Original Name: Meditation—Mind and Body

Anil Mitra

© Copyright January 2012—January 2015,
Anil Mitra, PhD

Document created January 29, 2012



Preliminary Comments  1

Conclusion  4

Appendix on Naming Meditation  5

MindBody Practice and Action  5

Nosomation  5

Yoga  6


Preliminary Comments

The preliminary comments below are toward a more complete version. In this latest edition, a Conclusion has been added

Much has been written on meditation and what it is. A simple definition can be given or one can say something like ‘every definition of meditation has this in common that it ______’. An example of ‘______’ is quieting of the mind. Perhaps however it is accessing depth or becoming alert to externalities otherwise not noticed or in a way or with acuity not normally accessed. Alternately meditation might have to do with action. It is valid to distinguish what meditation is from what it may accomplish. However, we will see that meditation-in-action is a case of what it is and that meditation practice as meditation has been severely criticized by some recognized practitioners

Let us consider that an effective definition should contain the seeds of what meditation really is, what it accomplishes (if anything—some long time practitioners claim that it is nothing in particular and that it accomplishes nothing and has no goal… one simply meditates), and how it is done

Then, given that perhaps we do not know the depth of psyche and even the great sages and mystics through the ages have not plumbed the depths, our conception of meditation should remain open—In the life of the spirit we are always at the beginning

I’ve written on the practice of meditation and on meditation-in-action (I am not and do not pretend to be an expert). The practice of meditation is just that—the practice of attempting to access some perhaps DESIRABLE AND PARTICULAR MENTAL STATE. Meditation-in-action is accessing or being in some mental state while in action, while in the flow of life, while in tranquility and while in crisis. Sometimes meditation-in-action is simply living through some particular situation

What I want to write now is around the idea that MEDITATION IS NOT MEDITATION. What does that mean?

This is what I mean:

I begin with the following preliminary. Often, meditation is approached as a PRACTICE. We find a time, place, posture, and practice; and if it does not work at first we allow the not working to not distract us and keep on with a daily practice; and if that does not work we may go to a master or try something else. There may be a ROAD MAP: this is how to get there (the PRACTICE), this is the road and the country (WHAT YOU MAY EXPERIENCE), and here is a fork in the road (VARIETIES OF THE EXPERIENCE), this fork should not be taken even though there is apparent promise (getting LOST IN THE ESOTERIC)

Now consider that there are various things we do in our lives. I used to play cricket. There were ‘fast bowlers’ and as a kid I was scared of getting hurt or getting out. Later I found that I could enter states in which the fast ball seemed slow and connecting was as easy as doing nothing—in fact batting became so automatic that doing nothing was harder. I write. I have noticed that when I write the process is sometimes laborious; sometimes I am anxious from other concerns; sometimes I approach the writing with freshness and inspiration; regardless, I often enter into a state of concentration, flow, and non-distraction even while not being unaware of the environment. The states just described did not occur in special situations; they were not states for which I specially prepared or followed some routine; yet they were meditative states. This is part of what I mean by ‘meditation is not meditation’

One might say there is an art of cooking in which one enters into a meditative state—a relation with the ingredients, the implements, the source of heat… the process. In creativity, in art, in problem solving… there is a meditation

Having said that I might add that there were in fact preparations and routines; it is just that these routines were self-selected rather than consciously selected so as to enter into a focused mental state. And while there was this focused state, the state itself was the MEANS rather than the objective. Now it may be said that if we wanted to impart what I learned to writers or cricketers we would formulate the preparations and practices; or, if we wanted to impart the learning in a general form we would focus on the state and the practice as the goal rather than the outcome as the goal, That is of course not invalid and it may work and be useful—FOR MANY BUT NOT FOR ALL purposes MEDITATION IS MEDITATION; but it will not work for everyone and there are those who never see much result and of these some may enter into focused states in relation to some occupation or intent and perhaps there will be those who will not have ‘success’ (perhaps they suffer from some mental illness or attention deficit and so on and should seek some kind of help or activity to address the situation as preliminary)

My imaginary critic might now say ‘but all in all cases quieting of the mind was preliminary’. However, it is not always quieting of the mind but sometimes it is focus even in distraction

Dictionaries supply a plethora of definitions and do not help narrow done the idea of meditation. I did find, however, at meditate as a transitive verb—1. To reflect on, to contemplate; 2. To plan in the mind; intend; and as an intransitive verb—1. a. Buddhism & Hinduism: To train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object; b. To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer; 2. To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner

This suggests that the practice of meditation involves focusing on a single object and the objective is to train, calm, or empty the mind. This is not opposed to what is being said here if we allow that ‘object’ may be an activity, an intent, an outcome… and if we interpret ‘train’ generally (that would include to calm or to empty) it would include focus or problem solve or be creative or flow-in-action and so on

A CONCLUSION about meditation is that meditation PRACTICE IS NOT MEDITATION but it may be; meditation-IN-ACTION IS NOT MEDITATION but it may be and it may be enhanced by meditation practice; and meditation without trying to meditate but MEDITATION AS A CORRELATE OF ACTIVITY IS NOT MEDITATION but it may be and it too may be enhanced by meditation practice and by explicitly trying meditation in action. In other words NO SPECIFIC FORM OR WAY OF MEDITATION IS ALL MEDITATION BUT ANY ONE MAY BE MEDITATION at times or situations or for some persons. I am tempted to say that LIFE AS MEDITATION IS MEDITATION

We have talked of meditation as training—focusing—the mind on one thing. However, we saw that ‘one thing’ may have a broad interpretation: it need not be a single sound or point of consciousness even though that may be useful practice toward one real thing—be it vision, or insight, or some complex of action, thought, feeling, and aim. We saw also that ‘meditation’ involves body, first, because the body is the ‘seat’ of mind—the universal metaphysics does not make a distinction—and second because it is the whole organism that is training and or being trained

Meditation is focus toward some goal—psychic-and-or-physical-which may be the focus itself—and practice of focus


Meditation is focus and training of mind-body toward a goal

Focus is ideally productive of the goal

Training is practice

Training includes mind body and their integration MINDBODY. I.e., the physical component of meditation is essential

The ‘goal’ is not necessarily the ‘end’. It includes the way, points on the way including ends, their qualities and relationships

In the ideal case it includes the ideal of the greatest goal and reflection on the goal in such a way that process is realization

Appendix on Naming Meditation

The following is in-process

MindBody Practice and Action

MINDBODY (meditation) practice and action


Words meditation, prayer, affirmation, visualization, daily priorities and planning review


Possibilities for ‘meditation’—from Greek ΝΟΥ (nou) = mind, ΣΏΜΑ (soma) = body

(1)       nosomate (NOUSOMATE) = meditate

(2)       nosomation = meditation º MINDBODY practice / focus / training

(3)       nosomaction = MINDBODY practice in action = meditation-in-action

(4)       nosomative º nosomactive = meditative

It may be poetically and functionally reasonable to replace no-soma, MINDBODY, by soma

“The word ‘meditate’ has a number of uses and some people would appropriate it for their application. There may be a variety of reasons for such appropriation but these do not concern us. The concern here is that there is no final meaning to ‘meditate’ as is true for many words. It is important that the meaning be open and include training or directing mind and body—entire Being—to interactive focus toward some goal which may be object focus, focus itself, a goal, and combinations (single object focus is sufficient if ‘object’ is taken in a general sense). For these purposes we prefer to not distinguish the general meanings of meditation, MINDBODYPRACTICE, YOGA, nosomation, and nosomaction”


Because it is neutral with regard to mind, body, what is done and why, its widespread use, Yoga may be preferable to other words

However, ‘Yoga’ has the following issues (1) Negative connotation, (2) Limited denotation in the West, and (3) It is not an English word or otherwise transparent