• Juan Reyes

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? Mindfulness IS meditation

Updated: Jun 27

Some people think that mindfulness and meditation are two different things. In this post we will talk about that and you’ll understand why they are not two different things.


Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment, on purpose ,and in a non-judgemental way.

This definition was coined by John Kabat-Zinn at the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Center and is the most widely used definition of mindfulness meditation. It is the definition used in all the scientific community to describe what this type of meditation is.

In broad ( and simplistic) terms, mindfulness is the western term for an old buddhist practice called Vipassana. It is the meditation style that the Buddha taught and how he achieved enlightenment.


This is the part where a lot of people get confused and think that mindfulness and meditation are different things.

Here is the key that will help you solve this confusion: There are two ways of practicing mindfulness, the formal way and the informal way.

INFORMAL: the informal way of practicing mindfulness is to actually bring awareness or paying attention to our daily activities , for example when you are eating or playing with your kids or when you are listening to a song or when you are walking in the park. Making sure that your attitude is one of being fully present and actually experiencing what we are doing in that particular moment. This is what most people think mindfulness it’s all about but this is really only a part of with mindfulness is. The reason for that is because many times the present moment is not pleasant , in fact in can be painful and uncomfortable. Mindfulness requires you to be present even in thsoe circumstances, not just when you are having fun or enjoying something.

This is an important component of mindfulness and is built upon the other way of practicing which is the formal practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is really a lifestyle, but in order to build that lifestyle we have to practice mindfulness in the formal way.

FORMAL: the formal way of practicing mindfulness is actually dedicating a specific time of the day and a specific place of your house or apartment to sit and meditate. This could be for a period of 10 20 40 minutes or even longer sometimes that is the basis of your meditation practice.

The formal practice of mindfulness, which is sitting in meditation daily, is what actually gives you the ability to practice more informally, which is bringing full experience to your daily activities.

Remember that I mentioned before that the default state of the mind is not to be in the present moment so it’s difficult to just try to have this attitude of being fully present at all times if we don’t actually train the brain to do that. That’s why the formal sitting and practicing it’s very very important because is the basis of being mindful, it’s actually the only way to create a brain that allows you to be mindful which is actually being there fully present in all situations of your life.

"There are two ways of practicing mindfulness, the formal way and the informal way."

Both ways of practicing mindfulness are meditations. Both require training the mind to develop awareness of the present moment. To use a gym analogy we can say that if you are in good physical shape it’s because you go to the gym and train daily. So the informal way of practice is the equivalent of being in good physical shape and the formal practice is the actual training that you do in the gym every day.

I hope this helped to clarify that mindfulness and meditation are not separate things.

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments or feel free to send me a message.