Marco Secchi Blog

Photojournalist in Slovenia and Hungary

Archive for the ‘Sufi’ Category

Creative Meditation

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I have blogged before about cretive bock or self confidence crisis…..and If you depend on your creativity for your living, then your most valuable piece of equipment is not your computer, smartphone, camera, or any other hi-tech gadget.
“In a modern company 70 to 80 percent of what people do is now done by way of their intellects. The critical means of production is small, gray, and weighs around 1.3 kilograms. It is the human brain.”

VENICE, ITALY - JUNE 21:  Whirling Dervishes of the Galata Mevlevi Ensemble,declared UNESCO World Heritage, perfom under the guidance of Sheikh Nail Kesova at Auditorium Candiani on June 21, 2011 in Venice, Italy. The whirling dance associated with Dervishes, is the practice of the Mevlevi Order in Turkey, and is part of a formal ceremony known as the Sema which is only one of the many Sufi ceremonies performed to try to reach religious ecstasy (Marco Secchi)

So what are you doing to maintain this precious resource? You probably give it plenty of stimulation – books, movies, music, nights out, interesting conversations with offbeat people.

What works for me is daily meditation. Every morning or early afternoon I spend 20 minutes sitting on a mat, focusing on the sensation of breathing, doing my best to be present and aware, and trying not to get tangled up in my thoughts. It makes all the difference for the rest of the day. And I’m convinced it makes me a better visual artist. I also listen every day to meditation music from my iPhone while I am moving around or shooting.

Meditation is a doorway between our inner and outer worlds. Between “reality” (the seemingly solid world that we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch) and an elusive “something else” we sense beneath, between and beyond what those five senses can grasp.

Meditation offers enormous benefits for everyone, and a set of particular benefits for those who are engaged in a creative activity like writing.

Focus. Concentration is essential to outstanding creative execution and performance. The simple act of focusing on your breathing day after day, will gradually improve your powers of concentration.

Patience. Meditation can be incredibly boring. For once in your life, you’re not trying to do anything or think anything, just sit there and pay attention to your immediate experience. And you will encounter all kinds of resistance to doing it. Zen priest Steve Hagen says, “If you can get past resistance to meditation, nothing else in life will be an obstacle.”

Calmness. At first, you’ll be surprised, maybe even horrified, to discover how busy your mind is – a non-stop stream of mental chatter. But if you stay with it, you should gradually find that your mind settles down as the months go by.

Clarity. Like calmness, this can be gradual and intermittent to begin with. But you are likely to notice moments and even periods of mental clarity, when you see things clearly and your mind is sharper than usual – which makes problem-solving and decision-making easier.

Creates conditions for Insight. You’ve probably had the experience of suddenly realizing the solution to a problem, even though you haven’t been consciously thinking of it. Or you may have experienced a moment of inspiration, when a new idea flashes into your mind unbidden. If you’re practicing meditation regularly, expect this to happen more often.

Perspective. When you spend time just being present and observing your breath, thoughts, feelings, and moment-to-moment experience, you start to realize how trivial most of our daily worries really are. Even in the midst of the daily grind, you can let go of the small stuff, and keep the big picture in view.

Getting Started

The kind of meditation I practice is a mixture of concentration (Samatha) and insight (Vipassana). Samatha practice is simply about focusing on your breathing, in order to develop concentration and calmness. It’s the best place to start, given how busy and unfocused our minds typically are. Vipassana is so simple it almost sounds like doing nothing at all – it’s about being very aware and present to your immediate experience, noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the sounds and sights around you.

To learn how to get started, read the Introduction to Insight Meditation by the monks at Amaravati monastery.

Or you can try to listen to one of the Mantra and chant, The one below is westernized and commercialed version but the traditional has been one of my favorites for a long time, Here

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Written by msecchi

August 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm

A Sufi Ramadan

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By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong

Paul of the Wulfruna Sufi Association tells about Ramadan in Sufism. Read about the significance of fasting, the symbolism of the rose and the importance of prayer and meditation.

Ramadan, the month when God revealed the Holy Qur’an, is a time of deep reflection and contemplation for Muslims. Considering past accomplishments and where our life’s journey is leading. Ramadan is a good time for us to make changes for the better, an excellent opportunity to turn over a new leaf, shedding any old bad habits.

Sufi meditationSufi meditation

Walking in the footsteps of the prophets

“O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain concious of God” Holy Qur’an (2:183) Asad

“Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant – the Ten Commandments.” Exodus (34:28) NIV

Muslims aim to be walking in the footsteps of prophets and saints. While Ramadan is unique to Islam, most religions have their traditions of fasting. We spend much of our lives concerned with mundane activities, work, meals, television, fashion. Without even realising it, time passes, often wasted on nothing special. Fasting helps us to regain self-discipline and self-restraint.

Tayyaba Mosque

Realising the difficulties of others

An important role of fasting, is to help us realise the difficulties and suffering of others. Caring for those in need is so important, charity is the third pillar of Islam. One important benefit of fasting, is we learn what it is like to feel hungry. Once we realise this, hopefully we will show more compassion for those in need, for those who have no food to break their fasts, or cannot afford to buy it.

The rose blooms amid thorns

Sufis are people striving for an inner, personal experience of the Divine. Seeing the basic practices of Islam as only the first step to this higher goal. To allow one’s soul to grow and ascend, one needs to strive against the bad characteristics of one’s ego. In Sufism, the rose is symbolic of our soul. As like the development of our own souls in this world, the rose blooms amid thorns.

Seeking to lose themselves in the Divine

While all Muslims are on a quest for inner peace, Sufis seek to lose themselves in the Divine. Fasting is an important stepping stone on this inner spiritual journey. Sufi saints perform the greatest form of fast, while others go without food, they exercise the fasting of their mind. Put another way, they do not think of anything except God.

Prayers and meditation

Sufis consider their existence in this world as only the seed, for their existence in the next world. In a similar way to how small acorns grow into mighty oaks, we reap what we sow. In addition to their daily prayers, various forms of meditation are practised by Sufis, enabling them to become more conscious of the Divine.

“unto everyone who is conscious of God, He [always] grants a way out [of unhappiness], and provides for him in a manner beyond all expectation” Holy Qur’an (65:2-3) Asad

Laylat al-Qadr

God has promised great rewards for those who fast. One of these occurs during the last ten days of Ramadan. During the night of Laylat al-Qadr, for one who has fasted perfectly, God sends an angel to personally meet this person, and grant them any wish they desire.

Fasting is an enormous blessing, it is a great way of improving one’s self discipline and physical health, yet at the same time conveys immense spiritual benefits.

Written by msecchi

August 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

Love

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“True love is unconditional and everlasting, it is established over time and validated with memories of the past.”

Written by msecchi

November 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Blog, Sufi

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In pursuit of true happiness

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There was once a Sufi story of a man crying on the side of a road, praying to find true happiness. When God sent an old man to inquire of him the reason for such tears, he replied that he was lost and that his life had been wasted in the pursuit of true happiness. The old man asked him to describe the shape, size and dimensions of these objects so desired and that perhaps, he might be able to help him to find them.
The man answered that this was the very problem. He did not know how to describe them, to which the old man replied; at least now, we know why you are lost.

The moral of the story is that many of us are like this man, pursue our fancies through a veneer of sophisticated ideas, arguments and imaginings through veils of uncertainty. But, if we take the time, stop and listen to our heart and ask sincerely – every cloud will part and guidance becomes evident.

Written by msecchi

November 3, 2010 at 12:17 am