simoningate/iStock / Getty Images

MINDFULNESS

There is tremendous research on mindfulness today.  It does seem like the buzz word, including meditation.   However, this research does show the benefits of participating in both mindfulness and meditation.  There are some slight differences, but both are practices that I educate my clients about, encourage them to engage in, and I practice myself.  The research shows that in engaging in mindfulness and/or meditation REDUCES anxiety and depression, allowing individuals that suffer from depression and/or anxiety to function better through the day and have improved sleep.  Brain Imaging ALSO shows the brain getting healthier with the practice of meditation in just 8 weeks.  As we age, our brains shrink. In the studies of 8+ weeks of meditation it has shown older adults increase the volume of their brain to that of a young adult.  Meditation and mindfulness is exercise, exercise of the brain.

Mindfulness

This is the process of doing things through the day that you are aware of in the present moment.  What does that mean?  It means when you sit down and have a meal, you are aware of your 5 senses as you eat this meal.  What does it taste like?  What is the texture?  The smell?  This concept of using the 5 senses is applied to everything you do through the day.  Walking, showering, driving, cooking, etc.  The practice of mindfulness helps in that you become present with what you do, how you interact with the world, and what you are feeling.  This sharpens your focus of attention, helps you become a better listener, and has you become better engaged with the people in your life.  Over time, you begin to react differently to circumstances in your life, creating a better mood, and thus a better outlook.

Meditation

This is a sitting practice.  There are many different ways to engage in meditation and there is no right or wrong way to do it.  Some people prefer to listen to music or nature sounds, focusing on their breath.  Some like to hear a guided meditation where it speaks to you, having you imagine something.  I encourage my clients to check out both and find what fits for them.  Sometimes it is a combination of both, depending on the day and what they are needing.  I also encourage my clients to use their smart phones to download an App or two on meditation to help facilitate.  This gets them engaged on a daily basis, tracks it for them, and gives them resources for these different kinds of meditation.  This like mindfulness, begins to teach you to react differently to circumstances in your life.  It does not change them, but how you react.  Thus changing how your outlook is and how you feel, creating an improved outlook.