Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Heartfulness Meditation: The Forceless Force Awakens

With the reboot of the Star Wars franchise, the ethos of ‘The Force’ reenters the zeitgeist of our pop culture. What is this Force? In the mythology of Star Wars, The Force is described as “an energy field, created by all living things, [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together”. In that mythological world, the force gave the user special powers such as the power of telepathy, psychokinesis, enhanced perception. This Force represents a metaphysical, spiritual, binding and ubiquitous power that holds an important place in that universe. Do we feel something similar in our world? When an athlete is performing beyond his perceived capacity or a musician is performing with a brilliant level of concentration, do they draw upon something akin to The Force in our world? Is there a human visceral experience that gives us a feeling similar to The Force? Is there a similar phenomenon of The Force in our universe?  

For me, the answer is an undeniable yes! I think all human beings have the capacity to experience something beyond the input from the five senses. I imagine that this is a universal possibility shared by all people and cultures. If we look at our lives from a broader universal perspective, we have to ask if there is more to life than what we know. I have found that many people, from religious persons to atheists, agree that there must be some metaphysical phenomenon that binds this whole creation together, and that a small spark of that creation must exist in all of us. Is it possible to experience this spark? Many of us think of meditation as a self-help device, mainly used for stress reduction and relaxation. It definitely is this, but it can also be much much more. Meditation can help us to experience an earthly version of The Force.

How did George Lucas get the inspiration to weave The Force into the Star Wars mythology? It is rumored that the creation of the Force, the Jedi, and Master Yoda in George Lucas’s imagination was influenced by his fascination with eastern mysticism. In our world, and in our current time, there exists a spiritual phenomenon called pranahuti (yogic transmission). Pranahuti is a sanskrit word which loosely translates to offering of life or life force (prana). In spirituality, this yogic transmission is defined as the utilization of the divine energy for the transformation of a human being. This phenomenon is an ancient yogic discovery that had been passed down for centuries through several spiritual traditions but eventually passed into oblivion. This phenomenon reawakened in the late 1800’s when, in a small town in Northern India, a yogi named Ram Chandra, became adept at using the technique. Since then it has slowly spread throughout the world through the Sahaj Marg (Natural Path) spiritual path. Today, this technique is a unique part of the Heartfulness Meditation offered by the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation, a spiritual movement that is not affiliated with any religion or doctrine. In the Heartfulness meditation program, spiritual trainers are given the capacity to infuse this transmission into the heart of the seeker and fill the seeker with a force higher than himself/herself. This yogic transmission is used solely for the purpose of spiritual evolution and personal transformation giving the seeker the possibility of boundless growth. Unlike the world of Star Wars, this force does not deal with special powers of telepathy or psychokinesis. Pranahuti is such a subtle phenomenon that is described more as a ‘forceless force’ or a ‘powerless power’. It is not a power used for personal gain, but rather it is used to promote spiritual elevation in the practitioners. As a physician, I was very skeptical of this occult phenomenon, until I had the opportunity to experience this mysticism personally.

In our day-to-day lives, we experience life and the world around us through our physical beings. Spirituality makes us aware that there is more to this life than just our physical bodies. We also carry subtle bodies and causal bodies that contain the soul and a network of psychokinetic centers (chakras), which channel our life force (prana).

Is it possible to experience the presence of this aspect of ourselves through a genuine spiritual practice?  Through Heartfulness meditation, transmission helps us to experience this universe that exists inside of us. The transmission can be felt by anyone who sincerely practices this system of meditation for a brief period of time. In my personal experience, yogic transmission has helped to awaken the latent divinity within me. As the Divine spark is ignited, the practice and the transmission can help the seeker on an upward spiritual journey. The ‘Forceless Force’ awakens the latent divinity within us.

May the ‘Forceless Force’ be with you.

Author: Radheshyam Miryala is a emergency medicine physician and outdoor enthusiast interested in spirituality. He has used the Heartfulness Meditation offered through the Sahaj Marg system of spirituality to help him live a life of balance filled with joy and abundance. He lives in Texas with his wife and two daughters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A gentle and sure transition

Every Sahaj Marg gathering has an atmosphere of reunion. There is always joy in reconnecting with brothers and sisters. In the case of the gathering in Iselin, New Jersey, there was an additional element of expectancy: Our brother, respected  Shri Kamlesh D. Patel, would be overseeing a North American gathering for the first time as our new spiritual guide.

There was also a delightful element of surprise. One week earlier, most of us had no idea that we would be together for such an event. It felt like a gift that had dropped out of the sky. One sentiment seemed to be at the heart of every conversation: “Isn’t this amazing?”

And it was. How had our brother and sister volunteers arranged for 1100 of us to congregate at such short notice and in such a way that all our needs were taken care of? As waves of abhyasis arrived at the hotel (our venue for the weekend), the rooms and halls began to take on the atmosphere of an ashram. 

The program unfolded seamlessly, and we found that Kamlesh bhai’s manner of being with us was quite natural and brotherly, with a lightness that was both uplifting and comforting in the aftermath of our dear Revered Chariji’s departure for the brighter world. It felt like a gentle transition, but one that left no doubt as to the continuity and surety of the Mission’s leadership. We could all rest easy, and marvel at the loving preparation that made this possible.

There were changes introduced that seemed to prepare for rapid growth in the Mission and a speeding up of our individual spiritual progress – changes, for example, that will allow prefects to do more work in less time. It was clear that our guide was giving each of us a job to do and the means to do it – something our Revered Chariji had always guaranteed us.

Kamlesh bhai infused us with a quiet confidence and optimism, and his sense of humor was like a balm. After the final morning satsang, he took questions. Here are some of his replies, as noted in my diary:
  • When the heart is really saying something, we won’t need to doubt it.
  • We don’t sleep enough and we don’t sleep in time. To appreciate the system I must feel it with my total sense involvement – too much or too little sleep spoils it. 
  • We should not worry too much about samskaras. Live a carefree life like a child in the hands of the mother. 
  • Unable to sleep? Get absorbed in meditation as you’re lying there. You’ll get what you need. In the nighttime, you’re the king. Put it in cruise control, absorbed in the divinity. It becomes a spiritual rejuvenation as well.
  • Enjoy food, otherwise it won’t digest. When you enjoy things, they are no longer a burden.
  • Sensitivity and level of tolerance go together. If you are given one, you are given the other.
  • Create depth in ourselves. Acceptance is higher than tolerance. Become like a deep lake. The falling leaves don’t make much ripple.
  • It’s best not to try too many things. Dig in the ground in one place and you will find water.
  • Don’t be discouraged if your spouse is not in the system. Just be more loving.
  • We don’t need to display anything. The more we display, the more we come down.
  • We maintain connection with the divine by thought. Then we feel the presence inside. 
[Kamlesh bhai left us all with many suggestions to internalize and adopt. The following are a few taken to heart by some abhyasis.]

  • We should be honest with ourselves and have the courage to follow our hearts.
  • Sahaj Marg is about internalizing the divine presence. We can stay connected with him by thoughts. 
  • At bedtime, say the prayer with a heart full of surrender and love. This will help us use sleep for its spiritual purpose. If we go to bed with frustration, we will wake up with frustration, and won’t appreciate what happens during morning meditation. Instead, if we go to bed with love and surrender in our hearts, we will wake up with love and can appreciate our meditation.
  • After morning meditation, make a sankalpa: “I will stay connected throughout the day.”
  • How can we retain our condition? Just like a bucket with holes cannot retain water, a heart with holes cannot retain grace. What are these holes? Desires. Instead of having multiple material desires, we should make the goal (of human life) to be our only desire. We can digest what we are given by enjoying our condition.
  • We are busy trying to solve too many different problems. It’s like digging two feet here, five feet there, eight feet elsewhere, to get water. Instead, if we consistently dig in one place, we will eventually get water. Similarly, we should solve that one problem of life which, when solved, fixes everything else in our life. 
  • Parents, become an example for your children.
  • Spouses, be loving. Do not fight or argue. If you sense you are getting into an argument, gently withdraw, clean and center yourself.

Beavercreek Meditation Hall Inaugaration

Babuji’s birth anniversary celebration was a double delight for the Beavercreek Meditation Center, because we also inaugurated our new meditation hall extension. What a joy it was to hold a gathering in our own brand new space, after using a rented community center for the last two years! The new space comfortably held the 150 or so abhyasis who attended, with room to spare. Abhyasis came from many states, including Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Massachusetts. 

A small tent was set up outside with tables for meals. Food was served outside under a new overhang that was added as part of the extension. The tent was also used for some children’s activities, including a birthday party for Babuji and a youngster who shares his birthday, Ram Chandra. The children also enjoyed face painting and henna hand painting.

In the new hall a sacred silence was maintained throughout the gathering, as there was now ample space for socializing and for the bookstore activities just outside the doors in the old meditation space. 

Respected Shri Kamlesh Patel joined our gathering on the morning of April 30th, via Skype from Lucknow, and congratulated both the Beavercreek and Richmond, Virginia meditation centers on their new spaces. The Skype connection allowed the Beavercreek and Richmond abhyasis to greet each other and our Master. The sound and visual quality of the new audio-visual equipment was excellent, enabling everyone to clearly hear Kamlesh bhai.  

The gathering’s theme was ‘Purity Weaves Destiny’, based on a quotation from Babuji when, in 1982 he said, “This and that are gone now. There remains the purity alone in all His work, an environment that weaves the spiritual destiny of the persons with the Ultimate.” 

The Masters have given us several daily practices to help us bring about purity of heart, which were reviewed in depth during the program. 

Eight special guests joined us for lunch on Thursday, including Brian Jarvis, Mayor of Beavercreek, Vicki Giambrone and Deborah Wallace of the Beavercreek City Council, Dennis Evers, Beavercreek Chief of Police, and four contractors who helped build the addition. Gifts of artisanal chocolates were presented to them. Mayor Jarvis spoke briefly, saying that things are tense across the country these days, and there’s a need for services like meditation that contribute to peace. The visitors agreed to participate in a 10-minute heartfulness meditation experience that was quite refreshing.

In an email after the inauguration, Kamlesh bhai asked for a continuing dynamic and proactive approach to the local government bodies, saying, “We can make the difference for sure. Let one town be the example and let the entire USA watch the impact through simple meditations.”

The local television station did a report on the new meditation hall, featuring comments from Janmarie Connor and Mayor Jarvis about the contributions meditation can make to a community. 
The gathering itself was a gift not only to those who attended, but also to the broader community, since Master’s grace flows outward from the hearts of those who are meditating to infuse the surrounding community with blessings and light. 


Lake Lopez Camping Weekend

Excitement and enthusiasm led us to the annual camping gathering at Lake Lopez. Blue jays, California quails, woodpeckers and deer families gave us a warm welcome for the 6 a.m. meditation! We had a program on Heartfulness and were all encouraged to share our experiences and suggestions for contributing to this program.
Meal preparations were an excellent team effort that gave us an opportunity to cook, serve and eat with love.
One evening, we were walked through the cleaning process, and were thrilled to have the experience that ‘every cell of the body is a temple of God’.
It was wonderful to gather around campfires with masala corn and marshmallows while contemplating, gazing at the fire, and listening to devotional songs.
The camp had some engaging activities for youth, which they whole-heartedly embraced. These included an ‘Awareness Through Movement’ exercise and a thought-provoking session on ‘balance’.
After several satsanghs and excerpts from Shri Kamlesh Patel’s talks, everyone felt that this bhandara was taking us to new levels. We especially took one suggestion to heart:
“When we practice, and hold on to that loving state inside, and work with that, when we touch something, when we look at someone, when we hear something, we must be transmitting the same love-filled condition. Try it consciously. When talking, try to transmit your love consciously.”
A mother bear and her cub visited us during our concluding satsangh, as if to bid good-bye!

Need to observe our thoughts

“What we think we become”. Our mind is a garden, which if unattended, goes into a frenzied mode of numerous thoughts leading to further thoughts, and finally creates a web of thoughts leading to desires, leading to attachments, leading to actions and then leading to further attachment.
During meditation we reach a calm and thoughtless state. From there it is our duty to be mindful of living simply, being in tune with Nature, aligning with our heart, being connected with our heart all the time and when in doubt referring to our heart. As we become subtler we need to observe more on a subtler level. Just as at the physical level, as we age, we need to significantly reduce our food intake, on the mental level we need to reduce the complications and complexities of our mind for our own sake and for everyone’s sake. Thought pollution suffocates other human beings.
How can we become more simple? By simplifying our thoughts? With proper strategic planning executed from the heart we can live efficiently and effectively, making space in our lives for the truly important things, like Sahaj Marg meditation. So pause, think strategically and then execute with heart!

Birthday celebration of our beloved Shri Kamlesh Patel

A bhandara creates the environment for feelings of gratitude, love and wonder and also the urgent impulse to evolve. It is a rejuvenating jolt to boost our growth. The first ever birthday celebration of our beloved Shri Kamlesh Patel accentuated all of these very significantly. Abhyasis from every part of the continent gathered in large and small groups to celebrate. Some highlights of the gatherings are recorded below.
In Birch Bay, Washington, as well as in centers across the country, we all got a glimpse of how Heartfulness workshops are shaping up in various centers as coordinators from Seattle, Vancouver and neighboring centers shared their experiences in reaching out to their local communities and corporations. We also had the wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand a heartfulness guided relaxation/meditation session, where we meditated with and without transmission, as a new seeker would do. I was amazed at the stark difference between each of the meditations, convincing me beyond a doubt that experience can achieve more than words when approaching new seekers.
Older children attended a Heartfulness session of their own, where they practiced the relaxation technique, and then were encouraged to share this process with their parents. After the session the general feedback from the children was that they felt ‘de-stressed’ and more energetic.
The Orlando Center hosted a full day program of Heartfulness sessions and meditation for forty-three participants on September 27th and 28th. We were delighted to welcome all Heartfulness aspirants as well as long time abhyasis along with newly formed Heartfulness abhyasi groups of Orlando, Oxford and University of Central Florida. Groups that had never before met instantly connected with each other in a very natural way.
A brother from the Oxford Center gave an excellent talk about his personal growth in this practice. He encouraged all participants to list the main factors that motivate us towards regular meditation as well as those obstacles that discourage us from doing our practice. For each negative trait brought up by participants, we watched an appropriate Heartfulness video addressing the issue. For example common problems like time management, difficulty in perceiving light in the heart, or thoughts during meditation were all addressed beautifully via the videos.
It was very inspiring to hear new Heartfulness aspirants voluntarily share their personal experiences about how they found renewed energy and enthusiasm within, after starting the practice of Heartfulness meditation, and how they were inspired by other experienced Heartfulness meditators in the group.
Technology today has made the world a smaller place and we were all happy to be able to connect electronically to see and hear Kamleshji on his birthday.
At the Molena Ashram on Sunday there was also a short workshop on the topic of ‘Égrégore’. Also, careful study of ‘Ways and Means’ and ‘Realization’, chapters from Reality at Dawn, as preparation for participation in the gathering, inspired conversations during meals and at other informal moments. Additionally, a wonderful article from Kamlesh bhai, ‘The Yielding Heart’, covered valuable lessons about not holding on to hurt in our hearts, and the importance of opening our hearts to what we receive. It struck a chord deep within, and it seemed like our collective hearts resonated with its meaning.
At the Sunderland Ashram the audio of two chapters from Reality at Dawn, ‘Ways and Means’ and ‘Realization’ was played while the words were simultaneously presented on the screen for fifteen minutes before each satsangh. By the end of the gathering, we had seen and heard both chapters in their entirety. The abhyasis shared an enriching experience of seeing it on screen as it was being read. All seemed to grasp it more as it was followed by satsangh.
One highlight of the program was a panel discussion in which four abhyasis shared stories of their initial contact with Kamlesh bhai and gave us all a rare glimpse of him, which motivated us to move towards our goal with renewed determination.
It was suggested by a brother, that a team be formed to organize and conduct Heartfulness programs in New England.
From Winchester, VA, a small center far from others, three abhyasis express their gratitude:
“Due to a three or four hour drive back and forth from Winchester to our D.C. Center, our local center celebrated together within our Master’s heart and yet separated via distance.” (Petra)
“Every week, I sit with sister Petra and the abhyasis of our Winchester Center. Since moving to Leesburg, about an hour away, I’ve had to miss some individual sittings, group sittings, and events like the birthday of Kamlesh bhai this past Monday. Thanks to long distance sittings, I’ve been able to connect spiritually and feel the divine light in the heart, both from our Winchester Center and my home.” (Kelsey)
“I was very fortunate to be able to celebrate Kamleshji’s birthday at my center in Winchester. We met for satsangh at 6:15 a.m. before work and again at 6:30 in the evening. We also had a lovely meal after our evening satsangh. It was a very special day.” (Mary)

Spokane Washington 4th Annual Camp Adam Gathering

Between August 28th and 30th, abhyasis from the Northwest Region gathered at the beautiful campgrounds of brother Adam and sister Kathee in Spokane, Washington.
Several aspects of the Heartfulness movement were introduced during the gathering. The first satsangh began with a guided relaxation, which everyone appreciated as it gradually eased abhyasis into meditation. Morning rain then graced the gathering. Abhyasis had been encouraged to read the chapters ‘Realization’ and ‘Ways and Means’ from Reality at Dawnas a preparation for a discussion after the morning meditation.
After the noon meditation and a delicious lunch prepared by the Seattle abhyasis, regional coordinator brother Aravind, who had recently been to India, shared photos and anecdotes of his July travel with Shri Kamlesh Patel. He also introduced Heartfulness and the associated resources. After this, abhyasis who had conducted Heartfulness gatherings at their centers and work places shared their stories. Everyone was encouraged to be part of this Sahaj Marg movement.

Teen Day at Sunderland Ashram

A number of years ago, the idea of Teen Camp came into play, and this is where we got the inspiration for Teen Day — a day when the ashram would feel like our own, when we could strategize a schedule of what we felt like doing while at the same time learn new things and grow closer as a youth community! So on August 8th, the youth in the New England community, whether practicing in Sahaj Marg or not, met at the Sunderland Ashram for Teen Day. This was a daylong gathering with discussions and activities where we all came together and enjoyed each other’s company.
What makes these gatherings special is that all the teens help out with the planning and implementation because the initiative and urge comes from inside of us. We want to see our friends again and grow with them in our own spiritual journey. This day we have the opportunity to think and talk about things we might not in our daily life and all of us enjoy and look forward to every second of it!
The theme for the day was ‘Balance between Spirituality and Materialism’. The schedule consisted of icebreakers, discussions, audio and video, arts & crafts, satsangh, and a closing ceremony where we talked and planned for our next Teen Day.
We’ve all grown a lot since we first starting having Teen Days. Also the size of our group has grown and we always invite new faces to join us. As teens we are allowed to have discussions that can require a certain amount of maturity to dive into, and the outcome is always very beautiful.
Janani and Nina

Richmond Ashram Diary Writing

The Richmond Center held two, very beneficial one-day interactive workshops on diary writing presented by brother Rob, on August 22nd and 23rd. The workshops were attended by a total of forty-five abhyasis who learned the importance of diary writing, especially what and how to record in their diaries. Diary writing, as part of a spiritual practice is invaluable for developing sensitivity. The diary record should be read once a year to assess one’s growth.
Brother Rob shared his personal experience of the strategic and methodical way he tracks his diary and all aspects of his meditation practice. If all aspects of his practice are done as prescribed, including the prescribed length of time, then that day gets a circle; if only part of the practice is done then that information, too, gets marked on the date. At the end of the month he assesses his practice and usually finds his effort to be between 87 to 94 % of the ideal.
In this workshop, service and surrender were highlighted. All abhyasis were inspired with this workshop and reported they felt an immediate positive impact on their diary writing habit. This fun, interactive and inspirational workshop is recommended for all abhyasis.