|Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty, the Only Being
United with All the Illuminated Souls who Form the Embodyment of the Master – the Spirit of Guidance“… if by being on one’s guard, instead of resisting evil one would only slide it over, it would run away by its own force.” (Inayat Khan, Vol. XIII, Gathas: Everyday Life; Gatha II; part VI)
In the Hindu tradition, the god Shiva, also represented as Kali, is the destroyer who clears the way for new creation. Many of us chant and dance “Om namo Shivaya!” and joyously call on this sacred energy of transformation. In the Sufi tradition, the energy of destruction is described as chaotic. Though it can “shake things up” to allow room for innovation, we are warned that its continuation is destructive.
We have consciously or unconsciously invoked Shiva (remember Mahdiah’s class from February about our contribution to the collective shadow) and the destructive energy is here! We were successful; but perhaps not in the way we wished or expected. It is time to work on transformation.
We have three choices: passively suffer through, ineffectively fight, or as referenced by Inayat Khan and expertly used in the martial art of aikido, adapt and manipulate for a greater good. In Sufi language, this is creating an accommodation for the rhythm of inspiration to emerge but without as much destruction and pain as the other two alternatives.
Obviously, we need practice. Fortunately, we have innumerable opportunities. The present felt chaos is such a one. The spiritual practices this month involve our whole being – body, heart, mind and soul. This integration is what will heal and transform.
1. Free movement/dance to an energetic and preferably (for you) a difficult, unlikable piece of music. Find the more pleasing, adaptable rhythm or sound embedded within the music; trust that it is there and let the rest “slide by.” Feel and move, let your heart and body do the discovering. Maintain the rhythm once you find it. Feel it in your body and heart and only then let your mind concentrate on your experience. Who knows, you may notice a nugget in there you never knew existed!
2. If you prefer not to dance, you can do this sitting and listening; but let your body be free. It will find what it needs if you don’t fight or give in to emphasizing your dislike. You will notice parts of your body wanting to move. Let them. You may wish to vocalize. Do it. Only engage your mind after this if you like.
3. Find a partner: dance together as in ballroom dancing though you need not be trained in this. You must physically hold each other while dancing. Traditionally, one takes the lead, the other follows. Begin this way. Use music you enjoy. At some point, switch leads. Then at a third point, drop the assigned roles and follow each other, at times one leading, at times the other, but without deciding in words or with thought. Just feel and intuit. Have fun. This trains you to feel energy, move with it and use it to create something flowing, harmonious and beautiful
4. “Push hands”: this is a tai chi practice for partners. Face each other, knees slightly bent, back of both hands gently touching the back of your partner’s hands (don’t cross hands; it should be right hand of one touching the left hand of the other and the left of one touching the right of the other). Begin moving hands but hands must always maintain contact! Each person feels the movement of the other and moves with the energy, subtly directing or following it. Do not move your feet; but you may move your body (sway, twist, etc.). In martial arts, the goal is to sense the partner’s energy and use it so they lose their balance – not through force, but through their own energy being used to affect them. Likewise your goal, as is theirs, is NOT to overcommit your energy and thus be thrown off balance. After a while, do this with your eyes closed. Push hands requires subtlety. Hint: control your breath and feel/sense your partner’s breath. This again develops sensitivity to energy and rhythm and teaches us to let the energy move past us. In the process, we learn to keep centered and balanced. This ancient practice is a somato-energetic version of Christ’s teaching to “turn the other cheek,” and Inayat Khan’s teaching on “rising above.”
5. Wazifa practice: Ya Wahabo (flow). Often, we contemplate the flow of generosity when we invoke this energy. In this practice, just focus on the feeling of “flow,” of gentle movement. After repeating it aloud, intone it silently several times as you exhale.
6. Element Practice: Water element breath: walk in a flowing, gentle manner; focus on exhaling through the left nostril, downward and to the left. Add your hands, starting with them above your head to the right, gently flowing downward and to the left. You are impressing yourself with the ability to consciously flow with and move energy.
7. Now bring your greater attunement into everyday life. In your spiritual practice, can you feel the energy of your prayers or mantra/wazaif, catch their rhythm, see beneath the surface, let distractions go? In your daily interpersonal relations, can you become more aware, stay more balanced, sense the energy in your and the others’ breath, harmonize rather than fight, or let the other expend their energy while you remain relatively calm? All spiritual practice is practical. In our era, we learn to concentrate, contemplate and meditate so we then can incorporate attunements into our everyday life – realization.
And Shiva will lead to Brahma and then Vishnu – to the energy of inspiration and creation, and then that of maintenance and sovereignty. Out of chaos, we will have helped heal the pain and create something new and full of splendor, perhaps as Pir Vilayat taught, “a beautiful world of beautiful people.”
Thank You Rev. Wadud Henry Cretella, M.D.