A Saturday with Sidra Jafri, a report from the Awakening.
In these times of darkness threatening to overpower us, often oblivious to the stark realities of the violent world we have created and inhabit, Sidra’s spiritual message is such a precious gift. I was lucky enough to attend part of her Awakening master class in London. Throughout the day, she takes the participants on a journey to releasing the past by becoming aware of their blocks in health, wealth and relationships thanks to the use of different exercises and techniques she shares with them.
Gathered in this huge hotel conference room with green carpet on the floor and wood panels on the walls, a crowd of several hundreds of very attentive people were seating in front of a stage decorated with heavy purple velvet curtains, a screen and a whiteboard, where Sidra, dressed in a long glamourous ivory dress, at times walking and at times resting on a stool, offered her insights on how to spiritually awaken oneself. As I was late, I was ushered in by two very kind and efficient staff which made sure to find an empty seat for me at the back of the wide room without disturbing the silent crowd and the charismatic speaker. As I was settling in, what stroke me the most, besides the richness of the decorum and the professionalism of the logistics, was the diversity of the audience. I was expecting some rather white and hippie/esoteric crowd. I was however wrong. From young to old, from light to dark, from conservative-looking to punk-styled, from “able” to “disable”, from alone to family, from female to male: Sidra’s message must truly be universal to be able to move, and attract, such a vibrant crowd and have it seat so still and focused – someone near me was even religiously taking notes on a notebook while sipping on some energy drink.
At first taken a bit aback by such a cultish ambiance, I soon relaxed as I listened to Sidra’s ongoing talk. She was giving insights on her own philosophy, that which the Awakening is built upon. Its first and fundamental premise is the following one, and she tends to repeat it once and again when deconstructing certain personal or social beliefs which are hurdles on our path to real awakening: everything is energy, and energy is information. Awakening to this knowledge and taking real stock of it allows us to genuinely reflect on how to use and spread energy within ourselves and around us, i.e. how to give up on energy blockages or, how she puts it, how to kill our internal saboteur.
While she is very knowledgeable and could speak for hours, she made sure to include the audience with what she calls “witness’ statements”. Anyone was welcome to intervene and share their experience or ask a question. After the person introduced her or himself, Sidra asked everyone to greet the person. The first time hearing 300 hundred people saying “Hi Joy” in unison was a bit unsettling and quite impressive; the next times, however, it helped me reflect on the traditionally hierarchical setting that master classes are usually set up with, and that, I guess, Sidra tries to do away with: it is not, or not only about her on stage with the knowledge and the power, it is about us sharing our knowledge and building our own empowerment through it. She actually explicated the point further later on when she reflected on the fact that, on the one hand, the best teachers are those that never stop learning and, on the other hand, that in this very room where we were she did not know more or was better than us, but that we were all in this together. There was definitely a soothing feeling of warmth in this studious community. This feeling found literal illustration a moment later when Sidra asked us to engage in a collective exercise to reflect and work on our respective relationship to money. Recalling that money is about materiality, she urged us to find a comfortable position where we would feel grounded; many of us actually laid on the floor. The exercise lasted for 10 minutes during which she helped us visualize and feel our intimate, as in emotional and bodily, relationship to money. With my eyes closed, I was very aware of myself, but I could also feel the people around me and this made the exercise all the more powerful. While we all struggle in ourselves, we are all together in this struggle and Sidra is the shining link.
With her reflection and her healing powers as expressed through the message of Awakening, Sidra is indeed a spiritual and intellectual bridge. Mirroring the inclusiveness of the workshop’s audience, her message is itself never exclusionary. Well on the contrary. She insisted on the fact that finding spirituality is neither about discarding religion, nor mocking or ignoring modern science. Awaking should be done in a perspective of complementarity. Spirituality is, as religion, about finding the divine within ourselves: Sidra therefore cautioned the audience against the hypocritical use of “spirituality” as an ersatz for religion. Spirituality is an add-on to religion when one is already religious. It should not be “either…or” but rather “and”. The same goes with modern science as she pointed out how current trends in neurology or epigenetics focus on the relationships existing between physiology and memory, and are more and more interested in genetic memory, something spiritual healers have dealt with for centuries. More importantly, she made a point at deconstructing the myth existing in spiritually-motivated communities regarding the fact that taking Western medication should be considered as a personal failure. She insisted on the usefulness of medical treatments: when the body or the mind suffers physical harm, however caused by energy-driven imbalances, it needs physical repair in the form of medication. Once again, it is all about complementarity: while only addressing the physical parts of the traumas will not be enough; only taking care of the energetic imbalances is also insufficient to really heal and go forward, as mind, body and soul are intertwined and work, or break together. Sidra therefore advocates for a holistic, and hence nuanced yet simple, understanding of the self. To her, it is in life’s simplicity that one can find deepness. Such message is indeed rare and precious in the present days where individualism, communitarianism and superficiality seem to be the only way out there.