Being Mindful vs. Practicing Mindfulness

(2 min read)

I often get asked the difference between “being mindful” and “mindfulness”. This is a common question, one which stems from the generalized use of the word mindful in English expressions.

For example, have you ever heard someone say:
“We all need to be mindful of this…”,
“Be mindful of others…”,
“Let’s be mindful of…”, or even
“Mind the gap…”?

Merriam-Webster1 defines “mindful” as: bearing in mind: aware.

Thesaurus.com2 lists alternatives to “be mindful of” as:

  • Be aware of
  • Beware
  • Call to mind
  • Consider
  • Heed
  • Mind
  • Note
  • Remember

Based on those definitions, we can safely say that everyone is already mindful (to varying degrees) throughout the day. It’s not something you’ve ever had to develop, you simply are.

So, why do people choose to train in mindfulness meditation, and what is it?

It’s quite simple actually – while there are plenty of benefits of being mindful, most of us are only actually mindful for a very small percentage of our daily lives. Think about it for a moment – how would your life improve if you were more mindful, more often, and in more situations?

Training in mindfulness meditation, or as I like to call it, practicing mindfulness, is a way to achieve this.

By putting aside dedicated and regular time for “formal” mindfulness practice, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes every day focusing your attention on the breath or physical sensations in the body, strengthens your ability to be mindful. It’s a technique to train your mind. Through dedicated mindfulness practice you’ll naturally become more mindful and aware in your everyday life. And the resulting benefits of being mindful will start to show up in ever-increasing parts of your life.

In short:
Being mindful sometimes is a good thing.
Practicing mindfulness so you can always be mindful is even better.

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