This week our Senior Editor of World Voice Column, Elizabeth Atalay, interviewed our Senior Editor of Africa and Middle East Region, Purnima Ramakrishnan, about Heartfulness Meditation in relation to the International Day of Yoga.
Elizabeth Atalay: What is Heartfulness Meditation?
Purnima Ramakrishnan: Heartfulness is to feel the already existing deep inner connection of the human being with the heart. It means to experience every single aspect of life in a natural way of the heart. It means to live life in the best way possible.
EA: Why Heartfulness?
PR: We are all connected with each other only though our hearts. In any relationship, personal or professional, in any decision making process, in any life altering situations, in any thing which ever matters or commences or ceases, it is the heart which matters. We feel in our hearts to do or to be or to exist.
We always listen to our hearts. We need this deep connection with our hearts. That is the core of our existence. That is what matters for us, as human beings, in our lives, to be happy and joyful and to be able to follow our hearts. So Heartfulness is a way to do this with a deeper and more connective consciousness with the heart.
EA: Is Heartfulness a type of meditation?
PR: I personally feel “meditation” is a very over-rated word in today’s world. When you close your eyes and think for some time to make a decision, are you contemplating, are you meditating on that aspect? When you sit down silently, by the mountains and close your eyes and feel the peace all around you, do you call it meditation?
When you hug your baby and feel that beautiful joy of a hug, which you would continue to prolong for as long as your baby lies still, is it meditation or is it just an experiencing of joy/love? That is Heartfulness indeed. That is meditation too, if you call it that way. We are meditating every single day, every minute on something or the other. Our hearts are always “working” on something, at times even on stillness.
EA: So do you practice this Heartfulness meditation? If yes, how?
PR: I sit down, close my eyes, and suggest connecting to my heart. I am aware of my heart. Sometimes a few mundane thoughts come along the way – everyday thoughts about everyday life situations. But I still continue with my connection, I continue to feel the brightness in my heart, the stillness in my heart. I feel the joy and peace there, I try to tap into it. And it feels good.
EA: As a #WorldMom of World Moms Blog, how do you think this is useful for mothers?
PR: As a #WorldMom, I say, we mothers are the care-takers of this world, care takers of our babies, children and of our families, which make the structure of the society. It helps mothers stay balanced, stay happy, spread the joy in the family. Personally, it helps me be more connected and intuitive to my child’s needs and well-balanced in my mind for my own personal happiness and development.
EA: Is this something which everyone can participate irrespective of their religious and social/national constructs?
PR: Can everyone (irrespective of their beliefs) go to the doctor when they are unwell? Of course! Taking care of one’s body is a primary duty.
But very often we ignore the cry of help from our own hearts and minds. And to meditate everyday, to feed the soul, to take care of the soul, to enrich the heart, is a duty.
Once I started doing it, I felt it gave me a lot of strength, joy and well-balanced, holistic, emotional and mental life.
EA: Would you be able to help the World Moms with an experience of this?
PR: Yes, definitely. We could have it over skype if our contributors and readers would like to join or I could also suggest local centers where they can go and experience it.
EA: Lastly, how is this Heartfulness Meditation related to the Intenational Day of Yoga?
PR: Ah! Here comes that aspect, where all this discussion started!
India has always been a hot destination for spiritual seekers. From the time of Paul Brunton, India has always been a mystic place with seekers coming here for spirituality. And recently too, the Prime Minister of India, Honorable Mr. Narendra Modi has been instrumental, in the UN’s declaration of 21st June as the International Day of Yoga. Indians have been yogis always, India has been the house of meditation.
All the yogic postures and breathing exercises are fundamental to train the body to be able to sit in meditation for hours together.
The yogis meditated for centuries together, in the jungles and in Himalayas.
Everything they did is for this final act of being able to meditate effectively. However today, we are easily offered this way of the heart, to be able to meditate effectively, to connect with our hearts, for short moments during the day whenever we feel a need, whenever we feel the want, and to experience the joy. So, yes, yoga evolves into meditation, eventually in an aspirant’s journey.
Everywhere in India on June 21st, (including Rajpath where the Presidential Residence is present) and all across the world, different schools of Yoga and meditation are organizing Yoga demonstrations and meditation sessions.
Here at World Moms Blog, we would like to invite the contributors, readers and fans of World Moms Blog for a meditation session on Heartfulness.
Venue: Here on World Moms Blog
Time: Check in any time on June 21st for a video here on World Moms Blog to guide you through heartfulness meditation with Purnima.
Edited on 21 June, 2015, International Day of Yoga:
There is a video below about Heartfulness Meditation. If you are interested, please try to do this in the following way.
1. Gently close your eyes. Relax your body. Empty your mind.
2. Suppose that the Source of Light in your heart is attracting you from within your heart.
3. Rather than trying to visualize it, simply tune in to your heart and be open to any experience that you may have.
4. Do this for as long as you can. It could be 30 minutes. It could be longer or shorter than that too.
5. If your mind wanders and ‘thinks’, gently bring your attention back to your heart.
If you like to do this often, then please do it everyday. It rejuvenates your heart and mind and you feel so ready to take on the world. Please leave your comments in this page and/or contact me through this page – here.
Would you like to try on the next advanced stage after a few days? Let me know and I shall help you with a few more resources and contacts. Or you can do it through this page here too.
Above Video and photo credit to www.Heartfulness.org
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
Last Sunday I ran my first 5K race. I still can’t believe that I actually did it – and in the tropical heat, no less. Although I have vaguely considered it a worthy goal, running an actual race wasn’t on my radar even two months ago.
It turns out that 2015 is the year of living dangerously…out of my comfort zone.
My kids often talk about being “risk-takers”. It is one of the ten traits included in the school Learner Profile and students are encouraged to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. While these traits are all deemed equally important, being a risk-taker is a concept that seems to be especially resonant outside of school too: “I am a risk-taker: I am willing to make mistakes. I am confident and have the courage to try new things.”
For my generally confident (and fruit-averse) daughter, this might mean: “Look Mommy, I’m a risk-taker, I’m eating a mango!” My son takes a more reflective approach – acknowledging when he feels nervous about doing something and emboldening himself with his risk-taker status to eventually take the plunge. Though risk-taking will probably have a different connotation when they are older, I embrace what it means for them now – trying new things and not being afraid to make mistakes.
It’s an important lesson for grown ups, too.
In January, after three years of living in Jakarta, I was starting to feel like my daily life was becoming somewhat routine. Gym, work, grocery store, repeat. To change things up, I found myself saying YES to things that I might not usually consider.
When a friend asked if I wanted to join their early morning running group, I said YES. I knew that the group would likely be too advanced for me but figured that I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked myself. I would walk, that’s it. I did walk some at first, but I set my own goals and improved each week. Now we’re training for a 10K.
When another friend asked if I would like to be part of their dance group for an upcoming fashion show event, I said yes to that too. Other friends and even my husband were surprised. Performing a dance routine in front of a huge crowd is WAY beyond my comfort zone, but again I thought: “Why not?” In this case I try not to think about the worst that could happen (falling off the stage comes to mind) but I’m proud of myself for doing it and am actually looking forward to the big night.
I’ve continued with the YES theme in other areas of my life and have already seen positive changes: improved health, new friendships, new possibilities. I’ve realized that pushing my boundaries in this way is also about adjusting my own perceptions of myself. “Oh, but I’m not a runner,” I would repeatedly explain, trying to somehow qualify my actions.
Well now I am a runner. And a dancer. Among many other things.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Our kids may not recognize some of the bigger risk-taking decisions we’ve made (like moving our lives halfway around the world), but it’s often the smaller actions that resonate the most.
It feels good for them to see that I can be a risk-taker too – I can be afraid sometimes and I can also be brave, just like they are.
When I walked in the door after the race, finisher’s medal around my neck, both kids jumped up from the couch with wide eyes. “Mommy!” my daughter exclaimed, “I didn’t know you would win the race!”
Not exactly…but YES! In my own way, I did.
What risks are you putting out there for yourself this year? How are you embracing these challenges?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by our mom of twins in Jakarta, Indonesia, Shaula Bellour.
The image used in this post is attributed to the author.
Shaula Bellour grew up in Redmond, Washington. She now lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her British husband and 9-year old boy/girl twins. She has degrees in International Relations and Gender and Development and works as a consultant for the UN and non-governmental organizations.
Shaula has lived and worked in the US, France, England, Kenya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Lebanon and Timor-Leste. She began writing for World Moms Network in 2010. She plans to eventually find her way back to the Pacific Northwest one day, but until then she’s enjoying living in the big wide world with her family.
Christmas is around the corner and some of us are panicking about last minute gifts. Sometimes we don’t have the time to get gifts. Sometimes we don’t want to go shopping because we don’t like the crowds elbowing around the mall, all looking for a good deal. Sometimes we simply don’t have a clue what to get!
I’ll tell what is a good deal and a great idea for a wonderful homemade gift…and I can assure you, the person who gets it will love it! HOMEMADE BODY BUTTER. All natural and personalized the way you want it.
Ewa was born, and raised in Poland. She graduated University with a master's degree in Mass-Media Education. This daring mom hitchhiked from Berlin, Germany through Switzerland and France to Barcelona, Spain and back again!
She left Poland to become an Au Pair in California and looked after twins of gay parents for almost 2 years. There, she met her future husband through Couch Surfing, an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals.
Today she enjoys her life one picture at a time. She runs a photography business in sunny California and document her daughters life one picture at a time.
You can find this artistic mom on her blog, Ewa Samples Photography, on Twitter @EwaSamples or on Facebook!
The Founder of the View Finder Workshop describes her inspiration:
“I WAS WALKING THROUGH CITÉ SOLEIL, the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere located in Haiti, one of the poorest places on Earth. Trash littered the streets and dirty stagnant rainwater was often used as latrines. The sun pulsated directly overhead, bleaching the blue sky to a blinding white. Sweat droplets raced down my spine and pooled at my lower back. Children dressed in rags – or for some, in nothing at all – played a spirited game of soccer with a half-inflated ball. I snapped a picture of a group of rambunctious kids, only to have eager young hands grab at my camera to see the image captured on my screen.
The novelty of the reproduction faded and most darted off between the shanty houses. One remained, diligently pointing at each face on the screen, as if ticking them off in his head. He stopped at the last one. His own. He let out a burst of pure, innocent, giggling glee and scampered off. Alone, I realized that for people who have next to nothing, a mirror is an unattainable luxury. This child only met his reflection by process of elimination. For he knew which ones were his friends and which one was the stranger.
I was struck dumb. For I never realized a person could walk through life without knowing his own physical self. But photography can change that. It lets a child see himself & his world through different eyes. By learning tangible skills & creating new avenues of self-expression, he can contribute to his life & his community.
And thus, the seed for View Finder Workshop was planted.” Babita Patel. founder, humanitarian photographer – Excerpted from the View Finder website
From that moment View Finder Workshops were born. They were born to put the camera into the hands of children who have never had a lens through which to objectively view or portray the world in which they live. Children love taking photographs, and especially love taking, and seeing photos of themselves. These are not children growing up in a “selfie” obsessed culture, but kids who may not have ever even seen a mirror image of themselves. To put a camera in their hands proves liberating and empowering in a way that is hard to imagine, until you witness the pure joy on their faces when they see the images that they capture.
Photography as a visual medium provides a creative expression and ability to both view, and share a perspective from each child’s personal lens. And there is nothing like viewing the world through the eyes of a child.
The results of last January’s workshop in Haiti in collaboration with Respire Haiti, brought fresh views to the children of Gressier, Haiti who had been serving as restaveks (children enslaved as domestic servants), orphans & other vulnerable children. The images captured were often stark and beautiful. The photos were then exhibited in September in an LA gallery show in Santa Monica where gallery patrons were able to view the results of what the children were able to capture with a camera in their hands. A few of the kid’s prints even sold!
Next the Viewfinder Workshop is gearing up for a workshop in Kenya This fall, where they will be introducing photography to 40 students enrolled at their new school in the Lenana slum, in the country’s capital, in a program that they hope to make a sustainable curiculum. These programs need support to become sustainable, and this is where you can come in. You can like View Finder on Facebook , follow on Twitter , and/or make a donation to help other children to tell their story through images. You may just be the one to benefit from the enchanting worlds they share.
Have you ever put the camera in your own kids hands to see what they come up with?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay of documama.org.
*All photos credited to the View Finder Workshop website.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.
We are all busy moms. Some of us work full time, some of us stay at home, and some of us work from home. Bottom line, we are all busy busy busy.
Sometimes we wish we have more than 24 hours in a day to get things done, right?
But you know what, if we do have let’s say 28 hours a day, chances are we’ll be working even longer, be even busier.
Since I’m taking healthy living more seriously and now that it has become my lifestyle of choice, I’d like to share with you these tips:
Ditch the guilt! Why are we as moms are so hardwired to feel guilty when we do take some times alone for ourselves? We need to STOP this. Nothing is wrong about taking an hour out of your hectic schedule to workout, make it your ME time. When Mom is happy, everyone is happy right? Exercise produces endorphins, and endorphins equals happy Moms. (more…)
My mum used to say to me: “Don’t wish your life away.”
Nowadays I sometimes feel as though that’s all I do. To be more specific, I’m organizing my life away.
With four kids, my job, my husband’s job, and the diaries of both our ex-partners to co-ordinate, there are often times when I look up from the calendar and realise I’ve scheduled myself right out of the current school term and into the next-but-one.
This can be particularly painful when I have to re-adapt to not being in warm late summer and that campsite in France but instead in bleak mid-winter suburbia. January is a bad month for making wishes and looking away from the here and now. “I want to be thinner/fitter/better employed/better loved by X month,” we tell ourselves, shading our eyes as we scan the horizon for that magical time when everything will be perfect.
The temptation to hurry past moments of disappointment or frustration is immense, and only human. I feel this keenly as the mother of a child with autism. School is a big issue for us, and the day-to-day of persuading my child to go and, once there, to participate, is exhausting. (more…)
Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons.
Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs.
Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.