The Sufi Psychology of M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® is the Science of the Soul. It is a way to expand the current limitations of psychology to encompass the entirety of the human being. Through the principles of Sufism each individual can come to know his or her innermost self, the self which is much more than simply thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is a method to reacquaint each individual with their true identity, the "I", which is the source of strength, resiliency, joy, and peace. In doing so, one moves past the habitual patterns of behavior, repetitive thought processes, and emotional reactivity to discover harmony, balance, and joy from within. As a result, outward relationships with family, friends, and community are also improved. Sufi Psychology reminds individuals that there is more to them than just their situations and circumstances and encourages exploration of their true identity.
In a world where everyone is searching, be it for love, peace, joy, purpose, serenity, etc., Sufi Psychology directs the individual's focus inward. It is within where the answers, strength, and true unity lie. Once one's sense of stability comes from within, the outward struggles of day to day life seem less significant and they have less hold on a person. When one has discovered love, peace, joy, purpose, and serenity within, there is no longer a need to search elsewhere. Stress is reduced, anxiety is diminished, and confidence in oneself is strengthened.
Since each individual is unique, the most effective way to learn is through personal experience. There are several different means of experiential learning available, such as workshops, retreats, and Tamarkoz® classes (listed in the Events section). Reading provides useful introductory information, and suggestions are given on the Publications page. In addition, the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® website, www.mto.org, provides useful exercises and information on the spiritual base of Sufism and its broad perspective.
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Sufi Psychotherapy is the application of the teachings of M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® School of Islamic Sufism® to clients in the clinical setting. The goal of Sufi Psychotherapy is to guide the client to their innate source of strength within their heart. When one is connected to the source within, he/she is less affected by the shifts of day-to-day life and does not use external measures to define him/herself.
Sufi Psychotherapy is used with a wide variety of clients and issues. Since the goal of Sufism is self-knowledge, its teachings and techniques apply to all, regardless of their ethnic, religious, gender, socio-economic, sexual orientation, and cultural background. In fact, the research done on Sufi techniques has been conducted with participants from a multitude of religious and cultural backgrounds.
One of the main underlying factors of many psychological disorders is a fundamental lack of a true sense of self, or as viewed in Sufism, a loss of connection to the inner spiritual dimension. When one lacks awareness of his/her potential or true identity, he/she often compares themselves with others, which results in diminished self-worth, decreased self-esteem, and a reduction in self-efficacy. Most psychological disorders can be traced back to an individual’s sense of self, or lack thereof. Therefore, Sufi Psychotherapy can be applied to most psychiatric/behavioral issues with the exception of organic brain disorders, developmental disorders, or active psychosis.
Since a basic teaching of Sufism is that to truly know something, one must experience it, Sufi Psychology techniques tend to be non-linear and experiential in nature. Poetry, art, music, stories, meditative movements, breathing techniques and concentration are just some of the methods utilized. Sufi love poetry is a remarkable tool for psychotherapy as clients often have a difficult time with compassion, love and forgiveness towards themselves. Sufi techniques are used in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy techniques in order to assist the client in balancing the various aspects of their life.
In contrast to the Western psychological viewpoint of the brain being in charge of the human being and the main agent for change, Sufi Psychology focuses on the heart. The heart is the gateway to the spiritual dimension of each individual and should control the brain and body. Professor Nader Angha uses the analogy of a lamp. Many methods of psychotherapy address the various external dimensions of the lamp --- the type of bulb, the color, the shape, the cord, the size, the shade, etc., so that the lamp will best fit in its environment. Sufi psychotherapy instead focuses on ensuring that the lamp is plugged into the source of power, so that it will provide light. Basically, Sufi Psychology seeks to re-organize the internal hierarchical structure of the human being by directing individuals to lead from their heart and not their brain.
According to the teachings of Islamic Sufism, human beings have two dimensions, physical and spiritual. The physical dimension includes the physical body, the senses, the emotions, the mind and their interactions with the outside world. Current psychotherapy modalities work within this framework to shift the biopsychosocial aspects of man. Sufi Psychotherapy expands the boundaries to encompass the spiritual dimension.
The spiritual dimension is not bounded by race, ethnicity, culture or gender and is “the true value of each individual” (Angha, 2002, p.125). It is from this dimension where the traits of love, forgiveness, strength, creativity and compassion emerge. These traits are often associated with self-actualization and have been known to have powerful psychotherapeutic benefits. Sufi-integrated therapy seeks to nurture this dimension and shift the focus of patients to one where both dimensions are balanced and working in harmony.
Angha, N. (2002). Theory "I": The Unlimited Vision...of Leadership. Riverside, CA: M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Printing & Publication Center.
“By discovering their inner dimension, human beings will gain permanent knowledge and will be guided by eternal and infinite principles.”Professor Nader Angha, Theory I : the Unlimited Vision…of Leadership
“Individuals who follow the guidance of the stable center are in a state of equilibrium, in harmony with nature.”Professor Nader Angha, Theory I : the Unlimited Vision…of Leadership