“The fitra is our natural disposition…
…We need to become who we are.”
Khalida Haque, counselling psychotherapist and writer, explains the therapeutic individual and group activities she will be facilitating at The Big Reconnect Sleepover:
Guided imagery or visualisation is a gentle yet powerful technique that can proactively and positively still our minds so that we can direct and focus our imaginations. It is an activity that involves the whole body, emotions and senses. And as such heightens emotions, sensitivity, intuition, spiritual connectedness, abstract thinking and empathy. It is a way of mobilising our unconscious and subconscious processes for the benefit of our conscious goals. Absolutely anyone can use and benefit from this powerful technique.
During the week there will be guided imagery activities that have been scripted specifically for TBRS. Insha’Allah they will enable reconnection with our fitra-selves and also with our Creator. We know that we have experienced things pre-birth as in the covenant with Allah:
And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.”
(Surah Al-Araf: Ayah 172)
These experiences and all those memories of being in the womb and from birth onwards are stored somewhere within us. The fitra is our natural disposition. There is the fitra that we all contain: truth and God seeking and we each have a personal fitra, a potential that is individual and unique to us. We need to become who we are. And to do this we need to turn inwards and know ourselves better. Visualisation is, bi’idhnillah, a way of unlocking that potential and enabling us to tune into these higher facets of ourselves.
Visualisation is a method I regularly utilise to enable clients to manage their responses whilst recalling past traumatic incidences. The mind-body connection is such that when the mind revisits a memory or creates an image the body experiences them as real, current and external events. So to be able to calm the body and re-engage the higher functioning brain I work with the client on creating (or preferably re-creating) a safe place that they can go to in their mind when they (or I) recognise that they are becoming anxious.
I will guide the group through the activity. After this we can discuss the experience or if you prefer to just write about it in your journals then that works well too. Journalling is a therapeutic tool I often suggest whether I’m working with individuals or groups. It can helps us figure out who we are, what we need and what we want. It can also aid us in making better decisions, and enable us to focus on the things that support us in taking compassionate care of ourselves and others. There is no right or wrong in terms of what we should do or experience as a reaction to the activities. However, if you can vocalise what you think and feel within a group setting it will, bi’idhnillah, boost your self-esteem and self-confidence and bring you closer to a more authentic you.
Individual, One-On-One Counselling Sessions
Also on offer are one to one sessions with myself. These will be limited and so it will be a first come first served allocation. The length of these will be 45/50 minutes, aka the therapeutic hour. They will be private and confidential spaces where you can talk through absolutely anything that you want to talk about. The topic may be something that’s come to the fore as a consequence of the activities and experiences whilst at the retreat or it could be something you feel you need to explore in relation to the theme of reconnecting. You may want to share something that you have not previously shared with anyone else. Although it is unlikely that you will attain full resolution, it may bi’idhnillah put you on a path to seeking further help by removing some of the fear that has been an obstacle to your addressing these matters.
Brooke Benoit, writing coach and SISTERS Magazine editorexplains the creative reconnect activities and opportunities occurring during the The BIG Reconnect Sleepover:
Writing to Reconnect
Morning pages, journaling first thing in the morning, is a proven way to reconnect with self. Some of you no doubt are familiar with this satisfying activity and maybe, like me, have even fallen out of the habit from time to time and miss it. I will be providing you with many daily prompts to jump start this tool to not only help you in reconnecting to your Self, but also, insha Allah, help to revive your creativity.
If mornings don’t work out for you, we will be inviting you to journal throughout your trip- so try again in the evenings after our thought-provoking dinner conversations. Or slip away to the rooftop lounge any chance you get and scribble down the thoughts and feelings that breaking away will allow you to have. Maybe just sit in the heated pool and ponder these things you have been denying yourself time to work through…
We will also have a letter writing activity, either to a facet of the self or to someone else (who need never receive it) as a means to reconnect in those relationships which you would like to thankfully acknowledge or that may have ruptured and require repair. There will be an alternative opportunity to make cards/pictures for those of you less inclined towards writing.
Salon Circles aka Dinner Conversations
In addition to all the lively chatter you can expect from a sleepover with your sisters, we will have the opportunity to focus our dinner discussions on the topics most pressing to us as believers, mothers, wives, creatives, and so on. These family meals will be a time to reconnect to sisterhood, to take that energy and focus back out to the ummah, and of course to always do so with an Islamic framework – in remembrance of our Lord, subhanallah wa ta’ala.
In the process of homeschooling my family, I have learned the concept of in-breaths and out-breaths for finding a balance in work and all activities. In breaths are heady, focused activities, such as the the ones we will be doing with Khalida, as well as the salon circles and any journaling you do. Out breaths are the more physical activities we do, such as when children go outside to play, take walks or dig in the dirt – these are activities which engage our sensorium and reconnect to the world and environment. Now imagine filling your eyes and other senses with all the beauty and excitement Morocco has to offer – plus staying in the beautiful foothills of the majestic Atlas mountains – but also the athan, being surrounded by Arabic (French, Derija and a handful of other languages too!), and just being on Muslim ground… insha Allah, you will reawaken your creative and motivating energy and feel plenty connected!