I’ve always thought there were two ways I could meditate: alone in my room next to my makeshift altar, or with a group during a scheduled program. But I recently stumbled up a third way: Meditating with a person who comes through an app.
It sounds nuts, but before you poo-poo it you should know I recently had a session via this Let’s Meditate app, and it was one of the most powerful I’ve ever experienced.
I didn’t know what to expect when I downloaded the app. Would I speak to a person and have to explain how I was new to their method, which they call Heartfulness (although I’ve been meditating for decades)? Would they be able to see me? Hear me? I still don’t know the answer to the last question, but the person meditating with me neither spoke nor saw what I was doing.
Once you open the app, it tells you how many trainers, as they call these meditation turbochargers, are available. The morning I did it there were 34. I simply clicked “request now” and in a minute a sweet guy’s photo popped up, along with the directions to close my eyes and feel that my heart is being filled with the “Source of Light.”
I wasn’t quite sure what the guy on the other end was doing (more on that below), but I can share what happened to me. Barely one minute into the practice I indeed felt a light come over me, as if a cloud parted away from the sun. I stayed in that light the entire time. During the meditation I was able to more easily enter the space that occurs in some — but not all — of my sittings, feeling connected to something beyond my body.
I’m not saying it was perfect; I still had moments where my mind raced to a planned afternoon appointment and pondered what I should eat for lunch. And my leg fell asleep so I had to shift my position several times.
But when the session ended — it was 25 minutes I’m guessing, although their countdown clock disappeared when the guy did — I felt fantastic. I was able to stay in this state for hours.
To learn more about the Heartfulness meditation and their powerful app, I spoke with Joshua Pollock, co-author with his guru Kamlesh “Daaji” Patel of the new book The Heartfulness Way. Joshua, a self-described kid from rural Maine who now lives in India, says he had meditated traditionally for years, but had little to show for it until he discovered Daaji’s approach.
Below are edited excerpts of our conversation.
Meryl: What’s up with the trainer? Why does having that person on the app so enhance the meditation?
Joshua: The Heartfulness meditation itself is very powerful. But even more powerful is what we call transmission. The transmission trainer has had a channel opened by my guru. During the meditation, the trainer subtly transmits divine energy — or, really, something beyond energy since energy is part of our manifested world. The effect is to bring us to the level of our Source, which is our original state. By the way, you can also find a trainer to mediate with in your geographic area by going to our website. And all of this is offered for free.
Meryl: During a Heartfulness meditation, are we supposed to focus on our heart itself?
Joshua: It’s not the physical, beating heart we are meditating on. It’s the subtle essence, what we call the divine light in your heart. This should be done without exerting effort. You don’t repeat a mantra like “Divine light is in my heart” or anything, because our object is to feel the heart, not think about the heart. We simply place our awareness on the divine light there, then let go and experience what happens.
Meryl: Why do you use the term Heartfulness to describe the meditation? That sounds like the Buddha’s approach of compassion?
Joshua: The open-hearted state we want to bring about in our life — empathy, compassion, generosity, sensitivity — are similar to what the Buddha was saying. But in this approach, we are not actively telling ourselves “Let me create a state of compassion.” It happens naturally as a result of our meditating on the heart.
Meryl: Does your approach include any other tips for the meditation, like posture or how we clasp our hands?
Joshua: No. We just tell people to sit comfortably, in a place they can meditate without noise or distractions. It can be useful to choose the same time and place every day but that’s not even necessary.
Meryl: In your book you also suggest a practice, separate from meditation, called cleansing. What exactly are we cleaning — and how?
Joshua: Daaji has said that the cleaning method is possibly the most important of all the Heartfulness practices [which includes meditation and also a brief prayer offered with love]. We can talk about living in the now, but how is that possible if we are carrying the effects of past emotions that influence the present moment. With cleaning, we remove this emotional residue.
To cleanse, all you do is sit comfortably, for anywhere from a few to 30 minutes, close your eyes, and imagine the impurities as smoke leaving the body behind you. This will not only make your meditations better, you’ll have a joyful feeling of lightness when you finish. You don’t have to believe me. Like the meditation with a trainer, try it and you’ll see.
Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog, and the book Enlightened Parenting. Warrior Won, the sequel to her novel, will be published next spring. Learn more or connect with Meryl at her website or on Facebook and Twitter.