Do You Have To Practice Meditation To Live A Happier And Healthier Life?

I know I’m not alone in seeing the rise in popularity of meditation and wondering if I’m missing out on having a better life by meditating.

The idea of meditation makes total sense to me. There’s science that’s proven its value. Adding more calmness and stillness to one’s life is absolutely something that I believe is important. Yet, I’ve never downloaded a meditation app, I’ve only tried meditating (in conventional ways) a few times, and I’ve always felt a tinge of guilt about not having a meditation practice.

do you have to meditate

Let’s be honest, we all want to feel happier on a day-to-day basis. Everyone could enjoy any additional percentage points of happiness in their lives.

So why don’t I just shut up and meditate (and why don’t you?)

While you may have thought the revelation-on-the-mountaintop would come at the end of this story, it’s actually going to happen right now…

I actually do have a daily meditation practice—it’s just not conventional.

I don’t sit cross-legged on the floor.
I don’t focus on my breathing.
I don’t wear super baggy clothing (that’s more just a fashion choice these days).

But I do consider it meditation. What’s more, you might already have a meditation practice, too.

You see, here’s the funny thing about life as a human being. You don’t have to subscribe to anyone else’s definition of anything. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m living the best life I can for myself when I’m doing things differently and on my terms.

I can feel a churning in my gut whenever I’m told I’m supposed to do something in a certain way. It honestly feels like part of my body is being torn away if I’m forced to do something a certain way. Call it a resistance to any authority ever, or just call it my own biology, but I know that’s what holds me back from conventional meditation practices.

Let’s discuss the point of meditation for a moment…

From some extensive Googling, almost every resource I could find that explained “why you should meditate” touched on these outcomes:

  • You’ll sleep better
  • You’ll have less overall stress
  • You’ll eat a more mindful diet (less stress or binge eating)
  • You’ll be able to reduce pain and heal faster
  • You’ll be able to beat anxiety or general worrying
  • You’ll smile more
  • You’ll have a more relaxed outlook on all things
  • You’ll enhance your love life
  • You’ll feel more successful and achieve more goals

These things are FANTASTIC. We should all strive for improvements in these nine areas of our lives (and probably way more). But, who says we can’t improve those things and get the same benefits with non-standard forms of meditation?

Do we have to feel guilty if we don’t want to meditate in the common ways in which meditation is respected? Is it possible we can get similar benefits and amazing results even if we take a different approach?

I should mention that I have absolutely nothing against widely accepted meditation practices, and there are apparently thousands of ways you can meditate. From another quick Google search, you’ll find that I’m definitely not the only one customizing meditation in a way that works for me. If you’re looking for a new way to tackle your life and business, meditation of some kind may be the answer you’ve been looking for! I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for the Headspace app (and their design is beeeeautiful!).

Headspace App

But what does it mean to meditate, anyway?

I wonder sometimes if the thing that scares people (like me) off from meditation, or prevents them from keeping it up consistently, is some arbitrary idea about the “right” way to do it. In many ways, this is the same limiting belief that will prevent people from all kinds of things: taking risks, quitting their businesses, worrying about competition, whatever.

But if you look at the dictionary definition of meditate, which I did just for you, it might surprise you: Merriam-Webster says that to meditate is simply “to engage in contemplation or reflection.” That’s it. It doesn’t mention incense, saying “Om,” or wearing head to toe Lululemon (although, I looooove my Lululemon pants #sorrynotsorry). That’s one way to do it, but it’s not the only way.

Coming to that realization has opened a whole lot of doors for me, and maybe for you, too.

Where did I create my own form of non-conventional meditation to feel happier and healthier on a daily basis?

Answer: My weird morning ritual. I’ll let you read about my weird morning ritual in its entirety if you like (and the story of how it came to be), but here’s the part of my weird morning ritual that has become my own form of mediation:

Every morning of my life I handcraft a cup of coffee while doing nothing else. I get the water boiling. I carefully measure the amount of beans (50 grams). I freshly grind the beans. When the water is done boiling I rinse the unbleached paper filter while also warming the Chemex coffee maker. I pour the fresh coffee grounds in the filter and saturate with 100 grams of water for 30 seconds. Then I start a 3-4 minute “brewing” process where I add 600 grams of water. I do nothing else during this 7-10 minute process until I have a gloriously delicious steaming cup of meticulously made coffee.

This is my meditation. This is the thing I do on a daily basis, no matter what, that lets my mind wander free of any other thoughts. This is the time of my day that I have all to myself and I’ve enjoyed the benefits of this “practice” for years.

Jason Zook Chemex Coffee

(Also, let it be known I never have my phone near me while I’m making my morning coffee. That time is free of all technology.)

I’ve been doing this morning ritual since 2014, and I can directly tie improving all nine of the meditation benefits listed above to it. Sure, there are many other things in my life I’ve done since 2014 besides making coffee that have helped me become happier and healthier, but couldn’t you say the same thing if you’re meditating in the widely accepted ways people meditate?

Creating mental space and a calming daily habit is all you need.

You don’t need a fancy pillow. You don’t need the perfectly lit room. You don’t need any special beads. You don’t need any apps. You just need to spend time every day allowing your brain to rest in whatever way works best for you (then rinse, and repeat – hah, you catch that coffee filter rinsing joke there?? Yeah you did.)

Please, by all means, try any of the more commonly used meditation practices: Transcendental Meditation, Heart Rhythm Meditation, Kundalini, Guided Visualization, Qi Gong, Zazen, or grab the Headspace or Calm apps. If they work for you, awesome. I’d love to hear about it. If they don’t, shrug it off and try something else.

You don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t meditate like everyone else. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is proven that intentional quiet space for mind increases your happiness and your health.

Namaste.

(Just kidding. Or not?)