Q: What is Heartful meditation?
Kamlesh D Patel: Well, the term came on its own when we were discussing mindfulness and awareness. This is all about feelings. Our entire life is led by feelings and inspirations, and that is the role of the heart. And when we manage to listen to the feelings and capture the inspiration that comes from within, I think we can master our life by listening to the heart again and again. And the whole exercise of fine-tuning the heart with the mind is through this meditation on the heart. That is why we call this process Heartfulness meditation.
Q: What is the goal of Heartfulness meditation? Where does it lead?
Kamlesh D Patel: I think goals are set not by the process or by God. Goals are set by individuals. It is up to us what we set, and what we want to achieve through whatever we do. It is not just for spirituality that we have to set goals. Even in the material world, even when you play football, what are your goals? How do you achieve them? When you become a doctor, what are your goals? There can be so many kinds of specialisation.
Similarly, approaching or treading on the divine path, it is up to each one of us. If you want peace of mind, you set your goal so that you feel peace all the time – that is your goal. Some people say, “I would like to have much more than that. I would like to feel liberated from within.” That is that person’s goal. Another person will say, “I would like to achieve and feel universal consciousness.” That is that person’s goal.
So I think the goal is individually driven. Even if someone says, ‘”Let this be your goal,” it is still a futile establishment. I must have my own goal, based on my heart’s signals.
Q: What is the origin of Heartfulness? Is it affiliated with any religious tradition or spiritual tradition?
Kamlesh D Patel: No, not really, it has no affiliation with anything in the world as far as religions are concerned, though in every religion the heart plays a major role. When I approach a particular deity or approach my own belief in a system of any sort, my heart has to be convinced of whatever I do. Even when I play a chess game, when I make a move, my heart has to be convinced before I make that move. When I play music, my heart has to be convinced to play each note.
For each decision that I make, my heart has to be convinced before I make that decision, and religion or science have nothing to do with the games of the heart. The heart is the most mysterious thing and the most beautiful thing that we can have.
Q: Does this mean that anybody from any tradition can practise Heartfulness?
Kamlesh D Patel: Surely.
Q: Is there any representative or leader who is teaching this meditation in the world?
Kamlesh D Patel: Yes, but I would not focus on the teacher at the moment. I would focus more on the process. Because however great a teacher may be, if the student is not ready for it, if the heart is not ready for it, what is the use of the teacher?
So I recommend that you proceed with this Heartfulness process, and then, if it appeals to your heart, if you like it, if it changes your lifestyle, if it brings you a lot of benefits, if it makes you feel good, then try to discover who is the person behind it. Then it is important to know who this person is.
Q: You are talking about the process. Sir, what is the process of this meditation? How is Heartfulness actually done?
Kamlesh D Patel: We recommend the method first and it goes like this:
Gently sit and relax with your eyes very softly closed. Think of the presence, of the source of the light within the heart. That is all. Stay on this one idea and go ahead with this one idea for as long as you can sit.
After a few days of practice like this on your own, if you would like to meditate with a companion or a preceptor or a guide, or if you would like to meditate with the help of transmission, you can make a request. Now you will be able to see the difference between the meditation done without transmission and meditation with transmission. You compare and you decide which is good for you.
Q: What exactly is the transmission that you are speaking of?
Kamlesh D Patel: Transmission is a loosely translated word from the Sanskrit word pranahuti. Pranahuti is nothing but an essence of our prana, pranasya pranaha [life of life], which is utilised by a yogi. This force is transmitted. I use the word ‘force’, but it really has no force in it. There is no other better word to describe this, so that is why I use the word ‘force’, but it is a forceless thing. It has to be experienced, and somehow it touches our hearts almost like the sunlight touching our skin, and makes us feel warm. Like that, when pranahuti touches your heart it really makes you feel very special inside.
I would rather not feed words to you, lest the experience that you may enjoy be tainted by my own ideas. Let it be your experience, whatever you feel. Then it is your experience, and that is our aim. Why should I borrow someone else’s experience?
Q: How long do you think a person needs to practise Heartfulness to feel the effects of it? What could be the possible effects?
Kamlesh D Patel: The quickest can be the same instant that you sit. The very moment you close your eyes, you feel the result instantly. I don’t think you have to wait for eternity or ten years or five years or after death or even the next day. The effect will be felt instantaneously right then and there. You close your eyes and you feel it. It is like sunlight; when you expose yourself to the sun, you feel the warmth. When you expose yourself to this pranahuti while meditating, you will feel the effect of pranahuti instantly.
Q: Today’s lifestyle is very busy and people don’t have time. Heartfulness meditation requires at least thirty minutes. So how to find the time in a day of hectic lifestyle and stress?
Kamlesh D Patel: If we can create a stressful lifestyle, I think we also have the choice to create a calmer lifestyle. The choice is ours. If you want to feel peaceful, you want to feel calm, you will have to adopt it. Even if it takes an hour to achieve twenty-three hours of a good day, it is a good investment of time – the choice is yours.
Q: Would you share with us a little bit of your experience of this Heartfulness meditation? How did you come to do this and what do you feel about it?
Kamlesh D Patel: Well I started this meditation almost like a joke actually. One of my friends was able, at will, to dim or intensify the light and it was very impressive. I had an inclination towards meditation, so I used to do it on my own without any goal, without any particular process, but I was influenced by Swami Vivekananda. So I would sit like him and devote my time silently in brooding over things rather than in meditation, and I misunderstood that whole process as meditation.
My friend used to observe my lifestyle. He said, “Why don’t you come and meditate using this method?” I said, “Ok, why not?” He said, “Let’s go. He took me to one elderly lady, who introduced me to this system. In the very first meditation, I was very moved. The very first experience blew me apart. It was the most wonderful thing I had ever felt.
Q: How can people start this practice?
Kamlesh D Patel: You must have seen on our website, Heartfulness.org, the process is given there how to meditate. You can meditate in a comfortable corner of your house, and if you want to try this meditation with transmission, please send your request via email. Someone will get back to you and say, “Okay, sit at such and such a time at your place.” Or if there is another person who meditates in your town, we will give you their contact details so that you can meet each other and meditate. It is a very simple process.
Q: Are there any group activities? How many people in France follow this? Is there a community who follow this in France?
Kamlesh D Patel: Heartfulness meditation has been going on in France since the late sixties, and the number keeps growing every year. Currently, we may be close to four or five thousand members in France, and they are all family people leading a happy family life, raising children, which is a rare thing in Europe these days. They are not extreme, in the sense that they don’t go into the material world so much that their spiritual world suffers, and they don’t go into the spiritual world so much that their material existence suffers.
The family life advocated with Heartfulness meditation is a balanced existence that we try to seek: balance within, balance in my surroundings, balance in my society. We kind of breathe peace in and we exhale peace out.