Meditation: You’re Already Doing It
By: Lauren Brenai Phillips
In an age where the mind is absorbed with the next new idea, the next new venture, the next new...anything, people are seeking a way to disconnect from the noise and tune into themselves. Berger says, “[self-reflection] is deliberate, conscious introspection to better understand our thoughts, experiences and emotions, as well as how others see us.” The benefits of self-reflection transcend our personal lives and seep into other everyday facets of our lives like work and socializing. It’s been proven to create better leaders, more creative thinkers and kinder, more empathetic people overall. With this in mind, many seek out meditation as a means to mindfulness and greater self-awareness.
Meditation can seem daunting at first. The idea is usually riddled with images of people sitting cross-legged on colorful mats breathing deeply in and out as some new-found guru chants in Sanskrit. To the untrained eye, this sacred tradition and practice is the newest fad that seems convoluted or unnecessarily complex. Most people who don’t like meditation, do not dislike it because it’s ineffective, they dislike it because they find it extremely difficult to do “properly.” Goldberg explains it best when he says that because people have heard that meditation silences the mind, they strain themselves by trying too hard which, as a result, negates the purpose of meditation.
Let’s explore the basic definition and goal of meditation.
According to Merriam-Webster, meditation focuses one’s thoughts for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. From this awareness, it’s been proven to extend attention spans, reduce stress, improve memory and lower blood pressure, just to name a few benefits. The inter-web is rife with the benefits of meditation and various ways of adding the practice into daily life. But what if you’re already meditating and aren’t aware of it?
Taking the definition into account, let’s concentrate on the phrase “focuses one’s thoughts.” If the foundation is to focus one’s thoughts, anything that allows someone to focus can be considered meditating.
Imagine you’re driving on your daily commute to work or school. It’s such a well memorized route that no GPS is needed, nor do you need to consciously pay attention to which turn, or exit is next. There’s no music playing in the background, just the sound of the a/c gently blowing. You drift into what most call “auto-pilot” mode. Your body does what it needs while you slowly drift into your thoughts. You may find yourself contemplating what you want for dinner or you may find yourself deciphering your actions from last night's altercation with your spouse. Did you hit below the belt? Did you explain yourself effectively? How did what you said impact your spouse’s feelings? etc. The latter, that self-reflection, is the beginnings of meditative practice.
You’re meditating while driving.
Now, let’s imagine another scenario. It’s Sunday morning, your off day, and you’re blasting your favorite playlist as you begin your Sunday cleaning ritual. You move from bathroom, to bedroom to kitchen. As you begin washing dishes, your thoughts drift off to memories of you and your father; he’s the one who taught you to wash dishes so well. This memory shifts into a sharp tinge of grief from losing him too soon and releases pent up sadness you didn't know you had left. Your body releases pent up tension you didn't know you held. You feel an overwhelming sense of relief.
You’re meditating while cleaning.
Take the time to recognize these “drifts” more often. These small moments may seem miniscule but science has proven that even one minute of mindfulness produces immediate benefits. Hari Sharma’s research concludes that the “results are achieved automatically,” without the need for active mind control and manipulation. Understanding that meditation does not have to be a stationary event or one that strictly focuses on breathing helps you take charge of those moments where your mind wanders so that you can choose what to focus on. Most practitioners of meditation tell you to start small and work your way towards longer sessions. With this in mind, use these small moments to help build towards longer more structured practice, if that is what you desire. The goal is to start somewhere and find what works best for you. There are a vast number of scenarios where our active mind is pushed to the backdrop by an activity that we’re doing. Be it painting, or skiing, running or simply riding the bus, when your mind drifts inward, you may just be meditating already.
About the Author
Lauren Brenai Phillips is a creative mind invested in the art of storytelling. She’s a screenwriter, novelist and short story writer that embraces a variety of genres in her work. As a self-proclaimed surrealist, she prides herself on finding the story beneath the surface. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling and obsessing over new cultures and communities.