The rising importance of meditation

Kamlesh D Patel, Guide of Heartfulness Institute

Heartfulness Research Centre, Bengaluru, is the research initiative of Heartfulness Institute, Hyderabad. Over the years, it has trained students on heart-based meditation. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, Kamlesh D Patel, guide of Heartfulness Institute, says that with people in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, meditation becomes all the more important. Excerpts:

What was the idea behind starting a PhD in heart-based meditation?

However much the practitioners of any meditation method try to convey the effectiveness of what they are doing, nothing compares to scientific validation of the impact of meditation. There was an interest in many practitioners of Heartfulness meditation to thoroughly explore the system, and reach a deeper understanding. Some of them aspired to undertake research into the philosophy, method, their contribution to the world, the scientific side of meditation, and the impact of meditation on humanity, family, society, quality of life, etc. Thus, the research stream was launched to nurture the interest levels of researchers in the areas of philosophy, ancient Indian mythology, values and ethics, inclusive leadership, study of Raja Yoga, and study of ancient spiritual systems. Most scholars registered for PhD are not only here for the degree, but for the benefit of humanity.

Can heart-based meditation substitute/support heart-based medication?

Heart-based meditation is not a substitute for medication, but can support in improving various health conditions. In some situations, meditation may be so helpful there may not be a need to use medication. But in all these matters, a supervision of healthcare providers is a must. It is important to follow doctor’s advice regarding matters related to health and, more precisely, when it comes to heart. If medications are required, one should take them.

When was the Heartfulness Research Centre founded?

The research aspect of Heartfulness/Sahaj Marg has its own history, going back to the 1960s. A research wing of the organisation, Shri Ram Chandra Mission, was established in Tirupati under the leadership of Dr KC Varadhachari in 1965. In 2006, a training centre was established in Bangalore, called CREST (Centre for Research Education Sadhana and Training). A fully-fledged research programme, leading to a PhD, was created in 2012. Now named the Heartfulness Research Centre, it is recognised by the University of Mysore.

What kind of curriculum is set for research?

The aim of the Heartfulness Research Centre is to facilitate and conduct research in the field of meditation and spirituality. To make research purposeful, it is important that any scholar wishing to do research should have practical experience in the meditation method under study. A minimum of two years practising the Heartfulness method and familiarity with the literature of Sahaj Marg are essential criteria for eligibility to PhD. The entrance examination conducted by the University of Mysore covers eastern and western philosophy.
The curriculum covers intense literature review in the area of philosophy, including Sahaj Marg philosophy, minimum two MOOCs on data analysis, coursework examination as prescribed by the University of Mysore, regular open seminars, workshops/seminars in the area of research to be attended, journals/conference publications as prescribed by the University of Mysore, colloquium before thesis submission, and final thesis submission.

How many scholars have enrolled in the PhD till date?

Only scholars from India are enrolled as of now. The first batch of 10 scholars enrolled in 2015. The second batch of two students enrolled in 2018. The long gap was due to the delay in entrance examination by the university by almost two years. Due to Covid-19, the entrance examination has been further delayed. The third batch will start research soon.

What kind of career can students pursue after PhD?

Most of our research aspirants are taking up PhD out of passion. The doctoral degree conferred at the Heartfulness Research Centre is on par with any other such degree. Doctorates can pursue academician roles in philosophy and/or pursue careers in the areas of leadership management and philosophy.

Isn’t heart-based meditation needed more in the West, where lifestyle diseases apparently are more rampant than in India?

The kind of corporate run professionals are into, there is hardly any difference between India and western countries. But the positive side what we have seen is they all are in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Post-Covid-19, that ask is even more.

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