A reflection piece and poem that I wrote recently and was published in the Newsletter of the Perennial Foundation after the July 2019 Retreat:

Movement and Remembrance: A Reflection on the Hadra

Swaying from left to right and chanting “La ilaha il Allah”, and bowing downward and rising again to the chant “La ilaha il Allah” – both are powerfully rejuvenating mediums of remembrance that will hardly allow the one remembering to finish without feeling energetically transformed – on all three levels of body, heart, and mind. The hadra is a compelling reminder of the impact that occurs when there is a beautiful integration of the three dimensions of religion: sound activity (body realm), sound beliefs/thinking (mind realm), and sound intentions (heart realm). The hadra helps me to focus (meditatively) on the Divine with all three faculties which culminates in a tremendously gratifying experience. In addition, the use of drumming and melodious singing impacts my heart directly: the drum as a solidifying form and the singing as an expansion of the heart. During the hadra I feel at complete ease, and have a greater understanding of what “stillness” means. All of the distracting emotions and thoughts that inundate my heart disperse during the hadra. The movement of my body also helps me to “physically” dispel my thoughts and emotions. The hadra was also one of the components of the Majlis program that immediately caught my heart’s attention when I visited the Baltimore Zawiyah for the first time. It was magical.

The directionality of the specific motions of the hadra are also an aid in increasing my presence and concentration. As I sway to the left (while saying ‘La ilaha’), I focus on negating all false thoughts, ideologies, experiences, and objects that distract me from the Real. When I sway to the right (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirming the existence of the Real, the Source. As I bow (while saying ‘la ilaha’), I aim to submit myself helplessly before His illuminating Presence and acknowledge that there is nothing comparable to Him. When I stand up and slightly bend my knees (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirmation again, and acknowledging His Holy Perfection. The entire process makes one feel like they have just had a “spiritual shower” in which all impurities and negative thoughts have been washed away. Imagine, then, the one whose heart is in a perennial state of ‘hadra’.

Freedom through Observation

My feeling is an object.
One among thousands
A fluctuating and transient
Coming and going
Piercing and fading

That which observes my feeling
Is the Subject.
Real and Permanent
Subsisting and Remaining
Discerning and Illuminating.
The Source.

When I taste this realization
I will surely master
The art of knowing my emotion
Without being enslaved to it.