From decision-making skills to managing stress, anxiety, how meditation transforms physical and mental health

Spiritual coach and guide of the Heartfulness Movement, Kamlesh Patel on how listening to your heart and meditating on it can lead to a more fulfilling life

Follow us on Google News-khaleejtimes

Meditation session at the The Heartfulness Institute, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai
Meditation session at the The Heartfulness Institute, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

Somya Mehta

Published: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 8:32 PM

Widely known as Daaji, Kamlesh D. Patel, who was born in Gujarat, India, displayed an early fascination towards meditation and spiritual development. At the age of 18, studying pharmacy in Ahmedabad, he had his first encounter with meditation and was completely taken aback by its powerful benefits. What started as an experiment “to give meditation a chance” quickly turned into an unstoppable quest to take the message of meditation to the world, deepening his own spiritual experiences in the process. Upon graduating in 1980, Patel relocated to the United States and worked as a pharmacist in New York City, maintaining a strong dedication to both his professional career and spiritual life.

Heartfulness guide and meditation trainer Kamlesh D. Patel
Heartfulness guide and meditation trainer Kamlesh D. Patel

With an ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life, especially the younger generation, Daaji has cemented his place as a spiritual catalyst for inner development, becoming the fourth global guide of the Heartfulness movement. Recently awarded the Padma Bhushan by Government of India (third highest civilian honour), the teachings that Daaji imparts primarily stem from his own personal journey of meditation over many decades. In a conversation with Khaleej Times, the spiritual guide breaks down the practice of Heartfulness and how it can enable the youth navigate mental health issues. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How and when did you get introduced to spirituality and the ‘Heartfulness’ technique?

Well, it began simply by accident. It was a chance meeting with a person who was practising this technique that we now call Heartfulness. I was a seeker, trying to discover what spirituality is all about. I used to practise meditation in my free time at university. When I was 18, studying pharmacy in Ahmedabad, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to learn how to meditate properly. He said if I wanted to go deeper into my meditation and spiritual experience, I needed someone to teach it to me and took me to a meditation coach. I told the coach that I was a spiritual seeker, trying to find God and that I wanted to become a celibate monk. The coach said to me, ‘You’re looking for God, which means that you’re saying that God is lost?’ and ‘You want to become celibate and a monk, so you think God was a fool to create two sexes?’. Within a minute or so, all the foundations of my belief system were challenged and crumbled with the powerful, logical arguments from the coach. Since the very first experience I had, I never looked back. After finishing my studies, I got married and moved to the US, where I continued my meditation practice, with my morning meditations and evening meditations, while also focusing on my business and professional life.

Patel describes Heartfulness as 'a simple form of meditation that aims to establish a connection between the individual and the ‘love’ and ‘light’ residing deep within their heart'
Patel describes Heartfulness as "a simple form of meditation that aims to establish a connection between the individual and the ‘love’ and ‘light’ residing deep within their heart"

How would you define Heartfulness?

Heartfulness is all about going by the feelings of your heart. It is a simple form of meditation that aims to establish a connection between the individual and the ‘love’ and ‘light’ residing deep within their heart. The decisions that we make have to be followed by the heart’s permission. We often let the decisions made by our heart get overruled and go ahead with the decisions of our whimsical mind or the emotions that drive us. So, you can define Heartfulness as following your life, in every moment, with the signals of the heart. The Heartfulness practice asks us to meditate in the presence of divinity that is already there in our heart, so that we remain pure and simple. Hence, the decisions we make will also be influenced by this.

You’re also an entrepreneur and a family man, which is different from other spiritual leaders who often renounce their ‘worldly duties’ to seek their long-term spiritual goals. How have you benefited from Heartfulness and meditation in other, ‘material’ areas of your life?

The first skill that gets sharpened because of meditation is the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, what is beneficial for me, what is beneficial for others. Your decision-making ability — right from what to eat or cook to which business to run, or even whom to marry, for example — gets polished because your inner voice becomes much stronger.

So, it essentially quietens the noise around you and compels you to listen to your heart…

You’ve hit the nail on its head. With meditation, you’re able to see clearly with your heart’s eyes. And it is not that you’re blocking everything from outside, nothing is to be blocked, but your heart’s voice becomes louder and clearer.

When you’re referring to the heart, do you mean the anatomy of the physical heart? What is your concept of heart in this context?

By referring to the heart, we’re talking about perception. It’s our ability to feel. Just as there is a physical heart, there’s an emotional heart, just as there’s a brain, there is a mind. You see the difference between that? It’s like the difference between the hardware of a computer and the software.

A lot of people today, especially the young, are susceptible to mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression. From your experience, has meditation helped them navigate such issues?

Meditation helps me at all levels — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. We’re all used to nourishing our body by having a balanced diet, sufficient vitamins, minerals, etc. But no one knows how to enrich the spirit, the soul. You can eat healthy, have all the material wealth in the world, have a great spouse, but if your spiritual health is suffering, nothing in the world will make you happy. Before you act, you should know the consequences of your actions. It can be simple things like everyday decisions on what to eat or long-term decisions related to which business to invest in. If you listen to your heart, it will tell you whether to go ahead or not. You can analyse all you want at the mental and intellectual level, have all the business data, profit and loss statements, etc. But ultimately, it’s the heart that will decide whether you should go ahead or not. When the heart gives you a signal, it’s always correct. That has always been my experience. Even in your own life, reflect back to when you made a wrong decision. Did you listen to your heart?

What if your heart doesn’t speak to you?

The heart always speaks. The question is whether you listen to it or not. We don’t usually listen to our heart because sometimes it may seem easier to ignore it. Then we regret it later and that’s how regrets set in. It’s these regrets, which occur time after time by not listening to your heart, that lead to us having anxiety, depression, schizophrenia. So, meditation, in a way, is like a vaccination for your emotional health. It builds your immunity for mental health issues.

What happens when we meditate?

Just as stress activates the sympathetic system, releasing particular hormones, likewise, meditation helps to slow down your heart rate and blood pressure. Your serotonin levels go up, oxytocin and dopamine hormones get released, which make you feel happy and joyful. After meditation, the state of your mind is so jovial and peaceful, you feel centred within yourself.

More news from Lifestyle