Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mindful Meditation: What’s the Difference?

 

The words “mindfulness” and “meditation” are tossed around quite frequently these days, and often they are used interchangeably or in combination with one another (e.g. “mindful meditation”). Although these terms are related and generally refer to the same idea of calming the mind, there are some notable differences which are highlighted below.

What is Mindfulness?

According to mindfulness expert, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."  Practicing mindfulness means acknowledging thoughts and feelings in the moment, rather than dwelling on past or future happenings. Simply acknowledging the thoughts without judgment allows you to retain your focus on the present moment and keep a calmer mind.

For example, many people arrive home at the end of their work-day commute without really thinking about how they got there or what happened along the way. Their thoughts were preoccupied with a conversation that happened at the office or all the tasks waiting for them when they arrive at home. Someone who is practicing mindfulness would focus on the drive in a different way. They would concentrate on the sights, smells, and how they were feeling in the present moment. Maybe they would acknowledge their feelings of stress, without judgment. Maybe they would note the smell of fresh cut grass or a stinky cattle truck passing by. When they arrive home, they will be able to recall many details from the trip.

Simply put:  mindfulness is a state of being…. A way of living which focuses on the present moment.

What is Meditation?

There are many ways to define meditation, but one thing to keep in mind is that meditation is a particular action. According to Mental Health Daily, meditation is a practice that involves focusing attention inwards. The focus of inward attention could be on a variety of things, e.g., a mantra, the breathing process (inhalation and exhalation), a vision, an emotion, an area of the body. Some people use meditation to relax and help with anxiety, others use it to build concentration, and yet others pursue the practice as a means of following a particular religion, likened to contemplative prayer in some circles.

There are many types of mediation, e.g., guided imagery, loving-kindness, and mindfulness. See below for more on mindfulness meditation.

What’s the major difference between mindfulness and mediation?

Mindfulness is the way of being, and meditation is the more focused practice, “on the cushion” practice. Mindfulness is a state that you can be in/attain all day long, as you eat lunch, drive home from work, and/or wait in a line at the grocery store.  Meditation is what helps us to nurture and cultivate mindfulness, that deeper connection to the present.

Simply put: meditation is a practice.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

When practicing mindfulness meditation, while you may use the focus on the breath as a guide, you aren’t focusing your attention on one specific object necessarily. Instead, you are allowing an openness of the mind, an awareness. Allowing your mind to observe and acknowledge whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind, without judgment and without holding on to them. In other words, you are simply observing all perceptions, thoughts, memories, and senses that you experience during your practice and often using basic things, such as the breath to help you keep your focus and your mind from wandering into other thoughts.

For mindfulness meditation, you will set aside time to practice. There are many ways you can practice. Start by choosing a quiet place with little distraction. It can be in your home or outside somewhere. Set aside at least 10 minutes to practice. Find a comfortable, seated position and maintain good posture. Sitting cross-leg on the ground is a great place to start.

Start to focus on your breath. Pay attention to how your chest rises and falls with each breath in and out. As you begin to focus on your breath, it will naturally become deeper. This will also help to naturally lower your heart rate. When your attention begins to wonder to other thoughts, gently bring it back to your breath. Your mind will naturally wonder quite often from the breath, especially in the beginning. Don’t be too hard or judgmental on yourself. This is normal. Simply come back to the breath as many times as you need to.

For more on how to get stared, check out these resources:

Jon Kabat-Zinn Guided Meditation

Sharon Salzberg 28 day free guided meditation practice

Mindful.org guide. Mindfulness meditation, getting started.

 

 

Army H.E.A.L.T.H.'s Guide to Greens

Navigating the greens section at the grocery store can be intimidating, especially if you tend to buy the same variety of produce at each visit. By learning more about the diverse tastes, textures, and nutrients in different salad greens, you will feel more confident in your purchase and hopefully comfortable enough to branch out of your comfort zone and try something new.

As you will read below, salad greens are a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 1.5 cups of dark, leafy vegetables per week. Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, or just add some more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, salad greens are the perfect addition. They are low in calories and high in volume, helping you to feel more full and satisfied when including them in your meal plan. They are also very diverse. Greens can be used in salads, smoothies, wraps, and soups, to name a few. They can be eaten raw, sautéed, or baked in the oven as crisps.

Nutrition

Dark, leafy greens are high in several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. They are also rich in fiber, which helps keep the digestive tract regular and the colon healthy. Kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, romaine, rapini, and Swiss chard are all examples of dark greens.

Additionally, one serving of spinach has only 23 calories, but 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.  One cup of kale has only 49 calories but 4 grams of protein. Their high fiber and protein content will leave you feeling fuller, longer. For more information on the health benefits of spinach and kale, check out the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Superfood Series.

Quick Tip: When it comes to buying salad greens, the darker the leaf, the more nutrient dense the food. For example, spinach has 19 times more Vitamin A and 3 times as much protein as iceberg lettuce.

Taste and Texture

Consider the texture of the green when thinking of a proper use for it. For example, kale is very durable and its leaves do not wilt easily. This makes it ideal for baking kale chips in the oven. It is also a good green for salads that have dressing added ahead of time, as the leaves will not get soggy and wilt. Romaine lettuce is crispy, and tender, without being bitter. This makes it ideal for strongly flavored dressings such as Caesar. Spinach has a rich flavor and tender leaf, which makes it great for eating raw in a salad or in a wrap. Swiss chard is slightly bitter, so it is best enjoyed when sautéed or added to a soup or casserole.

News Roundup: FDA Redefines "Healthy" Label

 

The Food and Drug Administration will re-evaluate its definition of "healthy", which could eventually change how foods are marketed. This comes in light of strong and consistent evidence which supports the recommendation that healthy (unsaturated) fats can and should be a part of a healthy diet. As the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans outlines, unsaturated fats are associated with reduced total and LDL cholesterol as well as reduced heart attacks and cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

Last April, the FDA sent a letter to the makers of KIND bars asking them to remove the “healthy” label on four of their bars. According to current FDA guidelines, to use the “healthy” label, a food must have no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving and contain no more than 15 percent of its calories from saturated fat, which the FDA says is not true for these four bars.  Now, a year later, the FDA has reversed its stance and says KIND bars can use the “healthy” label and the FDA is reexamining its definition of “healthy”.

This week’s news roundup brings to you a collection of articles and blog posts related to the FDA redefining “healthy” in light of the KIND bar decision.

FDA reverses stance, affirms KIND can use “healthy” on labels. KIND. “The FDA has confirmed that it intends to reevaluate the regulatory definition of “healthy,” an action that was prompted in part by KIND. The current standard was created with the best intentions 20 years ago, when the benefits of consuming “good fats” (like those found in nuts) were not fully understood. Under the regulation, foods like fat-free chocolate pudding and children’s sugary cereal can bear a healthy nutrient claim, but foods like nuts and avocados can’t.”

Are Kind bars 'healthy'? FDA settles battle over snack label. Today. "Consumers want to make informed food choices and it is the FDA's responsibility to help them by ensuring labels provide accurate and reliable nutrition information. In light of evolving nutrition research, forthcoming Nutrition Facts Labeling final rules, and a citizen petition, we believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term 'healthy',"

The FDA Is Going To Change The Definition Of ‘Healthy’ Food. Think Progress. “As more and more and more Americans are trying to make eating decisions based on sound nutrition, marketers are proclaiming their foods as “antioxidant,” “whole-grain,” “heart-healthy,” “gluten-free,” and “natural” — nutrition buzzwords that are largely meaningless in terms of nutritional value, or, in the case of “healthy,” are 20 years out of date.”

FDA to re-evaluate definition of 'healthy'. Yahoo! “The move to rethink "healthy" comes as dietary trends have shifted, with more people expressing concern about sugar and questioning low-fat or low-calorie diets. But any change in the term's regulatory definition could take years. The FDA's final rule on gluten-free labeling, for instance, took more than six years to complete.”

 

 

4 Ways to Get Motivated If You (Think You) Hate Exercising

 

Invest in a Fitness Tracker

Whether tracking steps, height climbed, or number of active minutes, fitness trackers can be a great motivational tool. Although the exact accuracy of most trackers is yet to be proven, they can still help motivate you to be more active. Most people will find themselves making small, but meaningful changes. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the entrance, and going for an after dinner walk are all examples of positive behavior changes that a tracker may help you adopt.

Worried about the cost? Prices typically range from $40 to upwards of $200, depending on desired functionality. Many smart phones now have the ability to track steps as well. Check out these fitness apps.

Try Something New

If you don’t enjoy running, don’t force yourself to do it. There are many other things you can do for cardiovascular exercise, i.e. elliptical, biking, roller skating, skiing, basketball, Zumba, and the list goes on. The same thing goes for strength training. If you have never felt comfortable lifting free weights, try something different like high intensity interval training, body weight training, or kettle-bells.

Finding an exercise that doesn’t feel like “exercise” may be the key. Hiking can be a great way to get outside and see new sights, without realizing you are actually burning a lot of calories. Dance classes are also another way to have fun while staying active.

Start Small

When it comes to exercise, something is better than nothing. Having an “all or nothing” attitude will likely keep you in the “doing nothing” category. Instead of training for a half marathon, start by doing a couch to 5k program. Or, simply start incorporating a couple of 10 minute walks into your day. As your body adjusts, start increasing the length or intensity of your walks. Soon, you will be amazed at your progress and excited to set new goals. The key is to take the first step.

Reward yourself

One of the best ways to train your mind to look forward to, rather than dread, exercise is to reward yourself. Sorry, but we are not talking about food rewards. Instead of enjoying a piece or pizza or ice cream in celebration of an exercise milestone, try to think of ways to reward yourself intrinsically. For example, think of how good you felt after accomplishing your goals. Focus on the rush of endorphins you felt right after finishing your walk/run. If you need a little help getting started, it’s ok to buy yourself a non-food, exercise-related reward, such as a pair of running shoes or a new fitness outfit. Eventually, though, you will want to focus on the mental rewards. This type of thinking will help you retrain your brain into not hating exercise. 

Mother's Day 2016

Military moms come in all varieties. Those who wear the uniform themselves and those who love someone who serves. Those who are new to the job and those that are well seasoned. Whether Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine…Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserves, they all share a special bond: serving or loving someone who serves our country. It may be challenging at times, but military moms do the job well. They are leaders that demonstrate courageous and selfless service as proud mothers.

Military Moms Are Proud.

She wears the uniform with pride. She knows what it’s like to sacrifice time away from friends and family. She is proud to serve her country and help protect her loved ones. She is honored to answer the call of duty. She is proud to be a Soldier.

She flies the American flag high at her house and has a yellow ribbon on her car. She beams with pride when speaking of her Soldier. Through all the hard times, she is thankful for their loved one’s sacrifices. She is proud to love her Soldier.

Military Moms Are Patient.

Maybe she will be home with her loved ones for Christmas, maybe not. She never knows how long it may be in between visits and phone calls to her loved ones. Patiently waiting to make that next call, email, or text can seem like an eternity, especially when she is deployed.

Maybe she will get a call on Mother’s Day from her deployed spouse, maybe not. And when she misses a phone call it can really tug at her heart strings. But, because she has patience, she’ll wait and savor every moment together when she has it.

Military Moms Have Big Dreams.

She wants to provide a good life for her child and be a dependable female role model for her loved ones. She wants to be a strong leader and refine her skills and talents. She wants to travel the world and make a difference.

Moms of Soldiers are excited for the opportunities that the military offers their loved one. Traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and learning how to be a strong leader are just a few of the things she wishes for her Soldier. She knows the military can take her loved one to places she’s only dreamed of visiting. She also thinks about all of the dangerous places they could go too.

Military Moms Are Multifaceted.

Whether making plans for her daughter’s birthday while on TDY or rushing home between PT and morning formation to get her son on the bus, she wears many hats. 

She can be both “mom” and “dad” while her spouse is away. She can be house-keeper, chef, bedtime story reader, lawn mower, and fix-it repair woman. She is a “jack of all trades”.

There are a lot of uncertainties in military life and military moms know how to fill any role when required. They often pull double duty when they or a loved one are called away. The are strong, resilient, and able to adapt to any situation.

Military Moms Are Brave and Courageous.

They know the risks and share the worries of all other military moms. Whether they serve or love someone who serves, military moms have one of the most difficult jobs on earth. They are brave, they are kind, they are resilient.

 

Military Moms face many challenges including being separated from loved ones, high career demands from their job, and frequent moves. Through it all, they are strong and with the many traits mentioned above, they are remarkable leaders and role models for their children.

 

On this Mother’s Day, we want to say thank you to all military moms for their love, support, and sacrifice.

Happy Mother’s Day from Army H.E.A.L.T.H.!