As a beginner to Heartfulness, you may have tried the Heartfulness relaxation and meditation with transmission and experienced its effectiveness during a workshop/ course or the Masterclasses. However, you may still have some basic questions about Heartfulness and the practice. Therefore, in this module, we try to explain some of the basic concepts related to meditation.
Each section below has some reflection questions at the end that you may find helpful in your practice. Once you have finished reading, feel free to check out some videos.
Few of useful tips before you begin:
Please keep a notebook and pen with you to note down how you feel before and after the activity.
Try to avoid rushing forward. Instead, take a few minutes to observe and feel the experience.
Feel free to experiment and notice what you are experiencing.
Turn off notifications on your phone and computer.
Why meditate on the Heart?
Heart is where our deepest feelings happen, where we feel profoundly moved, where we discover our intuition and wisdom. It is through the heart that we connect to our deepest Self and to others.
In all languages, there are so many beautiful ways we find the heart described: he is close to my heart, let’s have a heart to heart discussion, she is such a kind-hearted person, I have put my heart into this, they left with a heavy heart. All refer to a deep state of feeling, an involvement of the person at the deepest level. The heart is really the base of our response to situations.
There are other reasons to have the heart at the center of the meditation. Religions and mystical traditions believe that the heart is the seat of the soul or of life.
The heart beats and sends blood to the entire body, which reaches all the cells. Hence, the effect of meditation spreads throughout the system. Purifying the heart benefits the entire organism, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We know that in the inner realm, heart has an even higher function: that is to love. “Love” emanates from the heart. The more we give of our Love, the more it grows. In Heartfulness meditation, we give attention to the heart, thereby purifying it and allowing it to have a space of it’s own in our existence. We tune in to its presence and start listening to it. By meditating on the heart, we discover that its true vocation is to love, and we start experiencing this love. Heartfulness meditation thus enhances the heart’s capacity to Love. As the heart is constantly refined by daily meditation, we experience this feeling of Love with growing intensity.
Our entire life is led by feelings and inspirations, and that is the role of the heart. When we listen to those feelings and capture the inspiration that comes from within the heart again and again, we can master our lives. The whole exercise of fine-tuning the heart with the mind is through this meditation on the heart.
- What place in your life does your heart take?
- How are you aware of your heart’s response as you go through each day?
What is Divine Light or Source of Light?
In meditation, we know that we have to try to gently hold one thought in our mind. As we meditate day after day we realize that what we meditate on, has a great effect on us. We absorb the qualities of the object of our meditation and manifest the nature or condition of that object in our lives. Hence it is imperative to select the subtlest and lightest object to focus on during meditation. However, higher consciousness is too subtle for sensory perception.
The only way mystics and yogis over the centuries have been able to put that into words is to use the word ‘light’, as light has no apparent material qualities – you can’t touch it, or see it, or taste it or smell it or hear it. Meditating on an abstract idea or on “nothingness” is, however rather difficult for the human mind to conceive of. Therefore, in Heartfulness meditation, we are asked to gently bring our attention to the Source of Light or Divine Light in the heart in meditation.
We aim to experience a finer and finer consciousness of this light within our hearts that has been described as “light without luminosity”. This light without luminosity illuminates our consciousness from within and is so much easier to meditate on than an abstract idea.
In Heartfulness meditation, we suggest this idea of “light in the heart” and unplug the mind. Once this suggestion is made it is enough. With that one simple suggestion, the subconscious mind is linked to the idea of the “light in the heart”. Making this subtle suggestion can be compared to switching on an electric bulb. Once we flick it on, we have created the connection. There is no need to keep operating the switch anymore. We do not require to either think or recall or repeat any specific words during the meditation. We just keep observing our inner self and bring our attention to the source of light in the heart, every time we find ourselves slipping into the spiral of thoughts.
We are not required to visualize light as sunlight, moonlight, or electric light for these objects are still heavy compared to the ultra refinement of consciousness that we try to attain in our meditation practice. Do not force your imagination to the extent that you actually try to see its brightness. Just have the idea that there is Divine Light in your heart. Assume that it is already present. Keep this suggestion as subtle as possible, naturally and without force.
How does your heart feel when you have the idea that the Source of Light is there in your heart? Try to write something every day.
What is Yogic Transmission/Pranahuti?
Transmission means ‘to send across’. In a car, transmission is how the power is sent from the engine to the axles through the gears. In a family, love is transmitted from person to person, especially from a mother to her children. With the human voice, sound is transmitted from one person to another in conversation.
In Heartfulness meditation, Yogic Transmission/Pranahuti is transmitted, whenever you meditate with an experienced yogi practitioner who can offer this pranahuti (Sanskrit for ‘offering of life force’) to others. It is the energy of the Ultimate Principle or Infinity, which comes from the Ultimate Source as an offering by the Guide or Teacher. It is gentle, subtle and dynamic. It helps you meditate as it resonates directly with the higher Self within your heart.
It is transmitted, just like any other form of energy is transmitted, such as sound or heat, except that it is the subtlest, without any force or material character. It is food for the soul and is soothing for the heart. Just as we require nourishment for the mind and body, the spirit too requires nourishment, and Yogic Transmission fulfills that need.
The effect of receiving transmission is that the heart feels inner warmth and love, much as sunlight warms our faces even with our eyes closed. It results in inner transformation, expanding our consciousness. We have to experience Yogic Transmission in order to know its effect to the fullest. It has been described as that which “Awakens the sleeping beauty in a human being”.
You may be able to feel the effect of yogic transmission or pranahuti like a very subtle vibration, relaxation, warmth, joy, or a feeling of soaring and expansiveness. It brings an inner sense of home and calm into each moment. Each person will have their own way of experiencing inner states, which become more recognizable as we become more familiar with meditating.
Some people do not feel anything much, and that is quite okay. Some notice changes in their daily lives and their behavior. Often it is others around us who notice changes in us!
- During your daily meditation, try turning your attention to the heart and feel this Divine Essence in the core of your being.
- Do you notice anything different when you meditate with an experienced practitioner?
- After the meditation is finished, are there any effects that you feel, either immediately or perhaps even after the next day or two?
Place, Posture and Time for meditation
Place & Posture
Does it matter where I sit for my Heartfulness Meditation practice? As far as possible, we keep a separate place reserved for each different type of work and activity, whether at home or at work. Hence, it is natural that when we are in a particular place we have thoughts related to the nature of that place. Let us say, we happen to walk into our study or sit down at our work desk. What do we start thinking of? Well, most probably, about our work, study or things related to that. Each specific place becomes associated with a certain activity in our minds, and due to this association, a specific environment is created in that place.
The power of thought is a very potent energy. The Buddha is supposed to have once said – “With our Thoughts, we make the world”. When we resolve to do something, the connecting link between that thought and what we want to do intensifies. Depending on the intensity we are able to apply our will and focus on that intention.
So when we have a special place for our meditation practice, we find, that just being there revives a meditative state in our heart. We begin to feel motivated and supported by the atmosphere there and this makes it easier and faster to go into deep meditation. Of course, we may go ahead and sit wherever we want for meditation, but it helps greatly if we sit at the same place, at the same time, in a steady posture, day after day and as a result, an atmosphere develops that is conducive to meditation.
Sit upright, in a comfortable position. There is no formal yoga position that is needed, although it helps to sit with your legs crossed, either on the floor or a chair. The inward turning of the body is then in sync with the inward turning of the mind. It is not recommended to lie down, as it is just too relaxing. If you are finding any tension during meditation, just move your limbs to a more comfortable position, so that you can be unmindful of your body.
Try to fix the same time to meditate every day. Our systems are sensitive to daily rhythms and routines, so if you meditate at the same time each day, your biological clock will become used to it. It becomes part of your regular daily pattern in life. When you meditate on the Source of Light in your heart first thing in the morning, the effect can affect your whole day in a very positive way.
The ideal time to meditate is considered to be the time before sunrise or at dawn. This is when the cool of the night and the heat of the day are in perfect balance. In fact, it’s a meeting point of the two. When we meditate at the time of Dawn, it is easier to feel and replicate within ourselves the same stillness, during our meditation. If this is not possible for you, then try to meditate at the same time each day, whatever it may be.
- Fix a time for meditation and practice at that same time every day during the week. See if you can integrate meditation into your daily routine.
- Fix a place for meditation and practice at the same place every day for a week. Observe if it’s getting more and more easy to slip into meditation.
How long should I meditate?
We need to observe with great sensitivity what is happening within us during meditation. When we feel “content”, we may gently stop the process. It is very much like when we eat. There is no precise answer for how much food to eat. We fill ourselves till we feel pleasantly content or satisfied. Meditation is just as simple, where we learn to sense the moment when the meditation ends. It may take different lengths of time to reach that ‘full up’ feeling.
When we start meditation, we sometimes take a few minutes to let go of distracting thoughts. Even when we bring our focus back to the heart, we could get distracted once again. So we are not always “meditating”. The actual meditation happens when we are able to gently bring our attention to the Divine Light in the heart, and feel the inner condition created in the heart. So how much do we actually ‘meditate’, even when we sit for an hour?
At first, however, it is quite possible, that we feel little of what is going on within us. Restlessness in the body is felt as a signal to stop! That is why, in the beginning, it does help to meditate for a fixed period, for example, thirty minutes. The mind and body will then gradually get into the habit of being still.
Once that is taken care of, we can easily observe the inner condition and decide for ourself whether we have meditated for long enough. Then we go on increasing the amount of time we meditate for, bit by bit, perhaps first to thirty minutes, then forty-five minutes, and then up to an hour.
It is best not to meditate for more than an hour at a time. The more we meditate with regularity, and for longer periods of time at a stretch, our capacity to receive “yogic transmission” increases. We may also meditate more than once during the day, if we enjoy it. If we do meditate more than once, it is advisable to keep some time in between each meditation, and to make sure that we get some physical activity, in between each session, like walking, to get the blood circulation going and the oxygen flowing in the body after a long meditation.
- Observe how long have you “actually” been able to meditate.
- Observe if you are able to recognize the feeling of “content” during meditation.
Dealing with thoughts during meditation
In our day-to-day lives, we have to deal with multiple problems that often create stress, fear, insecurity, distress, rivalry and so many unwanted disturbances in us. It seems almost impossible to keep ourselves free from such things. In spite of our best efforts, this modern day life-style leaves us, many a times, with uncontrolled thoughts and a disturbed mind. We feel a profound need for peace and calm at such times. In general, we try to control the mind using restraint and force, that doesn’t work in the long run. The mind only rebels further and with equal strength.
Haven’t we all experienced a time when someone kept bothering us no matter how much we asked him or her to leave us alone? We may even have tried telling him or her to stop doing so and noticed that they would react and argue or only find further reason to bother us even more. And then we perhaps discovered that ignoring them was the best manner to deal with them. They soon got the message, finally gave up and left us alone.
Well, that works with thoughts as well. If we pay any attention to them, we get involved with them and cannot get rid of them. The trick is to gently detach our mind, ignore the thoughts and bring back the focus, to the original idea we began our meditation with – that of light within the heart.
It is quite natural for our minds, to flit away due to thoughts when we start practicing Heartfulness meditation. This is a transitory stage of meditation. With practice, we realize that we get better at finding inner tranquility. Another way to deal with thoughts is to treat them as if they are someone else’s thoughts and thus create a distance between our self and these thoughts. We may even try, treating these unwanted thoughts as if they were uninvited guests -ignoring them as far as possible. Unwanted thoughts will then cease to trouble us.
Regular meditation will certainly make the mind peaceful. We also begin to develop a better capacity to concentrate due to sustained meditation practice. And so the more we practice, the more we find, that the simple act of meditating every day results in a calmer, sharper and focused mind.
Thoughts that arise in meditation often shift our focus from the heart. We could understand the process of not paying attention to thoughts better if we consider these thoughts as impressions. Each action in our lives leaves behind a trace – an impression. Every thought and action performed with the feeling of “I”, or consciousness of self, leaves a trail of subtle impressions in the heart that become the seeds for future thoughts and actions.
When we pay attention to these thoughts they again lead to the formation of more impressions. Repeated thoughts leading to actions further develop into habits. When we meditate there is a dilution of our awareness. The thoughts or impressions that have been accumulated over years and solidified by repetition, find space to surface in our awareness. They tend to drop away after a while as we start ignoring them while we meditate and thus we gradually develop a condition of thoughtlessness. This is experienced in brief intervals in the beginning of our practice.
As and how we practice meditation with increasing regularity and for longer periods of time, thoughtlessness during meditation grows on us leaving behind unrivaled serenity.
Practice Heartfulness meditation for a week and observe each day, how you are dealing with your thoughts.
Do we see light when we meditate?
One may often experience darkness within during meditation. Light can appear as darkness unless there is an object to reflect the light! Then we understand why we often see or experience darkness during meditation. It is because in Heartfulness meditation we have no solid or material object upon which to meditate. We meditate only upon light in the heart, supposing light to be there. So the experience of darkness is a correct one.
We can observe a similar phenomenon when sitting in a dark room. If there is a hole somewhere like in a door or window, a beam of light comes in, but we don’t see the light, we only see the floor where the light falls. If there are dust particles in the air, we may see the illuminated particles that are in the beam of light. But we can never see light itself.
Note down what you experience when you meditate with the supposition that there is ‘light in the heart’.