Why do people feel peaceful while meditating?

by July 4, 2011

Question: While meditating, praying or chanting, many people say that they feel great peace and joy. What is the cause of this feeling?

Answer:  This feeling comes from the experience of our home within.

All of us have experience of the relief that we feel on returning home after a long day’s hard work. This subjective feeling is so universal that it has become a phrase in English. We say, “I feel at home” when we find a particular place comfortable and relaxing.

Cement-concrete structures can offer rest for our physical bodies, but where can our stressed and distressed minds find relief and rejuvenation?

For that, analogous to the outer home for our bodies, we need an inner home for our minds. In fact, all of us already have our inner homes, though we may not have thought of them in these terms. Just as we return to our outer home when we have nothing pressing to do elsewhere, our mind returns to our inner home when there’s no pressing activity to occupy it elsewhere. Therefore, by observing the default thoughts of our mind, we can discover our current inner homes. These may be, for example, movies, sports, bank account and romance.

Unfortunately, none of these inner homes offer lasting shelter: a movie may turn out to be irritatingly mediocre; a sports match may hand out the very result that we didn’t want; an economic crash may empty our bank account; what began as a romance may end as a tragedy. Thus, the very activities meant to calm our disturbed minds may end up agitating it further.

Then, where do we find a secure, infallible inner home? In God, say the great wisdom-traditions. God is the supreme source and reservoir of the highest peace, joy and love. When our minds rest in God, we discover the ultimate inner home. Meditation, prayer and chanting are all spiritual techniques that connect our minds with God. Among these techniques, the Vedic wisdom-tradition explains that the divine sound of the holy names and prayers is the most efficacious. This divine sound acts like an elevator that quickly transports our mind to the loving, soothing presence of God.

Are such experiences mere sentimental imaginations? Possibly. But then the fact stares us in the face that such experiences have been reported as tangible realities by millions of people all over the world throughout history. Moreover, the healing effects of such spiritual experiences have been objectively documented by hundreds of scientific studies in the field of mind-body medicine.

Therefore, when we spend so much time and money to choose the best possible outer home, why not be a bit open-minded, invest a little time daily in chanting and check out the option of a better inner home?

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