In Sufi thought, the mind is not the only centre of consciousness in the human being; there are other subtle centres, of which the heart is the most important. The heart is the locus of illuminations and can perceive the truth directly. For this to happen, however, the heart must be awakened.
To this end we seek the help of a special kind of meditation in our order, called muraqaba. There is a fundamental difference between our form of meditation and those practised in other systems; we do not attempt to work through concentrating the energy of the physical body at a single point. In our order the meaning of meditation is to detach oneself from worldly activity, and for a period of time devote one’s attention to God.
After the preliminary 10 lessons students may choose to continue their progress by adopting a way of life based on Islamic principles and the sunna – the example of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Some students may take years to complete the first lessons while others progress more quickly.
This depends on their state when they come to Sufism, and on the consistency of their dedication to the practices. The preliminary practices begin with meditation on the heart; an intention (niyyat) is made, and the seeker then sits quietly for around 40-45 minutes. There are no special postures or positions to adopt when sitting in our meditation. When seekers sit patiently, the blessings of the Divine are bestowed upon them.
Some physical and spiritual benefits may be experienced straight away: some seekers experience an increase in ease and contentment, patience and tolerance, and the development of personal insight and understanding as the result of doing our practices. Weekly meetings, where small groups of sufis sit in meditation together, help the student to progress more quickly. Through regular practice these exercises of meditation and recitation help individuals to make a sincere and sustaining connection to the Divine.