Retreats

May 2021 Online Retreat

A Torch in the Darkness
Inspiration and Transformation in the Journey of the Heart:
Remembering we are not alone 

You are invited to join our Spring Retreat: evening of 30 April, 1-2 May, on Zoom. 

Seeking inspiration in these times of restriction, fear and worry, let us be inspired to find hope and love through the illumination of our hearts. It is through the eyes of our heart that we can discover the deep well-spring of truth from which we  can create our new reality; a reality based on our capacity for awareness and choice.

The recommended cost is £75 but please pay what you can afford. Please email info@ihuk.org for more information, a registration form and payment details.

The Way of Compassion

This Online Retreat took place on 24-25 October 2020 organised by Inayatiyya Healing UK

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. 

Rumi

In this time of unforeseen opportunity, as well as uncertainty, loss and fear, we need to build a strong foundation on which to base our healing practices. This foundation is compassion and love.

In our retreat we started with self-compassion: how do we learn to accept ourselves as we are? Experiencing compassion for ourselves allows us truly to extend it to others. On the Sunday we explored forgiveness: how do we let go of elements of the past that continue to constrain and wound us, to free ourselves for compassion for the present? And then to extend outwards for a true connection to all others and the Divine?

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.
It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well 
can we be present with the darkness of others.
Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity”

Pema Chodron

Guided by:

Sarida Brown Is international leader of Inayatiyya Healing, teaches the 2-Year International Healing Course, retreat guide. Acupuncturist since 1974, founder of Caduceus Journal.

Farzana Dalila-Boyle is a Transpersonal Psychotherapist, Breathworker, and a Conductor in Inayatiyya Healing UK. She is also a Retreat Guide, and a certified Leader of the Dances of Universal Peace. 

Malika Stothard is an experienced Teacher, Transpersonal Psychotherapist and Reiki healer. She has been a member of the Sufi Healing Order for 20 years and is a trainee Conductor. 

Saida Taylor-Brook is a Conductor in Inayatiyya Healing UK, a Transpersonal Psychotherapist/Supervisor and a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with a special interest in mindful self-compassion.

Munira Salomon is an Alexander Technique teacher and an international advocate of media freedom. She is a Conductor in Inayatiyya Healing UK, and a student of the IHO’s 2‑year healing course.

Noor un nisa Jacobs is a teacher, retreat guide and healing conductor in the Inayatiyya.  Her work is inspired by the Divine Feminine Mysteries and the Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.


PRACTICES FROM THE RETREAT ON COMPASSION, SELF-COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS

These are offered with love and we hope you will find them inspirational and find a way to integrate them into your lives as a regular practice.

BECOMING ONE WITH THE FIELD OF COMPASSIONATE AWARENESS

  • Sitting comfortably … tuning into your breath …. gently breathing in and breathing out … letting the breath be in its natural rhythm …
  •  Now being aware of your feet firmly on the ground and the weight of your body being held by whatever you are sitting on, feeling the contact between your sit bones and your seat …. Being aware that you are connecting to the earth … and relax into being held…. You don’t have to make any special effort … all you need to do is allow yourself to be held by the field of compassionate loving awareness … breathing easily …
  •  Now, imagine that you can breathe in through your feet and breathe out from your feet directly into the ground beneath you …
  • And letting your exhale completely empty out into the bottomless space beneath your feet …
  •  Wait for the inhalation to surface of its own volition, as if it’s also arising from the space below …
  •  Allow your attention to completely dissolve into this bottomless open space … knowing that this is the field of compassionate, loving awareness …
  •  And be this space and rest in it for a while … (pause)
  •  Sense how the earth’s gravity is holding your body …. Knowing that the earth’s nurturing capacity is offering you compassionate, loving awareness …
  •  Let yourself be held in this compassionate, loving awareness …. (pause) … And becoming one with this field of compassionate, loving awareness …
  •  You may like to put a hand or both hands over your heart chakra in the centre of the chest and sense into your heart chakra and feel that you are seen and loved just as you are ….

Notice your breathing and your pulse and slowly come back into the room and open your eyes when you’re ready.

LOVING-KINDNESS, COMPASSION AND SELF-COMPASSION

  • We know that modern neuroscience and psychology are just beginning to explore what meditative traditions have accepted for all time: that compassion and loving-kindness are skills – not gifts that we are either born with or not
  • and the mindful self-compassion movement is one pathway that provides the practices that can help develop and strengthen these skills and bring them into our everyday lives.
  • There are two key foundation stones of mindfulness practice. 
  • Most people have some idea that mindfulness meditation is about being here now; being present in the moment.
  • However, there is a view in the mindful Self-Compassion movement that we can’t be truly mindful without also connecting to our natural states of:
    Compassion and Self-Compassion, and to our sense of
    Loving-Kindness

These are both expressions of goodwill and heart-centred practices, involving a softening and opening of the heart chakra.

The differences between these two heart-centred states are described below:

The term Loving-Kindness is the English translation of the Pali term metta, which is also translated as friendliness.  So it’s a practice in which we learn to be a good friend to ourselves – to become an inner ally rather than lapsing into self-criticism, which many of us easily do when we’re not conscious of the inner critic.

Loving-Kindness entails general feelings of friendliness to oneself and others and doesn’t necessarily involve suffering.  It encourages us to develop a friendly stance to ourselves at all times, even when things are going well in the moment.

Compassion is defined as sensitivity to the pain or suffering of another, coupled with a deep desire to alleviate that suffering.

Self-compassion is that same process directed towards ourselves.  It is about directing compassion towards oneself – inner compassion – in the face of suffering.

The Dalia Lama said that loving-kindness is “the wish that all sentient beings may be happy”.    

And he said that compassion is “the wish that all sentient beings may be free from suffering”.   

If we put these two ideas together, he said that:

“When the sunshine of loving-kindness meets the tears of suffering, the rainbow of compassion arises.”  

 

LOVING-KINDNESS MEDITATION 

This practice is about developing the capacity to think kindly towards yourself and being accepting of your limitations.

In this practice we are setting an intention to nurture the quality of loving- kindness that already exists within us, but it may not happen today, and if it doesn’t it’s an opportunity to be compassionate toward yourself and to accept that this is how it is right now …

So, once again, settling into your body … and allowing yourself to simply be ...  As your body becomes still, bring your attention to your breath … noticing the movement of your in-breath … and of your out-breath … Not manipulating the breath in any way …  simply being aware of it and of the feelings associated with breathing … and observing the breath deep down in your belly … feeling the abdomen as it expands gently on the in-breath … and as it falls back towards your spine on the out-breath.   Being totally here in each moment with each breath … not trying to do anything … not trying to get any place … simply being with your breath … Giving full care and attention to each in-breath … and to each out-breath …. If distracting thoughts arise at any point in this practice … acknowledge them …. then return to the practice…. (pause) …

And now, bringing to mind someone for whom you have deep feelings of love where love comes easily and is uncomplicated ……  Seeing or sensing this person (or it might be a pet) …. It may be that more than one person comes to mind …  try to settle your mind and heart on one … maybe trusting the first person that you thought of … there’ll be an opportunity shortly to focus on someone else that you love or care about and at the end of the meditation, we’ll encapsulate all beings on the planet … so know that you can send loving-kindness to all who matter to you… (pause) …

And now noticing your feelings for this person or animal arise in your body … it may be simply a smile that spreads across your face … or your heart chakra becomes warm and open … Whatever the effects, allow them to be felt physically… (pause) …

Continuing to breathe gently and repeating inwardly the following expressions of loving-kindness (or please feel free to develop your own words of loving-kindness):

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be filled with loving-kindness

May you live in peace and harmony no matter what you are given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

After a little while, picture a second person or animal (or, if you prefer, you can continue focusing on the first person or animal and go deeper with your expression of loving-kindness to them) … and extend the same wishes of loving-kindness to this being:

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be filled with loving-kindness

May you live in peace and harmony no matter what you are given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

Notice the physical sensations in your body having sent loving-kindness to someone or an animal that you love ….  (pause) … and also notice the emotions that arise …. (pause)….

Now turning to loving-kindness for yourself letting the following words become your words:

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I be filled with loving-kindness

May I live in peace and harmony no matter what I am given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

And again notice the physical sensations and emotional feelings that arise in response to sending yourself loving-kindness …. It may be that judgement or aversion comes up for you at the idea of being kind to yourself … if this is what’s happening, know that this is ok … this is what’s happening for your now … just let it be … it may be an opportunity for you to practice acceptance of your limitations right now – that in this moment it’s hard to be loving or friendly towards yourself …. (pause) …

Now, thinking of an acquaintance.  Someone you know in a very limited way or you may not know them at all but you see them regularly – a neighbour, or someone who works in a shop or who you pass in the street.  Someone who does not give rise to strong feelings one way or the other.  You feel quite neutral about them.  And, once again, repeating these expressions of loving-kindness as you hold them in awareness:

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be filled with loving-kindness

May you live in peace and harmony no matter what you are given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

Now, think of someone that you are having trouble with and bring them to mind.  If you’re new to this practice, it’s best not to start with the most difficult person …. but perhaps someone who brings up feelings of irritation or annoyance … Again, if there’s more than one person, try to settle on one, maybe the first person who came to mind … And see if you can let these words become your words as you keep this person in awareness.  It may help to remind yourself of your common humanity with this person and that they are seeking happiness and love, just like you:

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be filled with loving-kindness

May you live in peace and harmony no matter what you are given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

Once again, notice the sensations and feelings that arise within you … You may be struggling to send loving-kindness to this person … This is an opportunity to practice compassion towards yourself … to notice your own suffering and seeing if you can allow your emotions and let them be just as they are …. 

And now, bringing to mind the broader community of which you are a part … you might imagine your family …. your colleagues … your neighbours … and also spread out your attention until you include all persons and creatures on the planet … and the planet itself … and including yourself in this offering of loving kindness … as you let these words become your words:

May we be happy

May we be healthy

May we be filled with loving-kindness

May we live in peace and harmony no matter what we are given

Repeat the phrases with space and pause ….

 

Once again, notice the sensations and feelings that arise within you …  (pause) … letting any difficult emotions simply be….

And as you come to the end of this practice, notice the impact of this practice of loving-kindness on your body, heart and soul …


DEVELOPING SELF COMPASSION MEDITATION

  • Settling yourself with your breath … noticing the in-breath … and the out-breath … in a never-ending cycle…. And settle your body once again, being aware of any tensions … adjusting your posture if you need to…  being with yourself in this moment, now, quietly breathing …. (1 minute)
  • Now, I’d like to invite you to think of a situation in your life that is difficult.  Something that is causing you some stress or emotional pain. It doesn’t have to be something big or deeply painful…. It can be fairly everyday … (pause).  Call the situation to mind and heart …   You may find that more than one situation is arising … if that’s happening either actively choose one and settle with it or trust the first one that arose …  You can come back to the other situations in your own time some other time ….  (pause).  Once you’ve settled on something, become aware of the emotions involved in the situation … there may be more than one emotion … that’s fine … just allow whatever is there to simply be ….. (pause). 
  • And now see if you can feel the emotional discomfort that this situation evokes within your body… notice what physical sensations does it give rise to? … You might feel some activation in your solar plexus … or in your heart chakra … or in your head … or back … or some other place in your body … It may be that this situation activates more than one area in your body …. That’s ok … just notice this and let it be …. Breathe with it ….. (pause) …
  • So, you’re bearing witness to your suffering …. When it is translated literally from the Pali and Sanskrit word karuna, “compassion” means experiencing a trembling or quivering of the heart in response to a being’s pain … your pain …
  • Now, we’re going to move through the three components of self-compassion whilst focusing on this situation and the consequent emotions and physical sensations that it gives rise to:
  1. The 1st component of developing self-compassion is: to begin by inviting in an attitude of self-kindness:
  • Being aware if there are judgemental thoughts around (in Sufism we know this state as the blaming or regretful nafs – it’s the activation of the ego or small self that is so ready to find fault) …. and beginning to think of yourself kindly, with care and understanding … letting go of any harsh judgement and negative thought patterns … breathing them out on the exhalation …. (pause)
  • And connecting with a desire to positively alleviate your suffering.  Knowing that you can do something constructive to change your state of mind and heart. 
  • This is an active stance … so beginning now to actively soothe and comfort yourself…  to ease your suffering, by saying these comforting words (or you may like to say another set of words that have more meaning for you):

 

  • You might say: (pause between each phrase)

    – This is a moment of suffering.
    – This is really hard right now.
    – I’m really struggling.
    – This hurts. 
    – This is stressful or makes me angry or anxious or sad or frightened – whatever your emotion might be …
    – Repeat the phrases
    – Just notice for a moment what impact these words have on your emotions and physical body  …. Notice if there’s a softening or a change in your system (pause) … and, if there isn’t, that’s ok … let it be just as it is right now …..


  1. Moving to the second component of developing self-compassion:
    Encouraging recognition of our common humanity:
  • So beginning to foster a sense of connection with others … and seeing your experience as part of the larger human experience. … (pause)
  • And recognising that you’re not alone in this…  This is not to minimise your suffering but to recognise that your suffering is part of being human….  Some suffering is intense and terrible; some is quiet and small …
  • Knowing that developing Common Humanity is recognising the Buddhist principle that life is imperfect, suffering is part of life…  knowing that how you respond to your suffering is what’s important …
  • in this moment, you can choose to respond with self-compassion by repeating the following phrases to yourself (or finding you own):

    Pause between phrases

    – 
    Suffering is part of life.
    – It’s not abnormal to feel this way. 
    – Many people may be feeling this way.
    – I am not alone in this experience.
    Repeat the phrases and pause


  • Now, putting your hand over your heart chakra and feeling the warmth and gentle touch of your hand. Or use some other soothing and gentle touch – you may like to cup your face with your hands or place your hands on your solar plexus or wrap your arms around yourself… whatever feels like the most compassionate touch that you can give yourself in this moment … (pause).  You can hold this compassionate touch if it feels right or release your hands – just as you choose.

 

  1. And moving now into the third component of developing self-compassion - being mindfully aware of your suffering:


  • So, being with the painful feelings just as they are right now… not avoiding  your suffering or pushing it away … as best you can, embracing whatever is present in this moment … as Rumi says in his poem The Guest House, to welcome “our crowd of sorrows” as guests; to “treat them honourably … Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”… So, trying to honour and be with whatever discomfort is present with you now, whether at a physical, mind, heart or soul level …
  •  And repeating the following phrases to yourself (or finding your own words):

     
    May I be kind to myself in this moment. 
    – May I be gentle with myself right now.
    Repeat and pause
    – You may ask yourself the question: 
    “what do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?”
      Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation … may be one of the following:

    Pause between phrases
    – May I give myself the compassion that I need
    – May I learn to accept myself as I am
    – May I forgive myself
    – May I be patient
    – Repeat and pause

 

  • Having moved through these three components of developing self-compassion, tuning in now to how you feel in your body … what sensations are arising …. (pause) … And notice how you’re feeling emotionally …. (pause) … If you’re not feeling self-compassionate, know that that’s ok … that’s how it is in this moment and it could be an opportunity to try to accept your limitations ….

 

Preparing to come out of this practice, feel your feet on the floor and your contact with your seat … notice the noises around you … and gently open your eyes and come back into the room …

 

 

THAT REGAL COAT

HAFIZ


Joy

Is the royal garment

 

And now everyday I could wear

That regal

Coat,

 

But I so love the common man

And feel for all

Their labor

 

I often paint a vast drop

Of compassion

In

 

My

Eye.

 

 

THOUGHTS AND PRACTICES FOR FORGIVENESS – AN INTRODUCTION

A Personal Journey

Why is forgiveness important? Because it cleanses us of resentment; it frees us from the past.

Without forgiveness, we are bound to the other through our anger, bitterness and resentment. We are never free.

Is forgiveness the same as pardoning?

No, it’s not about excusing or exonerating from blame. It doesn’t mean that bad behaviour is no longer bad. It’s not about saying that “it’s all right”, it’s saying, “this no longer hurts me now”.  Forgiveness is about the present, and not about the past.

My own journey with forgiveness starts with my mother. My mother was an unhappy woman, bitter after her divorces, she was landed with two small children (one of whom was learning disabled), having never wanted to have children in the first place. She took her anger and frustration out on me, both physically and emotionally. I was scared of her, and I don’t remember her ever saying she loved me, either as a child or as an adult.

Our relationship didn’t improve as I got older. Even having my own children didn’t ease matters between us, and at one point it became so poisonous that we didn’t speak to each other for 12 years. When we reconnected, she was still cold and hurtful.

Towards the end of her life, a change happened – not from her, but from me.  I was working on compassion as part of my Sufi path, with Ya Racham; Ya Rahim as my daily practice. By this time, she was bed bound, although still completely mentally strong, and being cared for at home.  I was visiting her several times a week. During one visit, I suddenly became aware that I was enjoying being with her! I realized that everything that had happened during my childhood didn’t matter anymore! It didn’t change the fact that I had been abused, but it was no longer part of my present, no longer part of my self-definition, my narrative.  I was no longer “someone who had an abusive childhood”; I was free. And what had happened was that through understanding compassion I had been able to let go of the past.  It didn’t make her behavior to me ok; no, her behaviour had been terrible. But that was then, and this is now, and I could see her and be with her without the past encroaching.  This change, this forgiveness, enabled me to really enjoyed seeing her for the remainder of her life – even though she still never told me she loved me!

After she died (which was in January 2020), I felt at peace with myself and with her, but my understanding grew after she passed when I was able to examine more closely what I had learned from having had the mother I had.

What did I learn? So much!  But an example is that, whilst many children who grow up in similar circumstances take the pain into themselves and become “victims”, I felt outraged by the injustice of it and was filled with a fierce righteous anger. It doesn’t take a psychologist to realise that this is probably what motivated me to become a human rights lawyer.

Nelson Mandela said: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”  Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years.  I was in a prison of my own making for 60 years. 

 

What is forgiveness?

But forgiveness isn’t a single act. It’s a process – something we can revisit over and over again, going deeper into the process and learning more each time.

Martin Luther King said that “forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act.”  It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. He said that forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies.

And forgiveness doesn’t mean that there’s no longer a demand for justice. Although the search for justice is often driven by anger, it needn’t be – and Martin Luther King was a magnificent example of this: his movement was all the more powerful and stronger because it was founded on forgiveness.

The Interfaith Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation says, “Fostering and practising forgiveness has the power to transform memories and deep-seated responses to legacies of injustice, conflict and war. It can liberate people from being imprisoned in their pasts and long ingrained mental and emotional conditions. Faith and spiritual traditions guide and inspire us to awaken the best of our human potential, by practising compassion, mercy, kindness, love, forgiveness and reconciliation, and to positively reshape our destinies.”

And our, Murshid, Pir Hazrat Inayat Khan said:

“Forgiveness is a stream of love, which washes away all impurities wherever it flows. By keeping this spring of love, which is in the heart of man, running, man is able to forgive, however great the fault of his fellow man may seem. One who cannot forgive closes his heart. The sign of spirituality is that there is nothing you cannot forgive, there is no fault you cannot forget. Do not think that he who has committed a fault yesterday must do the same today, for life is constantly teaching and it is possible in one moment a sinner may turn into a saint.

At times it is hard to forgive, as it is hard to take away the thorn that has gone deep into one's heart. But the pain that one feels in taking away the thorn deepest in the heart is preferable to keeping the thorn in the heart constantly. The greater pain of a moment is better than the mild pricking going on constantly. Ask him who forgives what relief there is in forgiveness. Words can never explain the feeling of the heart when one has cast out the bitter feeling from one's heart by forgiving and when love spreads all over within oneself, circulating like warm blood through one's whole being.”[1]

 

Practices to begin to foster forgiveness

I’d like you to think of someone who you feel has wronged you, disrespected you, or upset you. If you can think of no-one, then maybe someone who you just don’t like, or who irritates you.  But for today’s purpose, make it someone towards whom there is at least a little spark of openness – not someone who has wronged you so deeply that you feel you can never even begin to forgive. Because it’s ok to feel that about some people, in some circumstances. Those people are for another, deeper process – at the right time, but only if a little seed of openness has already been planted.  But start with someone   for whom you may, just, maybe, be able to open your heart a little.  Just a crack…


  1. Opening the Heart

Focus on your breathing, being aware of the rhythm of the in and out breaths. After a while, breath into your kalb, the subtle centre in the left of your chest. Let your breath go in and out through your kalb.  Now let your breath turn into light, into a greenish gold light, and breathe that gold light into your subtle centre, seeing the kalb get brighter with each inhalation, and letting the gold light emit from your kalb with each exhalation. 

Now add the fikr, Fattah – the Opener – on your breath, on the inhale and exhale.

Relax back into your regular breath.


  1. Connecting with the Other

Now, I’d like you to focus on the person you identified who you’ll work with today. Close your eyes and really picture them, in as much detail as possible.  You may feel distaste in doing this, but stick with it. See their face, the colour of their hair, their eyes, the way they hold their face. Do they frown? Set their jaw, keep it slack, smile, smirk? Set your own face in the manner of this person.

Now see how they use their body. Can you see them sitting? Walking? Sit like they do. Get up, and walk the way they do, holding your face like theirs. Try to be this person, without judgement, without caricature.  What do you notice? Do you get any insights into the other person, why they use themselves this way? What can you understand from moving like them? Do you get an understanding of their mind and their heart?

Let us assume that we can learn from everything that happens to us, that every experience, even the bad ones, are a gift from the Divine to help us evolve.  Think about this person and what happened. What can you learn from it? What is the gift in this learning? How can you  evolve as a result?


  1. Qassab Practice to Heal the Past

Breathe in L nostril, hold, exhale R nostril – 5x

As inhale, look over your life as a film observing the past.

Hold, knowing anything that needs healing can be healed; the past can be changed.

Exhale, see how the future can be different if the past is healed.

Breath in R nostril, hold, exhale L nostril – 5x

As inhale, imagine a future which is lighter.

Hold, knowing the future can change the past.

Exhale, be with the past that is different.

 

Breathe in both nostrils, hold, exhale both nostrils – 5x

Inhale, acknowledging the present is what it is.

Hold, getting in touch with the Divine world.

Exhale, being in touch with the Lord of my being, the majesty in me, thinking:

“Dhul Jalali wal‘Ikram” – (the source of generosity)

Say Ya Dhal Jalali wal’Ikram – 5x


  1. Wazaif 

Ya Ghaffar; Ya Ghafur x 33

Ya Ghaffar (inexhaustible forgiveness, the All Forgiving); Ya Ghafur (deepest possible forgiveness, The One who completely forgives our faults and sins)

Ya Ghaffar: In the Qoran: Every creature is bound to have perfection and imperfection, or ugliness and beauty, so whoever overlooks the ugly and mentions only the beautiful is one who shares in this attribute. So know that we are all imperfect, we are all in need of forgiveness.

Fikr: Feel your heart opening to the power of divine forgiveness flowing through you, open yourself to be a channel of forgiveness, let the forgiveness enter you, cleanse you, and wipe your own slate clean. Let it fill you, and flow from you with each out breath, out towards all injustice, and out towards the world. 

Fikr A Sirr: Let go of the words and sit in the silence of your mind, allowing the forgiveness in your heart to glow and surround you.

 

  1. Prayer Nayaz

Beloved Lord, Almighty God

Through the Rays of the Sun, through the Waves of the Air

Through the All-Pervading Life in space

Purify and Revivify me, and I pray

Heal my body heart and soul.  AMIN


[1] GATHA II

© Inayatiyya Healing Order (UK) 2020