In the deepening of my Sufi “walking” path in which I focus on feeling God in my heart, I am having more time during which I feel deep quiet within me; it is like I am present to people in a whole new way. I am now sometimes so quiet inside that I become aware of their breathing and sense them as spirit at a whole new level. This does not accurately capture my experience, yet I want to emphasize that it is very peaceful. At first it felt very strange, almost like it was an experience that should be reserved for an intimate relationship; yet, I have come to believe that it is a natural result of awakening to living more in my heart and less in my mind.
My particular mystical Sufi path, involves a devotion to focusing on the heart and literally remembering the name of God repeatedly, hence the practice is called “remembrance.” There are other prayers that may be repeated to open the heart, which actually makes the remembrance more powerful. There are many ways to awaken, become connected with the oneness of the universe and to dissolve the illusory images/judgments that we have in our minds about ourselves and the world. Sufism is just the way that I have found most effective and beautiful for me, after years of intensive spiritual studies.
It is a straight forward path and the more that I use the practices, which are like keys that open doors to the heart at deeper levels, the more I experience peace and love flowing in my life. I like that! My nearly 18 years of dealing with the consequences of Lou Gehrig’s disease has resulted in me not wanting to waste any time in this life experiencing anything less than the level of peace, love and awareness that is possible for me.
The more that I experience the peace and freedom; the more motivated I am to remember the name of God in my heart. My aim is to remember 24/7. Such a goal excites me, because I have felt times of freedom, peace and silence that are beyond my comprehension. I feel the integrity of knowing that I am on a dedicated path of awareness and connection; I also believe that this is good medicine. I love actualizing healing power through my physical body, and exuding the love of God through my life. At the same time, I understand the importance of releasing judgment of the shortcomings of my personality as they appear in awareness. The key is to remember more and more.
One very interesting aspect of my increase in times of deeper inner quiet is that I am sometimes having experiences of simple sounds in my environment seem so pronounced; a car door closing, papers rattling, the sound of a wet washcloth rubbing on my whiskers before shaving and other everyday sounds seem louder. I am not sure how to explain this and I welcome comments from anyone who has experienced such a change in noise sensitivity resulting from spiritual growth.
For those who have not pursued a path of remembrance, it may seem like such a practice would disconnect a person from the physical world; I have discovered that the practice actually enhances perception of the physical world, and makes the world look more beautiful. In closing, I suggest everyone find an approach that takes them to ever deepening levels of peace and love in their hearts and minds. I have experienced tremendous, and some would say horrendous, losses during my approximately 18 years since my ALS diagnosis; yet, I have immense power in how I use my intention and attention in a disciplined way to experience more and more healing love and peace. Regardless of what happens to my body, I am finding my life to be more like heaven on earth and less like hell on earth. I also believe that whatever healing of the body is possible, it will more likely manifest when my mind/heart/body are in a peaceful and loving state. So it is.
With Love and Gratitude,
Craig Oster, Ph.D.