(This interview is from a 2016 retreat)
Wa alaikum assalam
Can you tell me about your experiences when you first joined the order, and if you’ve been attending retreats regularly, if you’ve noticed any differences in how you feel from the time that you began, to this weeks retreat in London, and reflect on your experiences.
Okay, so, I joined the Birmingham group in 2011, and one of the reasons I joined was because I did lots of other meditation practises which I found were beneficial in some ways, but in other ways they weren’t – the energies weren’t right, or the feeling wasn’t right in the group.
So I joined the group in 2011 and I found it really peaceful – I was able to meditate, I was able to sit. I think the key thing for me was that it was a practise that was focused on the heart. Lots of other practises focus on your breathing, the mind, the physical body. For me the eye opening thing was just to focus on my heart, to be with my heart rather than anything else.
So I’ve been with the group since 2011, and what I find is just peace. Really, just peaceful. It allows you to live in the world in a very different way. Normally when everything is chaotic and everything is busy, I tend to just focus back onto my heart. I don’t say the intention, but just be with my heart. And everything seems to then just flow. Even in general day-to-day life I find if I just go back to my heart and focus on that, things start to shift.
I think the key thing for me joining the Sufi group also was that I would go to lots of other places and the energy wasn’t right, I would get ill, and things like that. So I find with this practise, the protection is automatically in the practises, I don’t have to do anything.
What do you mean by protection?
Well I’ve been with other groups, and you sit there and you feel other people’s energy in the room, and it doesn’t feel comfortable, or you might be sitting next to somebody and you think: “this doesn’t feel comfortable”.
But what I’ve found in the group – with the Sufi group is that the energy has always been great. And even when I’m meditated at home I feel really safe. So the protection is included in the practises. I remember saying to the Shaykh that I feel really comfortable and safe when I’m in the group, and when I’m out of the group doing the meditation on my own it doesn’t feel that different. In the group it’s heightened, and out of the group when I’m doing it on my own I can still feel that group energy and it just always felt safe. And that was what I was looking for, to be part of a group where I felt comfortable, I felt safe, and I got that really.
So what I felt was that everything was elevated, so when I left the retreats and went back into normal life I was able to be with things very differently, I was able to understand things in a very subtle way. I always find that you can come to the groups, but the retreats really give you an elevation. Within a couple of days your energy gets elevated being around the Shaykh, for me it’s an amazing experience.