It’s fairly common practice to find mindfulness or meditation programs in today’s modern workplaces. While the overall benefits are still being debated, it is becoming increasingly evident that by including mindfulness or meditation in your work practices you increase your ability to remain calm under pressure. You can also develop better skills to focus and enjoy clearer thinking. But when it comes to mindfulness vs meditation, which is more beneficial for busy executives?
The jury might still be out on which type of practice – meditation or mindfulness – is better, but I believe it really comes down to your individual needs and goals. It’s worth pointing out here that you don’t necessarily have to choose either. You can practice meditation as part of a greater mindfulness routine, and you can also practice mindfulness without meditation.
Still confused? Let’s take a closer look at the two practices to find out which one you can use in your daily work routine – or maybe you might choose both!
Mindfulness, meditation and the workplace
Mindfulness and meditation in the workplace are increasingly being recognized for their role in developing essential employee skills. Research has found that employees or executives who practice meditation, can maintain better focus on their work, will be more comfortable with themselves, can achieve better emotional awareness and ultimately, will have better interpersonal relationships.
As companies progressively become more aware of both the physical and mental well-being of their executives, they also recognize the importance of workplace wellbeing programs. Many companies have even developed specific wellbeing programs which can include everything from psychological counseling, yoga, meditation, and relaxation, to family-building activities. They can also provide dedicated spaces for recreation and cultural expression.
Mindfulness vs meditation: how are they different?
Mindfulness and meditation are often mistakenly considered to be the same thing. That’s not really the case though. Practicing mindfulness does not always include meditation and likewise, meditation does not necessarily mean one is practicing mindfulness – although generally, meditation does include elements of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s attention on the present moment. And it can be achieved with or without meditation. To begin with, mindfulness generally starts by focusing on one thing, such as breathing. Alternatively, you can practice open monitoring where you focus on breathing while also observing the thoughts that arise in your mind.
Mediation, on the other hand, is a mental exercise that helps achieve an overall sense of calmness and relaxation. It is the practice of focusing the mind internally. To do this, generally, people focus on a thought, an object, or an activity – for example, breathing. If you increase your focus, you can achieve mental clarity, emotional calmness, and stability.
Perhaps the idea of mindfulness vs meditation is misleading. As you can see, while both practices are intrinsically related, each specific practice can be used to achieve different outcomes and they are distinctly different in the way in which they are practiced. Mindfulness is generally related to increasing awareness of the present moment, while meditation is related to achieving inner calm.
As I mentioned the difference between the two generally comes down to your own personal goals and motivations for taking up either practice. Let’s take a closer look at how each practice can differ depending on why you do them.
1. What are your desired outcomes?
When weighing up mindfulness vs meditation, which practice you choose really depends entirely on why you have decided to practice them. If you are trying to achieve a total disconnection from reality, even for a few moments, meditation would be the way to go. However, if you are trying to fully focus attention on the present moment, mindfulness would be the way to go. Or perhaps more simply, mindfulness seeks awareness of something, while meditation tries to achieve awareness of nothing.
2. Mindfulness vs meditation: which has greater benefits?
Although both practices have their benefits, each one offers different results. Meditation can be especially useful to help you develop greater decision-making skills and better awareness of your emotions.
Alternatively, mindfulness can be useful to improve task efficiency, as it allows us to improve our ability to concentrate and focus attention. It can also be useful for managing stress and anxiety and achieving a better quality of sleep. Perhaps most importantly, it can help you make better, well-informed decisions by developing a greater sense of self-awareness. It helps you to analyze situations more consciously, without making hasty judgments or getting carried away.
Which practice is better for executives?
Still weighing up mindfulness vs meditation. Maybe you’re wondering which practice is better suited to executives. Remember you need to first ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve.
Both practices are mental exercises that can help to promote the psychological well-being of executives, but there is no universal magic formula. Each person is different, so a very effective practice in one person may not work well for the next.
For example, executives who are experiencing high levels of anxiety related to their work may benefit more from mindfulness. As we have seen, practicing mindfulness helps you to improve concentration and increase efficiency.
Alternatively, for executives who are looking to hone their ability to remain calm and make effective business decisions, meditation might be the way to go.
Meditation vs mindfulness: how to include mindful practices into your daily schedule
It only takes a few minutes a day to incorporate mindfulness practices or meditation into your daily work routine. Although over time you might be inspired to increase the time you spend focusing on your mental wellbeing after you realize the potential for benefits. In terms of reward for effort, it’s a simple equation. Just 5-10 minutes can improve your performance and have you feeling happier and more satisfied.
Also published on Medium.