While perusing items at an Indonesian market, any time something would catch his eye, a shopkeeper would enthusiastically offer several similar pieces, while repeating in English, “Same, same, but different!”
20 years later and I think of this phrase often. It’s an oxymoron, right? How can two things be the same and different at the same time? Which one is it…the same or different?
But life isn’t that simple. Reality is not painted in the black and white landscape of polar opposites. It is nuanced and reflected in many shades.
I was in a discussion recently around mindfulness and meditation and found myself remarking internally… “same, same, but different!”
Mindfulness is the practice of slowing down, getting present, and fully experiencing and noticing what’s going on, without judgment.
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind, noticing the active chatter of the conscious mind, and focusing your attention on something like your breath instead of engaging your thoughts.
Same, same, right? In some ways yes, but not entirely. Without practicing some level of mindfulness, practicing meditation would be virtually impossible. That said, you can be mindful without necessarily engaging in the specific practice of meditation.
Both meditation and mindfulness rely heavily on your ability to root yourself in the current moment, experiencing it with depth and intention, while simultaneously practicing the release of judgment.
This month you can practice more mindfulness by slowing down and noticing the world around you in greater detail as you move through it. Notice what you are experiencing and the details of how you are experiencing it. What is your perception of external circumstances and how does your internal world respond?
By interacting more thoughtfully with what you are experiencing, you begin to spend less time living on autopilot and more time living from a more conscious space. This means you are able to glean more from the choices you are making and the experiences you are having.
Next time you are walking to or from your car, taking an elevator, or eating a meal, you can practice increased mindfulness by tuning into each of your senses, and noticing what your mind has to say about it all without judgment.
With greater presence, we are able to cultivate more meaningful life experiences, while reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and improving self-awareness. With regular practice throughout the day, we can improve sleep and decrease the potential for burnout.
Meditation takes mindfulness a step further, since you cannot slip into a state of meditation without first being present and heightening your moment to moment awareness.
To help transition from mindfulness to meditation, find a comfortable spot and either relax your gaze or close your eyes. Begin to focus on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, notice everything going on inside and out, without engaging any particular thoughts about it.
If you struggle with sitting still, you can try a walking meditation in which you define a specific distance, or circular path, and focus all of your attention on the experience of each subtle shift and sensation, as your body moves through space.
Ultimately, mindfulness is a prerequisite for meditation and meditation helps you have more ease being mindful in your everyday life.
Both mindfulness and meditation can offer great physical, mental, and emotional value in similar ways making them, “same, same, but different.”
Visit RebeccaBoswell.com/Connect to create what’s next with more mindfulness and a meditation practice.
Article originally printed in City Lifestyle Magazine - June 2023
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