Meditation: the Sufi Way
Most people have heard of meditation, yet very few people have actually experienced it in the truest sense. Meditation is a living experience; it is a state of being beyond the realm of thought. When this state is known then no words are necessary. When people refer to meditation they are usually referring to the various meditation techniques that can eventually lead one to the state of meditation. Meditation is a process of mind training and accessing the deeper layers of mind. What is mind? Contrary to what one would think mind is not the entity contained within the brain. The brain is more like a receiver of information rather than its source. Sufis would speak in terms of the heart-mind and beyond this insight into infinite mind. The purpose of meditation is to access and live the inner life. The essence of it is to develop awareness of the different realms of the mind. Without awareness the state of meditation is impossible.
Concentration is the beginning of meditation. Sufis use many methods of concentration to cultivate the heart and mind. The Sufis have always had music as part of meditation. Music is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries in the world. The whole manifested reality is made of vibrations and the vibrations of music can free the soul and release all heaviness that can keep it bound. Music touches the soul immediately and by Sufis it is seen as food for the soul. Music is said to be the quickest and most direct way of freeing the consciousness. When one combines sound with Spiritual Dance the effects can be amplified greatly and this method is part of the inner school of our form of Sufism. For us breath awareness and development is one of the key practices for meditation. In essence spiritual development is synonymous with breath development.
In Spiritual Dance and Sufi Meditation we cultivate awareness both in the silence and within the sound. We make use of traditional seated methods of practice as well as those utilizing movement in the dance and the walk. Individual practice and group practices are explored. The personal atmosphere and the atmosphere of group are enhanced and developed through these practices. With practice there is no doubt a gradual growth in inner peace, insight, intuition and refinement of being. For many people attempting to still the mind may be an impossible task. Transcending the ego with its untamed thought processes and uncontrolled emotional states often needs what could be called the back-door method. By learning to give one’s full attention to a practice that one enjoys, that is uplifting, this can have the effect of bypassing the thinking mind. In so doing this takes one into deeper levels of awareness with less effort and often more effectively. Even so it takes practice and guidance from one who has developed such a capacity. Meditation is ultimately a way of experiencing all of life, inner and outer, in the fullness of each present moment.
Meditation is not only far more important than study, it is true study. When one completely relaxes the body and mind, and becomes receptive to God, then the Voice of God will speak to one in the language of the soul. This is true Sufism which can never be explained, yet can clearly be understood.
Murshid Samuel L. Lewis