Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials

Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
View Entire Quilt

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

The ancient Hindu scripture, the Vamana Purana, offers this prayer: Let the great elements bless this dawning day: Earth with its smell, Water with its taste, Fire with its radiance, Air with its touch, and Space with its sound.

The ancient Greeks said everything is made of some combination of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Aristotle agreed but added a fifth element which is beyond the material world: Ether.

Ayurvedic medicine is based upon the five elements; different combinations of the elements create different health conditions. When at death the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, the cycle of nature is balanced. The Jewish mystical studies of the Kabbalah teach that these elements are the Four Worlds which make up the Universe and reveal to us, "As above, so below." Sufis meditate on these elements as a way to remind us we are made of the fabric of the Universe, and of our connection and responsibility to it.

This healing practice comes from the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan,* and has been developed by his son, Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan, and his grandson, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, who says: "...the healing of both the planet and the body can only be realized by reestablishing the relationship between the body, the concentrated essence of the whole universe, and the planet—and that is what is affirmed through the elemental practices."

Pir Vilayat Inayat–Khan* observed that most of the pollution in the world begins in "the pollution in our thinking." He said that our fixed, sclerosed and negative thoughts were “the waste products of the universe.” Recognizing the part each of us plays in this, we can commit to sweeping from our being stale and worn concepts, and habitual ways of seeing and reacting.

  • It is best to do these meditations standing outdoors, or by an open window; but sit if you need to and be inside if necessary. Each Element is a balanced breath: equal time inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils to your own natural count of four. Note that each element breath has a different breathing pattern. If visualization of colors does not happen for you, don’t worry; not everyone finds this doable.
  • Start with a few deep cleansing breaths: pushing gently, slowly, and as fully as possible—first out of the chest and then out of the abdomen. Exhale further and further, and then let your inhalation be completely natural, using no effort. This is important, so that you do not strain your lungs or the muscles in your chest. Hold the breath for a moment after the inhalation. After a few rounds of exhalations and inhalations, begin with the breath of the element. While inhaling be aware that you receive; while exhaling be aware that you radiate.
  • To conclude each meditation, take a few breaths in and out. Offer your gratitude to the elements and their Source, perhaps with a prayer for healing, such as Nayaz by Hazrat Inayat-Khan,

Beloved Lord, Almighty God!
Through the rays of the sun,
Through the waves of the air,
Through the All-pervading Life in space,
Purify and revivify me, and I pray,
Heal my body, heart, and soul. Amen. Amin.


Breathe in and out through the nose. Hold the image of horizontal spreading, density, endurance; the Earth holds everyone up, produces food for all; if we are constrained in our Earth, it can make us self-centered and we can become as a desert. Visualize the color golden-yellow. Take a minute to feel the bones in your body. Focus on drawing magnetic energy up from the Earth through the bottom of your feet if standing, or, from the base of your spine if sitting. On a subtle level, the Earth is not only a singular organism but is also connected to the solar system and part of a galaxy.


  • Greet the being that is Earth. Consciously give your physical weight to be upheld by the Earth. Feel the healing power, magnetism of the Earth.
  • On the inhalation, sense yourself part of life, your body made of Earth and subject to the harmony and order of the natural world.
  • Make your exhalation a purposeful gesture to reconnect yourself to the world around you.
  • Be aware of the bones and ligaments in your body; the image is of rootedness and support. Feel this support through the soles of your feet or the base of your spine.
  • Take a moment to ask if there is anywhere you would like to feel more supported in your life.
  • Consciously draw in and absorb the magnetism of the Earth through the soles of your feet or base of spine. Release your burdens with each exhalation.
  • Breathing in, sense the interconnection to the world around you through the food you eat, which brings new aspects of the Earth element into your physical form, and through your waste products giving back. There is a flow of this element into you and out of you. This is part of the cycle of life of the Earth element. Be aware of the quality of food you offer your body.
  • Breathing out, through the bottom of your feet or the base of your spine, release from your body mental and emotional accumulations, tiredness, disharmony, illness and toxins--everything to be composted in the Earth in the natural cycle of life.
  • If there were places you identified where you did not feel sell-supported in life, take this compost and apply it to that situation without identifying the solution. Put down the garment of your mind and allow the Universe of possibilities to bring you what you really need for the situation.
  • Feel yourself like a tree with roots extending firmly and deeply into the earth.
  • Now concentrate on the magnetic field of your body. The body has a force field around it, similar to that of a magnet and to the Earth. Imagine you are aligning your own magnetic field to the magnetic field of the Earth, the way that iron filings align around a magnet. When magnetic power is weak, the iron filings are in disarray. When the power is strong, the filings align in symmetrical, harmonic patterns. On each in-breath, feel the filings coming into order, renewing your vital connection.
  • On the exhalation, sense that your body gives forth a natural revitalized magnetism that harmonizes the atmosphere around you.
  • Feel your gratitude to the Earth for this purification and honor your connection to Earth.



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

Click HERE to send us your comments...


Read Others' Comments...

This mindful meditation is helpful. I will go now to water my potted plants, and be more conscious of how the earth renews me. I will return to this meditation to refresh me.

Thank you for reminding me today of the importance of breathing to find the centeredness, and to return to deep breathing in the tense times of the day.



* 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

~ Instrumental music, El-Hadra, used in Sufi meditation can be found at


Noor-Malika Chishti tells this story: In 1972, I had a dream of an Indian-looking man who was standing behind a white-picket fence gate and looking into my eyes.  Behind him was a garden full of yellow roses.  Two weeks later my friend, the late Nubian master Oud player, Hamza el Din, gave me a book he thought I would like—it was Volume III of The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat-Khan [HIK]. When I opened the book I saw a photo of the man from my dream.  I carried this book everywhere, and one day soon after receiving the book I sat reading it in an outdoor café. A woman sat down at the next table and said, “My teacher’s father wrote that book.”  By the beginning of the next year, I had met Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s son and spiritual successor, and had taken initiation into the Sufi Order International.

Noor-Malika is a grandmother of three, a poet, and an advocate for “Food is your best medicine.”  She enjoys organic gardening and hiking.  In the next two parts of our Sufi Practices Guest Caterer Specials, Noor-Malika will share more Sufi history and her experiences with the worldwide Sufi community—and how these have led her to Interfaith ministry, including the founding of Musallah Tauhid, a community of Muslims from different Sufi Orders who share sacred space with Christians and Jews.


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


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