If you’ve recently started a meditation practice, you may be wondering how to refer to this new mindfulness technique you’ve found. For regular meditators, their daily practice is an integral part of their lives, but is meditation a hobby?
Meditation is not a hobby but rather a way of life. Hobbies are things we do now and again, whereas meditation is a continuous practice. Moreover, hobbies are based on enjoyment, whereas meditation is something we do as we know it’s good for us.
Hobbies are great; they add much value and pleasure to our lives. However, a hobby is not the best way to describe meditation. So what do we categorize meditation under then? Read on to find out.
Why Meditation Is Not A Hobby
A hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” While we meditate regularly, it’s not for enjoyment but for our health. What’s more, we do hobbies when we find we have the time for them, whereas, with meditation, we make time for it.
For comparison, let’s look at healthy eating. Even if we prefer the taste of clean food over processed food, our intention to eat nutritious food is because we know it keeps our immune system strong and our energy levels high. The same goes for meditation; we might enjoy the peacefulness it gives us, but our intention is to care for our minds.
Yoga has similar benefits to meditation. However, in some cases, yoga can be a hobby. The difference is that some people find yoga in a gym or leisure center, where they do it as a social fitness activity. However, while meditation groups do exist, most meditators begin the practice to heal or improve a health condition, not for the social aspect.
Hobbies are individual preferences
Another reason meditation is not a hobby is that hobbies are very individual, whereas meditation is universal. Think about it, we don’t all share the same hobbies. For example, one person could love extreme sports, while another may find them totally unappealing or even physically inaccessible.
However, everyone can meditate and experience the benefits of the practice. Yes, some people may find meditation boring initially, but there are many different styles of meditation out there, so it’s just about finding the right one.
Hobbies can lead to addictions
Many hobbies are positive things that make you feel good when pursuing them. However, some “less healthy” activities can start as harmless hobbies but turn into unhealthy addictions, such as online gaming or gambling.
Our brains release endorphins (feel-good hormones) when we pursue a hobby. This makes us associate the activity with something pleasurable, and thus, we want to do it regularly.
However, this sensation can become too strong in some people, causing addictive behaviors toward the activity. If doing too much of a particular hobby can be harmful, it turns into something negative.
Unlike hobbies, meditation cannot lead to addiction, nor can you meditate too much that it becomes something bad. Contrary, meditation has been proven to help treat addictions as it alters the brain waves that cause addictive behaviors.
Is Meditation A Habit Or A Lifestyle?
Meditation starts as an interest, then daily practice makes it a habit, and then eventually, it becomes part of our lifestyle.
Most people start meditation because they are recommended by a friend, family member, or healthcare professional. Alternatively, they may hear or read about it somewhere. Either way, the interest appears because they see meditation as a possible solution for their problems, such as stress, anxiety, or insomnia.
Meditation as a habit
It is neither a habit nor a lifestyle when you first start meditation. However, if you commit to a daily practice, it could become a routine after a few weeks. Along with the scientific proof that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, meditation becomes a habit because we feel the benefits for ourselves.
For example, perhaps you notice that you have a calmer demeanor in general or that you can handle situations without getting as stressed as before. This proof that meditation works inspires you to keep doing it, and before you know it, meditation is something you do without motivation or discipline.
Meditation as a lifestyle
Meditation becomes a lifestyle when it has changed who you are as a person or the choices you make in life. After meditating for some time, most people report significant changes to their lifestyle choices, such as eating healthier or waking up earlier.
Meditation also changes your personality. For example, you may find you have more patience, naturally focus on the positive things rather than the negative, or no longer worry about what others think of you. While hobbies can make you feel good and bring joy into your day, they do have the power to change your mindset or your life like meditation does.
It’s important to note that even when meditation becomes a habit or a lifestyle, you may have days when you don’t feel like doing it. However, this doesn’t mean you have lost the practice, and it’s OK to take a break from meditation if you think it would benefit you.
Is Meditation Just Sitting?
So now we’ve cleared up how to define meditation; let’s discuss what meditation is on a practical level. If you’ve never heard of meditation before and saw someone in the meditative Lotus position, you would naturally assume they are just sitting with their eyes closed.
But while it may look like just sitting from the outside, a lot is going on internally. Meditation is about quieting the mind and increasing the space between thoughts.
There are different techniques used to achieve this meditative state, such as:
- Breath meditation – Focusing on the sensation of the breath.
- Mindfulness meditation – Using your senses to remain focused on the present moment.
- Mantra meditation – Chanting or repeating specific words or sounds.
- Candle gazing meditation – Staring at a lit candle with open eyes and maintaining your attention on the object.
- Metta meditation – Focusing your attention on the feeling of loving-kindness and sending this sensation to others.
Furthermore, if you are doing guided meditation, your focus is also on the teacher’s voice and instructions.
Meditation does not have to be performed seated. Moreover, you can get into a meditative state during yoga, dancing, running, or other forms of exercise. For example, there is a walking meditation style and meditative practices like Yoga Nidra, which is done laying down.
You can turn daily activities like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee into meditative moments by focusing on your breath or senses. This does take a bit of practice, but over time, you might find you can even meditate while doing housework.
Can You Get High From Meditation?
Unlike some habits that can turn into addictions, there is no negative side to practicing meditation as a habit or lifestyle. When you first start meditating, you might notice you feel a “natural high” after. This is because it naturally evokes feelings of calm and relaxation by increasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
This “natural high” is not the same as getting high from a chemical drug, and meditation can’t make you feel high in this way. Instead, meditation is a safe practice for people of all ages and is used widely in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Even in people with existing mental health conditions, it is rare that meditation could worsen the symptoms.
We do hobbies for pleasure, whereas meditation is something we do for the health and well-being benefits it gives. As most practitioners meditate daily or almost daily, meditation becomes a habit. Then, as the profound practice rewires their brains, meditation becomes a way of life, something much more meaningful and beneficial than a hobby.