Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials

Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
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Guest Caterer Specials are side dishes that complement our main courses. The experiences of many spiritual seekers are forming a "cookbook for a sacred life" (Ram Dass' phrase). Might some special delicacy from this potluck meal become a staple at your table?

Please sample our current Main Courses menu, as well as our tasty Desserts & Snacks and earlier dishes in the Soul Food Archive. And, do send your personal comments to our busy kitchen staff. View others' comments here.




Our Current Guest Caterer is Noor-Malika Chishti of Los Angeles

[Noor-Malika is an authorized Representative of Pir Zia Inayat-Khan* and is an Ordained Cheraga, or Minister of Light, of the Universal Worship Service. Her contribution to our Soul Food is a three-part series of meditations on the elements©, based on the teachings of Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan. Noor-Malika has found these meditations helpful in her spiritual life. Part One introduces this practice, and features a meditation on Earth.]

 Earth, Water, Fire, and Air are God’s servants.  To us they seem lifeless, but to God, living.
~  Rumi

  • Breathe IN through the nose and OUT through the mouth.  Visualize the color emerald green. 60 to 70% of your body is water; become aware of the moisture and fluids in your body.  This  element enters your body through drinking, from food you eat and from the moisture in the air. Water leaves through your breath, sweat, tears, and excretions.  The Water Breath creates flexibility and fluidity and helps unleash creativity.  It relates to your emotions, and is useful in breaking free from habitual thinking patterns.  From Masaru Emoto’s book Hidden Messages in Water,* we learn that the quality of our thoughts affects the clarity and composition of Water. His work gives photographic proof of the impact of our attitude on water; this gives us an idea of ways in which we can also affect the water in our own bodies.
  • Greet the being that is Water.
  • On the inhale, feel receptivity, empathy, compassion.
  • Attune to your muscles, connective, and digestive tissues—anywhere more flexibility is needed.  Are they hard or flexible?  Feel the difference between your muscles and your bones.
  • Breathing in, brisk clear and sparkling water cascades down over the top of your head.  Feel the drops of water penetrating your cells, dripping off your fingertips.
  • Breathing out, release any physical or mental toxins.  Focus on any parts of the body that are in need of healing, or that lack energy and vitality; debris is flushed out, to be neutralized in the ocean.
    You can imagine exhaling a fine stream of water through the mouth.
  • If you feel overwhelmed by what happens around you, return those qualities back to Water.
  • Imagine water flowing around a rock in a river; not being stopped by the rock, but going over, under, around.  See yourself flowing around obstacles rather than hitting them head-on.  The effect of water flowing around obstacles is to polish and efface.  While you are doing this breath, think of something in yourself on which you are working that is an obstacle, and let this breath work on it— something you need to get around?  what might need polishing?
  • As you breathe in, let purifying water into your Earth—let it penetrate deeply into all layers.  You might imagine a ritual bath of purification.
  • Feel your capacity to adapt to situations as Water adjusts to the shape of its container.
  • Being aware of the life-giving and purifying qualities of water, let life energy and power flow out on your breath into your immediate environment as you exhale.
  • Repentence is associated with the Water element.  If you have something to repent, you may find tears helpful in washing away a sense of wrong-doing or regret.
  • Offer your gratitude to the being of Water for this purification. 

[Please go to the meditation closing in the Soul Food Archive. See Guest Caterer Specials—Winter, 2012]  


  • Breathe in through the mouth as if you are sipping through a straw.  Hold the breath momentarily and then breathe out through the nose.  The Fire element relates to the heart and lungs, to the heat and energetic processes in your body and to that about which you are passionate.  Be aware of how this element is present in your environment and in the sun, how it moves through you.  Attune to your blood; it might help to feel a pulse—the pulsing of each beat is blood passing throughout your body.  Visualize the color red.  The breath of the fire element is quickening.  It sparks inspiration and is useful when you feel drowsy and have low energy. We are in a constant state of combustion, burning the calories we consume in our meals. An electric spark in our hearts keeps us living.  The warmth in your body reveals this element in you, but look also for the element in the radiance of your being, in illuminated thoughts, in those things that inspire your passion and dedication.  Inhale the qualities of Fire that help you and release the destructive aspects of Fire (like anger), and let them go up in smoke.
  • As you draw breath in, visualize the red embers of a fire glowing at the base of your spine.  Let the fire of the embers become golden light as you draw your breath and focus up to the heart chakra, which is a few inches above the solar plexus in the center of your chest.  Hold the breath momentarily.  Exhale through the heart chakra, imagining that you are radiating from a miniature sun in your heart, radiating intense golden light 360˚, not just in front of yourself.
  • Use the fire breath as a place of offering up the parts of yourself you would like to transform.  Put your self-doubt, cynicism, addictive patterns, or resentments to the fire.  Avoid making pledges you won’t keep.  Simplify your intention and open yourself to the purification process.
  • Instead of using will power to change, the concentration on the fire element represents the action of life as a teacher that activates and burns up what needs to be burned, a natural force of change and growth by which our deeper nature emerges.
  • Breathing in, go to the Fire, as a moth to the flame, saying Yes to the opportunity for transformation. 
  • Breathing out, toxins are combusted, producing a radiant aura.  
  • On the inhalation, come in touch with your soul’s desire; your aspirations for spiritual awareness and understanding; your desire to be authentic; to make your life meaningful and worthwhile; to stand up for what you believe in; to have the courage to take the next step in your spiritual evolution.
  • When inspirations arise, remember that a kindled flame needs Air, while it is protected from strong winds.
  • Feel your gratitude to Fire for this purification.

[Please go to the meditation closing in the Soul Food Archive. See Guest Caterer Specials—Winter, 2012]  




We're interested in ways this Soul Food may have touched your life.

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* Credits for this page:

~ The quilts of American fiber artist Faith Ringgold hang in museums around the world.  Harlem Renaissance Party, #2 in her "Bitternest Series," is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.  Acryllic on canvas, 94"x82", it pictures eleven guests and their exuberant, mask-holding hostess, Cee Cee.  From lower left around the table, the guests are Celia (or Ceclia), a doctor; Florence Mills, singer and comedienne; Aaron Douglass, painter; Meta Warick Fuller, sculptor; W.E.B. DuBois, organizer and writer; Cee Cee's husband, a dentist; Richard Wright, writer; Countee Cullen, poet, novelist and playwright; Zora Neal Hurston; novelist, folklorist and anthropologist; Alain Locke, philosopher and writer; Langston Hughes, poet and writer.  Gratefully used with permission.  See more of Faith's work at


~ Quotation sources can be found at 

~ For more information about these teachings and their sources, see  universal.html and  
~ Instrumental music, El-Hadra, used in Sufi meditation can be found at


Continuing from Part One with Noor-Malika Chishti’s biography:
Traditionally, Sufism is considered the esoteric school of Islam, similar to the Kabbalistic tradition in Judaism.
Noor-Malika is a Sufi Cheraga, one ordained in the Universal Worship Service as a Bearer of Light.  This service was created by Murshid Hazrat Inayat-Khan, whose teacher sent him (in the early 1900s) to take Sufi teachings to the West.  He taught the unity of religious ideals and opened the Sufi teachings to those of any religion, guided by the teaching in the Qur’an that, I could have made you all one people, but I did not so that you can come to know one another.


WATCH FOR OUR NEXT GUEST CATERER SPECIAL — october, and—later, in this same space—


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