When considering meditation, many of us conjure a visual image of a person sitting upright in a cross-legged position, eyes closed and entirely still, with the goal of attaining perfect mental and emotional peace. Also conjured are images of highly formalized and ritualized practices, with specific behaviors, and environmental structures.
I have much respect for all forms of meditation practice. But if you do not come from a cultural background that immersed you naturally in a specific meditation style, or if your physical abilities, pain, temperament, or traumatic life experiences make it difficult to meditate, I want to suggest you consider a broader picture of what meditation could look like for you.
What is your goal for meditating? If it is relaxation or ease of mind, then meditating in a way that brings more physical pain or very traumatic feelings to the surface, may be counterproductive for you.
Feel free to employ some tools: If sitting upright is hard, make yourself comfortable in other positions. Lean back on pillows, lie down, close your eyes or focus your eyes softly on a specific object. Use a sound (mantra) music or a word, hold meditation rods, use beads or other objects that help move attention away from your automatic stressed mind. Another method of practice is to simply watch your automatic thoughts arise without judging or trying to change them. Experiment and see what happens.
Most life enhancing activities that move us out of habitual thinking, stressing, planning and worrying can be meditative. So, for you, if walking, swimming, yoga or another activity can be done without the usual thinking, planning and worrying, consider perhaps that these are your meditations. Practice.
I would love to hear back from you. I am curious; what is your meditation?