LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Heartfulness Institute hosted its 2016 Los Angeles Heartfulness Meditation Conference June 11-12, with the event kicking off June 11 with a musical performance and meditation session at the Sanatan Dharma Temple in Norwalk, Calif., followed by the conference at the Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, featuring a strong line-up of speakers. Among those speaking at the event were Kamlesh D. Patel, president of the Heartfulness Institute, and Gopi Kallayil, chief evangelist for brand marketing at Google.
With the slogan “purity weaves destiny,” the Heartfulness Institute aims to provide the tools necessary to create a peaceful space in their followers’ daily lives. The idea of mindfulness, to focus on one’s inner thoughts and be aware, is already making its way to the west, with “60 Minutes” and TIME doing pieces on it.
Heartfulness takes this idea one step further, emphasizing the need to think first and then feel. The movement has hundreds of followers from all walks of life and the conference alone had an incredible turnout.
Dr. Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California, began the event with a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic Orlando, Florida, shooting. The Indian American professor stressed the importance of togetherness and peace in these confusing times, saying that meditation is more crucial now than ever. After the tribute, the dean introduced the president of the Heartfulness Institute, Kamlesh D. Patel, also a heartfulness meditation guide and prolific speaker.
Soft-spoken, Patel exuded wisdom as he expanded on his thoughts on meditation and heartfulness in a 30-minute-long question and answer session. In response to a question on the benefits of meditation, Patel said, “Peace cannot be purchased.”
He went on to explain that meditation was not meant to be financially taxing and dispelled the belief that God had to have a role in meditation. At its core, Patel stressed that meditation is the act of thinking on an ideal, and then feeling the ideal. He then led the audience on a 20-minute meditation session.
“It (Heartfulness) has a universal resonance to it,” Jason Lopez, a Los Feliz resident, told India-West after the session. “…I like the way he simplifies everything.”
Comedian and keynote speaker Kyle Cease followed the session, bringing with him a fresh take on meditation.
“We’re not just here to feel good, we’re here to feel,” Cease said. He pointed out that the mind both created and solved problems.
The conference ended on a high note with a talk by Gopi Kallayil, chief evangelist for brand marketing at Google, who ver the last 10 years has overseen yoga classes at Google, the members of which are fondly referred to as “yoglers.”
During his talk, Kallayil touched on the importance of “plugging into our inner-net,” or paying attention to the body. He gave the audience a series of tips, which boiled down to taking things one at a time and taking personal moments from time to time. “Listen to the tweet of your heartbeat,” Kallayil said.
After the three-hour conference, audience members were seen chatting while some were seen carrying signed copies of Kallayil’s book.
Commenting on the conference, Patel told India-West, “I have to center myself. I need to focus on what I have to do,” adding, “If I don’t do it, who else will do it for me? Instead of learning by making (a) mistake, let’s learn how to vaccinate our problems.”
By “vaccinate,” he specified that before taking any action, meditation is a good way of mediating actions and safeguarding against future problems. He said that inspiration can arise from this sort of meditation, leading to a better quality of life. After all, that is what heartfulness aims to be – a lifestyle.