I've had a couple people who've never meditated with me, who I assume have no clue what I'm doing, tell me I'm not meditating correctly.....based on I'm not sure what.
Just my opinion, but even the focus on breath is negotiable, and isn't even a central aspect of many types of Asiatic mediation.
So if it's not religion X or philosophy Y...
...And if it's not sitting, standing, lying, or walking...
...And it's not even following the breathing...
...what is it and why bother?
I agree that following the breath is not necessary for meditation, though controlling your breath to a slow and even pace certainly goes a long ways towards calming yourself down.
I fear that any definition of "what meditation is" that I come up with is going to sound contrived. And limited.
Compassion Meditation I find super valuable - where I'm visualizing people and directing thoughts, in the form of short phrases, towards individuals I like, don't know and find difficult...
And that is totally different than sitting on the beach and breathing slow with bugs crawling on my face or in a park with people behind me talking about whatever the hell is going on in their lives.
I think both kinds are different and offer good benefits, and so I do both.
The why is the easy part.....meditating makes me nicer and more patient, and subsequently I'm more likely to make decisions that are good ones and/or more in alignment with the better version of myself. Those things makes me happier.