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Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Transformation Information

Sufi masters often say that the secrets of the Path are handed heart-to-heart, like seeds, for you to grow in your flesh garden.

In the past Winter Intensive, I said — though perhaps not as loudly as I felt — that a teaching which is not handed heart-to-heart has no Reality, it won’t contain the experience of spiritual lineage transmission. Sufis are big on experience. So, first of all, this is truth, not a bid for control or a slash of stinginess or cloud of mystique. And second, it underlines the respect with which true matters — like one’s life, one’s opportunity — are best approached. We can always approach ourselves with contempt and derision, and many of us do, but a healthier, more fruitful attitude is respect and appreciation. Read more

Leading and Following

Observing is a good way to learn. Listening with stitched lips, wakeful eyes, and quivering ears brings magic into your life.” —Fatima Mernissi, Moroccan feminist scholar, Dreams of Trespass

Leading and Following—powerful, powerful, powerful—is fundamental to Dancemeditation training. It quiets the monkey mind. It teaches us how to hear the Divine. Big claim, but true.  Read more

The Dervish’s Turban

The dervish’s turban has four wraps.

The first is  renunciation of this world.
The second is renunciation of the Other World.
The third is renunciation of the self.
The fourth is renunciation of renunciation.

Not a lot of words here, but an elegant, succinct map for a pursuit which could occupy the better part of a lifetime to undertake and understand. Read more

SAT Conference, Colombia

I arrived in Bogota Airport, a run-down, monster airport. This is a big city and not an American one. Disorder and dirt abounded, and not speaking Spanish was a handicap. It’s not true that everyone everywhere speaks English. Finally, after an uneasy hour and a half, I connected with my promised driver, a man holding a piece of paper with my name and the conference name on it, which would have to suffice in terms of trust. I got in a shiny black SUV and we muscled through the snarl of rush hour Holy Week traffic. Read more

Quivers in this Vessel

A Dancemeditation session is a process of spiraling inward toward the center of the self, then coming out again, but I am not so fond of the clinical feeling of that descriptor. A Dancemeditation session is a work of art. It has light and shadow, shape and beauty, texture and time. It is creative. Ineffable spiritual awakening quivers in this vessel. Read more

A Little Chew of a Cue

In the morning workshop, after the ingestion period of all our breathing and movement, we moved onto an hour and a half excavate/integrate period with this cue: As you let your body move, be aware of all the little ‘in-betweens’. Of your fascia. Any small movement.  Be aware of your breathing.

Body Cues
In the flow of workshop, verbal cues are best when a bit vague, grammatically speaking—pointed but open, with room to explore. Read more

Mystic Festival in Holland

The Mystic Festival was amazing.

Musicians, whirlers and mystic movers from Iran, Pakistan, Moldavia, Iraq, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, India, France, and — with me — the USA presented (which meant performing or teaching, thus very little talk except the wonderful storyteller) beginning at 10am and finishing with a zhikr late in the evening. The day was punctuated with two beautiful meals.

The festival took place in an enormous hall on 30 or 40 large Persian carpets with brocade cushions for sitting and an absolutely state-of-the-art amplification system (this was heaven for me!) The sensitive instruments and beautiful voices,  both the resonant and intimate speaking voices as well as singing — needed to be amplified for the 200 to 300 hundred people that filled the hall.

The morning was devoted to music including Ustad Mahmud Sabri of the famed Sabri brothers (who arrived predictably late and pushed the whole program into strange timing; not that I really noticed. The day seem to have its own place in time). After lunch, a Gurdjieff movement session was followed by the lovely Sanjana Band (Bombay/ Amsterdam.) By the time I took the stage to introduce Dancemeditation as Sufism, perform, then teach, the hall was packed. The performance felt remote to me; the mood of the room was heavy, though my dancing was freer and lighter than usual. But performance softened us, allowing us to grow accustomed to one another.

Then the class began…Hundreds of people breathed, stretched, shook, danced, the energy building and building until we were all rhythmically swinging our heads up and down in unison and shouting ‘hayy’ ‘hayy’ ‘hayy’.  We leaned into the work, pushed it forward, swallowed it, and burst into flame. No holding back. No judging. Only the joy of shared ecstasy. I danced at the foot of an enormous wave, then it crashed around me and filled me. This meeting of illuminating hearts in a place beyond the ordinary remade me. When we all open out hearts together, offering them freely to one another and to the Eternal Divine, we receive far more than we ever give.

We finished with a long beautiful singing and moving ‘Allah’, something I’ve been reluctant to teach in America during the Bush era. In Holland, now, it was perfect. No fear of Allah there. It felt delicious. The sounds washed through my subtle inner chambers while my fascia slid through the heat of motion. When I looked out, I saw a sea of limbs, faces, hair, swaying, open mouths, closed eyes.

The day continued on with great happiness. I curled up at the edge of the carpets and watched, sometimes closing my eyes and drifting to sleep while music and voices in many languages wove around me. Having that much energy washing through me seemed to tire me in one way and fulfill me completely in another.

To be continued…

Kripalu Notes: Dance Healing

I am sensual in order to be spiritual.” –Mary Oliver

I woke this morning from dancing hard, and hard and long, for six days in a row, and though I’m sore, I feel as full of intense energy as the busy spring birds.

I was at Kripalu, teaching, the past five days. Five hours of focused moving each day, plus tramping speedily down the very long halls to get to the excellent food before the meal hour ended. (At home my food is a the end of a very short walk from one room to another.) This year the Kripalu work was shockingly intense. The group who attended went through the whole gamut of transformation. Amazing. Strangers coming to the fun bellydance party and being willing to stumble, for most part, uncomplainingly, into the maelstrom of Sufism. Read more

Staying in the Room: Impulse Control

I’m impulsive. (I’m not the only one.)

Can’t stay. Gotta go. Got to eat, to sleep, get away, get more, get noticed, be alone. It’s a speed world, and I often feel that my identity has shaken down into shorthand, a self-understanding so hastily scrawled it is hard to decipher what my self originally meant. I’m a dotted line rather than any one long tone. Read more