What qualifies as meditation? Can you meditate without being aware of it? There’s a lot of debate on what qualifies and what doesn’t qualify as true meditation. But in reality, meditation can technically be done anytime and anywhere.
But it doesn’t mean it should be done anytime and anywhere. Some times are better for meditating than others. For instance, it’s generally advised to stay away from deep meditation after eating.
On the other hand, it can be beneficial to meditate after having a cup of coffee or doing meditation in combination with or after exercise. But how do you know if you are meditating? Surely there must be some sort of sign you are.
It’s when you’re aware of your thoughts and bring your attention to the present, that would technically qualify as meditation and you can be present while doing anything for that matter. So seeing it from that perspective, meditation can really be anything.
However, it’s not that black and white either. Because depending on how that meditation is done, it can be considered surface level meditation or deep meditation.
Often a deep meditation tends to be a more immersive meditation experience, where you feel energetic tingling throughout your body or just a deep sense of peace you wouldn’t have otherwise achieved solely by meditating on the surface. That’s the way you know you are actually meditating the right way.
This is because your ability to remain present is often limited by how long you train your mind to be present through consistent meditation practice.
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Rewiring The Brain To Be Present
If you’ve been living in the past or future for a long time, it’s gonna be hard to change that from one day to another, and condition your mind to start living in the present.
But the type of meditation that’s specifically tailored to rewire the brain is mantra meditation, and it’s often used when you want to achieve something and condition your mind to achieve that certain thing.
However, when it comes to rewiring the brain to be present by default, all it takes is mindfulness meditation for a prolonged period of time, sometimes months, for some individuals it takes years.
Just because rewiring the brain takes time, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. We’ve been so conditioned to short-term gratification and it goes back to several generations.
But meditation is a lifestyle change that shines a new perspective on that subconscious tendency and teaches us to wait.
Being Mindful About What You Do
One of the most prominent ways you can make meditation be anything is to be mindful of what you’re doing. You’ll achieve a surface level of focus that will allow you to be present for the time being.
That is until your mind focuses on the next shiny object and you start zoning out, letting it run on autopilot.
Most don’t live in the present, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s only when we catch ourselves that we’re more able to do something about it.
The mind will gravitate to either what’s pleasant by focusing on a pleasant past or future, or in contrast, gravitate to what worries us.
There usually isn’t an in-between when the mind operates without your direct, conscious involvement.
But we have normalized it to the point where we think stress is just a part of our daily life. The idea of being mindful about what you do goes hand in hand with being comfortable with what’s currently happening. Even if you don’t like what’s happening.
By being mindful of what you do over prolonged periods of time, your mind is less likely to resort to escapist tendencies. Starting small is better than not being mindful at all.
Perhaps your mindfulness consists of the act of walking or something much simpler like breathing. I’ll go more in-depth with the different types of meditation that most common people do.
While being mindful alone is unlikely to bring substantial change from one day to another, over time, you may notice small changes when you see a reduction of stress.
This reduction may not be significant with short meditation sessions, and I’ll explain why in just a moment.
If We All Do Meditation, Why Aren’t We All Experiencing Benefits?
To some degree, most if not all have done some sort of surface-level meditation at some point in our life. But most fail to take notice when it’s happening. Ever found yourself enjoying what you were doing so much your mind was just kept on that? Those may have been activities you’ve done for a short time. But over a prolonged period of time, they could have created an impact on your life.
But because your mind doesn’t see it as anything new, it doesn’t influence you on a subconscious level, especially if meditation is a foreign practice to you and you don’t know what constitutes and doesn’t.
Sometimes, all it takes for it to qualify as meditation is your awareness of the fact that you’re being present. It’s like taking a step back, a mind pause. A vacation for the mind.
There are of course different factors as to why a certain meditation isn’t bringing anything new to an individual’s life, especially considering the wide range of meditations available to choose from.
There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to meditation. Someone could do meditation without knowing it, but because the conscious and subconscious don’t see anything new, nothing noticeable is happening.
But it’s a great starting point to start with being present and mindful. In that sense, you are at the very least meditating, even if it’s on a surface level, even if said meditation isn’t the one that’s gonna help you because of the variety factor and the differences when it comes to the person.
It tends to be, for most, deep levels of immersive meditation that are significant to adjust their subconscious and environment and turn it into something that benefits them.
Immersive meditations are something new for the mind, the mind doesn’t exactly enjoy meditation, at least, to start with. Over time, the more you do it, the more you enjoy it and thus, the more obvious the benefits become.
Do You Need Guidance?
When we talk about meditation, it can be divided into two categories. Guided and unguided meditation. Perhaps you’re one of those that needs to be guided for you to experience the benefits and for your mind to make it feel like it actually is a meditation.
So going back to the question of whether meditation can be anything, there’s some subjectivity that comes into play since if a certain meditation doesn’t have an impact on you, it will feel pointless, and thus, bring no visible benefits to your life.
Does it make you feel radically different when you’re engaging in the practice, or is it nothing new for the mind? This is why I talked about the subjective element to take into account when meditating.
With a guide on meditation, you’re learning from someone with years under their belt, and that guidance can steer your mind into the meditation when it would’ve otherwise wandered off to somewhere else because of your lack of control.
Controlling the flow of attention isn’t the easiest thing to do, even some meditators that have been in the practice for years, to this day, use guided meditation and there’s nothing wrong with that.
There Are No Strict Rules And What Meets The Threshold For Meditation
No one can come to you and say that you’re meditating the wrong way if you’re experiencing the desired benefits in your day-to-day life. Meditation can literally be as simple as taking a sprint or being locked in in something you do.
Often, it’s what we associate with movement meditation. Some are simply better off doing something in the physical sense for the meditation to work for them.
Mindfulness in the sense where you stare at your thoughts isn’t for everyone, so in that sense, it’s another example that shows meditation can literally be anything. Now, we don’t often associate meditation with that.
Because it’s often seen as a calm practice, even if one of the benefits of meditation is making you feel more refreshed, replenished, and full of energy.
You lose yourself, but in the good sense, there are some benefits to sitting down over prolonged periods of time and letting your mind stare at your thoughts without judgment.
It’s often the meditation that reports the highest transformation rates, since otherwise, depending on the person, meditation can be quite a broad term.
If Meditation Can Be Anything, Why Do Most Give Up?
For a lot of people, the mind often seeks thrill or wants to be busy doing something. And while meditation can literally be anything.
If your mind is constantly occupied with something without taking a break to take a step and letting thoughts flow, your mind could lose focus and interest, thus, making you see what was otherwise enjoyable as something boring, and what once was meditation stops being one, because the mind has in some instances, automated the “fun part”.
While staring at thoughts isn’t for everyone, everyone should give that meditation a try before giving up on the practice completely.
Now, mindfulness meditation isn’t the only type of meditation that allows us to take a step back, there are alternatives like being guided, where you’re often taught to focus on something.
And while keeping your focus may not be the easiest thing for you to do, it can be for someone else that’s been where you are right now and is currently coaching you.
The mind is obviously complicated, and because of the variety of variables, meditation allows you to get to know yourself by diving deeper into yourself and finding what would be of the most help to you.
Finding the right meditation will make you less likely to give up because of boredom. What can influence your boredom or eager interest is how you see the meditation practice, to begin with.
Now, it’s unlikely that you’ll give up on something you find enjoyable doing, but it’s worth engaging in the practice consistently and taking notice that you are meditating at the time of doing the said thing that keeps you focused.
Time spent with that will often have more or fewer benefits, as there’s a strong correlation between longer meditation and visible changes in your day-to-day life.
While meditation can literally be anything, it can help you to find a meditation that allows your mind to be present, even if in the traditional sense, it doesn’t follow the guidelines of what’s normally labeled meditation just because your mind didn’t engage in the practice of staring at your thoughts without intervention.
Thoughts Influence Meditation
Depending on the thoughts you have while doing a certain meditation, you can feel the effects of it or not feel anything. If your mind wanders off to the future or past, you’re just sitting there or laying there without actually meditating.
If your mind is constantly on how many minutes there are left of the meditation, you’ll want to cut the meditation there and take a step back.
Meditation Is Supposed To Be Pleasant
Unless you are doing what’s known as shadow work, most of the meditation you do should be seen as pleasant once you reach a certain level of flow. The more you associate meditation with a pleasant practice, the more you’ll be drawn to it and the more the resistance will be gone.
It’s usually at the start of the journey most find resistance when meditating. If you’ve found pleasure while meditating, you’ve reached a point of deep meditation, which, over the span of months, can change your life for the better.
What Are The Different Types of Meditation?
In the traditional definition of meditation, there are some common meditations that people engage in. More commonly, novices, this is because these meditations tend to be easier to get into.
This is often the meditation where you focus on something you’re physically doing, often resembling calm activity like watering flowers or going on a walk.
This meditation is tailored to training your focus, often coming as a byproduct of meditation, but the mere fact of meditating for prolonged periods of time while keeping your mind focused on one thing would be considered focus meditation.
A meditation where you let your thoughts flow without dwelling on them is often seen as one of the easiest meditations given that you don’t have to focus on one thing at a time.
Often used to influence the subconscious mind over the span of months, and change your belief systems. Your belief systems can sometimes hinder you or assist you in achieving a set goal.
Shadow Work Meditation
This is, perhaps, one of the hardest meditations to do, as it consists of diving deeper into pairs of you that you’ve repressed, due to trauma or something else. Shadow work can be confrontational, and the reason many give up.
No one loves confronting their uglier side, but it’s only then that we can turn around things we have repressed. While doing mindfulness, you may notice some thoughts emanating from your dark side.
The more we try to push it away, the longer it will stay. Even if mindfulness isn’t explicitly targeted to help with shadow work, it can as a byproduct of long periods of meditation.
There are many types of different meditations, even beyond the ones I’ve already mentioned.
On the other hand, because there’s a lot of subjectivity going into play, meditation with the right focus and the present in place can be anything. Now, the benefits you experience from one meditation can many times differ from the benefits you experience from another meditation.
So, depending on who you are, if you want to experience the famous benefits of meditation, you’ll often be better off doing deep levels of immersive meditation, since surface meditations don’t allow you to tap into your mind to the same degree an immersive one would.
So, while meditation can be anything, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find a meditation that allows you to be locked in on that without your mind wandering off to places you have no control over, like the past or future. Keep in mind that meditation makes a lot of emphasis on the now.
And as such, the most efficient types of meditations tend to be those directed at keeping your mind in the here and now.
At least, that’s the case when your goal is to experience long-term lasting changes, rather than making the mind see meditation as something you’re already used to and thus, have no influence on a subconscious level.
Meditation should, to a certain degree, feel like a step out of the comfort zone, but a pleasant, enjoyable step.