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Sufi Dance Q&A: Learning How to Whirl

One of my dear students asked me some questions about Sufi Dance and the Sama after one of our workshops. Here are my answers…

Q: There are many Sufi Orders, and among them, one of the most known is Mevlevi. Does your method and philosophy follow the Mevlevi?

A: Yes it does, but I have been guided to innovate the method and simplify the technique so it can be accessible to more people. I teach the philosophy of the Mevlevi Sufis and what I have understood from my 20+ years of whirling. I also bring back the Sama of Rumi and Shams that we believe was more abandoned and free than the highly structured Mevlevi Sama developed primarily by Rumi’s son, Sultan Valad and not by Rumi himself. Some say the Mevlevi Sama as seen today was established more or less 300 years after Rumi’s life.

Q: I have a question about the technique of the Sema or Sama. At first, we bows to the place where  are to whirl with our arms crossed and palms resting on the shoulders. Then when we start whirling, we slowly move our hands unto our heart, and then extend the right arm up toward the sky, and the left arm toward the Earth. Is this correct?

A: At first you stand with your right arm crossed over your left, hands gently resting on your shoulders. You then go down in reverence, bowing to that which you revere most. Then you rise up to standing and begin to take your steps. When you are ready you slowly move your hands unto your heart while you stepping. You tune into what you need to release from your heart, your psyche, so you can give your heart more fully to the Beloved, to that which you revere. Once you feel you have identified what you need to release, you begin to release it. Your hands echo the process of releasing by moving down from your heart toward the ground. Once you’ve let go of what you need to release, you bless it and compost it with your feet. When you are ready, you let your hands rise in front of you, tracing the new growth from the compost up your body. Your arms begin to lift and blossom over your head like a flower. You keep your right arm up, with your palm facing up and extend your left arm out shoulder level with your palm facing down. You receive the light from Spirit with your right palm and let it travel to your heart. From your heart, you extend the light into your left arm and transmit it out with your left palm to the Earth, all people and life on Earth.

Q: At the end, where do you place your hand? On your heart or on your shoulders?

A: Either place is fine, but try to bring them back to the position you started which is on your shoulders. You then bow down in reverence and continue going down into child’s pose or Sajdeh. Bring your forehead to the ground, kiss the Earth and touch your forehead on the ground again, giving your reverence to the Earth, to the very place you were whirling.

Q: I would like to know the name and the supplier of the Sufi women’s dresses for whirling. I can’t find these dresses in Japan.

A: There really is no supplier. I have had mine all custom made. I’m thinking of having some dresses available for people to purchase on my website, but that may take a while. I suggest you look at this website and also search further for liturgical dance dresses.

Email us with any questions, and see the calendar for my upcoming events. To learn how to dance the Sufi whirling or Sama in a few simple steps, try Whirling Dance of the Heart video course.


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