Why Awareness Is Different From Mindfulness
Mindfulness and awareness are not the same thing – discover why they differ and how mindfulness affects your awareness.
Why Awareness Is Different From Mindfulness
Many times, people speak of Mindfulness and awareness as being different words to describe the same thing.
But actually, there IS a difference between the two, and understanding this difference helps to clarify what Mindfulness really is.
In the following article, we explain what awareness is and Mindfulness is and point out the difference between the two.
And in the process, we discover how Mindfulness can affect our awareness in beneficial ways.
Mindfulness And Awareness Are Not The Same Thing
Many people use the words Mindfulness and awareness interchangeably.
However, there is a difference:
Awareness is not always Mindful;
But Mindfulness is always aware.
Still confused? Let’s take a deeper look:
Awareness comes in a variety of intensities, or levels, which we will discuss in greater depth in our article, Different Levels Of Awareness.
But basically, it can range from being dimly aware of something, to being super-aware of it.
You can be aware that it is raining outside.
This awareness may be vague and unfocused, being little more than a barely conscious acknowledgement of the rain on the window panes.
Or it may involve a deeper, more focused awareness:
You could be aware of the sounds of individual rain drops hitting the roof and windows;
Aware of the visual patterns of droplets as they roll down the glass panes;
You may be aware of how the damp weather is affecting your physical body, maybe making you feel cold or stiff, or maybe refreshed and energized;
How it is making you feel inside – what emotions it is stirring up, what thoughts & memories it is activating;
You could even expand your awareness further, tuning in to how the rain is affecting the energy of yourself, your house, your community;
And further still, you could become aware of the relationship of the rain in a global sense; a universal or cosmic sense!
Or, you could be at the completely opposite end of the awareness spectrum and not even realize it is raining until you step out the door!
Mindfulness on the other hand, is a conscious directing of awareness towards the present moment.
Being Mindful of the present moment in which it is raining will certainly involve some level of awareness of the fact that it is raining.
But how aware do you have to be of something for it to be Mindful?
As long as you are consciously aware of it, you are being Mindful of it.
However, there are many other things happening in the present moment – it is not only raining:
You may be working at your desk, there may be other people in the room with you, you may be developing a tension headache or getting hungry or tired, someone may be talking to you or you may be planning an assignment!
In reality, there will be a virtually inexhaustible array of things happening within you and around you of which you could be aware and mindful of at any given moment.
So How Aware Do You Need To Be In Order To Be Mindful?
In reality, for all of us living in the ‘real’ world, it is just not possible for us to be fully aware of everything within and around us at any single time.
And it is not necessary to be immersed in total awareness in order to be Mindful.
Remember – being Mindful means consciously directing your awareness to the present moment.
You may choose to focus your attention on the work you have in front of you, but if you are being Mindful, you will still be consciously aware of the rain outside, of the people around you, of the thoughts and feelings and sensations arising within you.
It means, that when you are being Mindful, your attention will not be caught up in the work at hand so entirely, that you fail to notice that the rain has stopped, or that someone is talking to you, or that you are getting hungry and stiff- backed and it’s time for a lunch break.
So you see, there is a difference between being Mindful and being aware.
And as you develop a steady practice of Mindfulness, you will find it easier to both,
- Focus your attention on a task at hand, and at the same time;
- Be consciously aware in any given moment of what is happening within and around you.
And that means this:
That you will be better able to keep your thoughts, feelings and energy in the present moment, which not only infuses what you do with greater energy and vitality, it also allows you to respond to events and situations from a fresh, new perspective.
And this in turn, allows you to stop habitually running the same old patterns of responses which have held you in the same rut for so long.
That’s right – ultimately, it gives you the opportunity to consciously choose the direction you take in life at any given moment.
So, How Do You Get Started?
If you haven’t already done so, you can read more about Mindfulness in, What Is Mindfulness?
Or, you can jump right in and gain some real practical experience of being Mindful with our FREE Guided Mindfulness Meditation video.