Breath By Breath: Presence & Silent Zikr

Peace, one and all…

Our weekly Mevlevi zikr gathering opens with a communal reading of Surah al-Fatihah, the Opening Chapter of the Quran. We invoke God’s mercy together, and ask for guidance as we struggle along the Way. Once we have recited the Fatihah, we open ourselves to Divine presence in a silent zikr of La ilaha illa Allah (‘There is no god but God’).

With each out-breath we exhale La ilaha (‘there is no god’), letting go of our distractions and our preoccupations. We let go of every limitation, every shortcoming and every item of baggage that we have inadvertently brought with us into the circle. All of those worries and fears, all of those worldly concerns and pressing matters dissolve, like mist beneath the rising sun. By letting go, we surrender ourselves with each new out-breath. Each image that comes before our mind’s eye is gently released back into the ever-flowing river of thought. We observe the passing of each new image, and simply let go of it, without judgement. Through this process we begin to empty ourselves, clearing a space within our hearts.

And then, with each new in-breath, we inhale illa Allah (‘but Allah’). We breathe love into the deepest places of our hearts. We breathe divine compassion, healing and coherence into the very roots of all that we are. Our emptiness is held within the deeper fullness of God’s infinity. Divine presence flows into our hearts. Love rushes into every space, as our worries are effaced.

Gradually, as we breathe in this way, presence (huzur) can open out within us. Our minds become still, our hearts awaken. We can speak with each other with greater compassion, with greater awareness, with a more deliberate attention. Removing our everyday baggage in this way is absolutely critical. As this poor one has discovered, the quality of any zikr is determined by the quality of conscious presence we are able to achieve in preparation for it. The more deeply I am able to enter into presence, the more deeply I can surrender to the Divine. Conversely, it is more difficult to leave our sense of separation behind whilst we are distracted and led hither and thither by our wandering minds.

This powerful silent zikr seeks to remedy this by reconnecting us to God, at the most intimate level of our breath. Our beloved master, Abu Said ibn Abi al-Khayr said: ‘The sum total of our life is a breath spent in the company of the beloved’. Each breath seeks to remind us that we live in God, we move in God and we act through God. We are invited to the surrender of our whole selves, in a gentle, human, evolving manner – moment by moment, stage by stage, breath by breath.

May the hearts of the lovers be opened!

Ask olsun! May love increase!

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