What is the Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation

The main difference between mindfulness and meditation is that mindfulness can be achieved through meditation. Hence, meditation is a means of gaining mindfulness.

Mental health and wellbeing have become a significant concern in the present world. Consequently, the great teachings of religious leaders such as Lord Buddha who gave guidance to the mental health of humans in various ways are now becoming increasingly popular and embraced by people all around the world. Meditation has, therefore, now become a distinct value among people of all diversities. This article especially refers to the Buddhist meditation practice, which is also known as Bhavana.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Mindfulness 
     – Definition, Aim, Results
2. What is Meditation
     – Definition, Aim, Results
3. What are the Similarities Between Mindfulness and Meditation
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Buddhism, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Meditation, Spirituality

Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation - Comparison Summary

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to the state of the mind when you are aware of everything around and within you. It is referred to as sati–sampajañña in Buddhism. Also, this happens as a result of perfect concentration and consciousness of your mind. Hence, this can be achieved by practicing concentration which can be done through meditation. Therefore, mindfulness is the act of focusing on being in the present.

The human mind tends to change very quickly; therefore, concentration on one specific thing becomes hard in the long run. However, someone who has practiced mindfulness can notice every change in their mind and thus focus on their actions to achieve the optimum result of them.

Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation_Figure 1

In other words, mindfulness can be defined as the act of paying attention and therefore, noticing every change within and around you, and living in the present. By this, a person can pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, movements, and changes around them.

Hence, when someone has gained mindfulness, he/she has a good concentration of their mentality and psychological stance and even about their physical well-being. Not only that, but they are also well aware of their society and their surroundings.

Main Difference - Mindfulness vs Meditation

Moreover, during ancient times, some people have even surpassed the level of general mindfulness, where they acquire spiritual powers or supernatural abilities by improving their mindfulness or concentration.

What is Meditation

Meditation (Bhavana) is a practice of relaxing and concentration of one’s mind. It was first practiced by the spiritual leaders in India, which was later recommended as a fundamental practice by Lord Buddha, who is the founder of Buddhism. Meditation is considered a foremost path one should take in practicing the eightfold path in Buddhism.

Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation

According to Lord Buddha, there are several types of meditations that a human can practice in order to have a healthy mind and thereby achieve the stage of mindfulness. Some of the popular types are;

Ana-Pana-sathi Bhavana  – This includes proper concentration on your breath: the inhalation and exhalation (this is a perfect way to improve your concentration ability and overall consciousness) Following your breath improves your awareness of being in the present.

Maithree Bhavana – This meditation teaches a person how to spread their good wishes to themselves as well to others (including all living organisms).

Vipassana Bhavana – This meditation focuses on developing one’s insight into the life and the truth of life.

There are several other meditations types in addition to these types mentioned above. The proper posture (the most recommended for a beginner; the sitting posture) is also a deciding factor in practicing meditation for a long time.

Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation_Figure 4

Meditation, therefore, increases the mindfulness, relieves stress and increases mental health and calms one’s soul. The results of meditation not only have impacts within the individual level, but it also impacts others too. Especially, through meditations such as Maithree meditation, the individual learns to spread his/her good wishes to him/herself as well as others so that he/she will learn to love, respect and be kind towards others as well to their own selves. Overall, meditation elevates inner peace in a person.

Moreover, research studies have proven that meditation has a direct improvement on the brain activity and on the overall mental, physical as well as social wellbeing of a person.

Relationship Between Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Mindfulness can be gained through meditation, as meditation enables the perfect concentration of mind in a person.
  • Similarly, mindfulness becomes the essence of meditation as well.

Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation


Mindfulness (also known as sati–sampajañña) refers to the state of being fully mentally aware and conscious of the mind, therefore, being in the present. Meditation, on the other hand, is a practice where you can achieve mindfulness. Hence, meditation is a larger term that encompasses mindfulness and other techniques. Thus, this is the main difference between mindfulness and meditation. 


Another difference between mindfulness and meditation is their aim. Mindfulness aims to be completely aware and live only in the present while meditation aims to stop the mind rushing about in an aimless stream of thoughts and gain inner peace as well as mental and psychological well being. Hence, one can gain mindfulness through meditation.


The result of mindfulness is being able to completely aware of the present while the result of meditation is achieving mindfulness, relieving stress, physical and psychological wellbeing. Hence, this is another difference between mindfulness and meditation.


The way of achieving mindfulness is paying attention to your present and meditating while there are several methods or ways of meditation, especially taught in Buddhism.


Mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably as they are inter-related. Mindfulness refers to the state of mind where one is fully aware of what they are doing and their surrounding while meditation is a practice where one can use to improve overall mental, physical as well as social wellbeing of a person. Hence, meditation is a means of gaining mindfulness. Hence, this is the difference between mindfulness and meditation.


1. “Chapter XIII – Methods Of Bhavana.” Wisdom Library, 16 Feb. 2018, Available here.

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About the Author: Upen

Upen, BA (Honours) in Languages and Linguistics, has academic experiences and knowledge on international relations and politics. Her academic interests are English language, European and Oriental Languages, Internal Affairs and International Politics, and Psychology.

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