Meditation becomes like a tool-kit. We encounter different situations in life and for every one of those situations meditation has something to offer.
Of course there are circumstances that involve concentrated thought about a variety of things and whilst you are engaged in such activities you cannot be meditating at the same time. Meditation can be a thing to use when you take a break from them to get your brain back into that state where ideas and creativity flow.
In exercise meditation is particularly effective. I run about 3 miles a day. Some days I find it a breeze; I’ve got plenty of energy and I feel like super-man. Other days it feels like a real grind. On the days when it’s easy I find that a diffuse focus, watching the world around me as I run and just being universally mindful is a beautiful thing to do. On the days when it’s a grind I’ve found that if I meditate on the feeling of my feet slapping the ground then I can put myself into a trance and it becomes agreeable.
I think the same thing is happening when you listen to music and run. The music gives your mind something to focus on and that puts you into a trance. I stopped listening to music when I run though. Not because I think it’s immoral or anything like that but because I don’t want to be dependent on things. Also because I had the thought the other day that if a zombie apocalypse were to happen I’d be sorted in terms of cardio. But if you have to listen to music in order to run long distance that would be useless in a zombie scenario.
In social interactions I’ve found that focusing on the other person – aka meditating on the other person – to be highly effective. (If you feel anxious in social interactions try to do that and watch your anxiety at the same time. Have faith that your anxiety is not based on reality.) I look them in the eye and listen without internal comment to what they say. Often responses I give surprise me but they always seem to be appropriate. Whereas before when I’d spend time thinking about what I would say I would stammer and there was always a contrived nature to my utterances.