Meditation is a very personal and different experience for everyone who does it. Judging ourselves and modeling our practice after what others do defeats the process of learning to trust yourself.
All road lead to the same place, the journey is in finding the road that you want to travel. For some it is chakra meditations, others go to silent retreats. The list of practices goes on and on. One thing that you can be sure of is that when you find the one that suits you, you will know it. It will feel like something you have done before. It won’t be a struggle and you search will stop.
For me it was chakras. Somewhere along my journey I was exposed to a practice that meditated on opening up the chakras. It was like I had done it 1000’s of times before. The more I did it, the better I got at it. In time I did go back and read many books on the topic only to find out that most of it I had already done without ever having been taught. It was the path for me. Over time I awakened my kundalini through the process of chakra meditation.
Spirituality is about experimentation and through elimination you will find your path. Unlike other life experiences we are not encouraged or expected to use someone else’s idea of enlightenment as our own. For each it will be different, but the outcome will be the same. In the end a realization will occur that there is no perfection, no destination, and no end to spiritual growth. In this realization the desperation and insatiable need to get somewhere or understand something will subside.
The final outcome will be that there is no rush because there is no end. There is no right or wrong way to do anything. At first this may come as a disappointment to you, but in time you will be grateful for the peace and release that you will experience in knowing that we are nothing more than experiencers. We have the right to choose joy and wonder or we can choose struggle and difficulty.
In answer to your question on maintaining mindfulness, if you feel mediation is your path than by all means pursue it. Try to be easier on yourself with your expectations. Thoughts may come and go and that is ok, in time once these thoughts feel they have had their floor time there will be less and less of them. You may even want to write the thoughts down and promise them that after your meditation you will sit with each of them and listen to what they have to say. There is a lot of wisdom in the body that you can learn a great deal from by doing this. Don’t discount the interruptions in your meditation and something that need to be eliminated. Quite the opposite they may need to be illuminated.
Another practice that works quite well is to have some kind of focus during mediation. Chants, humming, mantras, or focus on energy centers can help you obtain focus better. However, if there are persistent thoughts listen to them and write them down.
Check out my website at Your pain is my painfor meditations practices and more information on these topics.