Laura, like you wrote, there are many definitions and few consistencies. As I see it, each person writes their own definition of meditation from their individuality and life experience. I know you will find your own way.
When a person chooses to live to the fullness of their capacity and continue to expand in awareness and whole-person maturity, a meditative lifestyle is highly beneficial.
Real meditation is without effort. No teachers or training are needed as the means for a meditative lifestyle is innate in every human being. Boosts along the way may be helpful, as in a book that one is attracted to or watching a video, but beware the teacher trap. I suggest to anyone asking - touch base with established practices as needed and move on as early as possible to self-instruction by going within & trusting your own wisdom guide.
Transcendental Meditation is the most scientifically studied tradition, I read in an article recently. I had my own encounter with it, which I love to tell as it was an amazing experience. The founder of TM, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was known in the 60s as the guru of the Beatles. In '71, I was a student in a Colorado high school and on the staff of the school newspaper. Maharishi was on a U.S. tour and stayed that winter for a time in a log cabin in Rocky Mountain National Park. My English teacher arranged for me to drive with three other students to interview Maharishi. Large snowflakes fell heavily outside the large picture window while I sat across a coffee table from him and asked questions about mantras such as Om mani padme hum and Nam myoho renge kyo, which I had chanted in Buddhism. Maharishi told me it was needed to be given a mantra by a TM teacher. I never went in that direction, and glad I did not.
As I wrote in other places, my conclusion for myself, is to let go of all teachers, trainings and traditions and draw upon inner resources. It is not my intention to indicate what anyone else should do, as that would violate the whole principle that each person has the same inner resources and can go to them. Each person's journey is their own. Relying little on outside training and wholly on inner wisdom is the way of whole-person maturity, and if one believes so, of merging with the Higher Self.
As an example of meditative lifestyle, Kati is in a high-stress nursing position. A co-worker observed to her that when things get really chaotic, Kati still moves mindfully and elegantly. That is it, to move elegantly and peacefully through chaos.