When you hear the word "meditation," what comes to mind? For many people, meditation is an activity they engage in daily to achieve a specific state of being. But is this accurate? Is meditation something we do, or is it something that simply happens when we stop doing everything else?
The correct answer would be that meditation is both a practice and a state of being. Even more so, what meditation is will depend on the approach you perform and from what spiritual doctrine it comes. But at the end of the day, the meditation we want to achieve is the state of being that is no longer practiced but has become part of our everyday activities.
In this article, we will explore the differences between practice and state of being and try to answer the question: is meditation really a practice?
Keep reading to discover the pragmatics behind the controversy of determining what meditation is.
Meditation As A Practice
The first thing we need to do is understand what we mean when we say "practice." In this context, a practice is something that is done regularly to achieve a specific goal. When it comes to meditation, the goal is usually to achieve a state of relaxation, stillness, or mindfulness.
This means that when we meditate, we consciously try to bring about a particular outcome. We sit down to quiet our minds and bodies, and hopefully, after some time (and practice), we will be successful in doing so.
So yes, in this sense, meditation can be considered a practice. It's something that you do on purpose, intending to reach a specific goal.
But is it the only thing meditation is? Let's take a look at what it means to be in a state of being.
The Most Prominent Types of Meditation Practice
Mindfulness meditation: The goal of mindfulness meditation is to focus on the present moment and become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
Transcendental Meditation: The goal of transcendental meditation is to quiet the mind and achieve a state of pure consciousness.
Guided Meditation: The goal of guided meditation is to relax the body and mind by following along with a guided audio track.
Loving-Kindness Meditation: The goal of loving-kindness meditation is to cultivate feelings of compassion and goodwill towards others.
Chakra meditation: The goal of chakra meditation is to cleanse and balance the energy centers in your body.
Zen meditation: The goal of Zen meditation is to achieve a state of mindfulness through sitting or walking.
Kundalini yoga: The goal of Kundalini yoga is to awaken the energy at the base of your spine and move it up through the chakras.
These are just some examples of methods of meditation, and the list is not meant to be exhaustive by any means.
What Is the Definition & Etymology of Meditation?
The word meditation comes from the Latin meditari, which means "to think, contemplate, devise, ponder." It's derived from the Proto-Indo-European root med-, which means "measure."
So when we meditate, we are essentially engaged in a process of careful thought and reflection. We take the time to slow down and really focus on our thoughts and feelings. This can be done through various practices, such as mindfulness or transcendental meditation.
Meditation has been practiced for centuries by people of all different cultures and religions. In recent years, it has become more popular in Western culture as a way to reduce stress and promote wellness.
Meditation As A State Of Being
A state of being, on the other hand, is something that you are rather than something that you do. It's not an action that you take with the intention of reaching a goal; rather, it's simply who you are.
For example, someone who is kind would be considered to be in a state of kindness. They don't have to try to be kind; it's just part of their nature. The same can be said for someone who is patient or compassionate.
Now, let's apply this concept to meditation. When we are in a state of being, we are simply meditating; there is no goal or outcome that we are trying to achieve. We aren't doing anything special; we're just being.
This doesn't mean that we don't still need to practice meditation; it just means that when we reach the point where meditation is no longer something we have to try to do, it becomes part of who we are.
So which one is better? Is it better to be in a state of being or to practice meditation? That's for you to figure out.
Jesus Christ: An Example of A Meditative Person
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
One of the most famous examples of a meditative person is Jesus Christ. Although he was not technically practicing meditation, he was in a constant state of being.
Jesus was always present in the moment and completely aware of his thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. He was always at peace, no matter what was happening around him.
And he was always kind, patient, and compassionate towards others. In other words, Jesus exemplified the qualities that are often associated with meditation. But more importantly, he showed us that it's possible to reach a state where meditation is simply who you are.
Buddha: A Manifestation of Meditation
Those who cling to perceptions and views wander the world offending people.
Another example of a meditative person is Buddha. Unlike Jesus, Buddha was actually practicing meditation. He spent years perfecting his technique before he reached enlightenment. But once he did, he became the embodiment of meditation. He was always in a state of complete peace and equanimity.
And like Jesus, he was also kind, patient, and compassionate towards others. So what does all this mean? It means that whether you're in a state of being or you're practicing meditation, the result is to reach a place where you are at peace with yourself and the world around you.
Shiva: the Great Meditation Teacher
Fire is His head, the sun and the moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart.
From His feet, the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.
Shiva is one of the most popular Hindu deities and is a great meditation teacher. He is often shown in images sitting in a meditative pose with closed eyes. Shiva represents the aspect of consciousness that is pure awareness.
In other words, he embodies the state of being that we aspire to reach when we meditate. When we look at pictures of Shiva or statues of him, we are reminded of what it looks like to be truly present at the moment.
Shiva is the first yogi. The first to bring methods of meditation to the world. He is the one who taught us that it's possible to reach a state of complete peace and stillness, no matter what is happening around us.
Do You Have to Be Still to Meditate/Be Meditative?
One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that you have to be still in order to do it. This isn't necessarily true. While it's important to find a comfortable position and not fidget, you don't have to be perfectly still in order to meditate.
Many people find it helpful to move their bodies while they meditate. This can be done through gentle yoga postures or by rocking back and forth or side to side. But, most people often that their meditativeness results in slower, fluid movements.
The important thing is that you are aware of your body and your breath and that you are not letting your thoughts wander. If you find yourself getting lost in thought, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
The goal is not to stop thinking altogether. That's impossible. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and to learn to let them go.
However, the exciting thing is that at a certain point in meditation, you are likely to experience bodily movement or sensations that are beyond your control. This is often referred to as kriya yoga, and it's a sign that you are making progress in your practice.
Ultimately, at one point, meditation will infuse every aspect of your life, and it will no longer be something that you do for a few minutes each day. It will become who you are.
The Answer Is Both: Practice & State of Being
The answer, as with most things in life, is both. To be a successful meditator, you must find a balance between the two.
You need to put in the time and effort to practice meditation regularly. But you also need to reach a point where it becomes second nature, where it's not something you have to try to do but something you simply are.
The good news is that both are possible; it just takes time, patience, and perseverance. So keep at it, and eventually, you'll find yourself in a state of being that is truly meditative. And who knows after that?
If you'd like to find out why our beliefs often prevent us from succeeding in life and what you can do about it, check out the free resource I made just for you.