Experts of Muraqaba have taught their students various methods of performing Muraqaba. These different Muraqabas work like a class or grade for the spiritual development of the students; so their progress would evolve gradually. When a student gains excellence in any one of the types of Muraqaba, they are then promoted to the next higher level. ‘
These different levels and their goals are based on the types of imagination that a student has to focus on during the Muraqaba. For instance, the Muraqaba of kashaf ul qaboor (vision of the grave) is to reveal the life after death to the student. To strengthen their aura, the student practices Muraqaba with different colors of light, and to observe the pure light, they perform Muraqaba of nur.
Similarly, to transfer the mental aptitude and knowledge of the teacher to the student they practice the Muraqaba of imagining the teacher (tassawar al shaykh). In short, based on the quality, aptitude, and need of the students, they practice different kinds of Muraqaba. Only an experienced, all-around teacher who has gone through the different levels of practice and has a thorough knowledge of the science of Muraqaba can determine the specific Muraqaba for the student.
There are many kinds of Muraqaba based on types of imagination and methods. That is why we are going to shed some light on the two major types of Muraqabas; the rest are the subbranches of these Muraqabas.
Along with explaining these Muraqabas, a practical program is also there so anyone could follow the instructions and get general and specific benefits from it.
Some programs for the Muraqabas are for special purposes. For instance, Muraqaba to observe life after death (kashaf ul gaboor), Muraqaba of the voice of cosmos (haatif ghaybi), Muraqaba for mental peace, and so on and so forth. These specialized Muraqaba can awaken any unique and hidden ability of the student so as to get specific benefits from it. While other Muraqabas work to activate the hidden senses of the student, these Muraqaba activate the so-called third eye by using specialized methods.
The program is for an average individual and the goal is not to build any pressure on the mind of the student. In case of lack of physical presence of the teacher, the institute recommends that students send monthly journal reports of their meditative visions and other experiences that they may face, so whenever necessary, they can receive guidance.
The following is the goal of the program:
1. To improve the working of the brain and mind
2. To improve the special faculties of the mind, that is, memory, creativity, imagination, and speed.
3. To awake the hidden abilities of telepathy, kashaf.
4. To improve cognitive and intuitive abilities.
5. To activate the spiritual sight or the third eye of the student. Before starting to work on any of the programs, it is important to be mindful of the following:
1. Practice Muraqaba at the same time for about 15-20 minutes daily. Do not lose heart if the progress is not up to your expectation. The progress and benefits depend on the interest and the consistency of the student. Some students move slowly and their progress remains moderate, while others progress rapidly in the beginning and then later they slow. Some do not progress at all at first but later they catch up fast. In short, depending on the temperament, the progress rate could vary. Principally what slowly becomes part of your nature will stay more firmly.
2. Enthusiasm and great interest do not mean the student should change or alter the program on their own. Limit your enthusiasm to following and practicing the prescribed Muraqaba and other exercises (that is, respiratory exercise) with full attention and focus.
When we see someone performing Muraqaba, it seems as if that person is simply sitting in one posture with his eyes closed. That refers to the physical side of it as how to sit and how the surroundings should be. The real aspect of Muraqaba is its mental side. As the topic suggests, we are going to discuss the practical sides of Muraqaba. The practical side refers to general know-how and what others things need to be taken care of.
To perform Muraqaba, you would first close your eyes and then free your mind of all the incoming thoughts. Then focus on a single idea or imagination in a way that you are no longer attached to or interested in any other thoughts or ideas. The two main parts of Muraqaba are emptiness of the mind and the idea of the imagination. The emptiness of the mind means you should not pay any attention to other thoughts or willingly think about anything. This is what thoughtlessness is. You can perform Muraqba in different ways; here we are going to shed some light on the other details.
Styles of Posture
Make the surroundings and the place to sit for Muraqaba as comfortable and serene as possible, to avoid tension in the nerves and physical fatigue. Based on your physique and natural tendencies, you can adopt any of the following sitting styles.
Either sitting on the floor or on its cushion, double the left leg and put it on top of the right thigh. The back and neck should remain straight so they should not bend or get tense. In this position, place both hands on the knees or in the middle.
Sitting Straight Position
If you feel uncomfortable with the above posture then sit the way Muslims sit during prayers. Even in this position, be careful not to bend the back or to make it too rigid. Again sit comfortably
One of the other styles is to sit on hips, then fold the legs upward so the knees would touch the chest, and then fold the hands around them as if embracing them. In this position, the upper body slightly leans forward. The best point about this position is that you can perform a long Muraqaba without getting tired. You can do Muraqaba in a chair; however, keep the back straight, and to avoid drowsiness do not let the body lean backward on the chair. In this position, you can perform Muraqaba on a sofa, ottoman, or in a bed. You can also perform Muraqaba by lying down. However, we recommend avoiding this position as it leads to sleep and therefore its purpose remains unachievable. You can also do Muraqaba standing and there are some imaginations (tassawar) that require focusing during walking. Those Muraqabas are the exceptions; otherwise, you can perform most of them in a sitting position. In a sitting position, it is a lot easier for an individual to gain focus.
Timing and Place
The more serene and peaceful the environment is going to be, the easier it will be to concentrate and achieve focus during the Muraqaba. Perform Muraqaba in a place that is neither too warm nor too cold to feel the chills. The fewer things around the lighter the mind would be. The place should have access to air as much as possible. Also the darker the better. Turn off the lights before, during, and a few minutes after the Muraqaba. Let the darkness stay for a while. If the light is pouring in from outside then use a curtain or anything else that would block it from entering the room, but keep in mind not to obstruct the flow of oxygen.
We do not recommend Muraqaba lying down in a bed as it leads to drowsiness. It is better to perform it in a sitting position either on the floor, in a chair, or on an ottoman style sofa. Attire yourself in loose clothing.
The four best periods for doing Muraqaba are:
- Before dawn
- During early afternoon
- Late evening around an hour before sunset
- After midnight
During these periods Nature goes through stillness and so do human senses and that is why doing Muraqaba during these times is more productive than the others. All these times have some specific benefits; however, the period between sundown and sunrise is better than the others because (during nighttime those senses on which the unseen realm unfolds are more active.
Our world is moving in two ways, first in its own axis and second in its orbit. After reaching the zenith, the speed of orbiting starts slowing. Around a couple of hours before sundown, the speed slows down to a point where senses start feeling the pressure. Human and animal senses begin converting from the diurnal senses to the nocturnal senses. Every sensible person could tell you that during these hours we enter a state in which we feel tired or exhausted. This condition is the beginning of subconscious impulses on the consciousness. After midnight, the nocturnal senses get stronger and that is why it is the best period for Muraqaba.
Subconscious senses remain dominant until sunrise. That is why doing Muraqaba before sunrise is more helpful than during daylight hours. One of the benefits of performing Muraqaba before sunrise is the overnight sleep gets rid of all the fatigue and tension of the day and therefore the person remained focused during Muraqaba. Even after waking up the subconscious senses remain active; therefore, the brain easily absorbs the effects of Muraqaba.
For many people, Muraqaba around midnight may not be suitable because of job and business engagements. They are so tired that right around the time they begin the Muraqaba they fall asleep. For these people early morning, Muraqaba would be the best.
The duration of the Muraqaba depends on the mental state and the concentration level of that person. The duration of the Muraqaba can be from 15 minutes to a couple of hours. Sometimes the time passes so swiftly that after finishing the Muraqaba when one looks at the watch, it is way past the intended time. While on other occasions, the person’s eyes open before the scheduled time with no desire to continue. However, keep the duration of the Muraqaba to an average of 20 to 45 minutes.
You should fully utilize the time reserved for Muraqaba. Perform Muraqaba peacefully with ease. Prepare yourself for the heightened mental focus the way we prepare ourselves before starting to read a book. Just as for book reading we make the environment peaceful and quiet, so make the surroundings for Muraqaba also noise-free and serene so you can achieve maximum concentration. Right before beginning the Muraqaba let the mind be free of any thoughts, and be peaceful. To achieve that state words can be used as well …for example:
Say to yourself…
Everything is still and quiet and this stillness and serenity is entering inside me.
Say these phrases in a low voice to feel their effects. Begin Muraqaba only when your body, mind, and respiration are in harmony.
The purpose of Muraqaba is to activate the esoteric vision within us. This can only be achieved by reducing or suspending the movements of eyeballs as much as possible. The less the eyeballs move the quicker it is to activate the esoteric vision. Keeping this rule in mind, the experts of Muraqaba recommend having a band or small towel wrapped around the eyes. The darker the color the better, black is usually the color of choice. When placing the towel around the eyes make sure to secure the eyeballs with it. This grip should be neither too light nor so tight that it would cause pain in the eyes. The point is to make eyeballs feel some pressure during the Muraqaba. With enough pressure, you can control the movement of the eyeballs. During this suspended state, the esoteric vision, which we can call the spiritual eyes, becomes functional.
To protect hearing from outside noises and to focus on the inner voices, experts recommend placing a soaked cotton ball, sprinkled with black pepper powder in the ears during the Muraqaba. Black pepper is a natural sound absorber, which also helps bring the inner voice up to the hearing level.
The added advantages of having a towel wrapped around the head to control the eyes and of the cotton balls are to reduce the environmental influences. However, it is not a mandatory requirement; you can perform Muraqaba without the help of the above. When you are ready with the recommended help, you should then sit in a comfortable position and after closing the eye for a few moments, let the mind be free of any thoughts. Then move the focus to the central thought of Muraqaba and then begin your practice.
Many people are not sure what imagination or visualization is. Usually, they assume that imagination suggests making pictures in our minds about the given subject. For example in the Muraqaba of tassawar shaykh (visualizing the Sufi Master), many people mistakenly visualize the face or whole body of the shaykh. When someone is doing a Muraqaba of light, he tries to see the color of that light with closed eyes. This is not what imagination (tassawar) is. Since that person is trying to see that subject or idea in his mind, the process of viewing is not over yet. As long as you keep beholding, imagination will not form.
The real idea behind imagination is that you should surrender all your thoughts and then just focus on a single thought or idea. You should not put meaning into that thought nor should try to see anything. For instance, if you are doing a Muragaba of your teacher then after closing your eyes, you should concentrate as if you were focusing on your spiritual teacher as the center of your attention. You should avoid imagining the facial or physical features of the teacher. Similarly, on Muraqaba of lights, imagine lights are shining on you. Do not focus on the color or the types of lights they are.
In the beginning, you are going to have a hard time focusing on that single idea during Muraqaba; you would be inundated with a multitude of different thoughts right from the time you start the Muraqaba. The more you try to calm the mind, the greater the influx of thoughts occurs which leads to mental fatigue and boredom. On some occasions, the thoughts become so severe that you will have no choice but to end the Muraqaba prematurely. Sometimes it leads to a feeling that one does not have the ability to do Muraqaba, which of course is nothing but a superstition.
Here the analogy of a horse would best clarify it. Just like a horse, which at first gives stiff resistance to any attempt to tame it, but later gives in, the mind also needs persistent hard work to control it. When you perform Muraqaba in a timely fashion with all the necessary requirements, then willpower will eventually take hold and the unruly horse of mind will finally submit.
In our conscious life, there are a number of examples in which the attention, despite all the thoughts remains focused on one given idea. In the following examples, we would like to clarify “imagination” during Muraqaba.
EXAMPLE-1: Two people are in love with each other. When mutual love between the two is established then they increasingly spend time thinking about the other. Their thoughts do interchange, however, it does not affect the normal routine of daily life.
EXAMPLE-2: A working mother goes to work, leaving her sick child at home. The worrisome thoughts about her child constantly stay on her mind. While at work she performs her duties diligently, however, the very thought of her sick child never leaves her mind.
EXAMPLE-3: When columnists begin writing an article or essay, they shift their entire focus towards that essay, the details of the subject matter, sentence structure, and so on. Their senses work in many dimensions. Their eyes are fixed on the paper, their hands hold the pen, and their ears keep hearing the surrounding sounds. The sense of touch feels the chair on which the writer is sitting. The sense of smell is able to smell anything and everything around. But despite all this, the attention is never diverted to anything besides the essay, and eventually, the essay takes form on that piece of paper.
EXAMPLE-4: Too often, we deal with worrying or distressing thoughts. In this condition, we manage to perform more or less all our daily routines but that worrisome thought keeps knocking in our mind. The extent of worry depends on the depth of the thought. Even in this state we do eat, walk, socialize, sleep, and so on. However, if we analyze the mental state, we know that though dormant, that worrisome thought is still active. Sometimes the worrisome thought becomes so overwhelming that we isolate ourselves from the environment and become withdrawn.
In the above example we showed that even with all the physical activities and thoughts, the mind is usually focused on something else. In the same manner, during Muraqaba the mind keeps focusing on one idea regardless of the other incoming thoughts. During Muraqaba different thoughts descends into the mind without intention. It is the duty of the person doing Muraqaba to keep himself or herself focused on the given idea or imagination without paying attention to the incoming thoughts.
The main reason behind the influx of unrelated thought is the resistance of consciousness. The human consciousness does not easily accept any practice that it is not used to. When someone surrenders to the conscious resistance; then he or she has gone astray from the path of Divine Guidance (siraat musta’qeem). But when he or she keeps on doing Muraqaba without paying attention to the conscious resistance then gradually the flow of incoming thoughts weakens and the feelings of confusion and apathy go away. The easiest way of achieving success in Muraqaba is to avoid fighting or rejecting the thoughts instead simply let them come and go. When you reject a thought repeatedly, it starts echoing itself which leaves a much deeper mark of it in the mind.
EXAMPLE-5: You leave your home for a stroll in the park. You remain aware of the fact that you are heading towards the park. If your brain deletes this idea then you would never be able to reach the park. On your way to the park, you come across beautiful houses, streets lined with trees, sometimes even garbage in the streets. Nevertheless, regardless of what you see, you are not distracted and keep on going towards the park. If for some reason you had decided to stop to see a beautiful house or to show your disgust at the garbage, you would not have reached the park. On the other hand, if the thought of that beautiful house or that repulsive garbage overwhelms your mind then you would not be able to enjoy the park even after reaching it.
These examples show that during Muraqaba either rejection of the incoming thoughts or the picture making would plunge your mind into the secondary nonessential thoughts and you would not be able to achieve the needed mental focus.
In the beginning, do not practice Muraqaba for too long or too frequently. Moderation is a better course of action. Extremism could lead to apathy, which in turn would lead to avoidance. It is possible for you to become overwhelmed by confusion and apathy and even stop practicing it altogether. Therefore, in the early days keep the duration of the Mluragaba to a minimum (average 15-20 minutes) and gradually increase it, when the need arises. It is also important to perform Muraqaba in a timely fashion. Some people have the tendency to do long Muraqaba some days, while on other days, short ones, and then some days they even miss it.
Consciousness tries its best to end the practice of Muraqaba once and for all. Sometimes we feel fatigued and think about postponing it until the next day. While on other days we think that we did not have a good night’s sleep and so we should sleep earlier that day. Sometimes a thought comes to our mind that instead of today we will start the practice the next day and so we keep missing the practice every day.
Often people complain about the environment or the lack of improved conditions. Of course, for every work, a stable condition and environment are needed. However, the consciousness uses that as an excuse to avoid the practice altogether. When the said condition finally improves the person comes up with any other excuse. When we try to fulfill any wish or accomplish something then we usually do that regardless of any resistance or difficulty. When we are drowsy then we get to sleep even in noisy surroundings. When we are late to work then we miss breakfast and head to work. For our regular job, we get up early in the morning; whether we would like it or not we go to work anyway.
If you want the benefits of Muraqaba, you ought to find time for it just as you do for other important matters. When we look at the daily routine of our life, we realize that after daily economic and social business, we waste a noticeable amount of time being idle, worrying, or engaging in unworthy activities. Despite that, we end up whining that there is not much time left for us to do anything extra. When on the one hand you want to get all the benefits of Muraqaba but can not find the time to do it, you are simply deceiving yourself. You truly do not want to do Muraqaba anyway.
Muraqaba and Sleep
Do not combine Muraqaba and sleep. This means that you should avoid doing Muraqaba when you are feeling groggy. If there is mental or physical fatigue then perform Muraqaba after a short rest or nap so the regular program should continue and sleep should not take over. To get rid of nervous and physical fatigue, close your eyes before starting Muraqaba and let the body relax. Slowly take a deep breath and imagine the waves of energy are entering your body. Keep on doing this for a feww minutes to remove the physical and mental fatigue.
After completing the Muraqaba, keep on sitting in the same position for a short while. Once Muraqaba has ended the mental focus changes with it. Just like after waking up the effects of sleep lingers on for a while then gradually wakefulness takes over. In the same manner, after the Muraqaba keep the mind free so the state of Muraqaba gradually enters the state of wakefulness. After that, walk around the room and avoid conversation. When talking becomes necessary, keep your voice low. Following these instructions will bring the effects of Muraqaba more into wakefulness.
In spirituality, long sleep is frowned upon. It creates stagnation in the mind. That is why we encourage moderation in sleep. Though less sleep helps in the progress of the student of spiritual sciences, for an ordinary person or the beginner duration of sleep should not be too short. Duration of sleep should be based on physical and mental needs. On average six hours of sleep should be enough.
Some people have the habit of reading magazines or books in their bed before sleeping. The downside of this habit is that its mark is absorbed by the mind and is echoed during sleep. This habit of mind could be used in a favorable way. That is to do Muraqaba before going to bed so that its influence will be prevalent during sleep. We clarified earlier that mixing Muraqaba and sleep should better be avoided. This is to say that during Muraqaba, sleep should not be imposed intentionally. That is why it is important that you should perform Muraqaba in a sitting position and after finishing it, you can go straight to bed.
Eat easily digestible and simple food. In addition, be careful not to indulge in overeating. A person, who eats food slightly less than his or her full appetite, feels lighter and mental concentration remains high.
From a medical point of view as well, greasy, hard-to-digest food and hot spices are bad for overall health. In short, follow moderation in intake of food as well. Avoid Muraqaba or other spiritual exercises when you are full. It should be done at least two and half hours after the last meal.
Storage of Energy
We are always connected with the universal (cosmic) mind. Through Muraqba this cosmic energy is stored in abundance in our mind. Once stored, this energy should be used correctly. That is why it is imperative to avoid all the habits and mental states that waste that stored up energy. This energy is instrumental in Muraqaba and it activates those senses that open in the spiritual realm.
If we are not going to control our mental state then the energy will flow from the higher (a’ala) to the lowest (issfal) senses and eventually be lost in the lower senses. That is why the mind needs to be controlled and focus on one point as much as possible. In the beginning apathy, confusion and irritability come to play and you feel heaviness or burden but later on, it gets normal.
Lowering nervous tensions and mental pressures are also important. By using the power of the will, the mind should be concentrated and detached so it will get less involved in the mental confusions. There is information that brings sadness and there are those that bring happiness. In both conditions control your emotions. Avoid actions that cause the loss of nervous energy; for example, speaking loudly, irritability, anger, apathy, unnecessary worries, overzealous sexual tendencies, and so on. Apply moderation in all these matters to control the mental aptitude. Having increasing control over the different actions of the mind leads to a condition in which the mind becomes submissive to the will.
The mind remains active subconsciously all the time and it influences all our activities. When the mind accepts the influence of Muraqaba then even subconsciously it remains focused. However, factors like the way of thinking, environment, and worry are hurdles to this focused state. It is impossible to control the effect of the environment beyond a certain point. However, you can change your way of thinking so that your mental concentration is not compromised. Patience, thankfulness, faith, reliance, and detachment are those qualities that free the mind from doubts and worries and take it to the highest level. By adopting good manners and courtesy, you can move the mind away from evil and lower thoughts. By using willpower, you can keep the mind away from undesired and evil thoughts. When you are confused, you will remain confused wherever you may go.
Divide the daily routine so the mind will not go astray by being idle for long. Spend free time on positive hobbies and avoid waste of the mental and physical energy on trivial activities. Reading good books of knowledge or of literature, writing, painting, or similar activities are helpful. Engage in routine exercises and athletics. Avoiding banal talk helps in increasing spiritual knowledge.