What Is The Difference Between Mindfulness And Meditation?

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Mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably. For recovery from mental health disorders and substance use disorders, the practice of both meditation and mindfulness are emphasized. Together, as well as apart, both mindfulness and meditation have been scientifically proven to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Healing the heart, increasing oxygen flow, reducing physical tension, and even promoting the growth of more grey matter in the brain are some of the most notable positive side effects.

Though the two are very similar, they are still separate from one another. Huffington Post contributing authors Ed and Deb Shapiro eloquently describe mindfulness and meditation as mirror-like reflections, “Mindfulness and meditation are mirror-like reflections of each other: mindfulness supports and enriches meditation, while meditation nurtures and expands mindfulness.” Mindfulness is as much a form of meditation, a practice, and a lifestyle. Unlike meditation, mindfulness does not require any dedicated space of time, because it can applied at any time. Whereas the principles of meditation, including mindfulness, can be applied at any time, typically the practice and discipline of meditation requires specific time.


Mindfulness is typically described using terms like aware, awareness, noticing, paying attention, non-judgment, being present. To be mindful is to be aware of and notice oneself and one’s surroundings. Without judgment, one is able to mindfully pay attention to their inner and outer environments. Specifically for mental health recovery, mindfulness can be supportive in being able to be aware of and present with one’s emotions without being consumed by them, controlled by them, or fighting against them with judgment and criticism. Applying mindfulness to everyday activities creates more calm and presence.


Meditation is a time spent in quiet contemplation. Most often, meditation is dedicated to a mindful focus on the breath and then on the mind, slowly releasing thoughts. Some meditation seeks after a quiet mind, clean mind, or “no mind” state in which the mind is empty, focused only on the breath. Other forms of meditation, of which there are many disciplines, might only focus on quieting the mind and focusing on the breath. Meditation can include the use of mantras, chanting, and visualizations.


Mental health recovery needs to be restorative for mind, body, and spirit while providing proven clinical approaches for healing. Avalon By The Sea is one of California’s only trusted primary mental health care facilities, providing trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information, call 888-958-7511.

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