The Difference Between Being Mindful and Being Present

Toni Koraza

Being mindful and present is similar, but not the same.

It’s hard to stay present these days. And most people are not mindful.

Being present means being actively engaged in what’s going on right now. It’s an important skill to tackle in your daily life. When I talk about being present, I think of children. They’re present, but usually not mindful.

Mindfulness is a state of focused awareness of the present, acknowledgment of thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of being mindful.

Mindfulness builds on being present. It’s impossible to be mindful without being present.

Reaching a mindful state will help you deal with your insecurities, improve awareness of your surroundings, and deepen your relationships.

Mindfulness and being present work hand in hand to increase your happiness and satisfaction.

The mindful improvements

The term is being thrown left and right nowadays, inflating its importance. Being mindful will significantly improve your life.

Understanding how it works might not be easy at first. But once you’re at peace with yourself you won’t strive to come back to the chaos of previous experiences.

“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately, you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” — Elkhart Tolle

Buddhist monks have been practicing these rituals for centuries. And they might be on to something with their ways. “Mindfulness is the key to happiness,” says MD Judson Brewer from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

What does it mean to be mindful?

If you look at the dictionary you might find a cold definition like;

“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” — Merrimam Webster

Being mindful means that you’re present in ‘right now’ and that you can take control of your actions — not just react to the world of stimuli.

Practicing mindfulness changed my life. Up until 2015, I couldn’t get outside my head. I was anxious and lacked focus and general direction.

Striving to be present thought me how to take control of my life. It taught me the complex nature of our existence. It taught me how to be happy and satisfied(well, not all the time — that would be silly — but the improvement is undeniable).

I react to stress with ease now. And relationships with my family, my friends, and new acquaintances improved. I feel like I gained the compass to navigate life. I feel the world around me now.

Stop at the Sign of Bells

There are mindful retreats all around the world. The most famous one in Europe is the Plum Village monastery in southern France.

The same name applies to the teachings of Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn.

One of the central practices in the Plum Village the mindful bell. There is a real bell in the village, but you can use the Plum Village app or any reminder to the same effect. The bell signals you to drop what you’re doing and become present for a minute. The goal is to breathe, exist, and become aware of the world around you.

These pauses provide an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the present moment.

When you hear the sound of your reminder, take a deep conscious breath. Then close your eyes and slowly recognize the space within and around you. Listen to your heartbeat, feel the weight on your legs, and relax your shoulders and chin.

Practice singular focus

Multitasking is not your superpower.

You might feel like you’re going to accomplish more if you work on multiple things at the time, but the studies have shown otherwise.

The research published in the Journal of Experimental psychology states that our overall productivity drastically falls when switching between tasks before they’re finished. It takes time to build up the concentration for the next task and shut the cognitive functions used for the last one.

“In experiments published in 2001, Joshua Rubinstein, PhD, Jeffrey Evans, PhD, and David Meyer, PhD, conducted four experiments in which young adults switched between different tasks, such as solving math problems or classifying geometric objects. For all tasks, the participants lost time when they had to switch from one task to another. As tasks got more complex, participants lost more time. As a result, people took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs were also greater when the participants switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar.[5]”

Mindful people are focused on what’s in front of them. In turn, they’re more productive and satisfied.

If you’re writing, don’t scroll through your phone. If you’re brushing your teeth, don’t watch YouTube videos. If you’re cooking, just cook.

Focus on whatever you’re doing. Either focus on work or something else. Never go in-between. Give full attention to the time you have.

Being focused is part of being mindful. It will relieve you of stress and worry. You’re going to tackle your issues with all your energy.

Meditate every day

There is a reason why so many successful people preach meditation — because it works.

Oprah would apparently stop the whole production on her show(before air, of course), and tell everyone to take time to meditate.

One of the most famous comedians in the world Jerry Seinfeld talks about how morning tantric meditation helps him energize and establish laser-like focus.

I can tell you that meditation helped me with writing the other day. I was sleep deprived after only four hours of rest and I wanted to finish two articles before breakfast. My mind was derailed and my inspiration hit the brick wall.

I found a guided meditation video on YouTube, plugged my headset, struck a lotus pose on my bead and for twenty minutes I focused on my breathing and relaxing my muscle. I became aware of my body. And I churned out both articles before noon.

Easy way to start meditating right now;

  • Find a comfortable position
  • Close your eyes
  • Breathe in through your nose. Hold your breath for a second. And breathe out through your mouth.
  • Relax your jaw until it hangs. Then relax your shoulders. And continue to relax the body part by body part.
  • Don’t forget to breathe

Do this for at least 10 minutes to power-up through the day.

Focus on the most important person

Observe the world. Strive to be right here, right now.

When you’re spending time with another person, make them a priority.

“In this world, the most important person is the person in front of you.” — Confucius

When you’re in the company of others, don’t think about other stuff. Don’t check your notifications. Turn your phone face down.

The world won’t explode in the next 10 minutes.

Instead, gaze at the person you’re with and actively listen. Ask them questions. And get to know them. You’ll have the best conversation ever.

The best way to become interesting is to be interested.

People appreciate it when you’re with them. They will feel your company. They will love to be around you. You’re going to be loved.

Being mindful and present is similar, but different.

Yet, both practices will help you become satisfied and happy.

Mindfulness builds on the present while being present is a tactic in the arsenal of mindfulness.

Utilize micro habits to become mindful in your daily life.

  • Actively try to stay present
  • Stop by the sign of bells, and absorb the world around you for one minute each day
  • Focus on whatever you’re doing right now. Never go in-between.
  • Meditate Daily
  • Listen to the most important person

These micro habits and understanding the difference between being present and mindful will help you reach personal satisfaction and happiness.

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