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Holiday, friendship and “meditation retreat” (second post)

This is the second of 11 blog posts about going to Morocco to walk "mindfully" in the Sahara desert.  This post covers the arrival in Marrakech.

5.00am - the calls of the muezzin increase in volume. This seems a good time to meditate. All around, here in the Marrakech medina, many others will be praying.

... and now it's over an hour later. I sat quietly listening. The cocks crew lustily as the muezzin calls ebbed away. Normally in Edinburgh I would be up at this time. It's quite a solitary, quiet time of day. Interesting just now, comforting in a way, to feel the sincere activity of many in this city at that early hour.

Sitting meditating. Starting by quietly taking my attention round my body in the familiar way. Muslims too prepare themselves before they pray. The website I visit says "The set prayers are not just phrases to be spoken. Prayer for a Muslim involves uniting mind, soul, and body in worship; so a Muslim carrying out these prayers will perform a whole series of set movements that go with the words of the prayer. Muslims make sure that they are in the right frame of mind before they pray; they put aside all everyday cares and thoughts so that they can concentrate exclusively on God. If a Muslim prays without the right attitude of mind, it as if they hadn't bothered to pray at all. Qur'an 107:4-6 - Woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayer, or who pray only to be seen by people."

Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, so many others. Would that the sincerity of so many could bring more peace and sense to the world!

And yesterday was a very full day. Gradually meeting at Gatwick. Seemed a little miraculous that six of us could convene from different directions, get to London, all arrive without too many incidents, make the flight ... and that the flight itself was pretty much on time and landed on schedule in Marrakech. Great when it all goes to plan. No doubt there will be times over the next 10 days when it doesn't. Appreciate it when it does!

And then to our little riad Dar Soukaina, good, welcoming, a haven in the hustle and bustle of the medina. Washing, settling in, meeting up with the seventh member of our party who arrived yesterday. Out to find somewhere to eat, then wandering through the little streets, ending with mint tea looking out over the big square - Djemaa el Fna. We've arrived, and when we get back to Dar Soukaina we hear that the eighth of our group has got in too. Good. We begin.


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