SUFI ‘Whirling -
Learn to ‘spin’ like a ‘whirling Dervish’ and enjoy the deep peace, freedom, joy, and trance-like heightened spiritual consciousness that can be achieved through this practice. An unforgettable experience!
The history of the people
Instructions for Sufi Whirling
The main emphasis of Sufi ‘Whirling’ is Spiritual focus through Movement. In the bible it says: ‘’In Him we move and have our Being” and we can learn to have our miraculous Being moved through movement. Although through our Whirling we may come to see that Being is actually ‘fixed’ whilst the ‘apparent’ body appears to move .This was also the entire point of many Sufi practices, especially ‘Whirling’, to free the Soul, and experience Life as it truly is, and not through the veil or dream, as we see it.
I ‘whirl’ every morning as I delight in the spinning scene that I notice through my peripheral vision. The objects of our so called ‘reality’ and familiar surroundings become meaningless, as you will see –appearing dream-like, just as a spinning mass of shapes and colours, and the outward appearance of things becomes an internal landscape, spiralling ever inwards until a deep peace and centeredness may be deeply felt inside.
The history of the people known as: ‘The Whirling Dervishes’
The ‘Whirling Dervishes’ evolved thorough the order of monks called the ‘Mevlevi’ order, founded by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, a mystic Sufi poet, in the 13th century. He was born in Apfghanistan, but at an early age, his family moved them all to Turkey, because of the danger of invading Mongols.
The Mevlana order, for seven centuries, has offered spiritual training based on the principles of tolerance, forgiveness and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood, especially in Turkey. Their dance is not performed as a theatrical spectacle but as a sacred ritual. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the ‘Sema’, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah. Mevlevi believed that during the ‘Sema’, the Soul was released from earthly ties, and able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. ( I have definitely experienced this – the ‘Sema’ which you will learn to day, is extremely powerful)
‘Dervish’ literally means ‘doorway’ and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. So a ‘Dervish’ is a seeker of the Truth. He or she is a seeker who will dedicate the whole their lives, and made Truth their main desire and is willing to submit all other desires and aims before this aim. The price of dervishood is one’s whole life, a total commitment of one’s life’s energies.
The Whirling Dervishes played an important part in the evolution of the Ottoman high culture. From the 14th to the 20th century, their impact on classical poetry, calligraphy and visual arts was profound. Rumi and his followers integrated music into their rituals as an article of faith. Rumi emphasized that music uplifts our spirit to the realm above, and we hear the tunes of the Gates of Paradise.
The first part of the ceremony is called ‘The Sema’, which represents a spiritual journey; the seeker turning toward God and truth, a maturing through love, the transformation of self as a way of union with God, and a return to live as the servant of all creation. The Semazen, with a tall camel’s felt hat representing a tombstone of the ego; and a wide, white skirt, symbolizing the ego’s shroud, upon removing his black cloak, is spiritually reborn to Truth. The Semazens’s stand with their arms crossed over their chests, ready to begin their turn. Each rotation takes them past the sheikh. This is the place of Mevlana Rumi, and the sheikh is understood to be a channel for divine grace. At the start of each of the 4 movements of the ceremony, the semazens bow to each other honouring the spirit within. As their arms unfold, the right hand opens to the skies in prayer, ready to receive God’s beneficence on his gaze. The left hand, upon which his gaze rests, is turned towards the earth in the gesture of bestowal. Fix-footed, the Semezen provides a point of contact with this earth through which the divine blessings flow.
(Do you ever wonder how the whirling dervishes spin and spin? How the Tibetan monks spin and spin? Practice that’s how, and you, too, can spin. You probably spun as a child until you were dizzy and filled with spontaneous joy, watched the flow of colours as the world danced by.) As a child you may’ve spun both ways, but Whirling Dervishes spin to the left, fundamental to being a Whirling Dervish, and Tibetan Monks spin to the right, fundamental to being a Tibetan Monk. In this new millennium, it is time to embrace the wisdom of teachings from each culture’s practices and celebrate that ecstatic dancers spin both ways, just as we did as children.
We will spin and when we’re finished we will meditate. If you’ve ever had trouble meditating before, you may find it much easier immediatley after whirling, because the mind becomes naturally empty after spinning – spinning produces an empty space where your mind use to be.
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The value of spinning includes, (amongst MANY other things, too numerous to mention here:-
- Balancing the flow of energy, both coming in and going out
- Losing control and letting the head dance
- Stimulating the activity of the pineal and pituitary glands, releasing endorphins and seretonin, (reducing the need for mood-elevating substances.)
- Grounding and uplifting, simultaneously.
- Releasing eye muscles from small, rigid, movements.
- Reducing fear of unusual states of mind
- Returning to innocent, childlike experiences of JOY
- Experiencing feelings of total FREEDOM
Instructions for Sufi Whirling and the meaning of the movements.
- ) Begin by crossing your right arm over your left arm over your chest.
(This represents the birth of Truth by way of knowledge – towards God.)
2.) Now, looking down loosely at your left hand, stretch your right arm out slowly. Continue to move round slowly to the left. Keep staring at the back of the left hand, all the time, and NEVER TAKING YOUR EYES OFF IT, now stretching it out to the left, with the palm facing downwards, connecting you with the earth.
(Expressing the rapture of witnessing the splendour of creation - with God.)
- Now continue slowly Spinning to the left, in an anti-clockwise direction.
(This represents the transformation of rapture into Love – in God.)
- Bringing the Sema to completion: Slowly bring your left back to your chest, whilst all the time keeping your focus on the back of your left hand, then EXTREMLEY SLOWLY begin to bring your right arm in and cross it over your left hand, and continue to spin, increasingly more slowly, till you feel you are ready to stop.
(Coming to terms with destiny and returning to one’s task in Creation – coming back home.)
Follow this by quietly sitting and meditating for as long as you enjoy.
“The Whirling Dervishes don’t call these movements a ‘dance’ – it’s a prayer. Everything is Whirling in the world – from the smallest cell up to the galaxies of the Universe. Everything is turning. Our Whirling is to join to this Universal prayer.
The Sema ceremony is a way to reach ecstasy. It has 4 parts.
The 1st part means: Towards God
The 2nd part means: With God
The 3rd part means: In God and represents ecstasy.
This 4thpart represents Coming back home.
The most important message of Rumi, is Unity.He said we have come to Unite, not to divide.” - Nail Kesova – Mevlevi Sheikh
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I am being seen by the Beloved.
I am enveloped in the arms of Love.
I am pure Love
I am pure BEING
There is no ‘I’
There is no-one here
There is JUST THIS
I am not Whirling – Whirling is simply happening
LOVE is Spinning
‘In Him we move and have our BEING
I am not Spinning – I am being Spun – there is no ‘I’ – Spinning is happening.
“Everything is Whirling in the world – from the smallest cell up to the galaxies of the Universe. Everything is turning. Our Whirling is to join to this Universal prayer.
The Sema ceremony is a way to reach ecstasy. It has 4 parts. The 1st part means towards God, 2nd part, with God, 3rd part in God. This 3rd part represents ecstasy. The 4th part represents coming back. The most important message of Rumi, is Unity. He said we have come to Unite not to divide.”
– (Nail Kesova – Mevlevi Sheikh)
“Set your eyes on non-existence
This world has become visible by means of the Directionless since world was placed here by the Placeless.”
“The house of my heart is empty, devoid of desire, like paradise. Within it is no work but the love of God. No inhabitant but the image of union with Him. I have swept the house clear of good and bad – my house is full of love for the One.”
“ In generosity and helping others, be like the river.
In compassion and grace, be like the sun.
In concealing other’s faults, be like the night.
In anger and fury, be like the dead.
In modesty and humility, be like the earth.
In tolerance be like the sea.
However you be, either be as you appear, or appear as you
Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi.
Says, Mercan Dede, a modern Sufi musician, relating something Rumi said:
“ We are all cross-eyed people – we see everything separate, but then when you start to look rightly, nothing is really separate – everything is One, and the essence of Sufi-ism is to Unify everything, not to separate them.”
Mira Burke – Whirler :
“There is this palpable stillness at the centre of the Whirling that exists that you can tap into and, you feel as if you are in the eye of the hurricane and everyone disappears and it feels easier to remain Whirling than to stop.”
Abida Parveen - Sufi Singer:
“We have 2 eyes but we may not see the whole picture. There is another eye which is in our heart. It sees that which is unseen: Holy radiations – when these reach the listener through Sufi music and poetry, then this is Sufism, this is purity, this is spirituality.”