Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Toward the one

To prepare for more-advanced meditative practices, Sufis often begin with a darood — the recitation of a sacred phrase coordinated with the breath. The American-born Sufi master Samuel Lewis, who died in 1971, taught the following exercise:
  1. Start to walk in a rhythmic fashion and synchronize your breathing with your pace —four steps for each inhalation and four steps for each exhalation.
  2. As you walk, repeat the phrase “toward the one” — one syllable per step with a silent space on the fourth step. Walking develops and strengthens the rhythm of the breath.
  3. Continue for as long as you like, with wholehearted attention.
“The Sufi practices living in the breath 24 hours a day,” says Shabda Kahn, a Sufi teacher who studied with Lewis.

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