However, since meditation is so accessible to everyone, some may wonder if they haven’t already meditated without being aware of it.
The answer is a bit more complicated because while you do enter the most surface-level meditation through mindfulness, a deep level of meditation can only be achieved by being deliberate for a sizable amount of time. In quietness, with your thoughts.
So if we’re adhering to that definition of meditation, which most people would, you can’t meditate without being aware of it, as it’d defeat the purpose of meditation, to begin with.
Something completely different on the other hand would be, for instance, you laying down on your bed contemplating your thoughts without any labels, not interacting with these thoughts but just letting them run freely where the mind’s chatter is also absent.
In that case, you’re doing the most basic meditation without knowing it, but it’s rare for people to take a step back and look at themselves through a third-person perspective.
Detaching their own identity from the mind or body but instead, bringing them together.
The reason it’s also harder to qualify this as meditation is that such short surface level meditations tend to be so quick, that anything happening in your surroundings could throw you off and disrupt that flow state you were in.
All because you didn’t have the intention to meditate, to begin with, and thus, were easier prone to distractions.
The mind will persuade most people to keep themselves from deliberate meditation, as that’s when people are left alone with their thoughts in the present moment, which opens up the possibility for those thoughts to turn into anything when allowed to thrive in a free environment.
It’s torture for the mind not wanting any confrontation at all, but it ends up turning into something blissful over the long haul – even for the mind. What was once requiring your discipline and some willpower to go on now turns into something as crucial as brushing your teeth.
The more deliberate you are with your meditation, the more committed you are, the more likely you are to experience a deep level of meditation without this being a guarantee. It’s only when we do something deliberate that we can get better at something.
Meditation is no exception, like any other good habit, it requires your full attention and consistency and it’s only a matter of weeks or months until the habit becomes self-sufficient and starts living rent-free in your mind.
That’s because at first, the more deliberate you are with the meditation practice, the likelier you are to bump your attention span, even if changes don’t seem noticeable at first.
These changes tend to be shown in the subconscious first before they appear in the conscious one, as it’s the subconscious that holds our deepest programming that defines our identity.
Basic short deliberate meditation can, fortunately, be done at any time. For instance, perhaps you’re at work and entering a flow state with the work you’re doing.
This won’t get you any odd faces of judgment looking at you questioning what you’re doing, as you can meditate without others knowing you’re meditating, without having to sit in a specific position for that. Meditation can go from unintended to deliberate, it’s just a matter of intention.
Have you ever worked on something that you were passionate about, and because you had your attention so locked in that, it felt like time flies?
Most will or have experienced this at some point. Something similar happens in meditation, and thus, many strive to replicate that feeling over subsequent sessions after getting a taste of how deep meditations can be.
But being zoned in on something can happen even outside of meditation, at which point, you get a preview of what meditation is.
A short, surface-level meditation. For this occasion, I’ll refer to it as an unintended meditation.
If you’ve ever felt yourself unable to get your attention away from something because of how good it felt, it’s no accident, and if you enjoyed that sensation, you’re likely to enjoy meditation the same way.
Entering a flow state is beautiful but if you’ve achieved it once outside of meditation, you may not be so sure on whether repeating said action will replicate that sensation.
The good thing about meditation here is how it can help you get better at anything you do as well as be more focused, which in theory, meditation could quantify the enjoyment you get from a certain activity, outside the meditation that causes this unintended meditation.
Something that upon getting a sneak-peak, some start their endeavors in the space of meditation. After all, one major component that separates long, deep meditations from short meditations is time invested.
The more you allow your mind to experience its freedom and thrive, the more it can come back stronger.
In meditation, an unintended meditation caused by something outside the meditation can create a healthy cycle where: you get a taste of meditation > you choose to pursue it > you end up with a calmer life.
Unintended meditations are rare. It’s rare for people to, out of their own initiative, then start meditating out of nowhere.
How To Meditate Without Trying
After all, I said, isn’t it impossible to meditate without being deliberate about it? Yes and no. There is a small part of subjectivity when it comes to what meditation is.
But if you stick to the consensus of focusing on your breath or simply staring at your thoughts, you’re entering meditation territory, even if said territory happens to be a small part.
If you want to take baby steps with meditation and dip your toes, simply being mindful about what you do in your day-to-day already conditions your mind to accept the idea of meditation.
This will make it easier to start the habit, considering you have a notion for mindfulness which you can sustain for a longer time, eventually reaching a point where you were able to keep your awareness throughout the entire meditation as you were supposed to.
As long as your awareness is there, you are practicing some form of meditation. Whether it’d be as simple as holding your daily cup of coffee or tea and deliberately feeling the warmth or engaging with the smell.
Observing Your Emotions and Becoming Mindful
If you ever catch yourself feeling angry or happy, it’s a great time for a mini-meditation, in the sense that you’re catching yourself in the moment it’s happening, rather than letting the mind move on autopilot (something the mind loves doing).
Simple changes like that over time can help you spot instances in your life where you’d benefit from mindfulness. It creates a domino effect.
Meditation has a part that’s conditioning the mind, you can use this conditioning for your benefit in choosing by not being affected by a certain emotion or thought. We are not our emotions.
These come and go and at times, can be volatile. By analyzing these emotions, you teach yourself to be independent of them and in a circumstance where they would normally hinder you from accomplishing something, they merely start existing.
However, even micro-meditation in most cases isn’t something you can do without being aware of it. Therefore, a good starting point is to take a step back whenever you feel a strong emotion.
Even happiness can be harmful in the sense that if the mind produces it when the source of that happiness is something that isn’t good for you but only makes you feel good at the moment, it’s a feeling that can keep growing because of your dependence on it.
The thoughts we normally deem as “good” and “bad” start becoming more of a label once you engage with meditation.
Of course, that’s not to say that meditation makes us lose our moral compass by any means. It simply means we allow thoughts to coexist without these thoughts posing a threat to our peace.
Thoughts and emotions will always be there, but at times, the reason for their existence is to provoke you, to distract you from a path you could achieve by meditating. Your mind tries to protect us from greatness without realizing there’s more.
Some level of awareness is good to not be subject to this invisible control, be it, knowing you are meditating when you actually are or accidentally meditating, spotting it and then taking awareness of it and continuing that flow, (such as when you’re doing something that requires your full attention).
True Meditation Never Stops
Picking up and successfully adopting the habit of meditation is hard. And while your day-to-day life can default to you being mindful, meditation is a retroactive practice.
I hear some having the misconception of only needing to do meditation for a couple of months and then the benefits will stay forever.
The benefits can, by all means, stay for the long-term, but that comes as a result of keeping the habit. In theory, someone could go from bad habits to long-term meditators and then revert to their more negative habits, even if this is something that happens more commonly to short-term meditators. Meditation won’t work unless you do.
Building the habit is, however, harder than sustaining it. Once you build the habit of deliberately meditating, all that’s required is for you to continue down that path. It’s like watering the plants to keep them alive.
Once you reach this stage, you can meditate without thinking too much about it, or getting it wrong.
You renounced your negative judgment about yourself, which for many, is a reason they can’t meditate for long, along with the other many reasons meditation isn’t working for everyone.
Fortunately, meditation normalizes the idea of accepting yourself and others around you, perpetuating a cycle of kindness and love. While you can be in a meditative state without thinking about it, it doesn’t mean you don’t know about it.
Before It All Started, You Were In a Meditative State
Felt happier when you were younger? This is likely because the stress was absent from your life. Especially if you were still in school, and didn’t have the responsibilities you may have now.
Back then, it would’ve been easier to live in the present moment and thus, be in a meditative state without knowing.
Now, with meditation, you get that back and you also get protection against the very thing that doesn’t let your mind or you be at peace. The present has every potential to be better than the past, as much as many glorify the past for how it made us feel.
The present is what we have to work with, and shifting our perspective to a reality that’s in the now, may be uncomfortable, but for there to be growth, we need to step out of the comfort zone.
At this point, this has become a cliché but it’s true, meditation is one of the few practices where you can do it in a safe zone and make the present what you want.
With fewer reasons for your mind to haunt the past or the present, the less likely it will, added to the fact that the mind makes it a new normal to be in the now.
This doesn’t only apply to if the past was pleasant.
If you, on the contrary, had an uncomfortable past, deliberate meditation where you’re aware of those thoughts and memories presents you with the opportunity to conquer yourself in the areas where the past wasn’t helpful, and like the first group, build a better present without the mind needing to attach itself to the future that doesn’t exist yet.
Many don’t accept the present in its current form. Before we’re able to change something, we need to accept the said thing, no matter how it looks. A broken present is an indication that someone is not where they want to be or need to be.