The Science of Meditation and Muraqaba

I had become used to the shock and disgust on people’s faces when they found I had adopted content writing as a professional career. For me, it was not something you do when you want to refill your wallet or when you have some extra time on your hands –it was something I did as a full time career (until of course, Maulana Tariq Jameel kicked in his wisdom and said that a Mom’s full time career should be her kids).

Anyway the question is, what kept me going in this sometimes boring field of work for more than 7 years? Apart from the consistently lighter wallet obviously, it was the thirst for knowledge. In content writing, you are assigned different topics, things you have never heard about, and that’s when you get that chance to expand your knowledge. Instead of getting annoyed at those never-heard-of-topics, Alhamdulillah I viewed them as an opportunity to expand my knowledge.

So meditation was something I studied several years back while working on an assignment. It was always a topic of discussion when we talked about psychological problems – stress relief, behavioral disorders, etc. There are even apps designed especially for meditation purposes. You select the time you want to meditate and the app plays some track for you for guided meditation.

And how do you do it? Basically, you sit somewhere comfortably, imagine some scenario in your mind and try to keep your attention and your mind focused on that scenario.  There are other techniques of meditation as well which have been introduced by different practitioners – yet, they all have the same benefits for the mind.

The benefits of meditation have created waves in the medical field. Hence, numerous researches have been conducted to find out the science behind it. Psychologists and practitioners have always sworn by its positive effects on the mind but researchers tried to find out whether there was some actual science behind it or were the positive effects only because of the time people spent relaxing.

Hence a recent Harvard study came forward with mind blowing findings. They studied a group of participants that engaged in meditation for 30 minutes every day for eight weeks. Researchers took magnetic resonance images of the participants prior to the study and then again after 8 weeks. On analysis of those images, they found that meditation had actually caused changes in the grey matter of the brain. The changes were seen in the areas that were related to learning, memory, self awareness, compassion, and introspection. (No wonder I feel positive and compassionate towards others)

Here is what a researcher at Harvard says about the findings. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Why am I writing about meditation today? To tell you the truth, I never gave much thought to this practice before – as in, never thought about doing it myself. But recently when I took bayt with Hazrat Shaikh Humayun Hanif Naqshbandi DB, he instructed me to do Muraqaba everyday as it is an important part of naqshbandi silsila.

When I learned how Muraqaba is done, I was surprised. It turned out Muraqaba is another name for meditation except that our focus is towards the point where the heart is located and our purpose is to do His zikr in our heart without any verbal movements. Our mouth is closed, eyes are closed, we are only sitting comfortably without having to count anything and yet we are doing zikr. That’s called Zikr-e-Qalbi. And my words simply cannot explain what a beautiful feeling it is.

It’s only been a week I have started engaging in Muraqaba. And Alhamdulillah and MashaAllah the positive effects have left me in awe. I am in awe of what Allah SWT’s name and His remembrance can do to our lives. The feeling is beyond everything. The peace you get from Allah SWT’S zikr is beyond everything you get from this world. Going out for dinner to a posh restaurant, wearing top-notch brands directly imported from America, or even buying a new luxury car – the happiness and peace you get from all these seem like a minor as compared to the happiness and peace you get with His qurb. May Allah SWT give all of us hidayat to stay on the right path and give us taufeeq to do his zikr. Ameen. SumAmeen.

!!!

And by the way, I wasn’t too surprised to find that meditation is also a part of Islam. It turns out, everything good that is proven by science was already taught to us by our Prophet SAW. There are many such instances when we blurt out “yaar ye tu hamaray Nabi SAW ne 1400 saal pehlay hi bata dia tha. Science ko ab pata chala hai.” 🙂

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