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Meditation and mindfulness, what’s the difference?

Meditation and mindfulness are often associated and even confused. Let’s look at the question to better understand these two disciplines, which are closely related but have some key differences. Learn about these two ways to feel good in your daily life with a few exercises.

Meditation: a journey into the self

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Meditation is an ancient practice, originating in India several millennia ago and reaching the West through Buddhism. Thanks to its scientifically proven positive effects on health, particularly on stress management, meditation has become very popular. It is practised at home, in the workplace, in seminars and courses, often in combination with yoga, of which it is one of the founding principles.

What does it mean to meditate?

Meditation is a mental activity that consists of focusing one’s attention, sometimes with the help of a visual or auditory support, until one’s state of consciousness is modified. Its objectives are to calm down, improve self-awareness, control emotions and improve concentration. It is often used in the context of mental preparation and personal development.
There are several methods of meditation:
● Zazen meditation, which is practised simply by sitting, concentrating on the breath and learning to let the endless flow of thoughts pass.
● Transcendental meditation, which is more spiritual and focuses on the development of consciousness, was very popular in the 1960s.
● Meditation practices with a support, such as repeating a mantra (Japa Yoga), using mandalas, or through movement (Vinyasa Yoga).
● Guided meditations, which are ideal for beginners following the instructions of a coach.
● Various other forms of meditation.

2 exercises to better understand meditation

To practice meditation, you can try the following exercises in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed:

● Recitation of a mantra: choose a very short word that resonates, the well-known “Om” being the easiest to remember, and repeat it aloud or in your head for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Let your thoughts emerge and fade away without worrying about them. End with a few minutes of silence to enjoy your calm.
● Focus on the body: lie down and breathe deeply, then focus on all the parts of your body in order. Pay
attention to all your sensations: points of contact, possible tension, etc. This way you can relax each of
your muscles. This is an ideal exercise for falling asleep.

Mindfulness: living deeply in the present moment

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Why do we often associate meditation with mindfulness?

Meditation and mindfulness are both about taking a different look at yourself, your environment or the activity you are doing. Mindfulness is a form of meditation and some exercises combine several approaches to meditation, which remains a very broad field.
While other techniques seek to create a state of calm and stability by removing oneself from the hustle and bustle of the world, mindfulness aims to immerse oneself with one’s five senses in what is happening in the
present moment, to gain wisdom and make the most of every experience.

3 ways to learn mindfulness

Here are 3 simple experiments to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:
● The 5-4-3-2-1 method: observe what is in front of you and name 5 things you hear, 4 things you see, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
● Mindful eating: before enjoying your meal, enjoy noticing the colours of the food. Think about how good it is for your body, and then with each bite, focus on the smell and taste you perceive, taking the time to appreciate every nuance. This is an excellent practice for reconnecting with the pleasure of eating and maintaining a healthy relationship with food.
● Conscious walks: walk in silence, observing your surroundings, feeling the coherence of your heartbeat with your breathing, simply taking each step one after the other and letting your thoughts wander

Meditation and mindfulness: how to continue your discovery?

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If you are interested in learning more about meditation and mindfulness, continue the experience with a few
iFIT series:
● Mood Food: Nutrition for Your Mind, to try out mindful nutrition with Dr Eva Selhub

● Hawaii Walking & Meditation Series, alternating walking and guided meditations filmed in beautiful locations
● Panama Meditation Series, with 4 rich sessions to discover several useful applications of meditation in
everyday life

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