The Body/Mind Connection

From the beginning of time, physical movements have been linked to religion and health as well as to the curing of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual maladies. We see vestiges of these practices in ethnic dances and some forms of the martial arts that aren’t too modernized.
Sufism and Kung Fu at plumpub.comThere’s an esoteric axiom that goes, “Like above so below”. This refers to the relationship between the visible world – the material, and the invisible world – the spiritual, higher worlds or dimensions. Everything in the world that we see is an extension or reflection of invisible higher realities. Or, to put it in other words, we only see part of a bigger whole.

There’s an intimate connection between the material and the immaterial. In fact, the word ‘connection’ isn’t the right word since actually there is no separation, they’re the same thing. The material, this world and its things, are part of something much bigger, the whole. Everything in this world is in fact an extension of the ‘other’ world – or put it in better way, this world is the visible part of a world or reality bigger than what we, with our limited perception, can see.

What is the mind? General when people talk about the ‘mind’ they’re really talking about the brain. The mind and the brain aren’t the same thing. The brain is a physical organ where electrochemical impulses precipitate physical actions and reactions, both conscious and unconscious, intentional and unintentional. But the brain doesn’t think. The brain is like a computer that functions according to the input. This input initiates a electrochemical reaction sending to the body to act or react – do something or react emotionally with stress, anger, fear, etc. Where does the information come from? It comes either from the real mind or the emotional center, the ego.

The discovery of who we are begins with, who we aren’t – an investigation of the ego (nafs) plus the work of dominating, controlling and cleaning it. Once clean, the ego ceases to distort the vision and the whole world begins to transform before our very eyes.Our bad habits, be they physically harmful or just bad thoughts, form our personalities and lives. An open secret that has been used by spiritual teachers since ancient times, is that just as the emotions and negative thinking affect the body, the same process also works in reverse – work on the body can change, control and even purify the emotions and the runaway brain. Both sacred dance and the martial arts were used as tools for physical as well as spiritual healing.

The martial arts, in its original form, dealt with the generation and flow of intrinsic or divine energy and self knowledge and awareness. A few thousand years ago a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma, traveled from India to China to preach and teach Buddhist practices in that country. After a while Bodhidharma realized that his disciples were in such bad condition physically that they couldn’t withstand the rigorous hours of meditation. To put the monks in the condition necessary to carry out the Buddhist practices Bodhidharma or Ta Mo as the Chinese call him, taught them a series of physical movements and breathing exercises that came to known as Chi Kung. At least that’s how the story goes. Supposedly the martial sprung from those movements. There’s some truth to the story but there’s a lot more to it. Bodhidharma’s system of movements as well as those of many other spiritual traditions, be they sacred dance or martial arts, have a purpose far beyond their physical benefits. Bodhidharma’s series of physical movements weren’t just to put the monks in good physical condition to fulfill their spiritual work – the movements were and are in themselves the spiritual work – the teaching.

Jewish mystics (Cabbalists) say that God is veiled as well as revealed by the world. Briefly put, that’s the meaning of life in this world – discovering and knowing God through His manifestations which have taken on a gross aspect for our benefit. We are the chief obstacle in this work, since we have fallen in love with this world and lost sight of its divine nature.

The body was designed in such a manner that every part has a worldly function and a divine function. Knowing ourselves opens the way to a personal and intimate relationship with God. The human body is like an antenna that can receive signals from the higher worlds – literally divine waves. Again, the problem: the antenna is rusty and needs cleaning.
The cleaning comprises several elements, each of which is related to the others. Knowledge – what is necessary and why? Intention – a clean intention, that is to say, focused on God and nothing else. Prayer – pray without ego. Zikr – sacred words and sounds that clean and activate energy centers. Physical and mental exercises that generate and promote the flow of divine energy, opening blocked energy canals and stimulating energy centers.

By Shaykh Mohammad Abdullah Ansari
Yoga Sufí
de la Tariqa Sufí Islamica Qadiri-Rifai
Avenida Arboledas 419
fracc. Arboledas 2a sección, Celaya, Gto. Mexico.


Mohammad Abdullah resides in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico where he teaches, among other things, a system of exercises which he calls Sufi Yoga.  Sufi Yoga is a culmination of more than 40 years of study and practice in a wide variety of forms of meditation, Qi Gong (Chi Kung) and martial arts.
Being brought up and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, a great melting pot of races and nationalities, he had the opportunity to meet and learn from people from all over the world.  Sufi Yoga includes exercises from China, India, Tibet, Turkey, Indonesia and more.  Like pure Chinese Qi Gong, the exercises are as much mental as physical.
Mohammad also teaches Gung Fu to a small group of people.  His formal training started at the age of 29 (he’s now 62) with Karate (Kyokashinkai and Kenpo), later White Crane Gung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, some Ba gua Zhang and Pencak Silat.
Mohammad is the representative in Mexico and Latin America of Shaykh Taner Ansari of Turkey, leader of the Qadiri-Rifai Sufi Order of America and writes extensively in Spanish on spiritual matters.

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