One aspect of the work and teachings of the Sufi Healing Order is a focus on presence. We invoke the presence of great beings, healing energies and the ineffable Great Being that is beyond knowing but which can somehow be sensed within. We practice being present to the five domains of ourselves and of others. Cultivating these aspects of focused attention, be expand our realization of our true nature and the depth of perception of what is always surrounding us, but which often goes unnoticed.
The five domains include:
- Physical: Our bodies, sensations and conditions, how we exist in physical space, the information that comes to us through our senses, and so forth;
- Mental: Our thinking, attitudes, processing, issues, memories, hopes, dreams, personal issues and so forth;
- Emotional: Our feelings, emotional struggles, personal issues and so forth;
- Moral (Relatedness with others): Our connections with others in our lives, the places where we feel connected socially;
- Spiritual: Our connection to that which is greater than our limited self, that which is beyond life, our concept of God or a Higher Power or Nature or the Universe, our sense of our inner or deeper self;
We may also relate to a domain that we call the Heart, which encompasses these five domains and holds them all.
Often, in our everyday busy lives, our awareness may shrink to focus strongly on the domains that are most activated at a particular time. For example, when we are sick or in pain, we may be more acutely aware of physical discomfort and suffering, perhaps even to the exclusion of other areas of our being. When we are emotionally upset, everything in our awareness may be colored by our feelings. Some of us live strongly through the world of the mind; thoughts and concepts dominate our awareness much of the time. Relationships can be intense for others, eclipsing other levels of awareness. The spiritual domain may be remote or forgotten for days or weeks or even years, until a longing awakens in us that bids us to search out the path of awakening. The realm of the heart may be dormant until a crisis or blow opens the way to this innermost level of awareness and perception. Practicing being present to these domains, each in turn, helps us learn what is there, what is calling for attention, what needs healing.
Healing can occur, and is needed, in all these domains. One way that healing happens is through presence, attuning and attending to what is emerging in us, as us. As we bring our presence to a physical sensation – a sore shoulder, for example – we may find that we become aware of a sadness we have not been able to express. Perhaps a relationship has gone awry or our chain of thoughts has our mind activated like a hamster running in a wheel. In the Sufi Healing Order, training is given in bringing our minds into a focused state of awareness of each domain in turn. We do not try to change anything or force things to be different. We wait and open to allowing our perceptions to develop and come into view. Sometimes there is a vague feeling that opens to a new insight. Other times, we may experience a flash of awareness that comes as a whole. Inner vision can provide a new interpretation for old concepts, reorienting our very sense of identity.
Presence can be considered in several ways. Simple presence is just being here, awake and interacting, but not particularly deep or insightful. Wounding presence is a painful state that we usually want to retreat from when it is emanated by another and relieve somehow when we are giving it out. Healing presence is an open, accepting, allowing and yet neutral state of awareness that permits whatever needs to emerge to come forth and be seen. Healing proceeds in a natural way, as the individual allows the process to occur as is best for him or her. This gentle and non-directive process of healing can result in subtle shifts and dramatic restructuring. Each experience is unique.
During a five day healing retreat in the Spring at Light on the Hill with Mahdiah Jacobs-Kahn, highly experienced Shafayat and Healing Retreat Guide, a form of practice emerged with which I have been working since. This approach is based on being present to oneself in each domain (as taught by Mahdiah Jacobs, Devi Tide and the Raphaelite Work) and further developed by applying practices prescriptively in each domain. A rising concern with the reality of the challenges facing the Earth has prompted an exploration of adding practices for the planet. The following format is offered for your consideration and experimentation.
Be present to your breath and allow it to open. Begin with Ya Allah, 33x aloud, followed by the fikr Allah on the in-breath, just breathing out, 11x.
Be present to the physical domain and notice what is needed. If one needs healing, one might use Ya Shaffee, Ya Khaffee, 33x aloud. If one notices that another quality is needed, one might work with other qualities. Follow with the fikr, 11x, then a recitation of “In unison with the will of God, I will to heal” (or other quality that is being invoked) 11x and sealed with Ya Shakur Allah in gratitude for the response to the prayer, 11x. (A shortened form of the practice can be performed with the quality and the fikr only.)
Be present to the mental domain and notice what is needed. If one needs clarity and awareness, one might work with Ya Alim, Ya Kabir, 33x aloud. Follow with the fikr, the affirmation and the seal as above, changing the word of the quality being invoked.
Be present to the emotional domain and notice what is needed. If one needs patience and restraint, one might work with Ya Sabur, Ya Qawwiyy, 33x aloud. Follow with the fikr, the affirmation and the seal as above, using the word of the quality being invoked.
In the realm of relationship, be present and notice what is needed. If one wishes to developing loving friendship, one might work with Ya Wadud, Ya Wali. Continue as noted above.
As you are present to the spiritual domain, one may wish to work with one’s particular practice for spiritual growth. Continue in the pattern provided above.
In the domain of the heart, be present to what is needed. Select a practice that supplies the qualities being sought, such as Ya Fattah, Ya Qalbi to open the heart center. Continue in the same pattern as with the other practices.
Focus on the Earth and the needs of her being and all her creatures, elements and aspects. Choose wazaif that reflect qualities you would like to help nurture in the Akashic plane. For example, Ya Muhaymin, Ya Hafiz, Ya Muqit might be used. Follow the same format.
Close the practice with Allah hu Akbar, 33x. Check in with the domains and notice whether there have been any shifts or changes.
The Physicians of the Heart is an invaluable resource for researching practices and pairing that one can work with in this way. The practitioner may be aware that working with any of these practices may stir up one’s issues, even raising those energies that may stand in the way of the state one seeks to evoke. It is recommended that one check with one’s spiritual guide when considering practices such as this one, particularly if any of the practices are unfamiliar. You may also wish to consult with leaders and practitioners in the Sufi Healing Order and Raphaelite work for more information and support. Healing Cherags are those who have been trained in both the Universal Worship and the Sufi Healing Order to offer a healing presence and consciousness in the path of the unity of religious ideals.
Blessings and peace, zaynab