School of Sufi Teaching

Personal statement of a student from Malaysia

If you had met me three years ago, I would have come across as quite a different person. I was constantly stressed, easily irritable and practically the walking definition of an anxiety zombie. In short, you really would not want to end up on my bad side. And it was fair to say that most of me was my bad side.

Yes, there was that thing about work-life balance. And people who loved me offered all kinds of well-intended advice: Eat better, exercise, breathe fresh air, smell the roses, clear the mind. And yes, thoughts crossed my mind about doing things that would make me happier. But there was this lethargic and sluggish feeling that constantly hovered over me like a rain cloud that will just not go away.

You know how people express reluctance by calling it a “heavy heart”? Well, you could say that that was the state I was in.

Which is why I consider it divine intervention when I stumbled into the practice of heart meditation quite by accident.

I have to admit, I had my doubts those few times I sat down with the group meditation sessions. There were no prescribed sitting positions and few other instructions besides to close my eyes and wait. No breathing rhythms to focus on. No mantra to chant over and over again. When they told me that I could literally let my mind wander as it wished, I was sure that they sorely underestimated the incredible breadth of my imagination when left to its own regards.

And sure enough, within seconds of closing my eyes, off it went. I thought of all the places I needed to go after this session, things I had to do and people I had to meet. I thought of all the outstanding work on my desk and what a busy week I had and what an even busier week waited ahead of me. I thought of what I might rather do instead. Like maybe go to a beach somewhere. Or explore a city I have never been to. Or sit in a garden with a book. Or tea with friends that I have just been too occupied to catch up with.

And so that my imagination wandered from thought to thought to thought to…

Before I knew it, I had drifted off into a blissful state of semi consciousness somewhat like sleeping. But I was sure I was not sleeping. I was lucid but lighter. Much lighter. I was, well, drifting. Through time. Through space. There were no longer any thoughts to wander through. And I knew, after all these years, my heart had taken over, and it fills with an emotion that can only be described as love.

Coming out from the state of meditation was like waking up from sleep, with one eminent difference: You know that beautiful dazed and dreamy feeling after you wake up? After the meditation, this feeling blissfully lingers on. I gazed upon the world with elated eyes and a heart that is so light, it floats on its own invisible wings.

It is through the heart meditation that I realised that serenity is not a state of mind. It is a state of heart.

From the heart, everything else grows soft and delicate. Touch, sight and all the senses. And yes, even the mind. As a writer, I immediately wanted to write prose. I immediately wanted to write poetry. And lyrics of songs. Scores and scores of songs. Orchestras of the overflowing tenderness that radiated from within me.

Continuing the meditation over the next few months improved not only my temperament, but in the most gentle of ways, it changed my outlook of the world. Deep within me, I realized something I have known all along but must have forgotten: How to live with a heart filled with love.

A heart filled with love finds beauty, miracles and kindness in everything it encounters.

I am that person
Dancing on the grass
Singing in the rain
Smiling at sunbeams

I am that person
Delighted to see every flower
Telling stories to the trees
Laughing in the wind

I am that person
With a secret
I am that person
In Love

I really don’t know how to describe the relationship that I have with my heart now except to say that it is an affectionate one. Yes, there are days that are tough and some days are especially harder than others. But in those precious moments that I set aside everyday to turn my attention to my heart, light shines through the most difficult of cracks and I am in love once again.

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