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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that helps you address problematic emotions, thoughts, and behaviors through examining patterns, promoting change, and devising solutions.
Dr. Aaron Beck first developed CBT in the 1960s as he was working to test psychoanalytic concepts of depression. Rather than yielding the results he was hoping for, he used this process of therapy to help conceptualize depression and began using it on his patients.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can appear to be a complex form of treatment. However, once engaged, you can begin reaping the many successes that come as a result of your therapeutic involvement.
CBT generally includes participation in numerous steps that help change problematic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. First, you will work with your therapist to identify your prominent areas of concern. This can include anything from feeling overly angry to experiencing panic attacks.
For some, there might be more than one issue that plagues them. However, working to identify issues with a therapist can help you decide which issues you want to address first.
Once the main areas of concern are identified, your therapist will work with you to help you become aware of your thoughts and emotions surrounding these issues. This process will be prompted by your therapist, who will encourage you to communicate as much as you can about your thoughts and feelings. This can include determining your personal beliefs, your values, and your perception of the world and others.
Examining self-talk — which is what a person thinks about themselves, their feelings, and their behavior — is also common during this step. It is suggested that you keep a journal at this time so you can document your thoughts.
In CBT, a therapist helps you recognize any negative patterns of thinking or behavior that you communicate or record. A therapist will also work to get you in tune with your physical and emotional responses in preparation for change. Your therapist helps you recognize any negative patterns of thinking and behavior and asks you to challenge your self-talk to impact your behavior.
What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat?
Since Beck’s discovery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has become one of the most widely practiced forms of therapy in the world. Not only has it been used to help the many different forms of depression, but it also works to help treat other mental illnesses, including the following:
- Personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma
- Dissociative Disorders
- Eating disorders, including Body Dysmorphic Disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder
- Gambling and sex addiction
- Substance abuse problems
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
CBT is used to treat adults, as well as children, teens, and young adults who might be experiencing any of these issues and/or closely connected to someone who is.
Evidence Behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been practiced for more than 50 years, and it is considered an evidence-based therapy, which means that it is endorsed by many different studies that prove its overall effectiveness. Since CBT is used for many different forms of mental illness, these studies vary in terms of participants and mental health or behavioral issues.
A systematic review on the use of CBT to treat depression showed that the participants of these studies saw the largest reduction in their symptoms in comparison to other forms of therapy.
A randomized controlled trial for those who struggled with psychosis proved that, with a minimum of nine months of intensive CBT therapy, participants’ symptoms improved greatly and continued to improve over the following nine months post-treatment.
Like many forms of therapy, the effectiveness of the process depends on the participants. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important than an individual strives to develop a strong partnership with their therapist, practice good communication, stick to the treatment plan, and do what is asked of them when they are not in session to help promote positive results from their Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
In this book, the author offers a brief and pragmatic introduction, addressed to clinical practitioners, to European existential philosophy, as well as to existential approaches to psychotherapy. He presents his four ultimate concerns of life—death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness—and discusses developmental changes, psychopathology and psychotherapeutic strategies with regard to these four concerns.
This work is considered, aside his groundbreaking textbook on group therapy The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy(1970), to be among one of Yalom’s most influential books
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was first developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., in the 1970s as a means of treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in women. However, as DBT proved its effectiveness, it was incorporated into treatment for individuals struggling with numerous psychological issues, including depression, anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders.
Today, Dialectical Behavior Therapy is considered to be one of the most clinically proven methods of therapy, as it is backed by a great deal of evidence-based research. The most noticeable success of DBT is that this form of therapy helps you develop strong coping skills devised to help bring about continual recovery from the psychological troubles that are affecting you.
How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Works
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a process of different stages, all of which are developed to help encourage a willingness to get better and obtain healthy coping skills. The DBT process is broken down into four different stages:
- Stage one: Stage one of DBT serves as the foundation on which you will build your success. During this first stage, you will begin learning how to control your behaviors, including those behaviors that prevent you from getting the help you need and/or cause you to harm yourself physically or emotionally. You will also work with a therapist to identify additional disorders that might be occurring simultaneously with your primary disorder.
- Stage two: Rather than bottling up emotional responses, stage two of DBT helps you learn the power of expression. By talking about your emotions, you can learn how to cope with your underlying issues rather than jeopardize your physical and/or psychological health. Here, you will work with your therapist to acknowledge and work through any traumatic experiences and/or emotional struggles that have prevented you from overcoming obstacles in the past.
- Stage three: By combining the skills developed in the first two stages of DBT, you will use stage three to learn how to solve your problems successfully, all while striving to maintain proper functioning in your life.
- Stage four: To wrap up the process of DBT, therapists work with you in stage four to help you reconnect to other individuals in your lives. By working on communication skills and sorting through potential attachment/detachment issues, you can begin learning how to foster positive relationships during this final stage of therapy.
Throughout these stages, you will focus on gaining skills in the areas of emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy is practiced in DBT skills groups, individual DBT therapy sessions, and phone coaching with a DBT therapist. You will use diary cards and chain analysis to track your behaviors and find ways to use the DBT skills you’ve learned.
As part of comprehensive DBT, your treatment team has regular consultation team meetings to help them ensure they are providing you the best treatment possible.
What Dialectical Behavior Therapy Treats
For individuals struggling with serious psychological issues, it can be increasingly difficult to manage them without engaging in some form of therapy. In addition to treating Borderline Personality Disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy also helps treat the following disorders:
- Mood disorders, including depression
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
- Substance abuse
- Other personality disorders, such as Dependent Personality Disorder
With many of the above disorders come numerous behavioral problems, all of which DBT is designed to help treat. Through the many steps of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, individuals dealing with these disorders can address issues such as emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, self-harmful tendencies, self-esteem issues, risky behaviors, and suicidality.
Evidence Behind Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is known as an evidence-based treatment, meaning that there has been a large amount of research done on its effectiveness in treating numerous psychological disorders.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) provided funding for two of the very first studies conducted that proved DBT to be an effective form of treatment for Borderline Personality disorder and co-occurring substance abuse problems. The results of these two reputably funded studies proved that DBT helps reduce hospitalization in individuals struggling with psychological issues and addiction, as well as helps them integrate into social settings with greater ease.
Additional studies on Dialectical Behavior Therapy and its effectiveness on Borderline Personality Disorder highlighted the following results:
- DBT reduces emotional distress, such as depression, anger, suicidal thoughts, and self-esteem issues
- DBT reduces the likelihood of an individual engaging in self-harmful practices
- DBT helps keep individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder tuned into treatment, meaning that very few leave treatment
- DBT helps reduce symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as numerous other psychological disorders
In addition to the many studies conducted on DBT and Borderline Personality Disorder, studies have also been conducted on how well DBT helps treat additional psychological issues. The results of these studies have concluded the following:
- DBT reduces binging and purging behaviors in individuals with eating disorders
- DBT decreases drug use in individuals struggling with opiate addiction
- DBT reduces symptoms of depression
- DBT helps develop stronger coping skills
These studies, plus many more that have been conducted (and continue to be conducted), have proven that Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a highly effective form of treatment for people battling a variety of mental health disorders.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment that can help you develop mindfulness skills that promote psychological flexibility. ACT can also help you to incorporate the use of values to guide behavioral change.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an extension of relational frame theory, which is a theory that specializes in how people learn and understand language. The goal of ACT is to help provide you with the opportunity to learn how to use mindfulness to experience the many emotions of life.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was developed by Steven Hayes, Ph.D., and builds on the “third ware” tradition of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with the use of mindfulness and acceptance strategies to build psychological flexibility.
One of the core tenets of ACT is accepting one’s painful emotions, thoughts, memories, body sensations, and present circumstances in an effort to make suffering optional. Suffering is viewed as non-acceptance, resistance, or avoidance of painful realities in living.
How Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Works
There are six core processes that make up Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, all of which contribute to the overall function of the therapy itself. These six processes are:
- Cognitive defusion. Cognitive defusion is the process of examining your problematic thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and urges. ACT helps to neutralize them through repetitious behaviors and humorous methods.
- Acceptance. Many people who require Acceptance and Commitment Therapy often have difficulty allowing their thoughts to flow effortlessly, as they desire to maintain control over what they are thinking about at all times. By working with a therapist, you can begin allowing yourself to have a free flow of thoughts without fearing and/or battling them when they occur.
- Contact with the present moment. Contact with the present moment — otherwise known as mindfulness — is often practiced in ACT, as it helps you develop a strong sense of awareness. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy cannot work without you being willing to keep contact with the present moment, even if it is full of painful thoughts, feelings, and urges.
- Observing the self. Acting as the reflective part of the mindfulness process, observing the self encourages you to develop and nurture a strong sense of being and contact with the present moment.
- Values. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a value-based treatment, asking you to use some of your core values. ACT also asks you to develop new values based on how you want to be remembered and how you see their life without overidentification with mental illness and problems.
- Committed action. As with all forms of therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy generally comes to a close with the last step, which is to set positive goals that are realistic and attainable for you to achieve through your established values.
From start to finish, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is designed to help you realize your flaws, examine your full potential, and put in place methods of care that will help you carry out successful action to benefit your overall wellbeing.
What Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Treats
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is helpful for a wide variety of people, especially those who are suffering from a psychological or behavioral disorder. Some of the most common disorders treated with ACT include the following:
- Personality disorders, including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Dual diagnosis of an addiction and mental health disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma
- Mood disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder and major depression
- Schizophrenia and other thought disorders
- Chronic pain
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is highly effective when treating these particular disorders, as it helps clients accept their psychological situation and commit themselves to their own personal recovery.
Evidence Behind Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
In the past, small studies of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy programs have had conflicting results because of the extremely small sample. As of 2011, ACT has gained more attention and has been tested in a more detailed manner.
The American Psychological Association labeled ACT an empirically validated treatment for “modest research support” in depression and “strong research support” in chronic pain. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has also reviewed numerous studies pertaining to ACT’s effectiveness and, as a result, considers Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to be an evidence-based therapy.
Though Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is still considered to be a newer form of evidence-based therapy, it is quickly gaining attention for its ability to help change destructive behaviors in individuals struggling with behavioral disorders.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) is a therapy designed to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma. PET was developed and initially studied by Dr. Edna Foa in 1991, and is one of the leading treatments for PTSD.
When used in conjunction with Dialectical Behavior Therapy, PET has been found effective in treating trauma in people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy for trauma, and is a time-limited approach to treatment. Although individual needs will vary, PET is designed to be completed in approximately 10 to 13 90-minute sessions.
How Prolonged Exposure Therapy Works
Prolonged Exposure Therapy is based on the theory that PTSD is maintained by two factors:
- Avoidance of thoughts, memories, and situations associated with trauma, and
- Problematic beliefs about oneself and the world.
For example, a belief that the world is dangerous leads a person to avoid various events and situations. The more a person avoids, the scarier these situations become, which further confirms the belief and perpetuates avoidance.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy aims to eliminate avoidance and challenge problematic beliefs. This is done using two types of exposure procedures: imaginal exposure and in vivo exposure. Imaginal exposure occurs during therapy sessions and involves gradual, repeated retelling of traumatic memories. In vivo exposure includes developing a hierarchy of real-life situations a person avoids, and gradually engaging in those tasks.
The PET therapist serves as a guide throughout this process, offering support, structure, and instilling hope. Both types of exposure procedures are a mechanism to process emotions, test problematic beliefs, and get a healthier perspective.
Who Is Prolonged Exposure Therapy Appropriate For?
Prolonged Exposure Therapy is appropriate for individuals who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PET is appropriate to treat all forms of trauma, including childhood physical or sexual abuse, bullying, military trauma, sexual assault, terrorist attacks, violent crimes, and natural disasters.
Evidence Behind Prolonged Exposure Therapy
The American Psychological Association considers Prolonged Exposure Therapy an empirically validated treatment for PTSD. Prolonged Exposure Therapy has been found effective for reducing PTSD across approximately 13 randomized controlled-trial studies. Findings show that PET reduces symptoms of PTSD, and these gains are maintained when followed up after treatment ends.
Given the high comorbidity of PTSD and personality disorders, newer research has examined whether Prolonged Exposure Therapy works to treat trauma in individuals who also have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This research has included PET as part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and found that PET effectively reduces symptoms of PTSD for suicidal individuals with BPD.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy and DBT
The integration of Prolonged Exposure Therapy and DBT is on the cutting edge of trauma and BPD treatment, and initial research on this model has been promising. The DBT PET model was developed by Drs. Marsha Linehan and Edna Foa, with attention paid to combining these treatments in a way that adheres to the fidelity of both models.
Within the DBT PET model, Prolonged Exposure Therapy is implemented after clients in DBT have had ample time to stabilize and work on life-threatening behaviors. Additionally, DBT skills are used to cope ahead for challenges associated with trauma-focused exposure therapy.
Clients engage in weekly PET sessions, with concurrent once-weekly DBT sessions. Diary cards continue to be reviewed in each session, as are DBT commitment, validation, and motivation strategies. Upon completion of Prolonged Exposure Therapy, DBT sessions continue to assist clients in wrapping up trauma-focused work and shifting focus to building a life worth living, including discharge planning.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is designed to help people who suffer repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. It combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness. The heart of this work lies in becoming acquainted with the modes of mind that often characterize mood disorders while simultaneously learning to develop a new relationship to them. MBCT was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale, based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.
What Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises. Using these tools, MBCT therapists teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause a downward spiral into a depressed state so they will be able to fight off depression before it takes hold.
When It’s Used
MBCT was developed for people with recurring episodes of depression or unhappiness, to prevent relapse. It has been proven effective in patients with major depressive disorder who have experienced at least three episodes of depression. Mindfulness-based relapse prevention may also be helpful for treating generalized anxiety disorders and addictions. MBCT has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression in some people with physical health conditions, such as vascular disease and traumatic brain injury.
What to Expect
MBCT is group therapy, with once-a-week, two-hour sessions, led by your therapist, as part of an eight-week program. You will learn meditation techniques as well as basic principles of cognition, such as the relationship between the way you think and how you feel. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about your depressive condition. On the days when there is no session, there is homework, which includes practicing breathing exercises and mindful meditation.
How It Works
Sometimes normal sadness is a powerful trigger for someone who has recovered from a depressive state to relapse into another bout of depression. Rather than try to avoid or eliminate sadness or other negative emotions, one learns to change their relationship with these emotions by practicing meditation and other mindfulness exercises. These activities rebalance neural networks, allowing the client to move away from automatic negative responses toward an understanding that there are other ways to respond to situations. By developing a routine meditation practice, clients can use the technique whenever they start to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. When sadness occurs and starts to bring up the usual negative associations that trigger relapse of depression, the client is equipped with tools that will help them replace negative thought patterns with positive.
Our life can quickly pass us by when we’re not focused on what matters. We have a bad habit of emphasizing the negative and overlooking the positive. Being mindful can help. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When we are mindful, we carefully observe our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness can also be a healthy way to identify and manage hidden emotions that may be causing problems in our personal and professional relationships. It means living in the moment and awakening to our current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. It has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, improving our overall health, and protecting against depression and anxiety. There is even research suggesting that mindfulness can help people cope better with rejection and social isolation.
This modality is created by Faruk Arslan as MSW, RSW in 2014 at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Faculty of Social Work. His thesis has been received strong attention both from academia and clinical services worldwide. You can free download his thesis at below
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EMERGENT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE- FOUNDATIONS OF SUFI THERAPY
Components of heart-centered Sufi therapy
Sufis regard the soul as the agency for communication with God. It is the higher soul, as
Sufis believe, created before any human being came into existence, consisting of heart (qalb),
spirit (ruh), and conscience (sirr) that has the ability to know God. The sirr is regarded by many
Sufis as representing the “secret shrine of God himself, wherein he knows man and man can
know him” (Al-Sarraj, 2007). As a term, akıl points to the intellectual faculty of human beings
which understands and comprehends the meanings that cannot be recognized through the five
senses. In English, akıl corresponds to mind. Mind is the primary meaning of akıl in Sufism.
However, Sufi texts sometimes use intellect (zihin) or self (nefis) in the definition of akıl.
According to Gülen, these differences represent different functions of the same faculty,
rather than indicating different faculties. In other words, according to Gülen, mind is one faculty
that has different functions; therefore, it is sometimes called intellect (zihin) to refer its function
of sensing, or is called self (nefis) to refer its function of acting (Gülen, 2003). Thus, for Gülen,
mind has different functions. It distinguishes right from wrong, good from evil. It also recognizes
the necessary and the unnecessary, as well as theoretical and practical knowledge. If it can
protect itself from the influences of the carnal self, it can reflect, remember, and comprehend
under the management of the heart and the soul, and, thereby, encourage its owner to spirituality
Although mind is the light and the radiance of Godly knowledge and can comprehend
itself, beings, and occurrences, it is still limited in its comprehension. There are many subjects
which mind is not able to grasp. Therefore, in order to enlarge the comprehension of mind, one
should make his mind follow a few steps behind the heart. In this way, mind passes beyond its
limits and begins to share spiritual gifts that latife-i rabbaniye (Lordly ability),which I will
discuss in the next section, receives from God and gives to people (Gülen, 2003).
In order to acquire knowledge, mind uses two main methods. In its first method, mind
progresses gradually, acts slowly, and finishes its duty over a relatively long period of time.
This method is named tefekkur (reflection). In its second method, mind leaves aside the concept
of time and reaches its aim in its first and sudden attempt. This second method is called hads
(intuition). The Sufi can reach the level of intuition either after intense effort or long experiences.
For Gülen, a Sufi must reach certainty, which is a level of assurance that is beyond the point that
can be reached after using all of the sources of knowledge, including every way of disclosure and
self-supervision. Therefore, even the least degree of certainty can fully enlighten the heart, clean
it of the “dirt” of doubts, and give joy and satisfaction (Gülen, 2006, p. 173).
Gülen explains certainty on three levels (common to traditional Sufi discourse):
1. Ilmel-yakin (the knowledge of certainty): to reach the strongest belief and conviction
of all the essentials of faith by means of proofs.
2. Aynel-yakin (the eye of certainty): to reach the indescribable gnosis through
unveiling, disclosure, and feelings.
3. Hakkal-yakin (the truth of certainty): to reach the unity with God without any
Veil (Gülen, 2006, p. 173).
Certainty is a process, and Gülen approaches it in the following way: In the beginning,
certainty requires effort from the Sufi; while in the end, it appears as grace from God. In the
beginning there might be unease, while at the end, unimaginable serenity replaces it. Certainty
also may begin with unveiling; then disclosure (mukaşefe) follows it; and, finally, disclosure
gives way to observation (muşahede); and all of these levels indicate a different stage in the
process of certainty (Gülen, 2006, pp 173-174).
According to Gülen, self-possession, steadfastness, seriousness, profundity, and
resolution are the main aspects of the gnostic. Therefore, in his Sufi teaching, there is no room
for any laxity, impertinence, or conceit. For him, the more the Sufi knows and obtains gnosis, the
more he follows self-possession (tamkin) and steadfastness (Gülen, 2000, p. 147).The results of
gnosis are not restricted to this world. According to Gülen, there will be another result of gnosis
in the hereafter, which is to see God himself, according to the Sufi’s level of gnosis.
There are different ways of extracting knowledge of gnosis. In Sufism, hads (spiritual
analogy) is the instant and natural transition of thought from premises of mind to conclusions in
the heart (Eris, 2006). Hads (an Arabic and Ottoman word, literally meaning “supposition” or
“conjecture”) is a term frequently used in Risale-i Nur and Gülen’s writings to describe another
way of gaining esoteric knowledge. Some scholars think of hads as intuition or feeling, yet I
prefer to call it spiritual analogy. There are two reasons for this. First, hads occurs in the heart,
and therefore is explicitly spiritual.
In this regard, Nursi and Gülen use the term hads-i kalbi (hads of the heart). Second,
hads is not a type of knowledge lacking bases and premises; it corresponds instead to a type of
logical structure more like an analogy. In many parts of Risale-i Nur, he talks about underlying
premises which denote the analogical aspect of hads and Gülen wrote his poems mostly through
inspiration. A careful reading of Nursi and Gülen’s writings draw me to the following
conclusions about spiritual analogy: Hads brings certain knowledge and it depends on
indications, observations, and premises which naturally compel the person to draw conclusions
from the analogy. For instance, from the observation of the resurrection of plants in springtime,
one concludes that there is necessarily resurrection in the hereafter. The most intense form of
spiritual analogy is inspiration (Eris, 2006, p.11).
Gülen provides “the self-supervision without a guide” model in Sufism which is ideal for
the heart-centred Sufi mindfulness therapy. A Sufi must have three implications for the self: self
supervising, self-criticizing and self-control. The main idea in Sufism is Allah who sees, knows
you best, hears your speech. The Sufi Meditation targets perfect goodness, worshipping as if
seeing God: though you don’t see him, He surely sees you. A Sufi should guard the self against
the desires of the flesh and supervise the mind with unwavering sincerity and meet God in the
private place deep in the heart. Reflection focuses on thinking of the depth of God’s Mercy with
love whatever your state, this is the first step. In any deeds, day or night, you must open your
heart, for God constantly watches while you observe nature.
Accepting the self as worthless is what He decrees, and thus self-supervising sets up a
screen against evil thoughts and passions, and all acts attend to God’s rights. Willing submission
to the Will and the wishes of Him will develop your nafs from the lower self to the pure soul if
you have an open-eyed heart, and not simply blind flesh.
My poem points to the source of power Sufis rely on as follows:
The All-Seeing warning against evil actions/ The All-Hearing admonishing care in your speech/ The All-Knowing informing, He knows full your nature/God watches over all things, corrupt considerations/Then turn to God with a heart that’s at rest/ Reciting God’s names patiently within/ Physical or spiritual attachment not needed/God can be reached without aid of a guide.
Sufi Therapy in Mental Health
Depression is a major public health problem, in part because, like other chronic
conditions it tends to run a relapsing course (Judd, 1997; Keller et al., 1984). Without treatment,
people suffering recurrent depression experience relapse at rates as high as 80% (Frank et al.,
1990; Kupfer et al., 1992; Prien & Kupfer, 1986). In response to this, I have challenged existing
mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT)
models, and created a new Sufi therapy model with a specific focus on “preventing depression,
anxiety and stress, as well as relapse/recurrence of depression” (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale,
Sufi therapy is related to MBCT and ACT models which were themselves derived from a
model of cognitive vulnerability to depressive relapse that assumes that individuals who have
previously experienced episodes of major depression differ from those who have not in terms of
the patterns of negative thinking that become activated in a mildly depressed mood (Segal,
Williams, Teasdale, & Gemar, 1996; Teasdale, 1988; Teasdale, Segal, & Williams, 1995).
Specifically, it is assumed that in recovered depressed patients, compared with never-depressed
controls, dysphoria is more likely to activate patterns of self-devaluative depressogenic thinking,
similar to those that prevailed in preceding episodes. Considerable evidence supports this
assumption (Ingram, Miranda, & Segal, 1998; Segal, Gemar, & Williams, 1999).
I suggest that depression, anxiety and stress can be healed by self-acceptance and keeping
the focus always on what is good for patients. Repeated associations between a depressed mood
and negative thinking patterns during successive episodes of major depression increase the
tendency for “depressogenic thinking” to be reactivated subsequently by a depressed mood
(Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002). This provides an explanation for the findings that risk of
further episodes increases with every consecutive episode, and that successive episodes of major
depression require less and less external provocation by stressful life events (Kendler, Thornton,
& Gardner, 2000; Lewinsohn, Allen, Seeley, & Gotlib, 1999; Post, 1992).
My experience suggests that the processes mediating against depression, anxiety, stress,
relapse/recurrence become more autonomous with repeated experiences of depression. If a
transcendent person can learn to be aware of negative thinking patterns reactivated during
dysphoria and disengage from those ruminative depressive cycles (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991), then
Sufi therapy can change negative to positive thinking patterns. Sufi therapy is designed to
achieve these aims with the Emergent Spiritual Practice.
Sufi Spiritual Journeying
In fact, what the Sufi Psychiatry calls “spiritual journeying” is one of the significant ways
of advancing toward and reaching the certain events which touch the spirit, rouse distress and
may cause physical ailments that we call psychosomatic illnesses (Gülen, 2000, p. 216). Sufi
experiences are diverse and include the domains of thought, perception, and feeling. The satanic
characteristics such as haughtiness, arrogance, egotism, jealousy, injustice, and enmity, all break
the wings of the spirit (Gülen, 2000, p. 218). The Seven Sufi themes of reflection, by contrast:
patience, purity of intention, thankfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness and presentation, and
God as the ever-forgiver, may have a significant impact in changing the negative cognitive
schemas and coupled with the Sufi practices of remembrance of God (zikr) and thankfulness
(shukr), may provide an appropriate framework for spiritually augmented cognitive behavior
therapy for the Sufi believers. Based on this new therapy model, every single person needs to
reach the purified soul which is the double of the spirit, continuously trying to keep away from
evil, and always advancing toward good until it finally comes to this point: human perfection as
The Sufi Assessment
The assessment of Sufi beliefs and practices has to be tailored to the individual patient. The
assessment may best be deferred in an acutely-ill patient unless Sufi concerns contribute to the
acute condition. As a routine, a brief assessment may be followed by a more thorough one on an
as needed basis. Several brief assessment methods have been proposed for the assessment of
spirituality in general that may help screen the patients for further in-depth assessment (Koenig
& Pritchett, 1998, p.323). The four spiritual areas suggested by Koenig and Pritchett to be
screened in any psychiatric evaluation seem a good starting point, but need to be modified for
assessment of Sufi beliefs and practices. The initial assessment should include:
1. Faith: What is the importance of faith in day-to-day life? An increasing number of people
from different religious faiths, besides Islam, are following Sufi beliefs and practices and
hence considerable admixtures of beliefs and practices should be expected.
2. Influence: What is the influence of faith on life, past and present? The Sufi practices of
self-mortification may, apart from influencing the belief system, lead to significant
changes in the practical life, which needs to be understood in proper perspective.
3. Community: Are there affiliations with any religious or spiritual community? Almost all
Sufi believers belong to one or other lineage (silsila) which may significantly differ in
terms of beliefs and practices from one another. An exploration of the lineage would
provide a framework to understand a particular individual’s view point vis-à-vis health
4. Address: Are there spiritual needs to be addressed? The Sufi teacher with whom the
given individual has held the oath of allegiance may need to be incorporated in the
treatment plan to fulfill the spiritual needs.
5. An in-depth interview, from a clinical as well as a spiritual perspective, may follow this
depending upon the needs of the patient as uncovered during the screening (Josephson &
Peteet, 2004, pp. 15-17).
After an initial individual orientation session, the Sufi therapy program must be delivered
by an instructor, or a guide, in 10 weekly sessions at the beginner level, involving two hour
group-training sessions with up to 10-12 depressed patients. During that period, the program
includes daily homework exercises, prayers, and meditation as dhikr. Homework invariably
includes some form of guided (taped) or unguided awareness exercises directed at increasing
moment-by-moment nonjudgmental awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings,
together with exercises designed to integrate application of awareness skills into daily life for
self-control, self-purification and self-realization (Teasdale & Ma, 2004). Spiritually augmented
cognitive behavior therapy is primarily a cognitive behavior therapy which incorporates the
individual’s belief system, specifically the spiritual, to focus on the existential issues. The
therapist works with the individual’s spiritual beliefs and practices such as meditation, prayer,
etc., but at no point attempts to instill his own beliefs or any beliefs not held by the patient into
the therapeutic process. The therapy spans 10 sessions, each session lasting 120 minutes,
conducted once a week. The therapy could be demonstrated efficacy in controlled trials with
“reduction of relapse and re-hospitalization” in the treatment group (D’Souza, 2009, p. 517).
The Sufi model is discussed in depth in the next chapter in order to offering forty
teachings for Sufi therapy, and it is there that I offer my ten-week long Sufi therapy.
Offering Forty Teachings for Sufi Therapy
Gülen’s mentor Said Nursi, who died in 1960, was one of the pivotal Muslim scholars of
the twentieth century to establish positive psychology and psychiatry, and the idea of dialogue
and alliance within our soul, mind and heart in his work The Risale-i Nur Collection. Nursi
defends the idea that people of religion and truth need to unite sincerely with the truly pious and
spiritual ones among the Christians and other believers, temporarily refraining from the
discussion and debate of points of difference in order to combat their joint enemy—the carnal,
tyrannical, lower self (Eris, 2006, p.11). The Risale-i Nur illustrates the importance of a faith
based approach to concepts of vicegerency and trust, expanding on the meaning of vicegerency
and how this significant role is developed and nurtured, particularly in response to the human
ego or self (Markham, 2009, p. 179). Furthermore, in the Twentieth Gleam, Nursi advises the
following principle to resolve psychological conflicts within ourselves. I will explain these
sections by paraphrasing Nursi’s conflict resolution principles in the context of human nature in
I used spiritual analogy through inspiration when I was writing my poems, and that
wisdom led me to select forty Sufi techniques from both Gülen and Nursi’s wisdom:
Sufi Technique One: The human self is prone to make mistakes and deviate from the right path.
Therefore, while dialoging with the self, you should not trust yourself, but God, and always seek
his help and forgiveness (Gülen, 2006). Qur’an says: Yet I do not claim my self free of error, for
assuredly the human carnal soul always commands evil, except that my Lord has mercy (which
saves us from committing evil acts). (Qur’an, Yusuf 12:53)
Sufi Technique Two: All your actions should always be based on positive motives: remove all
negative thoughts, moods and aspects. That is to say, what motivates your actions should be the
love of your own outlook, not the enmity of others’ outlooks. You represent your outlook not to
diminish the outlook of others (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Three: You should only aim for our Lord’s good pleasure, not the acceptance of
other people, because “if Almighty God is pleased, it is of no importance even should the whole
world be displeased” (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2000).
Sufi Technique Four: God commands in the Qur’an (Qur’an, Baqara 2:41), “…do not sell My
Revelations for a trifling price” (such as worldly gains, status, and renown). Therefore, in your
daily activities, you should not water down your beliefs, rules and dignity (Eris, 2009; Nursi,
2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Five: If you want to dialogue with the members of other communities, you should
accept them in their position and not criticize their religious beliefs and practices. If you like to
be respected in your own beliefs, you should respect the beliefs of others. Similarly, you should
not excite the envy of the members of other cultures by displaying or implying superior virtues
(Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Six: Your primary aim in daily activities is God’s good pleasure and his help.
Seeking faith alliance is your secondary aim. In other words, you seek faith alliance with your
soul because it attracts God’s help and support to you. Therefore, if you cannot establish faith
alliance with the members of other faculties of your conscience and the heart after all of your
sincere efforts, you should not be disappointed. For God is the helper of his sincere servants and
no alliance can be superior to God’s alliance. God is enough (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen,
Sufi Technique Seven: In daily activities, by focusing on commonalities such as a shared land, a
shared language, our common humanity, universal needs and fears, and so on, you will recognize
again that what you have in common far exceeds what sets you apart from others (Eris, 2009;
Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Eight: You need unity and inclusion within your soul and among the People of
the Book far more than division and exclusion. For now leave aside discussion of the issues that
divide you (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Nine: In your daily activities, you should keep in mind that unity among believers
and the People of the Book attracts for you the help of our Creator against irreligion (Eris, 2009;
Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Ten: The aim of your daily dialogue within yourself is not to argue with the
carnal self, or selfishness. In order to refrain from argumentation, you should know that one who
prevails in an argument finds himself in a dangerous position with tyrannical nafs because you
might fall into arrogance in your heart. You should learn new knowledge of God and your heart
must remain safe from arrogance (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Eleven: In your daily activities, you should be truthful and sincere towards other
people because the people who are sincere in their heart will most probably be sincere in their
dialogue within their soul (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Twelve: If you wish to defeat your enemy, the carnal self, respond to this evil
with good. For if you respond with evil, enmity will increase, and even though the bad deed will
be outwardly defeated, you will nurture hatred in your heart, and hostility will persist. But if you
respond to the carnal self with good, the tyrannical self will repent and become your friend (Eris,
2009; Nursi, 2012, Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Thirteen: You should keep in mind that you have a unique personality and people
all have different characters, and that one bad character in a group does not mean that all the
people of that group have a similar character (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009). In other
words, it would be wrong to generalize one person’s mistake to the whole community. The
Qur’an says, “no soul, as bearer of burden, bears (and is made to bear) the burden of another”
(Qur’an, Fatir 35:18).
Sufi Technique Fourteen: Do not forget! You could have negative aspects attached to your soul.
Similarly, one negative aspect of a person does not necessitate that the person is bad as whole
(Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Fifteen: In your daily activities, all that you say should be true, but you should
not say all that is true. For one of insincere intention may sometimes take unkindly to advice, and
react to it unfavourably (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Sixteen: In times when evil actions prevail, you need more than unity, friendship,
and inclusion. You need to ally with good people, do not stay alone with your carnal self for a
second (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Seventeen: In times of conflict of opinions you should act in a positive way, not a
negative one. That is to say, you should strive to promote and diffuse your own belief, not
seeking to tear down and destroy that of the other, but rather to improve and reform it (Eris,
2009; Nursi, 2012, Gülen 2000).
Sufi Technique Eighteen: Keep in your mind that you should remember that insisting upon
consensus in your methods and approaches after finding agreement upon your aims and goals
might be a fruitless hope and wish (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Nineteen: At every stage of your daily activities, the following principle must be
your guide: Love for the sake of God, dislike for the sake of God, judge for the sake of God
(Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Twenty: The principle of justice runs like a red thread through life. Whoever
strives for justice will have to develop ample patience and forbearance, and whoever does this
has done justice to the cause of religion and has led a life of good repute. The Qur’an is rich in
references to justice: to Divine Justice as one of God’s attributes, and to the justice that it is
incumbent upon humans to respect. So central to Islamic belief is justice that al-‘Adl— “the
Just”—is one of the ninety-nine names, or attributes, of God (Gülen, 2009).
Sufi Technique Twenty-One: As one’s faith increases in relation to one’s knowledge, one’s
certainty and humility also increases towards his Lord (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Markham, 2009;
Sufi Technique Twenty-Two: Faith, heart, soul, and intellect must function synergically to
empower people of faith and knowledge fully. Do not get so much education that you lose your
faith. There is sometimes an assumed tension or even conflict between learning and faith. When
you become aware that connection is needed between the mind and heart and soul you can be an
ally of faith in that you can strengthen your faith by strengthening your mind (Eris, 2009; Nursi,
2012; Markham, 2009; Gülen, 2005).
Sufi Technique Twenty-Three: The more solidly rational and educated is the support for the faith,
the stronger the faith will be and the more powerful the witness will be to an increasingly
educated, skeptical, seeking, needy world. You must actively promote the use of reason and
intellect in building, and as a tool in the philosophical battles of the modern world (Eris, 2009;
Nursi, 2012; Markham, 2009; Gülen, 2005).
Sufi Technique Twenty-Four: Integrating truth provides the world with meaning and coherence.
Integration itself is embodied in such thinking and processes as the inclusion of the whole
person—heart, soul, and mind—in all activities, worship, work, thinking, feeling, studying,
deciding and interpreting (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Markham, 2009; Gülen, 2004).
Sufi Technique Twenty-Five: Without integration, faith tends to become an emotional
commitment and response, relying exclusively on feelings which can change more easily than an
intellectually-grounded and reinforced belief (Eris, 2009; Nursi, 2012; Markham, 2009; Gülen,
Sufi Technique Twenty-Six: Be certain of this, that the highest aim of creation and its most
important result is belief in God. The most exalted rank in humanity and its highest degree are
the knowledge of God contained within belief in God. The most radiant happiness and sweetest
bounty for jinn and human beings is the love of God contained within the knowledge of God.
And the purest joy for the human spirit and the sheerest delight for man’s heart is the rapture of
the spirit contained within the love of God. Indeed, all true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties,
and untroubled pleasure lie in knowledge of God and love of God; they cannot exist without
them (Gülen, 2000; Nursi, 1995, p. 265).
Sufi Technique Twenty-Seven: Humans have been created with the “delicate senses” and
“sensitive faculties” in relation to two main goals set for humanity. First, that they would use
these faculties to give thanks and worship God in a comprehensive way; with knowledge,
awareness, and appreciation of His numerous and diverse bounties. Second, that they would
employ these senses and faculties to witness the manifestations of God’s attributes and believe in
them, responding to God’s desire to make Himself known to humankind. Humanity’s perfection
can be achieved only through these aims. Through their attainment, “insan [human being]
becomes a true human being” (Gülen , 2006; Nursi, 1995, p. 139).
Sufi Technique Twenty-Eight: To be a true human being is to have faith; to come to know the
Divine through His attributes, and worship God; adoring the Almighty through acts of love, such
as prayer. The Qur’an declares that human beings are created for the worship of God
alone. Knowledge of Divine attributes is the vital element in the journey of human beings
toward becoming a perfect adorer of their Creator. Ask for pardon through Divine forgiveness,
and by realizing your deficiency be glorifiers of Divine perfection (Gülen, 2009; Nursi, 1995, p.
Sufi Technique Twenty-Nine: Belief is the highest aim of life. True happiness is only found in
belief enriched with the knowledge of God, through reading His signs in everything, and
enriching it by loving all for the sake of God. With this perception, true enjoyment, pain-free
pleasure, grief-free joy, and life’s happiness are only to be found in belief and in the sphere of
the truths of belief (Gülen, 2009; Nursi, 1996, p. 163).
Sufi Technique Thirty: When God granted self-knowledge as a component of measurement it
served as a key to unlock the hidden treasure of the knowledge of the Divine names. Expanding
on ‘I’ as the unit of understanding God’s immense attributes, as examples of a person’s insight,
“Like I am the owner of this house, so too is the Creator the owner of the universe.” And with its
partial knowledge, it may understand His knowledge, and with its small amount of acquired art,
it may understand the originative art of the Glorious Maker. For example, the ‘I’ says: “As I
made this house and arranged it, so someone must have made the universe and arranged it,” and
so on. Thousands of mysterious states, attributes, and perceptions which make known and show
to a degree all the Divine attributes and functions are contained with the ‘I’. That is to say, the ‘I’
is mirror-like, and, like a unit of measurement and tool for discovery, it has an indicative
meaning; having no meaning in itself, it shows the meaning of others (Gülen, 2005; Nursi, 1996,
Sufi Technique Thirty-One: The ‘I’ as “a unit of measurement” with which “the attributes of
dominicality and functions of Divinity might be known.” The ‘I’ helps human beings “draw a
hypothetical and imaginary limit.” The ‘I’ imagines in itself a fictitious dominicality, ownership,
power, and knowledge: it draws a line. By doing this it places an imaginary limit on the all
encompassing attributes, saying, “Up to here, mine, after that, His”; it makes a division. With
the tiny units of measurement in itself, it slowly understands the true nature of the attributes
(Gülen , 2009; Nursi, 1996, p. 559).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Two: A human being is such an unique work of art of Almighty God. He is
a most subtle and graceful miracle of His power whom He created to manifest all His Names and
their inscriptions, in the form of a miniature specimen of the universe (Gülen , 2009; Nursi,
Sufi Technique Thirty-Three: The human being is the choice result of the universe and the most
important creature in the view of the Creator. A human is “the summary and result of the
universe, and God’s vicegerent on earth, and its delicate fruit.” The position of vicegerency,
with the acceptance of the Trust, exalts human beings to an elevated rank over the rest of
creation and charges them with the duty of caretaker of other beings in the universe (Gülen ,
2000; Nursi, 1996, pp 42-43).
Sufi Technique Thirty Three: God’s names are real, their reflections should be real too. The
philosophy of the “oneness of being” is wrong when there is no being except God; because the
universe, which is the most comprehensive mirror for the names of God, is real. Especially,
names like The Merciful, The Sustainer, The Crusher, The Compeller, and The Creator need to
have a real mirror, which is the universe, so that they can be reflected therein. Without a real and
needy being, The Merciful and The Sustainer cannot be reflected (Gülen, 2009; Nursi, 1996, p.
Sufi Technique Thirty-Four: God’s names are everlasting. Therefore, they desire to eternally be
reflected on behalf of God’s holy essence. As a result, their mirrors should be everlasting,
because if there is no everlasting mirror, then there is no place (i.e. no place at all times) for the
names of God to reflect. Moreover, there is never ending action going on in the universe caused
by the ongoing reflections of the names of God (Gülen, 2009; Nursi, 1996, p. 452).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Five: Even the calamities that human beings experience in their lives are
results of God’s names, so that life can become purified and developed (Gülen, 2006; Nursi,
1996, p. 366).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Six: Every name of God has layers in it. For instance, there is a difference
between the creation of a single human, on the one hand, and the enormous universe, on the
other; and this difference refers to the difference between the layers of the names of God, the
Creator. Therefore, to be able to reach the highest layer of the name of the Creator, one needs to
pass beyond the whole universe and see God as the Creator of everything (Gülen , 2009; Nursi,
1996, p. 143).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Seven: The spiritual treasures of God’s names are hidden in the earth and
the sky. You are helpless, but rich in poverty by saying, “I am transient, so I don’t desire one
who is transient. I am humbly helpless, so I don’t desire one who is humbly helpless. I submitted
my soul to the most Merciful, so I don’t desire any one else. I desire nothing but only a Beloved
who is eternal. I am nothing, but I desire everything” (Gülen , 2006; Nursi, 1996, p. 116).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Eight: The lover is the happiest and the saddest person in the world. When
he\she is excited with the idea of union with his Beloved, he\she could refuse even paradise and
choose to be with Him instead. In this case, there can be no happier person than him. On the
other hand, when he\she is burning with the fire of separation, even the rivers of the paradise
could not extinguish his burns. In this case, there can be no person sadder than him. Another
feeling that closes the doors of human heart to everything other than God is sadness. Sadness is
the sorrow that the Sufi feels due to his responsibilities, duties, and goals (Gülen, 2006).
Sufi Technique Thirty-Nine: The close relationship with the pure self is also an indication of the
closeness of human beings to the Creator, because the whole of creation is created by God for the
needs of human beings, and because human beings are deeply in need of God. This correlation
indicates a very strong relationship between human beings and God. Therefore, it can be said
that human beings and their servanthood are the purpose of creation (Gülen, 2000, p. 40).
Sufi Technique Forty: A human being who has discovered the meaning of servanthood and
instantiated it in his\her own life is a witness of the Real and a guide to others. One whose
thoughts are as pure as his\her beliefs and whose conduct is fully consistent with his/her true
nature as servant of God always reminds people of God and becomes a witness for His Presence
wherever he or she goes. And he\she becomes a fountain from which others around may imbibe
(Gülen, 2000, p. 30).
TEN-WEEK LONG SUFI THERAPY
Session One: Remembrance of God
Harmonizing your seven souls and learning seven main categories is not an easy process;
the Sufi therapy begins with developing a deep inner peace by calming and brightening your
mind so that everything is within you, and all you need to do is to uncover it. The battle with our
negative ego is an inner struggle; we have to fight on the spiritual path. A good human being is
one who remembers God no matter what happens. The world is designed to make us forget, our
job is to remember (Frager, 1999, p.131). Conscience is one of the proofs for God’s existence
The therapist must explain that one of the great Sufi practices is that of remembrance of
God. Remembrance is the repetition or invocation of a mystical formula or divine name which
allows the patient to practice, and which leads to sincerity of intention, awareness, and
concentration. Remembrance provides a temporary inner state (hal) and a stable inner station
(makam) in which invocation and mindfulness have become constant. A Sufi’s tongue, heart and
soul must attain to the state of constant inner prayer ((Frager, 1999, p.160).
Each prayer, I recite 99 times Al-hamdu li-llah (All praise be to God) is a Qur’anic
sentence meaning, according to Arabic syntax and semantics, that every praise that has been or
ever will be uttered by any being to anyone else is, in reality, for and deserved by the Necessarily
Existent Being: God. (Nursi, 2007, p. 385). I also recite 99 times, “HasbunAllahi Wani’mal
wakeel” Allah (alone) is sufficient for us (Qur’an 3:173). By leaving your affairs to Allah, by
depending upon Him, by trusting in His promise, by being pleased with His decree, by thinking
favourably of Him, and by waiting patiently for His help, you reap some of the greater fruits of
faith and display the more prominent characteristics of the believer. When you incorporate these
qualities into your character, you will be at peace concerning the future, because you will depend
on your Lord for everything. As a result, you will find care, help, protection, and victory.
When Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) was placed in the fire, he said, “Allah (Alone) is
sufficient for us, and he is the best disposer of affairs (for us).” Thereupon, Allah made the fire to
be cool, safe, and peaceful for Prophet Abraham. No person by himself is capable of fighting
against the current of misfortune, nor can he fend off the blows of disaster when they strike. This
is because man was created weak and fragile. However, when in times of difficulty, the believer
places his dependency and trust with his Lord; he knows that all difficulties can be overcome.
“And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed” (Qur’an 5:23). The verse: God is the
All-Provider, the Possessor of Strength, the Steadfast (51:58) is so strong and firm a proof that
all vegetation, animals, and babies announce it (Nursi, 2007, p. 404). The Qur’an constantly
urges people to reason and investigate, as seen in such verses as: Will you not use your reason?
Will they not ponder? Will they not reflect? It gives people of reasoning and knowledge a very
high and important position. Each week, the therapist provides a special homework to patients,
follow up them next week in which are including reading, dhikr, prayers and concepts, Table 7.
Table 7- Homework for Session One
Reading Sufi Dhikr Reflection Self-Criticism Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique One Sufi Technique Two Sufi Technique Three Sufi Technique Four Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Remembrance Self-Journeying Sincerity Purity
Session Two: Protection
This session starts to teach the memorization of one important short prayer for a life time:
“Bismillahillazi la yadurru ma’asmihi syai’un fil ardi walaa fissama’ii, Wa huwassami ul
‘alim.” The translation is “In the name of Allah, by whose name nothing is harmed! Neither on
earth nor in the heavens and He is the all-Seeing, the all-Knowing.” According to Hadith,
Prophet Mohammad said whoever recites this prayer (dua) three times in the evening and the
morning: “He\she will not suffer affliction until the morning and if anyone says this in the
morning, he/she will not suffer sudden affliction until the evening” (Abu Dawud, Sahih 5069).
There is another hadith that also suggests reciting this prayer whenever you use any
transportation three or seven times, in order to seek protection from Allah.
Gülen provided this prayer to me personally in a handwritten note in December 1991 in
Istanbul, and I have been reciting it on a daily basis for over twenty three years myself. I do not
recommend any prayers to my patients if I do not use them myself. I have been following several
verses from Qur’an as the nearness of the mystery to those who do not know it is like God’s
nearness to His servant, as proclaimed in His words, “We are nearer to Him than you, but you do
not see”(Qur’an 56:83) and His words, “We are nearer to Him than His jugular vein” (Qur’an
50:16) Despite this nearness, the servant does not perceive or know anything; no one can know
what is within himself until it is revealed to him moment by moment.
Gülen always talks about the changes and alterations at the levels of nature, divine law,
social life and personal life, and sees all of these changes as the reflection of the tablet of
effacement and confirmation. At the level of nature, ecosystems, species, and the face of the
earth, all the worlds are subject to changes and alterations. The mind is always fed through the
channels of consciousness, and it has an important source of information: the power of
perceptiveness. This power is there when people sense, feel, or perceive the things around them
(Gülen, 2000, p. 202). Homework, see Table 8.
Table 8- Homework for Session Two
Reading The Soul Spiritual Heart The spirit The Self Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Five Sufi Technique Six Sufi Technique Seven Sufi Technique Eight Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Protection Freedom
Session Three: Forgiveness
If you are going through very difficult things in your life right, a way to cope is found
through special prayers, and the only way is turn to Allah. Gülen’s advice to me was from a
prophetic supplication as follows: The Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
said, “The supplication of my brother Dhun Nun (Yunus, peace be upon him), who called on
Allah while in the whale’s belly: ‘There is no deity but You. Glory be to You! Verily, I have
been among the wrongdoers’ (Quran 21:87). No Muslim person says it, for any situation
whatsoever, except that Allah Most High answers his call.” [Tirmidhi] In Arabic is “La ilaha
illa Anta, Subhanaka, inni kuntu mina z-zalimin.” I recommend memorizing the Arabic version
and saying this prayer seven times in a day.
As a Sufi, when I am hurt, insulted or face injustice, I have three options in dealing with
these feelings: I can forgive, ignore and forget. Some individuals may choose to hate, harbour
grudge and rancour, and live to seek revenge. Both choices are hard. But their results are
opposite. Hatred, bitterness and hostility intoxicate your body (Hallowel, 2004). Negative
feelings can throw you into frustration, stress, anxiety, depression; they can weaken your system
and make your nerves tense. Anger, rancour and revenge are debilitating sentiments that poison
the soul and add nothing but pain. Harbouring animosity and bitterness consumes a tremendous
amount of valuable energy. Sufi therapy uses forgiveness as a tool that transcends the soul and
frees you from your destructive negative energy.
Forgiveness heals you not only emotionally, but also physically and mentally (Ayad,
2008, p. 331). It is worth it to get rid of the burden of anger, hatred and in order to receive
support. Forgiveness is a prevailing feature of Sufi therapy, one that promotes a person’s positive
emotions, reduces anxiety and stress and readjusts hormonal balance, blood pressure and heart
rate. As a matter of fact, lots of people refuse to forgive, thinking it a sign of weakness; they
think that by forgiving they are surrendering to their offenders. On the contrary, by forgiving you
cease to be the victim of hatred and anger, and you triumph over your own evil. Sufis believe
that whosoever is patient and forgives, indeed is of the steadfast heart of things. Whoever
worries too much sickens their own body. A Sufi keeps imploring until he or she reaches to the
highest rank where the self is really purified. God deposited within human beings knowledge of
all things, and then blocked them from perceiving them; this is one of the divine mysteries that
reason denies totally and thinks impossible (Harvey & Hanut, 1999, p. 35). The best test of faith
lies in showing forbearance and forgiveness.
I sought forgiveness through the most beautiful words during my erbain period. I recited
several prayers from the Sufi tradition such as: “My God, Surely I have been one of the
wrongdoers, have mercy on me,” “Forgive all believers; you are the Most Merciful of the
merciful,” “O my Lord! I try my best to keep my covenant with You,” “I seek refuge in You
from the evil of what I have done,” “ I acknowledge Your favors upon me, acknowledge my
sins,” “So, forgive me, for truly no one forgives sins except You, ” “I beg for help. Rectify all
my states and leave me not to myself. Even for a moment shorter than the blinking of an eye! I
am helpless. Increase my knowledge let not my heart stray after You have guided me.”
Homework, see Table 9.
Table 9- Homework for Session Three
Reading Humility Suffering Sorrow Confidence Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Nine Sufi Technique Ten Sufi Technique Eleven Sufi Technique Twelve Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Forgiveness Freedom
Session Four: Purity of Intention
The Prophet Mohammad said: Have compassion. God shows compassion to those who
show compassion to others. Show mercy to those on earth, so that God in heaven may show
mercy to you (Hadith). Every soul fears death, but must come to the end. Cherishing ambitions
strengthens the desire to live. Time obliterates the ambitions of humans. The soul multiplies
ambitions, but death brings an end. A Sufi needs to purify his\her life intentions and goals, by
seeking the abode of the Hereafter in what God has given you. Forget not your portion of the
world, avoid traps in the world’s journeying that conceal much destruction. The enjoyment of
this world is short; the Hereafter is eternal for those who obey God’s commands, filled with His
fear. The soul weeps in desire for the world even though salvation lies in renouncing it. There is
no such abode after death, therefore renounce it before. The first step is the will and intent to
avoid what has been forbidden and what is deviant, engaging only in what is allowed. The
second is care even with what is allowed. A Sufi shows no pull toward worldly attractions, and
prefers to serve God over every other thing. The carnal self is our the real enemy. Humility is the
opposite of arrogance, haughtiness and pride. A Sufi must know him or herself to be ordinary,
others good, the self bad. I encourage patients in therapy to write poems, paint or play music to
find their expression as part of the Art therapy model and homework is given to patients every
week. Reading about each concept will lead them to think, and provide a reflective basis for their
perception of the depression or problems. Prayer: The Prophet Jacob said in Qur’an:
He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that
which you do not know. (Qur’an; Yusuf, 86). In Arabic: “Kâle innemâ eşkû bessî ve huznî
ilallâhi ve a’lemu inallâhi mâ lâ ta’lemûn(ta’lemûne)”
Homework, see Table 10.
Table 10 – Homework for Session Four
Reading Commitment Expansion Decision Resolution Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Thirteen Sufi Technique Fourteen Sufi Technique Fifteen Sufi Technique Sixteen Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Sincere Intention Endeavor
Session Five: Patience
Patience is almost half of the therapy target, as is showing no rebellion against misfortune
in life. Accepting one’s entire destiny without complaint is better done peacefully, even though
these events are filled deep with distress and with terror. Having pleased acceptance of all God’s
treatment is the first rule of the Sufi therapy. Observe patience when you are tormented by rage.
Forgive one who harms you. These two qualities will, in due course, help you and God will give
you protection. You will find your depressive events agreeable or disagreeable: you are only role
players in the Divine drama. Everybody must play well on the stage of this world. You have no
right or authority to interfere with the quality of whatever happens to an individual, only God can
decide. The first degree is free will and belief in His Unity. The second degree must be acquired,
a continuation of the first. The basis of the third degree leads to nearness to God. A Divine gift is
not a station attained by will or by effort. Patients will be encouraged to think about God in the
way that I wrote in my poem, as follows,
Make me feel Your ever-present company near me and do not let things cause me to fall distant from You.
Narrated from A’ishah radi Allahu anha, “When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam
saw something that pleased him, he would say: Alhamdulillahil lathee bi ni’matihi tatimmus
saalihaat, and when he saw something that displeased him, he would say: Alhamdulillah ‘alaa
kuli haal. (Narrated in Sunan Ibn Maajah, classified as Saheeh according to Shaykh Albaani
rahimahullah in Silsilatus Saheehah hadeeth 265). Alhamdulillahil lathee bi ni’matihi tatimmus
saalihaat means: All praise and thanks are only for Allah, the One who, by His blessing and
favor, perfected goodness/good works are accomplished. Alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli
haal means: All praise and thanks are only for Allah in all circumstances. Prophet Noah has two
special prayers for patience as, “Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be
uppermost if you are believers” (Qur’an, Surah Al ‘Imran, 139). Prophet Noah lived for 950
years among his people (Qur’an 29 14). He became very discouraged when not many people
would listen to him. He then received a message from Allah, “None of your people will believe
except those who have believed already: So don’t worry about the wrongdoers any more. Build a
ship under our guidance. Those who are in sin will soon be destroyed. He called upon his Lord:
“I am overwhelmed, so help me!” (Qur’an, Surat al-Qamar: 10) as this his second special prayer.
In Arabic: “Fe deâ rabbehû ennî maglûbun fentasır”
Homework, see Table 11.
Table11- Homework for Session Five
Reading Will The Willing One The Willed One Certainty Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Seventeen Sufi Technique Eighteen Sufi Technique Nineteen Sufi Technique Twenty Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Patience Love
Divine Love Wisdom
Session Six: Truthfulness
The concept of truthfulness reveals that there are two sides and two choices: the Willing
and the Willed One. Will is living a spiritual life, overcoming carnal desires, and resisting animal
appetites. The Willled one always prefers obeying God’s wish and pleasure over their own will,
in complete submission to His Will. A willing disciple never relies on their power alone, but is
absolutely submitted to the Will of the All-Powerful who holds all of creation in His Grasp, His
pleasure. The one who has willed has become a favorite of God. Will is the first station on the
path towards God. The first harbor for a Sufi setting sail for eternity is journeying toward purity
of intent with the force of the inner desire to embark on this voyage. Your willpower is only a
shadow of the One who does whatever He wills in whatever way He chooses. You are just a
shadow dependent on the original. Any created will is dependent on the Creator. It is difficult to
distinguish between a shadow and the original.
Sufi do not be grieved, God is in them. At the start, loyalty, faithfulness, and resolution
are important. Solemnity, self-possession, and mannerliness come later. Who has erred in the
beginning cannot advance to reach God. Who has erred in the end is reproved, their will fed by
God. Prayer is one of famuous Prophet Mohammad’s words: “None of you are believers until
you love for fellow human what you love for yourself” (Hadith). [Who say], “Our Lord, let not
our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are
the Bestower (Qur’an, Ali Imran, 8). In Arabic: “Rabbenâ lâ tuziğ kulûbenâ ba’de iz hedeytenâ
veheb lenâ min ledunke rahmeh(rahmeten), inneke entel vehhâb(vehhâbu).
Homework, see Table 12.
Table 12 – Homework for Session Six
Reading Modesty Austerity Piety Asceticism Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Twenty Nine Sufi Technique Thirty Sufi Technique Thirty One Sufi Technique Thirty Two Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Truthfulness Resignation
Session Seven: Thankfulness
Thankfulness is the other half of the therapy target and reveals that the real richness is the
richness of the heart. Your heart is a God-treasure and a credit card that is valid everywhere;
such mysterious capital is neither poor nor powerless. Poverty is your pride, showing neediness
unto God. A Sufi looks upon poverty as the real core and meaning of existence. Do not despise
poverty, it is the essence, all else form. Poverty is the mirror reflecting the independence of
others. It is a remedy for all diseases of vanity and conceit. Increasing awareness of poverty
engenders high degrees of dignity. Such awareness before the Absolutely Wealthy One is
richness itself, feeling in your conscience God is the sole source of power and wealth. His help
sought, it is to Him that you turn, needing nothing. It is His is power, by which we are powerful.
We are well-known by His Name or His fame. We go beyond peaks and continue our way. We
overcome all difficulties with ease. We possess nothing worldly, but are rich, dignified and
respectable due to His Dignity. We follow the way of contemplation, so whatever exists is a
source of knowledge of God.
The Sufi way of poverty severs relations with all and thankfulness is a result. Poverty is
the goal, a most manifest sign of God’s love. The Almighty has placed poverty in the hearts of
His friends. Poverty is a key of light to open the heart’s eye to the treasure. Poverty is the door to
riches, this key is for the richest. You pass through this door in your conscience to the infinite
treasuries. The Owner of All is clear; poverty is identical with wealth. Wealth is no more than
the perfection of poverty. Prayer: “Search for God among poor, because it is the poor who render
help and provide food” (Hadith).
My Poem about thankfulness is as follows,
The duty of thankfulness holds great emotion. Using my helplessness and destitution. Very few people live in true full awareness Feeling deep need to be grateful and thankful. Our weakness prevents us meeting our needs. Everyone has the need to be thankful, Whatever our level of spiritual heights or desires, Since thanking you is a blessing itself. O Lord. How can I be thankful to You? Unable to thank You as thanking requires. Deepen my belief, love, gratitude towards. My net of sight filled with your fine gifts. If you are thankful He adds more unto you. It is a half with respect to this inclusivity. Patience two halves of life that is thankful. O God! Include us among those whom You love. Make me sincere, and bring me near to You. O God. Help me mention You, thank You. I worship You in the best possible way.
Prayer: Surah Al Anbiya verse 83, it is the dua that Prophet Ayyub made when he was sick:
“Waayyooba ith nada rabbahu annee massaniya alddurru waanta arhamu alrrahimeena”
Translation: “And Ayyub, when he called to his Lord, (saying): “Indeed adversity has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of those who are merciful” (Qur’an, Anbiya, 83).
Homework, see Table 13.
Table 13- Homework for Session Seven
Reading Universal Person Insight Discerment Serenity Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Twenty Five Sufi Technique Twenty Six Sufi Technique Twenty Seven Sufi Technique Twenty Eight Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Thankfulness Perfect Goodness
Session Eight: Passion
People are lonely and live in boredom with their place in the world and the surrounding
conditions. They feel discomfort as if in prison or captivity. Why is it that you stay in such a
sorrowful mood? Why is there sadness in your blessed inner world? Self-possession will lead
you to passion in which is intense love, more than desire for Paradise, more intense than the
lover’s love for the beloved. You’ve exhausted your power to endure such love. Your heart
beating above all is God’s pleasure with you. Burning endurance to ashes with desire of union in
words refers to worrying much if the beloved is loved by others. Who is my lover, who casts me
in worry and distress? In this session, group members will bring their artistic talents to
conceptualize what being trustworthy means. Prayer: Mohammad said, “Say the word of ‘La
hawla wala kuwwata illa billahi’l aliyyil azim’ because it is a treasures of Jannat (heaven)”
(Hadith-i Sharifm Sunan-i Tirmidi). Translation: there is no power no strength but from Allah as
is very effective means of beseeching Allah’s help and it has a lot of power in it.
My poetic expression is as follows,
A Sufi must feel that I am afraid someone else is in love with my beloved. The fire is so great that I see none other than Him. I did not know myself as I see myself now, I wonder whether He is me or I am Him? There is no longer any possibility of rescue or escape. Nothing more than meeting is with the Truly Beloved One. The lover is at the same time as a lover and the beloved. A willed one is at the same time as being one who wills. O Sufi! You’re at the same time as one who is sought. My heart is in love and desire; my soul is on fire why are these tears coming from my eyes, O Dear One! Losing my patience is coming to the end of my endurance. O my Beloved! I have no strength to bear all that occurs.
Prayer: Now, if they turn away from you, (O Prophet) say: “Allah is all-sufficient for me. There
is no god but Him. In Him I have put my trust. He is the Rabb of the Mighty Throne.” (Qur’an,
Taubah, 129). In Arabic: “Fe in tevellev fe kul hasbiyallâh(hasbiyallâhu), lâ ilâhe illâ hûve,
aleyhi tevekkeltu ve huve rabbul arşil azîm(azîmi).”
Homework, see Table 14.
Table 14- Homework for Session eight
Reading Individuality Verification Striving Life and Time Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Twenty One Sufi Technique Twenty Two Sufi Technique Twenty Three Sufi Technique Twenty Four Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Passion Love
Divine Love Wisdom
Session Nine: Trustworthiness
A spiritual faculty is deposited in the heart as Divine trust, as spirit for the body, will
power, feelings and mind. Each of the pillars of conscience has a function and goal. Feelings of
love of God mean having a vision of God’s Face. Lordship manifests in the heart: the seekers feel
its manifestation in a deeper manner, till the point where Divine Names are everything, and
where witnessing opens Divine secrets, the secrets of manifestation. A Sufi must have a clear
relationship with the world of the spirit. God knows best what’s in your inner world, your heart.
The secret of being lies in a pure bosom of faithfulness and loyalty. The secret is rising when
God prepares a heart to hold these qualities. The people of truth whose eyes do not see any save
for God, always pursue His good pleasure, resist the carnal self and reach to the Pure Soul.
Making every effort of submission, preventing worldly desire, our eyes and the universe are fed
with the pure water of secrets. Faithful souls try to hide their rank with God from others, and
keep the Divine gifts granted them concealed from others. They guard their chastity, though each
is a star in the heavens. They have no expectations in this world, appearing as if just fireflies.
These heroes do not spend even a moment without Him and use every event, thought and
consideration to mention Him. They are self-annihilated in His company, living unaware of
Whatever good is done for others, and rendered God’s way, conceal it. Hide your good
deeds, not only from others, but even from your own self. Even if you sometimes feel pride in
yourself, seek escape. Spend your life amidst ecstasy in His perfect help and care, unknown
among people, remaining hidden, enclosed by secrets. Prayer: “Wish for other men what you
would wish for yourself and you will become an obedient subject of God” (Hadith). As known
as Prophet Shu’ayb prayer’s in Qur’an as follow:
“Indeed we shall have forged a lie against Allah If we go back to your religion after Allah
has delivered us from It, and it befits us not that we should go back to it, except if Allah our Lord
please: Our Lord comprehends all things in His knowledge; in Allah do we trust: Our Lord!
decide between us and our people with truth; and Thou art the best of deciders” (Qur’an, A’raf,
89). In Arabic: “Kadiftereynâ alallâhi keziben in udnâ fî milletikum ba’de iz necceynallâhu
minhâ, ve mâ yekûnu lenâ en neûde fîhâ illâ en yeşâallahu rabbunâ, vesia rabbunâ kulle şey’in
ilmen, alallâhi tevekkelnâ, rabbeneftah beynenâ ve beyne kavminâ bil hakkı ve ente hayrul
Homework, see Table 15.
Table 15- Homework for Session Nine
Reading Unity Multiplicity Silent Intoxication Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Thirty Three Sufi Technique Thirty Four Sufi Technique Thirty Five Sufi Technique Thirty Six Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Trustworthiness Journeying in
Journeying from Journeying with
Session Ten: Presentation
Presentation refers to explaining to others what you have learned and are open to, how
you are innately charged with discovering Divine secrets. Developing Sufi Observation and
Seeing with insight, the eye of the heart makes you happy. The eye is the shadow and
manifestation. This is a great Divine gift, the Divine Light and bright mirrors reflecting absolute
Oneness. Beyond all concepts of modality, without eyes respect the observation of the Truth
Himself. The Divine Being is as an object of observation. A Sufi feels the Divine Names and
Attributes in such a disclosure—there are degrees of observation. Needing a vigorous heart with
keen sight and hearing, these senses are highly sensitive, for receptiveness is based on the heart’s
capacity, belief, hearing and certainty. Walking with a deep yearning to where there’s no
existence, where the currency of speech is not valid or demanded. Whoever attempts to knock on
the door at that station will receive the answer, “You are not able to see Me!”
The third degree is everything annihilated in God. The existence of the universe no
longer felt, the One manifest. The Divine lights are in the time when hearts overflow with
rejoicing and take His lightning-like manifestation for Being Himself. This point leads you to
confusing the original with the shadow. Take an observation from the conscience and the heart in
a state. Observing True Being Himself is a shadow that yields no more confusion. Two eyes see
two worlds—this and the next—filled with the Friend!
The time comes when the Divine gifts invade the inner world with Divine quality. The
Truth appears when you’re nearest to Him. Gifts come with fear, sorrow or rejoicing. If the gifts
come with an air of fear and sorrow, a Sufi comes to embody fear and sorrow. If they come with
exhilaration and rejoicing, there’s peace without loss of self-possession. I was consciously
expressing resignation with such words in my poem: “Your favor is welcome, and so too Your
resentment.” Acting in peace and contentment, attain confidence in the valleys of reliance,
surrender and commitment. The travelers are punished according to their rank. Your heart has
lost some degrees in its relation to ranks of perfect godliness and nearness to God. For a purified
saintly scholar is free from both time and state. The true heroes of time always take the present
day into account and try to use it the best possible way. One who does not taste, does not know
or perceive. As time serves like rain pouring down from the heavens, as a fertile field bursting
with vegetation, you think of the past. Increase your devotion with prayer: “Should I not become
a thankful servant?” My expression about ending the journey is in the following reflection,
The absolute Owner of Time shows everything annihilated in Him. His Names and Attributes manifesting, Himself in different forms. See a drop as if it were an ocean, a particle of light as if the sun. Nothing as if everything, uttering such words as: I am the true One. His being, there is nothing that exists, that truly exists, save God.
This absorption is the final state of the spiritual journey. It refers to all feeling, seeing,
consciousness of the Truth and the heart cutting off relations with all save God. Thirst for the
Divine Being is flying round His Face. Everything is a shadow of the light of the Existence of
Truth. For a Sufi, it is shadows of the shadow of His Existence’s light, related to the absorption
within absorption, and to seeing the rays of holy absorption. This is the rank of nearness to God:
do supererogatory prayers. The greatest capital in being favored by God is absorption. He is the
First, and the Last, the Outward, and the Inward. A Sufi becomes a polished mirror that reflects
manifestations, observes deeply and clearly with inner external senses. This is the farthest point
you must be to travel in God. My poetic reflection captured the moment my heart experienced
Now rotate around yourselves like the North Star. You are turning around your axis in your heart, while being in your body among people, worshipping alone. Absorption can never mean the unity of being, the unity of God. The universe or God’s being cannot be coincident with the universe. The One Who is the Eternal is eternal, different from mortals. Humans have both pure, transparent aspect and one that is tangible, dense. O Heart, being acts according to its own standard of measure. Worship your Lord until that certain event, death comes to you. Meeting with God based on experience at your own.
Muhyiddin Ibn al-`Arabi, said: “If anyone is in need of something, let him/her read surah “al
Fatiha” forty times after evening prayer and two raka`ats of optional prayer.”.Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), said: “Surah al-Fatiha” is open for appealing to
believers in Allah, with their wishes. Who reads “surah al-Fatiha” over clean water 70 times for
7 days, and then, after blowing on it, drinks it, God, by His mercy, bestows knowledge and
wisdom, cleans his heart from pervasive thoughts, and grants him such an exceptional memory
and ability to grasp everything on the fly, that he never forgets anything even if he heard it once”
(Hadith). This is shown in one of Gülen’s books. Sirr (secret) or “Discussion of al-Fatiha”
(Fatiha Uzerine Mulahazalar) is Gülen’s only work solely dedicated to surah interpretation, and
in it Gülen focuses on the miracle aspects of Quran and examines this from different points of
view. He says poetry was central to the way of life at the place and time the Quran was revealed.
The mystical and magical expressions of Quran sounded like neither the poems nor hadith of the
time; however it astounded everyone with its poetic originality. Sufism has a certain place in his
interpretation method. It is also seen that Gülen makes some references to canon law of verses
(Tuncer, 2006). Gülen speaks of the secret of Fatiha and the special properties inherent in this
surah, as a prophetic healing tradition.
Prayer is surah “al-Fatiha” forty times in a day recommended for everyone.
In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds. The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning. You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help. Guide us on the straight path, the path of those who have received your grace; not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray. Amen” (Qur’an 1:1-7)
In Arabic: “Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem. Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Maaliki yaumid Deen. Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een Ihdinas siraatal mustaqee. Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim. Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim waladaaleen. Aameen”
Table 16 shows final Homework.
Table 16- Homework for Session Ten
Reading Observation Poverty Richness Manifestation Meditation 13 Names Dhikr 6 Names Dhikr Special Dua Memorize Dua Sufi Technique Sufi Technique Thirty Seven Sufi Technique Thirty Eight Sufi Technique Thirty Nine Sufi Technique Forty Prayers Morning Afternoon Evening Night Concepts Presentation Disclosure
CHAPTER 10: CONCLUSION
To conclude, a perfect society can only be composed of perfect individuals. An
individual cannot be perfected without spiritual training. Many people are suffering from mental
and spiritual shortcomings. The Sufi therapy composes a perfect individual in the crucible of
striving, and such a striving is based on controlling carnal desires and impulses. The Self needs
to possess an operative mechanism of conscience. This therapy model provides a spiritual
journey that is the safest way of striving against that mortal enemy, the carnal self, the poison
within our soul. According to people of the heart, doing what is right requires use of the will
power that has been endowed in order to struggle against the carnal self and seek ways to defeat
it. Disciplining eating, drinking, sleeping and speaking regulates a patient’s life. A Sufi has a
certain state of striving in two categories: One, the major, the greater, the other, the minor or
lesser one. Striving against the carnal self, bad morals, habits, and tempers is the major, and the
minor is sometimes needed to fulfil the major. A true fighter fights against the carnal self for
God’s sake. A Sufi strives in God’s way, in the way that striving for His sake requires, consisting
in struggles against Satan, and against impulses of the carnal self, with all his/her inner senses,
consciousness, perception, and heart.
I was able to swim safely the ocean of spiritual initiation and journeying, and found a
useful Sufi mindfulness therapy model through Fethullah Gülen’s writings. At the beginning of
this journey, as a Sufi, I may know some truths; however, I was not able experience them yet.
Therefore, I am not able to grasp the inner realities of the truths that I know intellectually,
because experiencing is very different from knowing. For instance, belief, love, and spiritual
taste are practical concepts; and their realities cannot be known until they become a dimension of
the Sufi’s very nature. When they are experienced and practiced by the heart of the Sufi, the
Sufi’s attitude predominates over his knowledge, and that knowledge begins to become
immersed in the attitude; then it melts and finally perishes. This is called the immersion of
knowledge in the attitude of the Sufi.
Sufi therapy is similar but not the same as Yoga therapy, and Gülen’s mindfulness
method is more connected to MBCT and ACT. It is similar, but not the same as a manualized
group skills-training program (Segal et al., 2002). It is based on an integration of aspects of CBT
for depression (Beck et al., 1979) along with those components of the MBSR program developed
by Kabat-Zinn (1990) which are applicable to Sufi therapy. It is designed to teach patients in
remission from major depression seven Sufi concepts of categories and forty rules of Sufi
teachings in order that they might become more aware of, and relate differently to their thoughts,
feelings, and bodily sensations. For example, they will relate to thoughts and feelings as passing
events in the mind, rather than identifying with them or treating them as necessarily accurate
readouts on reality. The program teaches skills that allow individuals to disengage from habitual
(“automatic”) cognitive routines, in particular depression-related ruminative thought patterns, as
a way of reducing future risk of relapse and recurrence of depression. It is the invention of a new
Sufi model targeting greater connection with the spirit, the mind and the heart, and connecting all
of these for the unity and discovery of seven levels of souls in the self.
Sufi therapy, in conjunction with MBCT and ACT, may a cost-efficient and efficacious
intervention to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and relapse/recurrence in patients with
recurrent major depressive disorder. Sufi therapy, ACT and MBCT are all most effective in
preventing current/relapse/recurrence unrelated to environmental provocation. This finding is
consistent with Sufi therapy, increased mindfulness is relevant to the prevention of the
relapse/recurrence of depression, as it allows early detection of relapse-related patterns of
negative thinking, feelings, and body sensations and provides 10-week phase of Sufi therapy.
This paradigm conceptualizes the healthy person as an individual who can pilot his or her own
existential fate in the here-and-now, and who has far greater self-regulatory control over his or
her own body, mind, soul and heart than heretofore imagined. Concomitant with this new
paradigm is an attempt to develop and improve techniques by which people can self-observe
their behavior, change it (if desired), and then continually modify and monitor it according to
In summary, I glean healing principles; techniques and invented a new therapy approach
from my immersion in Gülen’s Sufi model, and provide how this Sufi path benefit therapeutic
practice in social work. I have intended to deconstruct, decolonize, reframe and clarify the role of
the spiritual physician in Sufi culture, and promote a wisdom-based individual culture where
human rights are very strong, and which is thus suitable for Western democracies. I explained,
analyzed how I am transformed during the study and how I am going to help others with this Sufi
therapy. It is a heart-based healing method for many individuals for beginner. The intermediate
level of Sufi therapy which focuses on how to manifest God is work best conducted at PhD level,
and it will add 10 more weeks of therapy sessions. The heart plays an essential role in self
purification and understanding others. However, none of the scholars mentioned above have
studied Gülen’s Sufism writings, poems and his positive thinking pathways that address
solutions for human beings in social work practice who are in need of the alternative heart-based psychotherapy.
NOTE: This web site belongs to Faruk Arslan who posted this Sufi therapy modality for public.
8 Powerful Spiritual Heart Practices Of Sufi Meditation
Sufism is the esoteric path within Islam, where the goal is to purify oneself and achieve mystical union with the Supreme (named Allah in this tradition). The practitioners of Sufism are called Sufis, and they follow a variety of spiritual practices, many of which were influenced by the tradition of Yoga in India. In this post, I’ll explore the several types of Sufi meditation.
Unlike many of the other meditation techniques, Sufi meditation is spiritual by nature. There is no “secular version” of these techniques, as the idea of God is part of their DNA. The core of all their practices is to remember God, fill the heart with God, and unite oneself with Him. So if you are atheist or agnostic, you probably won’t find these meaningful.
The journey of the Sufi is the journey of the lover returning to the arms of the Beloved, a journey of love in which we “die” as egos so we can be one with Him. It’s the way of the heart. All of the practices are aimed at letting go of one’s ego, which is considered the biggest obstacle to realization.
The roots of Sufism date back to around 1400 years ago, but they became near-extinct in the 20th century. There are different orders of Sufis, each emphasizing different exercises. In this article, I have drawn techniques from different schools.
Sufism is not a monastic path. The Sufi wayfarer lives in the inner world of the heart as well as functioning responsibly in society.
1. The Heart of Sufi Meditation: Contemplation of God
Love flourishes in the heart in which glows the Name of God. The love of God is the fragrance that even a thousand wrappings cannot hold. Or like a river that cannot be stopped in its course. My Friend is in me, in my Friend am I – there is no separation between us. — Sultan Bahu
The core of Sufi meditation is to be conscious of the Divine at all times, until there is no longer a sense of separation between meditation, God, and daily life. This is called oneness (ekatmata)—that is, the complete merging with the Beloved and cessation of duality.
In Arabic, the word for meditation is muraqabah (also murakebe), and the literal meaning is to watch over, to wait or to protect. The essence of Sufi meditation is two fold:
- keep your attention focused on God, and awaken love in your heart so that you can merge with the Beloved;
- constantly watch your mind so that no other thought except that of God enters the mind.
So there is watching over the mind, focusing the thoughts on God (remembrance of Him), and an awakening of love in the heart. This practice is done in as a formal meditation, and also should be followed during all moments of one’s day. Irrelevant thoughts are considered harmful, and one keeps a watch on the mind to make sure they don’t sprout.
“Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you, just to you and for you, without any need for my words or anyone else’s.”— Rumi
The work of the lover is to be silent, waiting, always listening with the “inner ear of the heart” for his call. Thus, “catching the divine hint” is an important Sufi practice in which we learn to be continually attentive to our Beloved in order to serve Him.
Almost all other forms of Sufi meditation are extensions of these basic principles.
2. Sufi Mantra Meditation
One of the most common ways to keep the remembrance of the Beloved, in Sufi orders, is by repeating His name. It’s a type of mantra meditation, and similar to what is called contemplative prayer in Christian mysticism. It establishes an inner connection with the divine, and results in bliss.
In Sufism, the name for mantra is Zikr (also Jikr or Dhikr), literally meaning remembrance. The essential aspect of this practice is the continual remembrance of God, typically by repeating one of these three words:
- Allah (God)
- Allah ho (God is)
- La illalahu (“God is God”)
- Any other of the 99 names of God
The goal is to inscribe the name of the Divine in your heart. For that, Sufis employ the methods of meditating on His name with the tongue (mantra repetition), gazing at the written word Allah, and writing Allah repeatedly on a paper. Eventually, the name grabs hold of you and illumines all your being.
“First you do the zikr and then the zikr does you.”— Sufi saying
The emphasis is always to have the zikr going on all the time in your heart. But there is also time taken for the formal practice of sitting in silence and repeating the zikr. There is no particular posture for Sufi meditation.
Usually, this practice is synced with the breath. For instance, on the in-breath one says within one’s heart “Aal” and on the out-breath one says “Laah”. Or it is done while focusing on the solar plexus or on the spiritual heart, which takes us to the next practice.
3. Heart Meditation
This practice, called Jikr-e-Sirr or Wakoof Kulbi (awareness of the heart), is a type of jikr (remembrance of God). It is one of the two central practices of the Naqshbandi Sufi.
For the Yogis, the spiritual heart (anahata chakra) is in the center of the chest, under the sternum bone. Some—like Ramana Maharshi and some Tantric texts—speak of the spiritual heart as being different from the heart chakra, and call it hridaya, saying it is on the right side of the chest. But according to the Sufis, the spiritual heart is at the same place where the physical heart is (on the left).
Here are the steps for this technique:
- Start by collecting your dispersed energies, bringing them from the outside world back into yourself. Still the mind and the senses so that you can directly experience the inner reality of the heart.
- Focus your attention intensely at the place where physical heart is located, until you forget all about yourself. This state of self-oblivion is considered the straight path to the Infinite.
The third step varies, according to the source and Sufi school. Here are some variations:
- Try to listen to the heartbeat in the form of the name of the Almighty. With time, one starts listening to the sound of the heartbeat even during daily life.
- Do the zikr (mantra repetition of Allah).
- Keep thinking about God or one’s spiritual master.
In all of the three variations above, keep your attention focused on the heart center, and simultaneously cultivate feelings of love for the Beloved.
In some more esoteric traditions, it is said that the master transmits his power to the disciple (tavajjoh or tawajjaha), and that awakens his spiritual heart, which is then filled with love. Only after this happens is the practice is really effective.
This practice can be done seated or lying down, and the recommended length is at least half an hour.
Here is a more detailed description of the third variation, as found in the book The Experience of Meditation:
The first stage in this meditation is to evoke the feeling of love, which activates the heart chakra. This can be done in a number of ways, the simplest of which is to think of someone whom we love. This can be God, the great Beloved. But often at the beginning God is an idea rather than a living reality within the heart, and it is easier to think of a person whom we love, a lover, a friend.
Love has many different qualities. For some the feeling of love is a warmth, or a sweetness, a softness or tenderness, while for others it has a feeling of peace, tranquillity or silence. Love can also come as a pain, a heartache, a sense of loss. However, love comes to us we immerse ourself in this feeling; we place all of ourself in the love within the heart.
When we have evoked this feeling of love, thoughts will come, intrude into our mind—what we did the day before, what we have to do tomorrow. Memories float by, images appear before the mind’s eye. We have to imagine that we are getting hold of every thought, every image and feeling, and drowning it, merging it into the feeling of love.
Every feeling, especially the feeling of love, is much more dynamic than the thinking process, so if one does this practice well, with the utmost concentration, all thoughts will disappear. Nothing will remain. The mind will be empty.
Learn more about the Sufi heart meditation here.
4. Sufi Breathing Meditation
Rumi, one of the most well-known Sufis, spoke highly of the practice of deep conscious breathing (Hosh dar Dam or Habje-daem). As with everything else in Sufism, the emphasis is about remembering God; so, in the Sufi breathing practices, one attempts to remain in God’s presence with every breath.
“This Order is built on breath. One, therefore, must safeguard his breath in the time of his inhalation and exhalation and in between.”— Shah Naqshband
There are two main breathing practices.
Here is the first technique (source):
- Close your eyes. Breathe normally a few times.
- Concentrate on the spiritual heart, while thinking about God. Feel his light in your heart.
- As you inhale, mentally repeat Allah, and feel that God’s lights are being sucked into your heart.
- As you exhale, mentally repeat Hu, and feel that the light of Hu is powerfully striking your heart.
- Gradually increase the breathing rate to three to four times your normal speed, while keeping the same visualization and mantra. Take shallow but rapid breaths. The inhalation should be longer than the exhalation. The exhalation is a bit short and forceful.
- Practice for ten minutes.
Sometimes this technique also involves long retention of breath, either after inhalation or exhalation.
Here are the instructions for the second technique (source), which includes five breathing cycles focusing on each of the five classical elements
- First series—earth: Begin by breathing naturally in and out through your nostrils for five full breath cycles. This first series of five breaths is focused on purifying yourself with the element of earth. As you inhale, imagine that you draw the energy and magnetism of the earth up into you. It circulates through your subtle energy systems and replenishes and renews the vitality and strength of Your body. As you exhale, imagine that the magnetic field of the earth draws all the heavy, gross elements or energies within you down into the ground to be purified and released. With each breath, you will feel revitalized, lighter, less dense, and clearer to the free flow of breath, life, and energy.
- Second series—water: Then with a second series of five breaths, imagine purifying yourself with the energy of water. Inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, envision a waterfall of pure, clear energy pouring down into you from the heavens above, flowing through you, and dissolving, purifying anything within you that might block the flow of life-energy moving through you. With each breath, feel that you are washed clean and clear, as this stream of energy and light flows through you.
- Third series—fire: With the next series of five breaths, purify yourself with the element of fire. Inhaling through your mouth and exhaling through your nostrils, let the breath flow focus at your solar plexus as you inhale, and then rise up and radiate as light from your heart-center, shining out between your shoulder blades, and like a fountain of light up through the crown of your head. Inhaling fire, exhaling light, envision and affirm that this circulation of energy is a purifying fire gathering any remaining impurities or congestion and burning them into radiance and light in the fires of your heart.
- Fourth series—air: With the next cycle of breaths, imagine purifying yourself with the air element. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth, imagine the air element sweeping through you like the wind blowing through the spaces of your whole body, purifying any sense of density or obstruction that may remain.
- Fifth series—ether: Finally, breathing very gently through your nostrils, envision yourself being purified by the most subtle element – the “ether” element of the ancients, or the most subtle energies that infuse space, or the quantum field of infinite potentials. Let this most subtle breath dissolve any remaining sense of solidity or density and let your heart and mind open to be clear and vast like the infinite sky.
- Closing: Energized and purified, sense the subtle, yet profound shift that has taken place in the course of only 25 breaths. Carry the sense of focus, calm, and deep connectedness from this practice into your next meditation or into your daily life.
The first technique is similar to the Kapalabhati Pranayama, one of the six purificatory practices of Hatha Yoga. The second is similar to the Tattwa Shuddhi practice of Tantra. There are also similar “element purification” practices in the Taoist and the Hermetic traditions.
5. Bond of Love Meditation
In Sufism, the master-disciple relationship plays an essential role in the advancement of the aspirant. The master, called Pir (“guide”, “old one”), is highly regarded and loved reverently.
In fact, in some Sufi practices the master is the object of meditation. The objective is to dissolve any sense of duality between the disciple and the master so that the aspirant can see with the eyes of the master, and possess his virtues, wisdom, and purity.
To develop this bond of love between the disciple and his master is a cornerstone meditation technique in the Naqshbandi Sufi order. Here are four ways it is practiced (source)—through the heart, attention (contemplation), visualization, and gazing:
The seeker pictures in his heart, the face of his master and annihilates himself in it. As the lover sees the face of his beloved in his own face and loses himself in it, so does the seeker look upon his master. Through the bond they made, he takes on the very being of his master. The seeker’s soul is lighted up and shines with the light of his master. If the seeker perseveres in this way, in a short time he becomes a perfected man like his sheikh.
He fixes his attention lovingly upon the spirituality of his master. He ascribes so exalted a rank to him that he separates him from the rest of creation. At this moment, the spirituality of the master manifests interiorly within the seeker. It raises the seeker above the creation. Slowly, slowly the seeker begins to acquire the state of the sheikh.
The seeker represents, in his mind’s eye, the spirituality of his guide as a circle of light and pictures himself in the center of that circle. Such an ecstasy takes possession of him that he goes out of himself. At that moment, the spirituality of his sheikh is reflected in the light of the heart. From this reflection, a light appears in the heart of the seeker and draws him on towards perfection.
The seeker seats himself as though he were in the presence of his master. He brings an image of his master before his eyes. But here the seeker must know that the spirituality of the master never separates from his image and whenever and wherever he call son it that spiritual image will help him. If the seeker, coming into the presence of the master, annihilates his own self-hood and binds himself to that presence, the master can in a single instant raise him to the degree of Illumination.
6. Gazing Meditation
Rumi spoke very highly of the practice of gazing at the beloved. In his case, he practiced it as sitting down across from his master, with both looking into each other’s eyes, holding each other’s gaze, and surrendering to the transformation that happens. The essential aspect of the practice is communion (sohbet)—to become one with the master and see with his light.
This is a type of “Bond of Love” meditation, as discussed in the previous section. For a detailed exploration of this practice, see the book The Spiritual Practices of Rumi.
Another Sufi gazing practice, little known and rarely discussed, is mirror gazing. The aspirant sits in front of a mirror in a room with dim light, and gazes at the spot in between his eyebrows.
And a third type of gazing, called sagale-naseer, involves concentrating the gaze on one’s nosetip.
All these three practices are sub-types of Trataka meditation.
7. Sufi Walking Meditation
In Sufism there is a practice called Nazar bar Kadam (Watch Your Step), which is about walking mindfully and consciously. One should not do anything which may drag him down or which may obstruct his spiritual progress. It also means that one should avoid looking here and there aimlessly as this pollutes the mind. This is why Sufi saints ask their followers to look at their feet while walking.
This practice is basically the application of the principles discussed in the section on Contemplation of God (remembering God in the heart + watching one’s own mind) to walking.
Refer to my article on walking meditation to learn other types of practice.
8. Sufi Whirling
Some Sufis consider that music and dancing act as a catalyst to produce in them a state of ecstasy. It is mostly practiced by the Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order, and it is called Samazen.
Like everything else in Sufism, it’s all about abandoning one’s ego, focusing on God, and merging with love. It’s the soul dancing out of love for God. It’s a training for awareness and for the heart.
This choreographed dance involves spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.
While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. Thesemazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!” (Source)
Written by Giovanni Dienstmann
Original article at Live and Dare