I know, I know. You’re busy.
There’s an increasing trend of spiritual advice out there that posits if you just take a few moments out of your day for “meditation” that you’re making progress.
You can meditate when you’re waiting for the bus. When you’re walking down the stairs. When you’re waiting for the printer to spit out that report you just spent half your life formatting.
While it’s true that you can leverage any moment in your day for stillness, and pull a practice into your life where you pay attention to even the mundane as you experience it, this is not meditation.
Meditation is the formal act of sitting down, closing your eyes (usually), and concentrating.
It’s about stilling the mind in silence. Or, if you use a technique that includes focusing on music, doing that.
It is NOT about chilling out.
It is NOT about relaxing.
It is NOT about just taking a moment.
Yes, all those things are included in true meditation.
But true meditation is about finding your core.
It’s about experiencing the truth of yourself, from deep within, or way up high, or however you happen to experience it that day — when all the noise falls away.
For most people, for most of the time, this requires EFFORT.
And it requires being alone.
Only when you are alone can you let your guard down.
When you’re on a bus, you’re not meditating.
When you’re at the beach, you’re not meditating.
It’s just too difficult for most of us to let go of the protector-mode — and it wouldn’t even be safe to do that in most cases.
Meditation is about going within. It’s about forgetting the body. It’s about focusing on your inner experience, to the exclusion of everything else. (That phrase is not 100% accurate but it’s close enough that I’m going to let it stay in this post.)
A meditation is more like a workout than it is like a nap.
It’s not about you just taking a few breaths. It’s about you actively engaging — or, disengaging, more accurately. It requires that you focus enough that you let go of the constant stream of chatter and attention that is otherwise occupying your very existence.
You cannot do this casually.
Yes there is benefit to paying attention and watching your breath and using intent to calm yourself down and find your center.
But unless you have been practicing a technique that helps you to recognize what that “center” even looks like, it’s gonna be tough for you to find it when you’re out and about and busy and distracted in everyday life.
There is totally value in chilling out and calming down and paying attention to your mind as you go through your day. I’m not saying that’s useless or should not be practiced.
But there is literally no substitute for an actual session of meditation in your day.
It need not be hours and hours. It can be short.
But finding time to sit yourself down on your meditation spot and really truly MEDITATING every day is what’s required if you’re serious about self discovery.