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On Heart’s Presence: an introduction

“If you want to know where your heart is, see where your mind goes when it wonders”
Imam Ali (AS)

So much has been written on presence, also known as mindfulness in certain traditions and in modern psychology and muraqaba in the Islamic/Sufi traditions. There are plenty of resources, books and nowadays online classes as well as online videos that can give abundant techniques to learn. There is a whole spectrum into Presence, from abilities such as focus and concentration that help to enhance awareness and consciousness into our daily lives that opens doors for more spiritual realities of our Self. For the purpose of the intention mentioned here, I would like to talk about Presence that is found within our reach. And a presence that fuels and moves through our curiosity.

Therapy’s pillar is held within the focused attention and presence from the therapist. We are all mirror reflections of each other, and with time and training a therapist is able to be present within themselves as well as being present with the client, in a way that holds all of those parts that the client is not able to be present in themselves. The therapeutic process happens as the client begins to mirror the therapist’s state of presence within themselves. Although there are many other processes that take place in the therapeutic space, everything begins with focused attention and at a more subtle level, the heart presence the therapist gives.

“When words come from the heart of anyone, they find a place in the heart of another. But when they come merely from the tongue, they don’t go further than the ears.”
Imam Ali (AS)

Heart presence is not a romantic terminology, but rather the place within our physical self that our consciousness can sit in, and in this way perceive information around and within us from a different perspective to the one we usually do. Every part of our body has a way of communicating, a way of receiving knowledge, every place has its own expression, and our heart is the centre of our universe, it contains within both earthly and heavenly information. Our heart and its surrounding area is filled with sensorial knowledge. We tend to avoid being within our heart space because it usually feels very tender. Our whole self softens when being in there and therefore it is more probable to feel emotional or overwhelmed.

“What you hide in your heart will appear in your eyes.” -Imam Ali (AS)

Our head space usually takes over, as images and words are created there. Our senses are so close to our head that we tend to translate the sensorial information we receive from our senses through that head-space. But our senses can be experienced through other areas of our bodies and they usually translate information in a different way. The ideal state is for mind, heart and gut working together in unison, for women, through her womb, her second heart.

Focused attention and heart presence are the most important components of the medicines that I shall be sharing with you through my writings. Therefore, for the purpose of this introduction, I would like to explain simple ways to begin playing curiously with it. Simple exercises are:

  • Bring your attention to one part of your body, it can be your toes, the soles of your right feet, your left hand, your right arm, and while keeping your attention there, sense how that part of your body feels in relation to the rest of your body. Notice how it becomes alive, how you can begin sensing the blood running, pins and needles, be very present with all the sensations, take note of your full experience, and most important of all, play with it!

  • Next time when you speak with someone, try to listen to them from the centre of your chest. Notice how your listening changes, notice your emotional receptivity. You can play by switching from the heart space to the head space, and notice how information is received when you do so.

  • Play a piece of music that you love. Play it in your headphones or loud enough to be experienced fully. Try to listen to it from your whole self, your whole body and not just your ears. How does your body react to it? From which parts of your body are you listening? If you focused your listening from a certain part of your body, How is the piece of music feeling? What information does it provide for you? Can you sense the author’s emotional state? intention?

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