Whether one is new to meditation or a seasoned practitioner, the one feeling that is experienced and acknowledged by a lot of people is a feeling of peace and calmness within. The challenge thereafter is mostly to retain this feeling especially when we navigate through the often unpredictable ups and downs of life.
Before my conscious spiritual journey began in this life, I hardly understood the meaning of peace and calmness, especially how one can choose to tune in to it rather than waiting for situations and environments to present us with it always.
I also used to think peace and calmness are quite similar and probably mean the same thing – a state that exists when there’s silence and there’s no conflict or disturbance. My perspective then was largely based on the reality outside – the surroundings and people. Not entirely untrue, this wasn’t the accurate definition of peace and calmness either.
I came to understand later, that there’s an inner reality, where we are in charge and therefore have the capability to access and be in an inner state of peace at will. Also, the fact that calmness has a dynamic element to it which I did not recognize earlier.
Paramhansa Yogananda Ji says ‘Peace emanates from the soul, and is the sacred inner environment in which true happiness unfolds’.
To get to somewhere even close to that soul-level peace, I knew I first needed to calm down and reduce my restlessness, even to sit to meditate. One simple yet key learning in my journey was how easily we can check how calm or restless we are anytime by observing our breath, as Yoga explains the connection between our breath, energy and mind. As we change one, it changes the other two also. Relaxation and stillness of body and mind are a prerequisite and just the beginning, to tap into our inner eternal source of peace.
When we go deeper in our meditation, and if we wish to concentrate and focus on a particular divine quality, such as Peace, I have found ‘Visualizations’ to be of great help too, to help us tune in to that feeling within and concentrate. Especially when starting out, I did not clearly know how to focus on a feeling and move to a state of expansion in the final phase of meditation. At Ananda, I found the guided meditations sometimes with visualizations to be very helpful and effective in this respect.
I started to enjoy Meditation more and more, with the deepest gratitude to God & Gurus for showing me the way. I also found the following words of Paramhansa Yoganandaji very encouraging:
The more you feel peace in meditation, the closer you are to God. He moves nearer and nearer to you the deeper you enter into meditation. The peace of meditation is the language and embracing the comfort of God. Therefore, God is present right on the throne of peace within you. When you know God as peace within, then you will realize Him as peace existing in the universal harmony of all things without.
After regular practice of meditation, I gained a deeper awareness of how imperative it is to maintain the peace within at all times, not only during meditation but as much as possible, at all times. Holding on to the after-effects of meditation now has a new meaning for me – it is about living in and with that sense of peace and calmness. As Yogananda Ji says, to be ‘calmly active and actively calm’.
As we attune ourselves more and more to super-consciousness, through meditation, chanting, affirmations, visualizations – we are consciously cultivating inner peace, calmness and accessing the divine joy that’s ours already. Less dependence on the outside, more strength within. Not reacting in any situation but responding calmly from a higher level of consciousness. Refusing to be driven by moods, and using our dynamic willpower for constructive, soul-enriching purposes. Trying to stay cheerful and even-minded under all circumstances to live in harmony and in attunement with Divine will.
Lastly, wanted to share the beautiful, crystal clear definition of ‘Peace’ and ‘Calmness’ as divine qualities, by Swami Kriyananda Ji, that cleared my lingering confusion completely:
“Peace is the soothing cessation of all agitation of feeling, whereas Calmness is dynamic, and is the silent, essential core of creativity, of impersonal love, and of divine wisdom.”