The Sufis understood our bodies as vessels that contained the whole universe within them. In fact, the Sufi Yogis saw the whole universe as a sacred macrocosmic being whose body mirrors our own: its head our sky, its body our earth, its bones our mountains, its veins our rivers.
The aim of Sufi practice is to strip our earthly, temporal self of its material hold on our souls and allow our real Selves to blossom forth through integration with the primordial macrocosmic being–who is the original human blueprint and the purest form of ourselves.
There is a whole universe of muscles and bones, veins,
arteries, organs and joints that operate seamlessly within us. Whenever I sit and meditate on the inner workings of my body, I am in awe of the world within me that creates and re-creates my movements and thoughts. I completely honour the beauty and majesty of my body, and I believe that yoga helps me remember and venerate that sacred nature I carry within me.
Every yogic pose, or asana, can teach us something about the sacred nature of our bodies. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), teaches us to honour the stability of the earth. When we turn our palms to the earth in Warrior II, we energetically become more grounded and stable. Headstands and other inversions encourage the flow of fluids throughout our bodies to help unblock the effects of gravity. When our blood and lymphatic fluids can move into less accessible places, we energetically become more free-flowing, allowing the rivers of our bodies to water and nurture the most arid parts of ourselves. Child’s Pose (Balasana) teaches us to honour our hearts, the fountain of life where the very seat of our sacrality lies. When we move into child’s pose, our bodies return to their origin-not just physically (as represented by our fetal position), but energetically by gathering our energy at the site of the human organ that is most sacred in Sufi eyes: the heart. In Sufism, the heart represents the gateway between two worlds: the earthly and the heavenly. Through this gate, the human being journeys upwards, through the heavens and back to its true origin in God.
I have been overwhelmed this last week with external preoccupations mostly to do with family. My brother and sister are visiting this week and some buried family tensions are bubbling to the surface. When I stepped into the yoga studio yesterday, I felt so scattered mentally and energetically. I opened my journal and scribbled in it:
Feeling unlike myself. Been so busy worrying, comparing myself to others, letting my self-awareness fall by the wayside. I want to be with myself again.
I meditated a little bit and tried to feel my body from the inside out rather than the usual outside in. What did my bones feel like? What did my muscles and limbs feel like? Where was there tension? Where was my awareness dwelling? I slid my consciousness from my brain, where it was scattered and fragmented, to my heart, where it settled in the awareness of the wholeness of my being. And suddenly, I felt that estrangement from myself fall away. I was home again.
Our bodies are magnificent creations and a breathtaking manifestation of the sacred world that surrounds us. In Sufi Yoga, we study the universe as an externalized form of ourself, meditating on it as a way of understanding ourself more fully. And through self-knowledge, we come to know the world.
May you be filled with peace,