There are hundreds if not thousands of ways to meditate. Depending on which one you choose, you’ll feel a wide range of different sensations throughout your body or thoughts that were otherwise foreign to your mind, especially when your consciousness is being expanded.
It’s easy to confuse meditation with daydreaming and zoning out, especially when you reach a deep level of meditation.
But there are some differences which you’ll want to take notice of when it’s happening. Sometimes, all it takes is your awareness for meditation to be a full-fledged practice and indicate that you’re on the right path.
During meditation, you’re taught to observe your thoughts, but with that, can come to some daydreaming, because your thoughts lead somewhere. That is if you choose to follow those thoughts, rather than letting them be.
There’s a thin line between following your thoughts and letting them be, which is why many start zoning out during meditation. In this article, I’ll explain the differences between zoning out and actual meditation that’s supposed to go as intended.
Meditation vs. Spacing Out: What’s The Difference?
You’ve finally reached a profound state where your mind is relaxed, but with that, the mind may start wandering to places. Often, pleasant places, which generally is a good thing for the purpose of meditation.
But if meditation is all about focusing on your thoughts, rather than letting your mind go for a walk, wouldn’t spacing out be bad during meditation? This will really depend on the spacing outcomes from worry and a sense of peace.
Your mind can and will most likely space out often during meditation practice, you’ll either want to see where it takes you without any interference or gradually bring your awareness to something specific you were thinking of during meditation.
But the difference between merely spacing out and being in a profound, immersed meditation is your awareness of what’s happening. Meditation increases your awareness.
This is why, in the beginning, I mentioned your awareness and lack of it as a determining factor when knowing whether you’re meditating or just spacing out to escape into a more pleasant reality.
It’s hard to sometimes tell the difference between meditation and merely spacing out because often than not, spacing out can make us feel like it comes from a feeling of peace when in reality, it’s what the mind resorts to as a means to avoid confronting what’s in front of us.
This can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing, because contrary to popular belief, the mind needs a break, and rather than finding a way to fight the mind with meditation, a more favorable position is to work with the mind.
Mindfully Zoning Out
Zoning out can actually be a sign that you’re in the present, so long as you’re aware of your spacing out through your entire journey, and just “be ” rather than intervene in any way. When you deliberately space out, you bring mindfulness into the equation. You’re allowing things to be.
Over time, it shifts from becoming an experience where you space out to an experience where you retain your attention throughout the entire journey.
Novices hardly get this right the first time, this is something you teach your mind, just like you teach yourself to cook, play an instrument, or anything else for that matter.
Because there are so many meditations, and one meditation can’t universally be applied to every individual, there’s gonna be some trial and error, and getting to know yourself to the point where zoning out automatically shifts back to focusing on the meditation.
Zoning out on its own, without it being deliberate is a sign that the meditation is off, awareness is the next step. These thoughts need to flow, just like energy flows, rather than be fought back against.
Meditation gives the mind a lot of sense of freedom to explore, but the mind isn’t always as used to that sense of freedom, so it gives in and attaches itself to thought. But that freedom can be an illusion if it isn’t accompanied by a clear path to guide the mind.
Focus serves as a tool to guide your mind rather than dictate it. Sometimes, we ourselves follow our mind because of the lack of discipline, something which meditation is meant to do better.
True freedom from the mind comes from discipline, without that discipline being forceful and made to seem as something unattractive, but rather, discipline to let your mind rest and be at peace.
Zoning out can be a form of work for the mind if not done deliberately. This is why I mentioned the reason for zoning out assisting, or not, the meditation practice. The mind has fewer reasons to space out if it doesn’t have the burden of worry.
Meditation Is A Balance
Nobody gets meditation right one hundred percent of the time. Even those that have meditated for days, either have a day they don’t feel the exact same sensations.
Meditation is a balance in feeling peace, focused, aware and present. You may experience more sensations but these tend to be the most common sensations when finding a balance in meditation.
If you’re starting out, you’ll feel these things to a varying degree, even if each of these leads to one and another. Meditation can be a bit like cooking, where too much or too little of one ingredient makes the food taste different.
But if you follow the basic principle of consistency and dedication, there’s no reason you can’t find the perfect balance that serves you in meditation, where your mind doesn’t space out as often.
Now, it’s important to not confuse spacing out with meditation, as both can bring you a deep sense of peace, but the spacing out can be the mind’s way to fool you into thinking you’re meditating, without actually experiencing meditation.
Your awareness is what tells you what you’re doing, as well as if you’ve found the right balance where you feel a deep synchronicity within. You don’t have to look externally for that sense of peace fortunately, it can be found within, ultimately finding balance.