Meditation is mindfulness but mindfulness is not meditation.
“Be more mindful” is quite like telling somebody to cheer up when they are clearly unhappy, it has little meaning and even less impact. Kind of like a “wow, why didn’t I think of that!” eye-roll inducing statement. When you think about it, it is quite ironic, for those sharing such a pearl of wisdom are clearly not practicing what they preach.
To be mindful, one must practice being mindful. It is not a sudden happening of fortune but an acquired ability from a worked-on skillset. It is an inherent ability of all humans, but the strength of that ability depends on how it is worked on. A use it or lose it sort of deal. An ability must first be made strong, and then kept strong.
How does one find mindfulness, let alone strengthen it? It is discovered by beginning with sorting out a mind that is full. To be mindful, is to be mind-empty. To empty the mind the best practice is the one that has been available to us for thousands of years and has survived after generation and generation of practitioners – meditation.
In my own journey, I found myself discovering meditation, and also being prescribed mindfulness at the exact same time. I am forever grateful for the former, and although understanding the latter, I find it to be lacking.
Mindfulness is one of the western science prescriptions for mental health issues, something that I was offered after all the pharmaceutical drugs offered no success. It is an extraction from the branch of meditation, from the science tree of Yoga. Mindfulness is a sterile clinical logic-based pill compared to its origin that is a wholesome banquet, with the tastes of the full embodiment of thriving and being alive. To seek only mindfulness would be like swallowing a capsule of caffeine instead of wrapping your hands around a big warm mug of your favourite caffeinated beverage – sure, it may do the job, but it has nothing on the whole experience: The tastes, the flavours, the warmth, the pleasure, the joy!
Mindfulness is missing the warmth and ritual of a wholesome Yoga practice. Including the most essential ingredient of a community. The same reason people meet up for a coffee instead of just having one at home is that it provides more. More than can be put into words.
“Having a coffee at home is cheaper” some would argue, and I would agree with them (because it is absolutely true), but this argument comes from a mindset stuck in the modality of a lacking in abundance. One who is mindful would recognise this thought before saying it and evaluate where it comes from. Is all that I value ascribed only to monetary transactions? Does this mentality play out in other areas of my life? Can I really not afford to go out and have one cup of coffee?
To seek out the practice of meditation and yoga may come with its own costs, be that financial or time wise, but what do you value most? Numbers in a bank account or the ability to be happy and supported in the immediate present?
What other facets of our minds need to be recognised and explored?
We need more than just one thing to support us in our lives, there is no single silver bullet that can do the trick. So be mindful, but also be more.