Is this a kind of New Age practice?
We do believe that we are entering a new era, but this is different that what has come to be called “new age.” In our view, “new age” practices are often presented as a random collection of techniques and beliefs borrowed from various traditions without a sense of “lineage.” Our approach emphasizes finding and experiencing the central meaning that unites various traditions, which is encountered within modern sciences as well. This thread of unity follows a clear history, tracing a line which can be followed and extended in a meaningful way to provide direction and mastery. The experiences and practices which derive from this are neither static and rooted in the past or even the present; nor are they a more confused and random scattering of concepts and practices. These would be, at best, an idiosyncratic grouping, meaningful perhaps for one or a small group of individuals. Rather, following this thread of unity leads to a dynamic, ever changing and evolving trajectory rooted in the integration of the essential wisdom of the past as it gives meaning to the present and directs us into the future.
Is there one main idea involved in your teachings?
We are evolving into a new era that is more holistic, collaborative and integrative. Together, we explore a flexible and balanced approach to manifesting this era with many elements that are useful and effective in co-creating this new way of being.
What is the main element in the mind/body work that you teach?
The “relaxation response” serves as a container for the other learnings to follow, especially those related to wellness, such as stress reduction. A participant will learn “to follow the central thread,” as expressed in the various theories and practices which are encountered.
A participant will learn to attain a greater internal realization of the relaxation response, then practice applying that to multiple situations encountered in life.
Through a sincere attempt to teach a variety of techniques, the practitioner develops a menu from which he or she can choose as the situation requires. The theories and practices are derived from well-established philosophical and other traditions and from modern psychology.
What do you mean by mysticism and the Sufism of Inayat Khan?
Mysticism refers to developing an individual experience of connection with whatever the person feels is a power of the universe greater than themselves, and then integrating this power into one’s daily life. The emphasis is on individual experience related to, but not necessarily the same, as the experience of others. To guard against idiosyncratic beliefs, not rooted in “real” experience, it is usually best to enter and study the practices of mysticism with a trained guide.
The Sufism which informs much of our teaching was brought to the West by Inayat Khan, an Indian mystic who travelled throughout America and Europe in the early 1900s. His major contribution was to clarify the central thread of wisdom found in many mystical traditions. He integrated this thread into the tradition known as Sufism, eventually calling it “the Message.” These teachings developed into several branches, including the work of Murshid Samuel Lewis, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Murshid Shahabuddin David Less and others.
In our present time, Sufism is often defined as the mysticism of Islam. In the tradition inherited and continued by Inayat Khan and successors, a more universal Sufism — “the Message” — is not tied exclusively to any “exoteric” tradition. A person is free to practice any or no religion. This modern approach is an evolution and is meant for our emerging culture. This message will continue to evolve and change, acknowledging and using all that it has integrated in its past as it moves forward into the new era. In this spirit, we include these teachings and others in Amber Light International activities.
Does becoming involved with Amber Light mean that we follow a Sufi or mystical path?
The opportunity to deeply follow a mystical path, such as the Message in our time, is available by request and mutual agreement. However, this is not necessary. Amber Light integrates applicable practices from many traditions and the physical and social sciences, in order to deal with issues related to wellness, well-being, self-discovery and finding one’s purpose. Our general aim is educational and exploratory.
Is this psychotherapy, or some other form of psychiatric or mental health practice?
No. Although we are trained mental health professionals, Amber Light involves education only. There is no diagnosis, treatment, doctor-patient or therapist-patient relationship. If the advisability of mental health treatment arises, participants need to find that elsewhere.