Even though such experiences are like feelings, a second aspect is that they are "noetic," you feel there is a kind of deep knowledge imparted to you, a revelation of significance that lasts beyond the experience. Third, they are transient, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, but remembered and often carried into life afterwards. Lastly, they are not voluntary. You yourself do not initiate them. There are techniques that various religions use to try to help induce such a state - meditation, fixed attention, prayer, dancing, the ingestion of certain substances - such actions are ways to make us more receptive to such experiences, but cannot cause them. I have most frequently heard of religious experiences occurring in a natural setting where a person seems almost to leave the body and merge with the natural world. They have a sense of being a tiny but important piece in a great, mystical, whole. I have also known a number of people who have, in an ordinary setting, felt suddenly transformed and embraced by love, and hearing the reassurance of a voice within that was, however, not their own voice. Most mystical experiences have a sense of a temporary loss of the walls that divide us, a profound sense of connection to the Holy.
- Rev. Kate Rohde, Roots and Sources: The Mystic Path, available at http://issuu.com/firstunitarian/docs/roots_and_sources_-_sept_20_2009?mode=window&pageNumber=1