New Delhi: Fifty-one-year-old Narendra Kumar Arya, an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and at present, a scientist with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is the first PhD holder in yogic sciences from IIT-Delhi.
As an external candidate, Arya’s study focused on “heartfulness meditation, which may improve well-being and health.” He said his work was in the area of psycho-physiology, psychology and connected one to the source of happiness “ananda”.
The scientist submitted his thesis, which was awarded in November 2018, has found in his study that heartfulness meditation-based programmes have a significant impact on one’s well-being. Heartfulness and other forms of meditation, such as Vipassana, can play a significant role in enhancing the well-being of people, while inculcating values at the same time.
He told News18, “This research has elements of past. Like in the eastern world, we have the concept of ‘ananda,’ through heartfulness meditation we connect to that source of happiness. It is the opposite of pressure and anxiety. We hear of mindfulness, but with this, I have brought the aspect of heartfulness meditation.”
His thesis comprised three sub-studies. The first study, published in International Journal of Research in management and social science in 2017, was conducted at CREST-Bengaluru.
The findings showed a significant improvement in mental health, positive experiences and 'sat-chit-ananda' (the subjective experience of existence, consciousness and bliss) of the participants, Arya said.
The second study, published in the International Journal of Indian Psychology in 2017, was carried out at the Himalayan Ashram of Sahaj Marg, Haldwani.
Here, it was found that the ashram’s meditation programme has a positive impact on mental health and its dimensions such as emotional and social well-being, positive experience, 'sat-chit-ananda', while it was negatively associated with depression, anxiety and stress.
The third study, published in the Indian Heart Journal in 2018, examined the impact of heartfulness cleaning and meditation on heart rate variability of participants.
It was carried out in collaboration with Dr Rahul Mehrotra, head of non-invasive cardiology laboratory at Max Super Specialty Hospital in Saket, New Delhi.
This study revealed how the concept has a positive effect on sympathovagal balance (reflecting the autonomic state resulting from sympathetic and parasympathetic influences).
Arya said, “These studies open new avenues for scientific inquiry on meditation and related practices in our culture. There are a number of spiritual practices prevalent within India, and empirical studies, such as the ones mentioned above, can help ascertain the impact of these practices on our physical, as well as, mental health.”
“I pursued the path of research in effect of meditation-based programmes to combine the good effects of spirituality with science and develop disciplines like spirituality-backed management and forever happiness,” he added.
These were conducted under the guidance of professors Kamlesh Singh and Anushree Malik at the National Resource Centre for Value Education in Engineering, IIT-Delhi. The centre actively pursues the agenda of value education in engineering across the nation.
It considers spirituality, meditation and related practices as one of the ways of inculcating values among engineers and improving well-being at the same time.
Prof Rahul Garg of IIT-Delhi, who is currently heading the centre, said, “We have also started a Ph.D in yogic sciences with the objective of taking the ancient Indian wisdom and combining it with the best scientific methods to create a platform where it may be viewed with a modern scientific temperament.”