Would you like to live more peacefully with joy? On Aug. 14, a senior Hindu monk who is a chaplain at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will give a talk in South Portland on “The Secret of Peace and Joy.” Swami Tyagananda comes from the Sri Ramakrishna order, which has centers all over the world.

As I thought about Swami Tyagananda’s topic, I realized an important spiritual truth for myself: Meditating two hours daily for the past year has helped me to be much calmer and more peaceful. It is helping me to live my life more joyfully, just as the swami is suggesting.

Many people don’t like to sit for meditation because it can be frustrating in the beginning. However, there are different levels of meditation, and if we start with minimal expectations, we can progress with satisfaction.


When we meditate, we are not in the “no-thought” state right away. However, when we close our eyes and sit still, we are in a state of relaxation. When we focus on a particular situation and analyze it, we are in a state of contemplation. This creative state generates ideas.

When we focus on our breathing and just observe the breath, we are in a state of concentration. Some also focus on an image in this state instead of breath.

As we observe our thoughts, eventually the gap between the thoughts widens. That gap brings us to the “no-thought” state. This is our natural state, and it is where we find freedom from stress and struggle.

All of us go through these states. This process helps us to analyze and eventually realize our true self or consciousness.

This realization bears fruit in many situations in everyday life. Two examples from my own life follow.

A couple of months ago, someone hit my parked car in the lot at work and didn’t even leave a note. It cost me $500.

I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t at all angry or upset with the unknown person or the incident.

As I was late to pick up my daughters from school, they asked my colleague how I was doing after the accident. When they heard that I was not at all disturbed, one of my daughters said that is probably because of all my meditation.

Five years ago, I probably would have tried to find the culprit, gotten upset and brooded over it. I am thankful to this meditation practice as it helps me to accept or sail through daily life situations.


More recently, I was accused of being inconsiderate and selfish by a few people with whom I’d worked closely. In my heart, I knew that I was serving people and I had no ill intention against these accusers.

I was amazed to see myself not get disturbed in spite of a very harsh situation. I did not react to the undue criticism and personal attack. However, I was able to be assertive and state the facts and my position. This was possible due to my regular meditation practice.

As we were departing, one of the people involved gave me a hug. The next day, they agreed with my course of action, which had so disturbed them earlier. A week later, one of them told me that I have “a good heart.”

controlling our anger and maintaining our equanimity in difficult situations, we gain more. living in peace and joy, we make this world a better place to live.

Recently, Khen Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk, gave a talk at the Sadhana spiritual center in South Portland. He said that in order to show motherly love for all beings and to be compassionate, we need to love ourselves first. When we love ourselves and others, we live peacefully and joyfully.


Ashok Nalamalapu of Sadhana, a spiritual center serving people from all walks of life, can be reached at: [email protected]