ananda wrote:How does one know if he/she is meditating properly ?
What are the indicators
Just finished doing more than ten minutes I'm assuming I stopped because the Lotus Posture was causing my right thigh some pain so out of compassion for my body I stopped because I was told that meditation is not torture the two are opposed to each therefore if one starts getting some soreness or experiences pain in the body he should stop.
To begin with the Lotus posture is not necessary for meditation. You can begin with half lotus or even other seated positions. The important thing is that its stable, comfortable and that you can maintain it for a long period of time, also that its not a position you will fall asleep in. If you are in pain in ten minutes, that's not good. Many western bodies are unable to do lotus, and even eastern bodies are unable but after years of practice become flexible enough to do it for long periods of time. Yet the path of causing ones body to strain is really the path of Kriya Yoga, standing on ones head and contorting ones body during meditation. Buddhism is about being natural, relaxing into a natural state of being, of allowance, of flow.
As for knowing whats proper, its best to seek out a guide of some sort. Especially because there are numerous different kinds of meditation with different goals and results.
I can tell you what meditation is not:
Its not daydreaming about some happy place
Its not thinking about what you are going to have for dinner or today's issues at work
Its not being attached to cravings and desires
Its not a state of unconsciousness/sleep or near unconsciousness
Its not contemplating the teachings
Its not contemplating your personal issues
These last two are really important of course, but when you sit down to meditate the goal is presence, nowness, non attachment. If thoughts arise let them be without attachment, or if you are able, cut them off when they arise and re-enter the present moment. Just be here now.
ananda wrote:I just can't help but feel though that if I push myself and try to meditate despite minor pain I would be able to go further and attain samatha. Right now I feel relaxed and at ease but I know that it's nature is impermanent and the ease will disappear with time
How do I know if I am meditating correctly ?
Should I have pushed myself ?
Any concept of fighting, pushing, struggling, and so forth should be abandoned. Meditation when properly done is effortless because it comes from a place of superior power to any thought or any desire. The struggle comes with learning to let go of attachments, distractions, worries, and learning to maintain the state you are seeking.
I desire Nirvana but it seems so hard to imagine a time when personal defilement are eradicated and everything is at peace.
...I apologize if my questions are stupid but does Nirvana occur on a physical level as well ?
Is there a sensation in the body that accompanies it ?
Lastly is Nirvana eternal ?
Your desire is noble and your questions aren't stupid. Nirvana isn't typically spoken of for a number of reasons, one of which is because the conditions under which it arises are a state where the unconditioned is experienced. Its a state which transcends and defies any form of explanation using words or symbols. Nirvana as a state of bliss is the effect of having reached this unconditioned state, and as a result nothing can truly be said of it that would be beneficial, and plenty has been written in regards to what the state of the unconditioned itself is and how to reach it, despite the fact that its merely the finger pointing to the moon.
But when you experience Nirvana there will be no question that you've experienced it. Any idea that could be given as to its nature and manifestation would only hinder ones progress because then one becomes subject to thinking they have reached some exulted spiritual state every time they experience some transcendental bliss. You will have numerous realizations and peak experiences in the course of your path, each of which will seem to be very great and at the time will be, hold off on seeking/looking for/trying to define the ultimate and work on the basics. The rest will come naturally if the basics are attended to properly.
1) A comfortable posture that you can sit in for at least 30 minutes at a time
2) A posture that keeps the spine straight and the breath easy
3) Proper breathing
4) Non attachment to thoughts which arise
5) Lots of study of Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, also seek out a local Sangha if you can