The 11 Principles of the Naqshbandi Order (7)

7) The attention (Nigah Dasht)
Nigah means “view”, “attention”. This principle is the invitation to be vigilant and to observe one’s heart and safeguard it from being occupied by harmful thoughts. It means being aware of the direction that your attention follows, in the moment, and without judgments to invite it to go deeper. Be watchful and remember your real self. This is the key of the dervish path, the main tool to know yourself and what makes your practice effective.
Our vision is now almost entirely focused on our dynamics, our psychic drama, on the exteriority and reactivity of the emotions and only a small part of us is looking in the direction of the soul. The practice corrects this imbalance, it accompanies us in the passage from the world of the mind to the soul regions, where the drama ceases and all is joyful, clear, ordered, simple and bright. It invites us to stay there, to meditate on our soul.
Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar (qas) said: “The meaning of preserving the mind [from thoughts] is not that the seeker can avoid thoughts at the beginning [of his attempts], but rather that thoughts do not disturb the attendance and presence [required for the dhikr]. [Thoughts] can be likened to straw which has fallen onto moving water and yet the water is not prevented from its course”.

Sheikh Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani (qas) said: “It isn’t so that thoughts never enter the heart/mind, but rather to be aware that at times they do and at times they do not.”

In the dervish path you develop the awareness of being observed. For God looks at us, listen to us at all times.
The sign of a real Sheikh is that he can monitor his disciples at least three times a day. He can put them under tests and look at their reactions. He can check like this how much his students are determined and ready.