Why Mindfulness is NOT (Just) Meditation

Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University has reported that “Leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.

That is an astounding number. Stress is an epidemic in our country. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 77% of respondents reported “regularly experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress” and 73% “psychological symptoms.”

Are you one of the three-fourths that are plagued with regular stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, burnout or extreme frustration?

I am. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle that can never be won, but I promise- you do have tools at your disposal. One of my favorites is: Mindfulness.

Now before you start thinking of yoga poses and breathing techniques, let me stop you. Those things CAN be a PART of mindfulness, but it’s not the entire concept. Mindful living is so much more than that!


I love the definition given at mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Does that definition say anything about yoga or meditation? It certainly doesn’t!

Mindfulness is an ability that everyone already possesses. It’s a state of mind. It’s something you can do anywhere, anytime. You can develop and evaluate your mindfulness in different ways (which is what I like to teach about here at V&B), but it’s not a “skill” that only some possess.

Put most simply, mindFULness is really just the opposite of mindLESSness. Having a mind FULL of things that will make you a better person and lead you to a more satisfying life, instead of allowing yourself to make “mindLESS” choices on a whim.

I like to think of it as awareness. Being aware of the things around you so you can act accordingly. Paying attention to the moment at hand. Being intentional with your time, your actions and your thoughts.

It’s about making specific choices based on positive life goals, instead of letting life control your path.

It’s about constantly working toward those goals, while still being kind to your spirit and giving yourself lots of grace. It’s about loving yourself for who you are, but knowing your great potential and pushing yourself to be better. It’s about recognizing the positives you have to offer, but knowing you can be So Much More!

Focus on the Present

We have a tendency to focus on things that occurred in the past and anticipating too strongly the things that might happen. Though joyful memories and excitement for what is to come can be great things, allowing them to take the majority of our mindspace is detrimental to our progress.

Instead, it is far more healthy to focus on the things of the present. Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening right now: your actions, your thoughts, your environment. It’s not letting your mind get carried away with thoughts of the past or worries from the present. It’s letting go of anything that doesn’t serve your current goals and refocusing your mind if you get off track. It keeps you grounded in the here and now.

Mindfulness is Internal

Mindfulness focuses on the inner self, rather than the outer.

Being mindful allows us to see into our spirits- to the place that nobody else gets to see. It helps us to dig deep into our soul and pull out the aspects of ourselves that really define us. It’s letting go of how the world sees you, and allowing you to see yourself for who you really are. Your true self.

Being mindful has been huge in my development of self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps me to see that it doesn’t matter what people think if I know the real truth.

Mindfulness is freeing. It’s letting go of what doesn’t serve you and allowing yourself to focus on what does.

Benefits of Being Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not just a “fad” or “new-age trend.”

Incorporating mindfulness into your life has many tangible health benefits, including:

  • Decreased stress and increased capacity to work through life’s challenges
  • Increased clarity, attention, and brain function
  • Lowered anxiety and depression
  • Improved general well-being

Mindful.org explains: “When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to other’s well-being.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the struggles and trials of our everyday lives and miss the wonderfully good things that happen around us. Constant pessimism is like poison to our spirits, but stopping to see the positives can provide us with much needed positive energy, which can be incredibly uplifting.

The beauty of true mindfulness is in the huge impact it brings to our spirits. Being fully aware of your mind and your surroundings can help you to see the good within life’s challenges.

It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life; it simply allows us to work through them calmly and realistically, instead of with fear and negativity. It turns them into opportunities for growth and progression, rather than tragedies and misfortunes.

This is quite a different view of mindfulness than merely relying on meditation and yoga, am I right?

Mindfulness is a Choice

“But how can I just ignore all the bad things in my life?”

You can’t. And doing so wouldn’t be healthy anyway. Those negatives influence who you are. They are a part of your past, but they don’t have to define you.

You get to decide what you focus on. You get to choose what you let matter. It’s your choice where you put your energies.

How do I Practice Mindfulness?

Let me be clear: “being mindful” and “practicing mindfulness” aren’t entirely the same.

While, as stated above, you can be mindful anytime, anywhere, “practicing” mindfulness is an intentional action that you must set aside time for.

It can look different for everyone, but for me, I find that spending time each day (usually at night) physically tracking my mindset is very beneficial. This is the procedure I facilitate at Vibrance & Bliss.

In a specific place in my planner I track things like:

  • my moods
  • gratitude
  • water intake (and other health concerns)
  • goals & progress: daily, weekly etc…
  • intentional routines & schedule
  • choosing the right tasks
  • small (or large!) daily wins, improvements, achievements & successes
  • memories
  • positive choices
  • future goals & improvements
  • daily evaluation

It Can Be A Challenge

So I think at this point we agree that being mindful has its benefits, and we have a basic outline of what it entails and how to put it into practice. But does that mean it’s easy?


Living mindfully can be a very difficult thing to do.

Yes, it is relatively simple in theory, but living mindfully requires you to address some things in your life that may be uncomfortable or upsetting.

Though it’s easier to ignore the challenges we face, it is much healthier to deal with and work through them. That’s where mindfulness can help. It takes you out of the negative headspace and helps you see what positives you can draw from the experience.

How do I stay motivated?

So how do you keep on track if you’re feeling the pressure and challenge of mindfully evaluating your day each night?

Just like any new habit or routine, it will take practice and consistency. Do it every night if possible. If you miss a day, no big deal. Just pick up again and keep going.

But always, ALWAYS be kind to yourself. That’s really the most important part. I like to think of it as “giving myself grace.” Don’t beat yourself up over a missed day or two. You’ll zap away all your motivation to keep trying.

Instead, cut yourself some slack. Don’t give up. Realize that perfection will not ever be possible.

Try changing your routine. Perhaps see if a mindfulness app can help your motivation levels. Whatever you can do to improve your consistency, the better you’ll be. If you can see you’re making progress, you’re more likely to stick to your budding routine.

How Positivity Influences Productivity

So why does all this matter? How does being “mindful” help me to get more done?

Have you ever sat down to complete a task and find yourself flooded by memories of a past negative experience? Or maybe you start to worry about an upcoming deadline you’re not sure you’ll hit?

If you’re anything like me, these thoughts probably continue running through your mind and keep you from completing the task, and twenty minutes later you’re feeling frustrated and defeated and your task is at the exact same place you left it.

Sound familiar? Trust me, I’ve been there.

The human mind loves to wander. We are easily distracted, and have a habit of allowing our minds to run over the place. This is mindlessness. You may be thinking of something, but it is certainly not what is going to further your present goals.

This is where mindfulness really shines! Constant and intentional consideration of your desired goals helps keep you on track as your mind naturally wanders.

Mindfulness IS productivity! It is the driving force that helps you get things done!

It allows you to step away from the negative thoughts that destroy your motivation and focus, and into a peaceful place where you feel positive and energized.

We are so focused on accomplishing our goals and tending to our to-dos, taking the time to contemplate life’s intangibles doesn’t always seem practical. But recognizing the boon to productivity that mindfulness provides tells us it’s well worth the “sacrifice.”

Quick Review

What Mindfulness IS:

  • Staying in the moment
  • Recognizing yourself for who you are, but not being content to staying there
  • Addressing the negatives but choosing to focus on the positives
  • Tracking areas of desired improvement

What it’s NOT:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga poses
  • Ignoring what’s going on around us
  • Obsessing about the past or worrying about the future


Daily tracking the aspects of your life you’d like to see more positive results in: your gratitude, moods, health, energy, goals, routines or


Whereas meditation is something you DO, mindfulness is a state of mind- an awareness that your life is made up of more than the events in your life. Being mindful is a constant choice, and though meditation can be a great avenue to improve your mental health, it does not define mindfulness.

Why does all this matter? What’s the point?


  • Increases your focus
  • Improves motivation
  • Stimulates work ethic

Simply put, mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life. And who doesn’t want that?   


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Gratitude = Happiness

Regularly keeping a gratitude journal helps combat negative feelings and helps you focus on the positives in your life, even when life throws you challenges.

I have struggled for most of my mature life with Depression – feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame that I’m not living up to my own expectations. There have been days where I’ve felt hopeless that things would get better for me and I’d never make it out of the darkness. But through it all, I’ve had some incredible blessings always there in the background, holding me up.

When you’re in the abyss though, it’s hard to see those blessings. All you see is darkness. The light gets snuffed out by the negativity that is continually pressing down on you. So what can you do to help those glimmers of light shine through?

For me, one of the only things that helped keep me afloat were the times I sat and pondered, and then recorded those blessings.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal can help you feel happiness even in the darkest of times.

Spending just a few minutes a day writing down your blessings can reap amazing rewards in your life! Scientific studies have proven that showing gratitude on a consistent basis makes people happier and healthier. One of the best ways to get into the habit of cultivating gratitude is by keeping a daily journal. Here’s a short list of how a gratitude journal can change your life for the better:

Being grateful makes you happier.

Being grateful for what you have, rather than pining for what you don’t, keeps you filled with feelings of positivity and hope. It crushes the negativity that is determined to keep you down. Studies have shown that gratitude can actually reduce negative thoughts and increase feelings of contentment, love, joy, and empathy towards others. As Tony Robbins said: “You can’t feel angry at the same time as you feel grateful.” When you fill yourself with feelings of gratitude, you are focused on the good things that already exist in your daily life, instead of wishing for the things that don’t.  And once you commit to writing them down each evening (or morning, if that’s better for you), you may even start looking for things to write down- even those little things throughout the day that you might otherwise miss. How much would your life improve if you only focused on the positive instead of negative!?

Good Physical Health

Negative energy (from thoughts and memories) causes resentment and stress, which manifests physically in your body. So when your mind only considers the bad, you are literally sending poison into your veins. Gratitude helps keep those negative thoughts at bay, by replacing them with positive ones. When you allow yourself to concentrate on the good in your life over the bad, you’re sending much-needed endorphins to your brain, which it needs in order to thrive.

Increase Empathy for Others

Thinking back through your day and remembering the good things others have done for you increases your positive thoughts toward them. It helps you understand more about their life and situation, as well as your response to how they interact with you. Let’s say that someone cuts in front of you on the freeway, but as they pass you they wave at you in apology. You could choose to be upset over their lack of tact and control, or grateful for your safety and try to think of why they might be in such a hurry? Maybe they’re rushing to the hospital to visit an injured family member? Or they could be late for a meeting that could mean a loss of their employment. There’s often a hundred possible reasons for a person’s actions- if you focus only on the bad possibilities you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to see the best in people.

Improve Relationships

How much better would you feel about your sister if you listed three things every day that she’s done for you? When I’ve struggled in relationships with those around me, I’ve seen that relationships always seem to improve just from me changing my perception of how they act. People aren’t perfect, but as you focus your thoughts on their positive qualities and make a point to be grateful for the good things they do, you encourage more of the same in the future. It’s easy to find fault, but once you start showing appreciation for the people in your life, your relationships have room to grow.

Better Rest

How many times have you gone to bed thinking negative thoughts about your day, circumstances or interactions with others? How well did you sleep? For me, when I try to sleep with so much negativity I know I don’t sleep well, and I’m usually still upset in the morning, which can influence (or entirely ruin) my whole day.

How much better would it be to go to bed with only positive thoughts? Writing in your gratitude journal can help with that! When you write in the evening (right before bed), you tend to get more rest because you have reflected on the positives of your day, inviting peace and calm to your mind before you sleep.

Experience Less Stress

Your body doesn’t know the difference between current and past “stress.” So when you think back to a stressful time in your life, you’re essentially reawakening all those negative feelings, including their emotional and physical toll on your body.

By focusing on the positive, writing down the good things in your life, you avoid repeating that stress reaction in your body.

Final Thoughts

You can think of gratitude as being a mental and emotional muscle that you can build with daily exercise. If stuff goes wrong in life and your gratitude muscle is weak, you’ll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds. But if you already have an excellent daily gratitude habit, then your gratitude muscle will be resilient and well-trained, meaning life’s challenges don’t completely knock you off course.

All in all, keeping an ongoing gratitude journal benefits all levels of your health and well-being, and is a very worthwhile activity, having the capacity to change your mindset, and therefore also your whole life, from one that seems full of poverty and loss to that of abundance.

Gratitude, when practiced daily, can train the mind to stay focused on positive thoughts, increasing feelings of happiness and contentment, while also strengthening you in preparation for the stressors of everyday life.

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