During my 200hr YTT (Yoga Teacher Training), we were required to do daily group meditation before we started our lessons and let’s be real, sitting still in a cross-legged position for 30 minutes is no easy feat. However, something that I did become a lot better at doing is to be more mindfully aware.
Mindfulness vs Awareness
Mindfulness and awareness are two words that are often used in the meditation / yoga realm and I do admit that I hadn’t given much thought about the difference between them until I was tasked to write this blog post (!).
In my quest to better explain this to you, dear reader, I did some very necessary research and a simple way to explain it is this (I think): the key to mindfulness is introspection, while the key to awareness is acceptance. So to break it down a bit further, the foundational difference between the two, lies in the difference in our state of mind.
The goal of practicing mindfulness, and especially in connection with meditation, is to deeply settle into a moment of presence with yourself while withholding judgment. To simply be in your current state and allow thoughts to come and go, like the ebb and flow of the tide. I remember with fondness that my teacher commented “It’s not about having no thoughts. You thinking that you have no thoughts, is a thought in itself!”.
While the act of mindfulness seeks to dispel judgment of oneself, awareness allows you to accept what is happening to and around you. This opens up the ability to appreciate what surrounds us and what we already have, while extending empathy towards others too.
Instead of using the clichéd yin and yang example, I will say that mindfulness and awareness, to me, is a complimentary mix just like a freshly baked baguette and salted butter are a match made in culinary heaven.
Ways to practice mindful awareness
Just to clarify though, I’m not saying that mindful awareness can only be achieved through meditation! Small, simple moments experienced with intention such as taking your morning coffee outside on the balcony without looking at your phone, or taking a break from a stressful period at work to relax your shoulders and jaw while having a few deep calibrating breaths, are really great and accessible touchpoints for you to practice mindful awareness.
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It really is a balancing act between both aspects, maybe even to the point where it could be seen as a chicken and egg situation. Are you first made aware and then you can be mindful? Or does being mindful first, lead to eventual awareness? Unfortunately, I really don’t have the answer for this but since I’ve already mentioned baguettes and butter, I’ll leave this for you as some mindfully aware food for thought.