When I tell people I am a meditation teacher they often say, "Cooking is my meditation," or "Exercise is my meditation." And while those things are relaxing, meditation is its own thing—which is why it has its own word.
Mindfulness is a "directed-focus" style of meditation, in which you're focusing on or counting your breath, doing a walking meditation or a guided visualization, or focusing on a flame. Any time you have a focal point, or you're directing your mind in a particular direction, this is mindfulness. I would liken it to the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment.
What is the definition of meditation?
Meditation as I define it is all about letting go. You cultivate the power of surrender. This gives your body deep rest. When you give your body the rest that it needs, it knows how to heal itself. This happens when you're accessing a state of consciousness that is different from waking, sleeping, or dreaming.
One of the styles that I teach allows you to access this verifiable fourth state of consciousness. And in it, you're giving your body rest that's five times deeper than sleep. You are also helping the right and left hemispheres of the brain communicate with each other by strengthening the corpus callosum, which is the bridge between the two. This allows you to come up with creative solutions even in "high-stress" situations.
It's like pulling the lens back on your awareness versus focusing in. It feels like a supercharged power nap sitting up. And it gives you more energy on the other side so that you can perform at the top of your game—no matter what you may be facing (a big meeting, an interview, or wrestling your children to sleep, to name a few).
When will I see results?
Meditation, just like going to the gym, isn't something you can expect to get results from after just a single session. You wouldn't expect to have killer abs after one meeting with your trainer, so be patient with yourself as you start a meditation practice. Things tend to get messier before they get cleaner in the mind. The beautiful thing about it is that if you're brave enough to wade through the emotional detox that happens for most of us, then the benefits of it are cumulative—meaning the longer you commit to a daily practice (I recommend 15 minutes, two times per day), the more elegance and ease you start to notice in your life.
Sometimes your meditations will feel effortless and easy; some days you may be releasing a lifetime of accumulated stress. Either way, it is important to have a clear understanding of what style you are practicing in that moment so that you aren't trying to control your mind during what is meant to be an effortless practice and vice versa.
While some people try the poo-poo platter approach to learning meditation, I recommend that you find a teacher and a style that resonates with you and dive down that rabbit hole until you have a clear understanding of one technique and start to see shifts in your life. Then if you're curious about other styles, you can explore.
Take care when you are starting out that you don't dig a lot of 3-foot wells then get surprised you don't hit water. It's not important that you try every single style of meditation, but it is important that you commit to the one that resonates with you.