Monday, January 18, 2016

Spirituality as a Tool for Success: Radheshyam Miryala MD

Heartfulness Meditation: Spirituality as a Tool for Success

Clarity and balance are essential to making successful decisions in our personal, professional, and business dealings.  Finding clarity eludes many of us in today’s over-stimulated environment.  Our senses are constantly bombarded by sights and sounds trying to grab our attention.  In fact, our attention has become prime real estate for advertisers trying to make their way into our mind space.  This relentless assault through social media, tv, radio, advertisements is diminishing our attention span.  We are constantly told what to think by the world around us.  Along with the overstimulation, the frenetic pace of our modern life leaves us no time for reflection on our decisions.  With an ever expanding email inbox, looming deadlines, social calendars, family responsibilities, we feel pulled in many directions.  How can we regain a sense of balance and clarity?

Take a few minutes to perform this thought exercise:  

1) Sit in a quiet place with a pen, paper, and timer nearby.  You will need to be unplugged from all distractions (no tv, no social contacts, no cell phone, etc).
2) Set your timer for 5 minutes.
3) Close your eyes and notice the thoughts that are coming up.
4) Open your eyes after the timer goes off.
5) Journal with total honesty all the thoughts that you recall in this 5 minute time frame.  

Now carefully review all the thoughts that you had.  How many of the thoughts you had were original to you?  How many were a byproduct of what you were influenced to think?  How many of your thoughts were productive, and how many were incessant ruminations?  How many of your thoughts were emotionally toxic?  How many of the thoughts did you intentionally think of in the 5 minutes?  How much of the mental chatter did you enjoy?  How many of the thoughts were just random?

What if there was a way to regulate your mind better?  What if you tamed your mind to think thoughts that you willed?  How much more efficient would you be?  How much more clarity would you have in your personal, professional, and business dealings?  How do we take over the reins of our minds and control what we think?

Meditation is a tool that can help clear the mental chatter in our brain.  Meditation can help us get closer to this clarity.  Meditation can help us on our spiritual journey, a journey that can guide us to our higher selves.  People may have a fear about starting meditation and taking a spiritual journey, as they may be afraid of the changes that it brings along.  Spirituality does not have to entail renouncing your material life to wander the earth like a hermit in robes.  You do not have to seek refuge in a monastery to devote yourself to your spiritual endeavours.  You do not have to commit to a life of asceticism.  A meditation practice can be seamlessly integrated into your life, allowing you to live a balanced material and spiritual life.  

In my personal experience, a heartfulness based meditation practice offered through the Sahaj Marg (NaturalPath) system offered by SRCM (Shri Ram Chandra Mission) is a very efficient way of integrating meditation into our busy modern lives.  After experimenting with some other systems, I was overjoyed to find the Sahaj Marg system which I felt was a genuine grass roots movement offering their training for free through a network of dedicated volunteers.  I found this system to be very effective method of training in meditation and spirituality, which enables us to attain the highest spiritual achievements possible in our lifetime.  It allows for a balanced existence of both our spiritual and material lives, without calling for any renunciation or asceticism!

The training in heartfulness meditation takes the focus and attention from our minds to our hearts.  It increases our capacity for empathy, joy, and love.  It opens up the portal to experience the mystical splendour that is latent in the stillness of our hearts.  We start to live life through the serenity of our hearts rather than the mental clutter of our minds.  As we delve deeper into our hearts, we develop an extraordinary intuition that gives us the clarity to make more efficient decisions in life.  A heartfulness based meditation practice can help us find the clarity and balance that we seek in our lives.

Radheshyam Miryala MD

Friday, January 8, 2016

Meditation is good medicine: Submitted by Cathryn Smith, Program Leader, Workplace Health

Originally published in Fraser Health at:

Anthropologists suggest that on the inside we are made up of the same stuff as our hunter/gatherer ancestors. What has changed is our outside world. We live in a 24/7, always accessible, lights on, doing, scheduled, stuck-in-trafiic society, and this lifestyle impacts us on a physiological level.

Research supports that excess, unmanaged stress is linked to many chronic diseases and inflammatory conditions. If we hold that to be true, does it not makes sense that shifting to strategies to manage our outer world is good medicine? One of those strategies was the subject of my recent conversation on mindfulness with Fraser Health’s Dr. Aravindhan Ravindran, Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist at Langley Memorial Hospital and Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Mindfulness is derived from Buddhist spiritual practices, but has been adapted for many uses in our modern world. Simply put, it is a particular way of paying attention, cultivated through regular practice of observing the moment with curiosity, accepting the moment as is and bringing kindness and compassion to one’s experience.

Dr. Ravindran has been practicing meditation for over 20 years and teaching since 2000. He started meditation when he had just graduated from medical school and was studying for his exam while looking for work. He was in India at the time and, encouraged by his parents, gave it a try. Although he liked the principles of guided meditation, he did not see benefits immediately. But he kept with the practice and by the time he went to the UK to write his exams, his friends noticed a new calmness -- often others notice a change in you before you notice it yourself. He found he wasn’t stressed about his exam, felt he did better than he would have otherwise and soon his practice became more regular.

In 2000, Dr. Ravindran became a trainer of meditation which deepened his practice. According to Dr. Ravindran, some benefits of meditation include managing stress and changing the way we look at things. Wayne Dyer once said “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” which allows us to start building on something new. When we are not at our best, a positive belief can influence our outcome -- a bit like the placebo effect. Although there is much research to support this idea and society realizes the benefits of meditation as a preventative strategy, it is not generally used as a first line of treatment, or even in treatment at all.

I asked Dr. Ravindran how he responds when people say they “don’t know how to meditate.” He advises to start with a guided body relaxation practice first, which will also bring calmness to the mind as well as the body. Starting with an experienced trainer to walk through the steps helps -- it should not feel like a struggle. Dr. Ravindran also says that he doesn’t call what he does mindfulness. Instead he refers to the practice as “heartfulness.” After all, the idea is to still the mind, not fill it. And when you still the mind, you bring focus to your heart, from where we are guided make the best choices for ourselves. I guess that’s why they always say “follow your heart.”

Dr. Ravindran is bringing his teaching and experience to Fraser Health employees. He will be providing a guided teaching at Langley Memorial in November and hopes to be able to provide opportunities at other workplaces within Fraser Health at no cost. Now that’s being “heart-full."