By Julia Mortimer

We’ve all heard of mindfulness and its value as a form of meditation but ‘heartfulness’ is less well known. Although historically practised by saints of yore, the first recognised teacher of this form of meditation started teaching in the late 1800s. It is now practised all over the world in its current form, this practice having been around for 75 years, and has a registered UK charity: Heartfulness UK. Their website explains that in this form of meditation the focus is on uniting the heart and mind, supported by ‘yogic transmission’ – an energy that helps to shift attention away from the outside world and deeper into our own inner world. It is possible to meditate remotely but it can also be practised through ‘heartspots’ – places where Heartfulness meditation is offered to the public free of charge by a certified trainer. The nearest ‘heartspot’ to Hastings is Bexhill. Intrigued, but slightly sceptical, I went along to meet facilitator and trainer, Charu Sharma and find out more.

Heart Meditation with Charu
PICTURE: Christopher Platts

After a short relaxation, Charu told us we needed to focus on our hearts with the supposition of a source of light within. Explaining the need to bear witness to, but stay remote from our busy, bubbling thoughts she suggested we try to emulate a glass of flat coca cola. While apologising for invoking such a prosaic image, she gently told us to begin. Despite my scepticism, this was different from the meditation at the end of a yoga class or any of my own attempts to declutter my mind. As we sat together, banishing our busy thoughts, I really did feel an energy in the room, really did focus on my own heart and really did think of almost nothing for the duration. 

Do you know what, I slept like a baby!

Discussing this feeling with other participants afterwards, we agreed that there are huge benefits from meditating with other people, in a setting where your only responsibility is to listen to your inner self and where you are warm and comfortable (we had blankets!) Everyone there confessed to early scepticism which had soon been overcome, especially when they found that Heartfulness improved their sleep patterns. As a seasoned insomniac, I was particularly excited by this possibility. I went to bed with only a mug of Horlicks from my arsenal of sleeping aids and do you know what, I slept like a baby!

If you are interested in trying out Heartfulness in Bexhill, Charu can be contacted at [email protected] . A session usually lasts for 30 minutes and it is free of charge. There is a ‘heartspot’ in Eastbourne too and it can be contacted at [email protected] . Charu has just returned from the Heartfulness headquarters in Hyderabad, India where the largest meditation facility in the world, called Kanha Shantivanam, was inaugurated on 2nd February by the President of India. 

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