What distinguishes mindfulness, meditation and prayer?

We hear a lot these days about mindfulness, meditation, and prayer. With the stressful year we’ve all had and the continuing uncertainty before us, more and more people are turning to these methods to find some sense of calm, grounding, and stability.

Unsure where to begin? We recommend you experiment with and employ as many tools and tactics as possible to discover for yourself what works best for you! That’s why, at Asheville Wellness Tours, we focus on your overall wellness

But what do we mean by that?

Defining “Wellness”

Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits regularly, to attain better physical and mental health outcomes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as being “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” 

Several key areas of your lifestyle are considered dimensions of overall wellness. They include social connectedness, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness. Each one has an impact on your physical and mental health.

At Asheville Wellness Tours, we believe wellness can be both lighthearted and impactful; that it is multifaceted and should be accessible and personalized. We believe that wellness isn’t an end-goal but rather a way of living that YOU have a say in designing! 

We can help you to discover this personalized routine by pushing you out of your comfort zone a bit, exposing you to new and exciting activities, and inviting you to dig deep in introspection. We’re here to support you every step along the way!

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to get out into nature, to explore, and to have adventures. By exploring, we enjoy a unique opportunity to discover what truly works for us in terms of wellness habits that improve our physical, mental, and emotional health.

If you’re looking for a way to practice mindfulness, meditation, or prayer, take a look at our wellness tours in Asheville or our virtual wellness options if you’re not in the Asheville area. In particular, check out our group guided meditation in person or online. We love helping y’all unwind and take the time to take care of yourself and your loved ones. 

For now, let’s delve into what distinguishes mindfulness, meditation, and prayer.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of being that allows you to fully focus on a single task or moment. Practicing mindfulness is a way of centering your thoughts and actions to more purposefully live your life. Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh describes mindfulness as “the energy that helps us to be there 100%, the energy of your true presence”, going on to say “if you live in presence, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. We have to be here for the miracle. Mindfulness and concentration are sources of happiness.” 

Practicing mindfulness is a way of slowing down and cutting out the chaos and noise that constantly surrounds us. By simply being present and focusing on the important people, moments, and issues in our lives, we can mindfully move through our days feeling more grounded and purposeful. Mindfulness is ongoing and does not require a formal practice.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind to focus on a single thing, typically your breath, chanting, or music. We employ meditation when we practice yoga, which offers plenty of mental health benefits that might interest you

We also practice meditation through our guided meditations via sound or accompanied by a tea ceremony. Our group guided meditations are great for beginners (check out the Instinctive Meditation option) or for more advanced practitioners, and we can do these group sessions in person here in the Asheville area or virtually if you’re not nearby.

During this particularly difficult time, we’ve found these group meditations to be especially effective in helping folks feel less stressed while also feeling more connected to loved ones who may be far away. 

Guided meditation is a formal practice, but you can certainly practice meditation on your own using whatever methods help you to calm and center your mind. Regular meditation practice, just like regularly going to the gym, is the recommended way to see quality results.

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

The main difference between mindfulness and meditation is in the purpose or end goal in what you are trying to achieve. Where mindfulness helps you to focus entirely on one thing at a time in the present moment, meditation aims to clear your mind of all thoughts in order to focus on your breathing or on a particular sense, like during our sound meditation.

Both mindfulness and meditation help us to center ourselves and our thoughts to focus more fully on our present moment. Meditating is an important part of mindfulness, although it is not required. 

You can practice mindfulness while doing a task, like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn, which does not require meditation. It requires a singular focus, simply being aware of the beauty of the present moment. Meditation typically requires you to not be going any action so you can wholly focus on the senses and quieting your mind.

Mindfulness, Meditation, and Prayer

Mindfulness, meditation, and prayer can all be used to help us cope with stressful situations and as general practice in daily life. Prayer is a particular application for religious purposes, but its purpose certainly aligns with meditation and mindfulness. 

With prayer, however, you are sending out your thoughts and focus toward a deity, which differs from mindfulness and meditation. Rather than focusing your own mind and actions in the present moment, prayer projects those thoughts outwardly. Whether you’re seeking guidance or reassurance, prayer can be helpful for those who follow a religious practice.

Mindfulness and meditation do not adhere to specific religions or even any specific spiritual beliefs. Rather, anyone may practice these in a secular way. The origins of these practices are Buddhist, but you do not need to be a practicing Buddhist to try meditation or mindfulness.

If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, we would love to have you join us with a group guided meditation session! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all. We’re always here for you.