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653: Thinking Meditation

Meditation is a skill and a practice that is being taught in schools around the country, in yoga classes and mindfulness classes, in apps and blogs… meditation is just about everywhere if you look for it.

What isn’t everywhere is a definition of exactly what meditation is, exactly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a lot of the apps and classes and teachers will tell you their suggestions of what to do. But those suggestions often conflict.

The Headspace blog, for example, says that:

when meditating, we are not engaged in thinking. That does not mean the mind will be empty—thoughts will still appear—but we are not looking to engage with these thoughts.

Yet the word meditation itself is listed as a synonym for “thinking, pondering, considering, reflecting” and even “ruminating”.

As a 2004 study put it, quote:

Despite its evergrowing use in health-related areas, procedures characterized as meditation have been little or not at all defined operationally, which hinders its use in a standardized manner. In the present study, the authors present a possible operational definition of meditation, which has been used in social and academic projects, developed in Universidade Federal de São Paulo. In this proposal, it is emphasized that, in order to be characterized as meditation, the procedure should encompass the following requirements: (1) the use of a specific technique (clearly defined), (2) muscle relaxation in some moment of the process and (3) “logic relaxation”; (4) it must necessarily be a self-induced state, and (5) use of “self-focus” skill (coined “anchor”).

So — however you define meditation in your world, be in thinking through or just being aware of your thoughts – how do you do it? Is it something entirely different?