Firstly, just like to say (haven't said it before in this thread, and think important to say) I don't believe I am any superior (or inferior) than others for such experiences.
I believe that such experiences are part of the many types of gifts that we are endowed with. I am a contemplative / introverted person (boring talking about one self - and in this way - but don't know how else to discuss this subject - the subject of such experiences in general not me - that I hope to be of interest / use to others), and believe that a practical / extroverted person, for example, is still open to such experiences but, perhaps, typically, not to such an intense degree. However, saying that, the practical / extroverted person has other gifts (that I / a person such as me doesnt have / have to such a degree) that enable him to experience, typically, God more intensely in other ways.
Try and answer your questions.
(1) Were there any mind-altering substances involved before or during the experiences? - No.
(2) Were there any prayers, incantations, mantras or other induction techniques used prior or during the experiences? - Initially no (the first and most significant which was like a Road-to-Damascus experience it was just so dramatic and intense and real). But later on, sometimes, yes (see below, Q. 5, for more on this).
(3)Were you alone or part of a group during any or all of these experiences? - Alone (but after initial experience, I would often experience these in the company of others, although they weren't so intense then that they would know, necessarily, what I was experiencing).
(4) How long approx. did the feelings of joy/ecstasy last? - They've never really gone away. They are not as intense now as then (I was 17 then - I am 36 now). But in many ways they are still just as real and powerful. I have days / weeks / months when they are insignificant, and other days / weeks / months when they are significant.
(5) Can you repeat these feelings when desired? and if so how do you access them? I don't know how to answer this question. These experiences come with prayer / contemplation / reflection / certain actions (engaging, positively, with other people, for example) and outside prayer / contemplation / reflection / certain actions (engaging, positively, with other people, for example). I admit I fail on this question. Don't mean to be mysterious / paradoxical but that's the best I can do.
The experiences are all different. Almost as if there are different themes / genres to them (sounds a bit pretentious but, honestly, can't think of a better way of describing it than that).
The experiences involve:
- just pure happiness
- just pure peace
- sensations of intense excitement
- sense of harmony of mind and emotion
- thoughts and ideas seem to fall into place logically
- thoughts and ideas seem far reaching and make sense for some reason
- beauty (dreams and seeing beauty in things in the natural world - some days such things might seem grey and other days they take on a visual richness that is, well really enjoyable ..)
- harmony with other people
- there is an element of humour in them (this is very vague but I could write pages on this). I am confident that positive humour / wit and so on derive from the divine (and that sarcasm and so on derives from the worst and most negative part of people).
- These experiences take place awake (mostly) and often in dreams.
- These experiences are both down-to-earth / natural / seem normal - and at the same time other worldly, mysterious, fascinating, intriguing, and so on.
- These experiences lead one to feeling refreshed, energized and so on
Could go on. Will stop ..