This is an excerpt from my latest work, The Muhammadan Litanies, to be published
in the Fall in the Spring of 2016 in sha’ Allah. Speaking on how one may strengthen his connection to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jili (Allah sanctify his secret) said:
To strengthen your connection to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), you should constantly bring to presence and visualize the Prophet’s form (as I have just described it) in your mind and make a conscious effort to uphold proper manners with it as it is brought to presence—with reverence, magnification, and awe. If you chose not to bring that splendid and sublime form to presence and you have seen him before in a dream, then visualize the form you saw in your dream. If you have not seen him in your dream and you are unable to visualize him in the form that has been described, then invoke prayers upon him and as you are there remembering him act as if you are there directly before him during his [physical] life—observing the proprieties of reverence, magnification, awe, and shyness—for he certainly sees and hears you each time you remember him. That is because he is described with the qualities of Allah Most High, and Allah is the Companion of the one who remembers Him. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), therefore, has an ample share of this quality, too, because the description of the knower (‘Arif) is the description of the One he knows (Ma’rufuhu), and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the most knowledgeable of all people regarding Allah Most High. If you are unable to be before the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) as described here yet you have visited his noble grave in the past and seen his noble Garden (Rawda) and lofty and sublime Dome, then visualize his noble grave and resplendent presence [Medina] in your mind each time you remember him, or each time you send prayers upon him, and act as if you are standing before his noble grave—with reverence and magnification—until you witness the Prophet’s spiritual essence manifest before you. If you have neither visited his noble grave nor seen the place of his presence [the Mosque] or his Garden, then send constant prayers upon him and bring to mind that he (Allah bless him and give him peace) hears you; observe proper manners when doing so and concentrate all of your spiritual energies into it so your prayers reach him while your heart is present before him. Indeed, concentrating one’s spiritual energies leaves an indelible effect! Have shame lest you remember him or send prayers upon him (Allah bless him and give him peace) while you are preoccupied with other than him, for then your prayer will be a body without a soul. Every act of piety that a servant does will assume a living form provided it is done with presence of heart. But if it is done in a state of obliviousness, or when the mind is distracted by something else, then it will assume a dead and lifeless form.
(Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jili, Qaba qawsayn)