As some of you know, I have been occasionally attending the Unitarian Universalist Church here in Tallahassee. Yesterday, Rev. Robin talked about prayer and meditation using types from a book whose title escapes me now. Anyway, she talked about prayer as not needing a deity to focus on and then discussed meditation as, to her, the most difficult form of prayer, at least in regards to the clearing of the mind. The nothingness that Buddhists and others who meditate seek seemed to her the hardest thing, and it very well may be.
Years ago after becoming Pagan, I took up periodic meditation mainly as a stress reliever and centering action. I do not do it as much as I probably should, but nonetheless, I do practice in my own way. In any case, after only a short time attempting to meditate as I thought you should...the stiff posture, blank mind search for the black nothingness...I realized that it really didn't do much for me. I could clear my mind and relax after a bit, and if you have silence then, it is truly fabulous in its own way. However, I have come to realize that the most effective meditation for me is to sit and relax quietly and look at the trees, water, whatever nature is handy. Sometimes, if the need is great enough, even a flower on someone's desk or a picture is sufficient. I do not try to force thoughts away, but allow them to float through on whatever topic they wish. And I have found that after a while, the thoughts quiet down on their own, though they never disappear completely. I can compose pieces of whatever I'm writing at the time or think of what I need to do later in the day without rush and anxiety.
This type of meditation, to me, seems more difficult than the other. We constantly push thoughts and duties aside during the day. We quiet our inner voices to the point that they feel they must scream at us to be heard. Yes, we need silence, but I think outside silence is more important than that on the inside. By silencing the inner voice completely, even for short stretches, we may miss something incredible. In our search for periodic inner nothingness, blankness, quiet, we may find it, but we may also lose moments of wonder---which considering the state of the world, are too few and much too far between.