Pathway 22 – At-Tawwab – Returning to Rhythm
“When you are guided to this pathway, take the opportunity to stop what you are doing, soften within, and allow your heart to return to the right rhythm in time with the heart of the Beloved.” The Sufi Book of Life, Neil Douglas-Klotz.
As always, whichever pathway I choose seems to be the exact one to meet my needs. I chose this pathway when I returned from my spiritual pilgrimage to Konya again walking in to the spiritual trap of asking for what is needed, receiving it and then wondering why it was all happening. I am certain that my Allah and the friends he has appointed to guide my journey all have a sense of humour!
This pathway is about Returning to Rhythm. The rhythm of the One Beloved. During my pilgrimage I felt this rhythm and I felt it deeply. Rumi talks about sinking to the bottom of the ocean and allowing the current to take you. At this point, you are in the heartspace of least resistance. It is exactly this heart led space that takes you to where you need to be because it is in rhythm with the Divine Heartbeat and at one and in alignment with the rhythm all of creation. You feel you are part of this One and at the same time, you flow through your own path with ease and grace.
I have trouble articulating the feeling in words because it just has to be experienced. There are no words and to be honest, words can only get in the way of this feeling. This is one of the deepest lessons of this pathway. In Konya, my heart did the speaking without any words. I was in solitude and silence for much of the time that I was away, encased in my own heavenly blissful being. As soon as I landed, I had to “have words” as my suitcase was on a different aircraft to the one I arrived on. My first test of letting go and I was fuming. The words didn’t come easy and it felt like I created my own blockages again.
It was as if I didn’t get a chance to even catch my breath before I was thrown in to life, head first. Worlds apart from where I had been in the serenity and peace of Konya. If Konya was the gentle humming of the harp then being back here felt like screeching death metal. It felt like I was holding my own internal rhythm for the first week or so and then I don’t know what happened but life took over.
I found my diary brimming and the ideas non-stop and yes, I was buzzing but in the midst of all that, my mum had a fall that resulted in a hip replacement. So with mum in hospital and various other family matters to take care of, I was running back and forth like a headless chicken with that in the background. All of this coming at a critical time for my business with some launches that had been planned for January derailed and delayed.
Life had done it to me once again yet given the time and reflection, I’ve realised that this is my Shaikh, my Master at work and even though I had left Konya, he wasn’t done with teaching me and I don’t think he ever will be. At least he has a sense of humour about it! Hence this pathway has been such a deep learning curve for me.
Now I’ve worked extremely hard and fought my ego to ensure that my foundations are solid, especially when it comes to my own spiritual practices. Even with this foundation, I found that I was wobbling and when you’re having a wobble, the discipline is all the more challenging to maintain. I was in the middle of an earthquake. The one thing that keeps me solid is solitude because it gives me headspace. Without the time and space, it feels like an earthquake. This is a deep lesson for me.
So when it comes to exploring this pathway, there are 4 key aspects that need to be explored. What is life calling us to look at in any stressful situation? This is where the pathway plays a key part if we can keep these aspects in mind.
The first is “Stop what you are doing.” This isn’t simply in the literal and physical sense although there is an element of prioritising and re-prioritising your commitments and being brave enough to drop things. I found that I had to cut down on client work because I just wasn’t in the head space for it.
This stop what you are doing made me acknowledge that I needed to stop what I was doing to myself. I hadn’t fully taken notice that I was beating myself up mentally and emotionally for not being able to keep up with the demands on my time and energy. I realised when I wrote down all of the things that I was juggling on a piece of paper. I did this to work out whether it’s me and I’m disorganised and slow or whether I do really have a lot of balls to juggle. It’s then I realised that actually, I was doing pretty well considering just how much was going on. That really helped me to stop and let go of the guilt and the burden that I put on myself.
The second aspect is to “Soften within.” Now this is where I was brought back to Rumi’s analogy of the spiritual journey boiling and cooking you like a pressure cooker. All that boiling will soften you to the core. And when you are in the midst of it all, you don’t realise that you’re being cooked and softened. Often it’s these pressure points that are preparing us for the next part of our journey. It’s only when you soften that you begin to accept what’s happening and gladly keep going even through you know you’re walking through fire.
The third aspect is “Allowing your heart to return” and this is the permission that we give ourselves to come back to our natural rhythm. With so much going on, I wasn’t giving myself the permission to be in solitude. I was also allowing everything to impose in to my space without taking what I needed and for me, it’s solitude that keeps me balanced. An introvert at heart, it definitely felt like I was doing too much “people-ing” and not getting enough time and space to fill myself back up again.
The fourth aspect is acknowledging the “Right rhythm” and this is in time with the heart of the Beloved. This for me touches deeply on the idea that Allah’s plan is better than the plan that we have made for ourselves. Indeed, it also directs us to understanding the natural flow of life. Just as the shore comes in and out, life also has it’s own timing. One of my biggest lessons in Konya was exactly this. Instead of trying to make the tide come in and out, I needed to understand that it flows in accordance with Divine timing. This is why we are asked to let go because much of this learning can’t be undertaken without the eyes of experience.
In that struggle to allow what is meant to be to flow towards you, you have to stop trying to make things happen. You have to relinquish the responsibility that you feel and allow your host on this Earth to take care of everything for you. This again demands surrender. Not partial surrender. Full surrender.
How do we do this?
It isn’t something that can be articulated because it doesn’t come from the mind. It comes from the heart.
Remember that your heart beats in time with the rhythm of the Universe and it does this effortlessly without you having to do anything at all. If you understand that, that’s all you need to know.