Heartfulness is a heart-centered approach to life, where we will ideally be able to live each moment by the heart living naturally, in tune with the noble qualities of a heart. The roots of our thoughts and emotions lie in the heart, and likewise, the condition of our heart determines our mental, emotional, and spiritual states. When the heart is clear and at peace, so is the mind. Therefore Heartfulness practices start with heart and were first offered to the world by Shri Ram Chandra who established Shri Ram Chandra Mission in the memory of his guru by the same name. The method of meditation practiced under Heartfulness is the modified form of Rajyoga to suit the modern lifestyle. The core practices of Heartfulness are ‘Meditation on the heart’, ‘Removal of mind clutter at the subconscious level’ and ‘Inner connect’. The unique aspect of Heartfulness is pranahuti or yogic transmission which is the utilization of divine energy for the transformation of a human being. The living master is able to introduce the subtlest energy of his own spiritual condition into the heart of the aspirant for the purpose of inner development. A sincere practitioner within a very short span of time starts experiencing the presence of divinity within. Everyday practice makes it possible for him to remain connected every moment with the eternal divine presence in the heart, which guides him in every walk of his life. Going further the practitioner learns the art of remaining centered in the heart, maintaining the meditative state throughout with a 360-degree awareness. As the concept of heartfulness transcends all religions and helps unite the entire human race, the practitioners across the globe are volunteering towards creating universal brotherhood, harmony and peace under the able guidance of Dr. Kamlesh D. Patel, the Global guide of Heartfulness Institute.
Be the change that you wish to see in the world. This quote by Mahatma Gandhi is important to bring about social change in today’s scenario, where everyone is impatiently waiting for someone to first change and then think about changing themselves. It is quite tragic though that all of us want to stand last in the process of change, but expect others to be first.
In ancient times, people worshiped God by going to temples and via rituals. People of various religions followed similar external means to express their devotion and reverence to the higher power. Everyone followed their own traditions, beliefs, and Gods and humanity always faced the challenge to establish harmony, peace and love among the masses. Today’s world is a complex system and unless the qualities such as purity of the heart and mind are inculcated, it is difficult to create universal brotherhood. Heartfulness is a heart-centered approach to life, where we will ideally be able to live each moment by the heart. It is to live naturally, in tune with the noble qualities of a heart, enlightened and refined through spiritual practice. The concept of Heartfulness transcends all religions and helps us unite the entire human race through ‘Pranahuti’ based meditation.
Heartfulness practice emerged in India in the early twentieth century. Its progenitor was a yogi named Ram Chandra, whom people called Lalaji. He explored the vast fields of spirituality and evolved the remodeled system of yoga, so that it becomes available to every willing soul (Ram Chandra, 1963). But the practices were first offered to the world by his spiritual successor by the same name Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur commonly known as Babuji. Babuji established Shri Ram Chandra Mission in 1945, in the memory of his Guru and offered the practice of meditation under the name Sahaj Marg meaning the ‘natural path’. Sahaj Marg, meaning the ‘natural path’, takes us on a journey into the heart, towards the highest expression of our inner self. Heartfulness is the heartful approach to this practice, to oneself, to others, and to life itself. Also the method of meditation is the modified form of raja yoga. The guides of Heartfulness believe that raja yoga is the only thing that can discipline the wandering human mind and bring it to the state of focus which is essential to achieve the goal of human life. (Ram Chandra,1969).
Currently, Dr. Kamlesh D. Patel the fourth guide in the Heartfulness lineage, popularly known as Daaji, fulfils many duties of a modern-day Guru, travelling widely and extending his support to seekers everywhere. He established Heartfulness Institute to spread Heartfulness practice of meditation all over the globe for the benefit of humanity. It is a global nonprofit organization with thousands of volunteer trainers who serve more than a million meditators in over 130 countries. The method of meditation practiced under Heartfulness is the modified form of raj yoga to suit the modern lifestyle. The core practices of Heartfulness are ‘meditation on the heart’, ‘removal of mind clutter at the subconscious level’ and ‘a prayerful practice to connect with the source-inner connect’. These practices are supported by yogic transmission which is the essence of Heartfulness approach and the key to its transformative potential. Heartfulness relaxation and meditation techniques are studied and proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance emotional intelligence, and explore the depths and heights of human consciousness.
Modern day man has numerous responsibilities and is not equipped to devote themselves exclusively to their spiritual aspirations. Heartfulness proposes a balanced, integrated existence, where life’s spiritual and material wings can harmoniously coexist. The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 deals with the need for self-transformation. Section 3 describes the core practices of Heartfulness. Section 4 gives an overview of the role of Heartfulness in self-transformation. Section 5 deals with the methodology adopted. Section 6 deals with results and discussions. The paper is concluded in section 7.
Throughout history, mankind has sought to uncover the mysteries behind outward appearances and to comprehend the fundamental truth. That is the origin of religion. The worshiper has before his eyes the eternal bliss of paradise or some similar view. The real thing has remained hidden, and outward rituals and forms are the only things that are visible. As a result, bigotry or prejudice has become a dominant feature of today’s religion. The whole society is thus proceeding towards disintegration. Universal love – the very fundamental base of religion – has disappeared altogether. The result of all this imbalance is reflected in very high proportion on individual physical and mental health. More and more people are suffering of major heart related diseases, diabetes, insomnia, depression etc. (Ram Chandra, 1954).
Most of the times people tend to take help from psychologists, psychotherapists when they feel depressed or not in tune with their mental wellbeing. The inner urge to transform within has made people to move towards yogic practices.
If we go to the root, we can say that transformation is the purpose of religion. It is also the purpose of self-help and psychiatry. Lot of literature is available on this subject at a click of a mouse. Great teachings are available by great men. But is this sufficient to transform us? As an example, we all know that patience is a virtue, but does knowledge make us more patient? Similarly we all know the value of love. Again, great teachers from around the world have spoken about this, but to know about love and to feel and express it are two completely different things! If teachings alone were sufficient, we would all be transformed by now. However, the world remains the same. In the same way, we may believe in the omnipresence of God, but are we able to feel that constant presence in our life (Patel K, 2018)?
Some of the practices which are adopted by people for self-transformation towards a more positive, fulfilling life in these recent years are yoga practices which include yogasanas at physical level, various types of pranayama, reiki etc. Where reiki is mainly used as a healing technique, various techniques of yoga are used to maintain good physical health and mental health (Garrett C, 2001).
Change or transformation is a natural process. We are all changing every moment, but how can we give a direction to our change towards the desired goal is the real challenge for us, because each one of us wants inner harmony and better interpersonal relations in order to live a peaceful life. But nobody really knows as to how this process starts. There is a proverb that says, “As you think, so shall you become.” The process, therefore, starts from transformation in thinking which in turn brings change in our outlook and level of consciousness, which further makes us react to situations in a different way.
As a result of this, our relationship with others improves and there is mutual love which gives us happiness in return, strengthening our belief in spiritual values and empowering us to sustain all the hurdles that come in our way of self-transformation.
Shvetasvataro Upanishad says (Sv.4.20) ‘Self is located in the heart and mind is the doorway to the heart, so it is only through the heart and the mind that we can know the Self and transform ourselves (Tyagisanand S,1949).
Transformation in thoughts unavoidably brings transformation in our speech and actions. We become a changed personality with a benign kind of royalty which has its basis in purity. Our nature becomes peaceful. Where there was fear before, there will be self-confidence and where there was a feeling of vengeance or jealousy or hatred, there will be emotion of love and motive of service and of doing good to others. “Be good and do good” would become the motto of our life. We would rise above body consciousness and stabilize ourselves at a higher and holier level of soul consciousness .
The heart based meditation with Yogic transmission helps us go deeper to the core of our Being and connect with our higher self, our true self, the essence of divinity, the source. this starts our journey of self-transformation.
- Heartfulness Core Practices
Sahaj Marg is the name of the practices that were first offered to the world by Ram Chandra in the mid-20th century. Heartfulness is the heartful approach to this practice, to oneself, to others, and to life itself.
The core Heartfulness practices include:
i. Meditation on the heart.
ii. Cleaning of the heart-mind region.
iii. A prayerful practice to connect with the Source within.
Heartfulness guided relaxation supplements these core practices. Its main purpose is to relax the body providing us with mental and emotional calmness, which facilitates deeper meditation. The guided relaxation steps relax our entire body from top to bottom and in turn help us in effortlessly focusing our attention on the heart during meditation. Effortlessness is essential to meditation. Heartfulness relaxation can also be used on its own as a simple yet efficient stress relief tool as per our requirements.
All these practices are backed by the yogic transmission which is the basis of the transformative potential of Heartfulness practice.
i. Meditation on the heart: Mind is the centre of the outer expansion of a person in the form of the human body and everything that is exhibited through the medium of the body proceeds from mind. If our mind comes to a harmonious state, circumstances and environments will have no effect on it, and there will be no disturbance within. Peace and tranquility shall reign all through under all circumstances (Ram Chandra, 1954).
In raj yoga we start with meditation. Through the practice of meditation, we start to gather ourselves at one point so that our individual mind learns to leave the habit of wandering and is set on the right path. Here, we regulate our mind in a friendly way and eventually our mind acquires a balanced, harmonious state. We start moving from the complexity of mind to the simplicity of heart. When the heart is at peace, the mind is at rest. When the heart is content, the mind gains insight, clarity and wisdom. In Heartfulness, we use the heart to regulate the mind, thus bringing them both into alignment. The two entities unite in meditative togetherness and we become integrated (Ram Chandra, 1950).
We find numerous references to the heart being the seat of soul. Few of them are mentioned here:
Mundaka Upanishada, 2.1 says – The luminous brahman dwells in the cave of the heart and is known to move there. It is the great support of all; for in it is centered everything that moves, breathes, and blinks. Mundaka Upanishad, 1.2.11-The heart must be tranquil, as the mind, to achieve liberation. The heart must be pure to experience the highest bliss. For that the mind should rest in peace, with the senses withdrawn into the mind and the mind into the heart .
Heartfulness meditation is effortless focus on a profound object – Presence of divinity in the heart. A profound object gives us a profound consciousness. Through this regular practice of meditation our mind is gradually trained to stay focused on one thing. At the same time our heart is purified and it being the centre of our system, this purity is percolated all throughout our system. Meditation creates naturalness, that which is unnatural in us starts to disappear.
Few more reasons to meditate on the heart:
- All religions and mystic traditions believe that God resides in the human heart. Therefore, He can be experienced only in the heart. Further, the quality of love is always associated with the heart. So our meditation on the divine presence in the heart awakens our latent love for the divine.
- At the biological level, the heart pumps purified blood to all parts of the body. So purification of the heart through the practices of Heartfulness has an effect of refinement of the entire physical system.
- A human being’s nature derives from the heart. One may be ‘good hearted’ or ‘evil hearted’. If his nature needs change or transformation, the heart should be the focus of attention.
- The heart is where human existence begins and ends; where life throbs and takes leave of the body at the moment of death (Durai A, 2016).
ii. Cleaning of the mind and heart at the subconscious level: The cleaning method is the second core practice of Heartfulness. The process frees us from patterns of thinking, emotional reactivity, and behavior tendencies. In addition to freeing us from the effects of mental and emotional complexity, it also removes it at the root. It works directly on our subconscious (Patel K, 2018). Patanjali’s first yogasutra-Yama refers to the removal of undesirable tendencies. This is exactly what we achieve through cleaning. Meditation creates an inner environment where unwanted seeds cannot grow, and cleaning helps us fry up the existing seeds and pull out the complex roots ensconced deep inside. In yogic philosophy, thought seeds already embedded in the subconscious are known as samskaras or impressions. Samskara or impression, is the emotional memory of a thought or action. Through cleaning, we literally remove these impressions and that’s why we feel very light at the end of cleaning (Patel K, 2018).
Heartfulness cleaning is supposed to be done every evening after our day’s work is over. As stated above, the process rejuvenates us and purifies our system of any accumulated heaviness.
We should not think of ourselves as impure or unclean, however. We are already pure and simple underneath our samskaras! Soul is never touched by impurity; impurity only obscures it and prevents its consciousness. Once impurity and complexity are removed, our natural state of simplicity and purity emerges (Patel K, 2018).
How does the cleaning method contribute to our transformation?
On a practical note, the act of cleaning itself gives us a feeling of lightness and freshness. The feeling is tangible. Whether we believe in the theory of samskaras or not, the feeling motivates us. People immediately feel lightness in their system on doing cleaning and may be that is the reason many people appreciate cleaning. Over time, we start perceiving changes in ourselves. Many habits and tendencies simply drop off (Patel K, 2018). Heartfulness meditation and cleaning work together. Cleaning practice removes the impurities and complexities and meditation on the heart prepares the field where new such seeds cannot germinate, purifying our entire system day by day.
iii. A prayerful practice to connect with the Source: Our higher self can be reached through prayer. The purpose of Heartfulness prayer is to reestablish our connection with the divine presence within. Prayer is offered with feeling of love and surrender in the heart. The subconscious only knows the language of feeling, an efficacious prayer is one in which the words resonate with the heart’s feeling. Thus in prayer, we affirm our connection with the divine source within. Eventually the act of such prayer evolves into a state of prayerfulness, which beckons us to unite with that source. It creates an aspiration and a craving that resolves itself in profound meditation (Patel K, 2018).
Usually we know prayer as asking for something. Because of our fear we seek divine protection and because of our desires we seek a divine provider. Viewing God as our protector and provider we pray according to the help we need. Heartfulness prayer is different than the above notion of prayer that we know. Its wordings are as follows:
Thou art the real goal of human life.
We are yet but slaves of our wishes
putting bar to our advancement.
Thou art the only God and Power
to bring us up to that stage(Ram Chandra,1959).
We offer the Heartfulness prayer once before our daily meditation and again just before we go to sleep at the end of the day. If offered in the right spirit, this silent prayer creates a unique inner state. As we understand from the wordings, the prayer puts forth the fact about what is the highest goal of human life, what are the barriers in attaining that goal and we seek the supreme divine help to move towards that goal.
The purpose of offering prayer before we sleep: During the period between wakefulness and sleep, there is convergence between conscious and subconscious states. At this moment our brainwaves fall into alpha state. While in alpha state, we enter into a kind of inner reverie, and the prayer is seeded into our subconscious. It is a prayer-meditation for few minutes. By meditating upon its words, we discover its deeper essence. This uplifts our consciousness and our sleep gets transformed into a very special state like that of deep meditation. Moreover, our meditation in the morning gets the special quality as an after effect of such prayer (Patel K, 2018).
Role of prayer in transformation: Our heart must be pure and innocent, in order to forge an intimate connection with our creator. The practice of Heartfulness along with the prayer helps us self-introspect, discover our defects and correct them by invoking the higher help. We learn to remain prayerfully alert to the signals emanating from our heart and thus receive the guidance coming from within (Patel K, 2018).
- Role of Heartfulness in self-transformation
Yogic transmission is the key to Heartfulness approach. It is what makes this method so powerful. We can say that transmission is a sacred emanation from the original source we can call it the essence of divinity. Though we are all the time surrounded by air, but we don’t notice it unless there is breeze, in the same way, we tend not to notice the constant presence of divinity in our lives, though it surrounds us and infuses us. With Yogic transmission, that presence becomes subtly animated. The Divine energy moves towards us and within us and our hearts begin to vibrate along with that divine flow. The guide triggers that movement. In Sanskrit, it is called “pranahuti = prana + aahuti”. Yogic transmission is the “pure love”, the forceless force which enables the real transformation to take place. Here transmission flow is unseen, but surely it is not unfelt. The absorbing effect a practitioner experiences in Heartfulness meditation is only because of this transmission. Even new seekers can feel this effect. Moreover the positive changes in us, the feeling of lightness, love, patience within a few months after starting the practice are its proof.
Though it is true that transmission is the basis of all this change, it is not possible without the efforts and willingness on the part of the practitioner. Heartfulness practice provides us with the tools to transform ourselves, but we must use to choose them. To transform ourselves is to create ourselves anew, starting with the transformation of our inner being which comes automatically as a result of meditative practice. Our consciousness expands, old habits and reactions drop off and we become more aware of our place in the world (Patel K, 2018).
The heart is the barometer of how we feel about everything, including ourselves- how we feel about our thoughts and emotions, our behavior, and about the choices we make in life. [DD-101] The first thing we observe through meditation is that emotions and feelings arise in the heart. We feel things in the heart, not with our intellect or reasoning ability. The much talked about emotional intelligence including heart-based qualities of compassion, empathy, resilience, love, courage and will are now proved to reside in the vibratory heart. [DD-98] When we are happy, everything is well, heart remains a silent witness, there is natural contentment. When we are not happy with ourselves, the heart is restless. It lets us know that something needs to be changed. We have to cultivate the art of listening to the heat’s signals and then having the courage to follow it. The art of listening to the heart brings contentment; we feel integrated, whole, and at peace with ourselves as a result (Patel K,2019).
According to Daaji, Heartfulness Guide, ‘it is only by ennobling others that we ourselves become ennobled’ is the secret of transformation. To degrade another person is to degrade one’s own self. To ennoble another person means that you recognize their innate nobility and revere it. Transformation will not come until we approach others with respect, dignity, and a holy reverence. Heartfulness practice nurtures our heart, the innate qualities of heart of compassion, empathy, humility, love, service and a higher purpose to existence paving the way to transformation effortlessly and naturally.
Next very important transformative effect one perceives is the moderation, the balance in all senses and faculties. To be happy our inner and outer states need to be in harmony, otherwise we feel unsettled and unbalanced. Generally today we find moderation disturbed in all the cases and the result is disturbance and mental conflict. This is the root cause of all our troubles and miseries. With regular practice we are inclined to cultivate moderation in our lifestyle. We also pay special attention to external ways of life, such as gentle and polite language, courteous dealing, sympathy and love with fellow beings, reverence to elders, unrevengeful nature and so on (Ram Chandra, 1954).
Universal Brotherhood: The heart’s inspirations always flow in accordance with its nature, which is love. Our actions become effortlessly and automatically good when we live by the heart’s inspirations. The heart is always inclined towards the common good. The mind thinks my, but the heart thinks ours. The mind thinks me, the heart thinks we. To the heart, the universe is a whole. When your heart is infinitely open—when it has no doors, no walls—its love flows throughout the infinite universe. Then you start to feel that universe belongs to you—but also that you belong to it. Practice of Heartfulness nurtures our heart and the feeling and sense of connectedness with the entire creation gradually starts taking root. This too paves the way for inner joy, secure feeling, contentment with the added benefit of universal brotherhood leading to harmony and peace. (Patel K,2018).
- Study Methodology
A random sample of 211 was drawn from for online survey from Heartfulness practitioners across the country. The sample group consisted of practitioners from varied background and different age groups ranging from 21 years to above 60 years of age and practicing Heartfulness for the period ranging from 1 to 40 years. The questionnaire was designed to include questions covering various dimensions of Heartfulness practice. The questions covered the effects practitioners perceive as a result of integrated practice of meditation on the heart, cleaning of heart-mind region, connecting with the ‘higher self’ within and nonetheless Heart based way of living.
- Results and Discussions
Results of evaluation of the participants to see the effect of regular practice of Heartfulness method are discussed in this section. It was found that on an average 85% of practitioners perceived very positive transformations in themselves. Though it is the combined effect of meditation, cleaning and inner connect practices, feeling of lightness is mainly attributed to cleaning practice, being connected to higher self within is mainly the result of prayer practice, and connectedness with the entire creation can be attributed to meditation on the heart.
There was a significant improvement in the positivity in terms of self-confidence, inner wisdom, stability, balance and calmness and true inner joy. The results are depicted in Figure 1.
There was a significant improvement in the divine qualities of heart in terms of compassion and empathy, feeling of contentment in life, increase in courage to do the right things and decrease in fear, and comparative increase in forgiving ability and feeling of universal brotherhood. The results are depicted in Figure 2.
The practitioners perceived significant increase in patience and decrease in anger, whereas increase in cheerful acceptance of life situations. The results are depicted in Figure 3.
(Figure 1: Effect of Heartfulness Practices on Self-Confidence, Connectedness, Wisdom and Balance)
(Figure 2: Effect of Heartfulness Practices on compassion, empathy, contentment and courage)
(Figure 3: Effect of Heartfulness practices on acceptance level, patience and decrease in anger)
In this paper, the need for self-transformation and the role of Heartfulness practice in the self-transformation is presented. It was found from the survey results that 95% of the practitioners who participated in the survey expressed that the Heartfulness practice helped them towards the betterment of the self and lead a life of purpose, balancing both material and spiritual aspects of life. It is a practical way to transcend suffering and to fly into the sky of hope and contentment, not by eliminating problems or by ignoring them, but by transfiguring our view of the world from the inside out. When faced with the difficulties our daily lives present, such as stress from the city, high wages, mortgages, careers and relationships, the Heartfulness practices help us simplify our responses and navigate our daily lives in an enriching and fulfilling way.
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