If I’m you, the first thing I’d want to know after reading that title is why? What’s wrong with calling meditation…meditation? Nothing, really.

But the truth is that many people are put off when they hear the word meditation.It conjures images of men in ponytails eating granola in Boulder, Colorado…all of which I’m totally down with, except for the ponytail, which isn’t in the cards for this bald writer.

Also, meditate is too neutral and nondescriptive. Meditation is anything but a neutral activity. It is hugely positive and helpful to us on the most profound levels. So how about calling it something more descriptive that evokes positivity?

Here are a few candidates that do just that. Instead of saying, “I’m going to go meditate,” what if instead we said… “I’m going to go…

1. “QUIET DOWN” — Just saying those two words in my head calms me down. “I’m going to go quiet down.” Ahh.

Most of the time it’s loud in there. Thoughts race like electrons buzzing around a nucleus. “What should I do next? Why isn’t she home yet? I haven’t gotten a thing done all day.”

On and on. All day long. Quieting all that chatter would be nice.

Well, isn’t that what we’re really doing when we meditate? We walk into a quiet room, sit down, close our eyes and begin to quiet the babble buzzing around our head.

We orient ourselves at the start by maybe doing some box breathing. We place our attention on various parts of the body (i.e., do a body scan). We follow our breathing…

And eventually, some days longer than others, we get quiet inside.

2. “CENTER” — At its best, meditation is about clearing away the clutter in our minds, which then leaves us feeling centered. What do I mean by centered?

Sometimes describing the opposite is most effective in expressing something. The opposite of centered is feeling scattered, untethered, unstable and some measure of anxious and stressed out.

Several minutes into a meditation session, we often lose that feeling of disconnectedness. We feel tethered. I describe it as feeling like I’ve come “home,” with home being a place of comfort and security.

As Eckhart Tolle says,

“You are never more essentially, more deeply, yourself than when you are still.”

And feeling like ourselves is synonymous with feeling centered.

3. “SLOW DOWN” — This one is similar to quieting down, but slowing down is physical. We rush around so often, scurrying here and there.

Walking fast. From our car to the store. From our office to the kitchen.

We breathe fast. We talk fast. We write fast.

We do too many things fast! And it’s not good for us. It makes us anxious and stressed out.

So we walk into our meditation room and we slow down. Slow what? Everything.

I start many of my sessions, including this morning, with long, deep breaths where, on the inhale I say “slow” and on the exhale I say “down.” I do at least five of those.

The effect of slowing down my breathing, and everything else, is to calm my nervous system. This in turn helps slow the flow of thoughts.

One important caveat

One caveat here is that all three of these new meditation descriptions are aspirational. Meaning, we don’t start out quiet, centered or slowed down. That’s where we want to get.

And some days we won’t get there. We’ll feel just as noisy, uncentered and rushed as we did at the start.

Meditation is about non-judgmental noticing

The true point of meditation is to notice and accept whatever’s happening in the moment, whatever that moment brings. If it’s tension and anxiety, we notice and accept that.

And we don’t do that noticing with the aspiration of becoming quiet, centered and slow inside.

As long as we’re aware of that, I say we use a more positive description of meditation.

I’ll bet you have your own descriptions. If so, please let me know in the comments!