Yes meditation is for atheists and agnostics too. There are five excellent meditations that are not religious in the least. I’ll share them in a sec.
But listen: it’s shocking how many people think meditation is spiritual or religious.
Meditation has been mired by a string of shocking myths and lies.
Your perspective on meditation might have been skewed by those myths, so be sure to read that article.
One of those myths is the idea that meditation is religious.
It seems the world refuses to accept the idea of non-religious meditation. And in the twenty first century, that’s a truly ass-backwards mentality.
The 3 Types Of Meditators: The Religious, the anti-religious, and everyone else
There are three types of meditators in the world.
- The first is the devoutly religious individual. They believe in their one religion absolutely, and they’ll follow that religion no matter what, even if that religion causes harm to other people. These guys will tell you meditation is only for religious people.
- The second type of person is the strictly non-religious and non-spiritual person. These people hate religion and spirituality. They believe religion and spirituality are for the brainwashed. This mentality helps them to avoid being consumed by any one belief. But it also prevents them from taking advantage of the positive aspects of spirituality. So they think they can’t meditate.
- The third type of person doesn’t force themselves to stick to one type of religion or spirituality. They’re not going to follow a book just because society tells them to. But at the same time, they’re open minded enough to consider that some aspects of spirituality might actually be good. So they can meditate without it being spiritual or religious.
Are you the open minded-non-religious-meditator?
Which type of person are you?
I’m going to guess that you are in the third group, that you are not religious, nor even particularly spiritual, but that you are open minded enough to believe that meditation could be helpful for you even though meditation did originate from a religion [that much is just historical fact].
If you are this type of person, great. You’re open-minded. And you probably are smart enough to appreciate the importance of spirituality in life too
Science has proven that spiritual is very healthy (the link above shows why). And because of this, it is best to have an open mind to spirituality even if you’re not devoutly spiritual.
This is why the third type of person (above) is the best. They’re not forcing themselves to believe anything and, equally important, they’re not forcing themselves not to believe anything. They are the ones with open minds.
So if that’s you, good news: yes you can meditate without being religious or spiritual.
Meditation is the best of spirit and science
As Stephen Batchelor says in Confessions Of A Buddhist Atheists,
“[Mindfulness] is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. It serves as an antidote to theism, a cure for sentimental piety, a scalpel for excising the tumor of metaphysical belief. (130)”
Meditation is a little bit spiritual though…
Take a look at my free guide to 31 meditation techniques and you will find some meditations that are not at all religious (like binaural beats [available on Amazon]) and some meditations that are overtly religious, like Buddhist techniques.
So it’s hard to ignore this fact:
Meditation is definitely a little bit spiritual.
Spirituality is NOT what you think it is.
I challenge you to read this actual definition of spirituality and then tell me whether you are spiritual or not (You will be surprised. Everyone I explain spirituality to says “Really?! That’s what it actually mean to be spiritual?!”)
So yeah, click that link.
And if you are still not spiritual, no biggie.
Even if you straight up hate everything spiritual, you can still meditate
Take a look at this article in which I reveal the best meditation for each personality type. And simply try the meditation technique for your type of person. Even if it is a little bit spiritual. I dare you.
Even if you hate everything spiritual you can just ignore the spiritual parts of meditation.
If you stop yourself from doing anything remotely spiritual or religious you will be seriously limited in life.
Here’s a list of things that started out spiritual, as meditation did:
Reason is this: practically everyone in the world used to be religious or spiritual. So any ancient practice will invariably be tied to a religion, including meditation.
In the West, the church was ubiquitous into the 1800s. It’s only recently that religion and spirituality have become less popular. 
So inevitably, any practice that is more than 100 years old will likely be tied to some religion or spirituality.
It’s not a big deal.
People recognise the real-world health benefits of yoga, tai chi, etc., so those things are no longer considered spiritual. They’re just health.
You’d be stupid not to meditate.
Because there are more than 100 health benefits of meditation.
Seriously, take a look at that list and then tell me whether the minor spiritual aspect of meditation mean F-all compared to how good meditation is for you.
Science makes it obvious: meditation is not religious
Take a look at the science of how meditation works.
Doesn’t look very religious, does it?
Looks like a healthy halfway-point between spirituality and science.
Meditation is both spiritual and scientific. And that is one of the best thing about meditation.
Spirituality and science don’t agree on much. Tell the National Institute of Science that praying or meditating on God will change your life and you’ll be met with a few stiffly raised eyebrows. But say to them “Meditation makes me healthy, happy, and a better human being” and those same scientists will nod approvingly and say, “Yes, it does, we just finished proving that in the lab.”
That’s because meditation is now a scientific practice. And the fact that science approves of meditation really proves the point I want to make today: you can practice meditation if you non-religious and non-spiritual.
So. Say this loud and clear with me…
Is meditation religious and spiritual? It can be, based on the individual. It can also be purely a health thing. And if you are interested in practicing meditation without being spiritual, then I would like to help you. There are many different types of non-religious meditations that non spiritualists can use. And I’m going to share the best of them with you.
Science Loves Meditation. And Science Is The Number One Aesthete
No matter what some religious people might try to tell you, you can meditate. Meditation is for atheists as well as for religious and spiritual people.
Let’s face it, science is the number one form of atheism.
Scientists don’t do belief. They objectively study and measure everything. They don’t believe in God. Sure, some might not disbelieve, but they don’t believe either, because you can’t measure God. You can’t quantify God. You can’t put a label on God and say, “Here is God.” Scientists are the biggest atheists of us all. And if they advocate meditation, then clearly meditation is for atheists too.
But if meditation is for atheists, then a new question presents itself.
What if you’re an atheist who wants to stay away from any of the religious or spiritual connotations of meditation? Because meditation is still widely perceived as a religious and spiritual practice.
Practicing meditation without being labelled a spiritualist
Even if you go around with the atheist logo tattooed on your body people will still ask questions if you’re meditating.
If you tell someone you meditate they’ll presume you are religious or at least somewhat spiritual. That’s because modern society hasn’t quite caught up with the changing views on meditation.
Believe it or not, some people still think meditation is evil and satanic, which is what most people in the West thought up to the19 60s (when the Beatles started meditating). Four thousand years has left a stain. Now anytime people see someone meditating they instantly think “Religious person.”
We’re heading towards a point when meditation will not be seen as a religious practice, but we are not quite there yet.
As neurological scientist Sam Harris says, “There’s going to come a time when we’re not talking about “Buddhist meditation”… we’re just talking about turning consciousness upon itself and what can be discovered by that process.”
We’re getting close to that point, but we’re not quite there yet.
So how do you stop other people from thinking you’re spiritual?
Just call meditation “mindfulness”.
The terms are interchangeable, but the first conveys religious overtones where the second is the same practice without religiosity.
Even though this is absolutely stupid because mindfulness actually came from a religion too (Zen Buddhism).
But, to cut a long story short, when the term “mindfulness” came to the West is came as a scientific practice, not a religious one. So people tend to think of ‘mindfulness” as being a science.
So if you do want to tell people you meditate without having them say “You’re spiritual?!” just say “I practice mindfulness” instead.
Try this non-religious meditation for starters
If you want to do absolutely non-spiritual meditation, start with these 25 mindful habits.
Go ahead. They’re atheist-friendly.
Looked at that link?
Those mindful habits are great ways for atheists to start meditating.
Mindfulness simply means doing one things at a time, and focusing on what you’re doing.
That’s what meditation is, in a nutshell, it’s doing one thing absolutely. And surely there can’t be anything religious about that. Surely doing one thing mindfully is not religious, it’s just healthy.
What one thing should you do?
As Wellness expert Olivia Rosewood says, “Meditation is merely the momentary pause of thought. It is as religious as the holding of breath as you dive under water.”
Now, let’s take a look at 5 completely non-religious meditations.
5 types of non-religious, non-spiritual meditation for atheists
These meditations are all safe for atheists.
1: Just breathe
Breathing surely can’t be religious, can it?
Just sit silently and focus on your breathing. This is a very simple practice that clearly is not overtly spiritual. But it is very good for your health.
I’ve created a complete guide to breathing meditations (but it does contain a couple of spiritual terms, to give you a heads-up).
2: Non-religious mantras
You might wonder what a mantra is? If so, read my Ultimate Guide To Mantras. Tells you all you need to know.
Mantras derive from Hinduism, but they do not need to be religious.
Mantras are simply words or sounds that are repeated. For instance, repeat the word “Calm.” There you go, that’s a mantra.
Buddhists would advise you to recite a mantra 108 times, but just recite the word calm until you feel calm. It’s ridiculously simple but also powerfully effective. You could even call Nike’s “Just Do It” a mantra. It evokes an emotional response and if you repeat it enough times you will feel like “Just doing it”. And surely Nike is not religious (even if their name is actually based on an old Greek god) .
3: Acem Meditation
You know when I said that mantras were originally religious, and that scientists don’t like religion? Well, as though to prove both points, scientists in Scandanavia have created a new type of meditation, which is very similar to mantra meditation but non-religious. It’s called Acem meditation . It involves reciting gibberish. No joke. Apparently it really works too.
4: Mindful Art
All forms of art can readily be made into excellent meditation techniques.
Take singing, for example.
Simply pick your favourite song and sing it while focussing your mind 100% on the sensations of your voice and breath reverberating around your body.
Sit outside somewhere beautiful, overlooking a lake, or perhaps a waterfall or mountainside. Now draw or paint the landscape while focussing on that artistic activity. No matter what type of art you’re into, turn it into a meditation technique.
After all, all art can be done mindfully. For instance, why not try mindful writing.
Silence truly is golden.
One of the most beautiful meditation techniques in the world is to focus on pure silence.
Silence is infinite. It expands across space and time.
When you meditate on silent you expand your consciousness to stretch out across the cosmos. This really is an amazing meditation technique.
These five non-religious types of meditation for atheists are all incredibly effective, and there’s not an ounce of religiosity between the five of them.
If you’re an atheist and would like to learn how to meditate, you’ll love my new book Welcome To Silence: A Practical Guide To Mindfulness And Meditation.
Want more meditations?
Read my guide to 31 different types of meditation.
Some of those meditations are religious. Some are atheist-friendly. Take a look. You will be amazed by the variety of different meditations.
So yes, atheist, do meditate.
And also leave a comment and remember to share.