"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage." - Fredrich Nietzsche
Why do we romanticize pain? I suppose the overcoming of suffering is a powerful feeling. We don't value things that come easy to us. It is the things that we have to struggle for that give us the greatest satisfaction.
But what about pain during meditation? I don't understand the point of it. The classic meditation position is to sit cross-legged or in a lotus pose. Avoiding pain in your neck, back, and knees seems nearly impossible. Maybe after a certain amount of meditation, it's not a problem.
That being said, I don't know why some people hold the pain up as a positive thing in this context. I don't think the amount of physical pain you're inflicting on your body will bring you any close to spiritual enlightenment or transcendence. Maybe I'm wrong about that, though. Maybe leaning into your pain brings you closer to the present moment. But I think it's an unnecessary distraction.
This is why I now prefer yoga over sitting meditation. Yoga involves a set of structured stretches, and helps you improve your balance, flexibility, and focus. It's a moving meditation. You twist and pose in various ways that make you feel loose and strong. You are simultaneously focused on your breath and your body. Why wouldn't you choose this form of meditation over sitting in some stiff position? You don't have to be a pain martyr. You can gain the mental benefits of meditation while also contributing to your physical well-being.
But maybe yoga isn't as deeply meditative as traditional meditation. If you're just sitting still, you can focus all of your energy on your breath and the present moment. However, I'd still opt for an alternative to sitting meditation. I would choose flotation tank therapy instead.
In a flotation tank or pod, you can experience the ultimate relaxation. Your body feels weightless, floating in a pool of Epsom salt. With the sensory deprivation aspect, you are free to tune in fully to the present moment.
But part of me wonders if this is too relaxing. I've fallen asleep once before while floating. I don't think we get the full meditation experience if we are too relaxed. So maybe that's the point of sitting meditation. If you're too relaxed, you won't tune in to the present moment. Maybe you need to be borderline uncomfortable to achieve full awareness.
Anyway, I guess you could always just sit in a comfy upright chair to meditate. Maybe that's the simplest solution. It's more relaxing than sitting cross-legged on the ground, but not so relaxing that you'll fall asleep. Perhaps a rocking chair in the ultimate meditative accessory. Because I find that little bit of movement to be soothing. It's obviously not as much movement as you'll get in a yoga class, but it's a rhythmic motion that can help you feel calm and relaxed.
Is there an ideal way to meditate? I think it just depends on the person. Or maybe it depends on the day? Maybe we should all have 3-5 ways in which we meditate, and then regularly alternate them in order to get the most well-rounded experience.
I'm probably overthinking this, but here are my thoughts in summation: We can respect and attempt the traditional approach to meditation, but we should also question norms in this area and find whatever method is best suited for ourselves. We can try a wide range of meditation practices and find the best ones to suit us. There are no rules! The common intent is be more attuned to the present, and there are probably a million ways to help you do this. Some of them we probably wouldn't even think of as meditation, like doing a puzzle or going rock-climbing. But it would probably do us some good to expand our perception of what we consider to be meditation..