DI­VINE DANCE

Sufi whirling al­lows you to cen­tre the chaos from within

India Today - - CONTENTS - ZIA NATH, DANSEUSE

THE PRAC­TICE OF TH­ESE EX­ER­CISES ALIGNS US TO A CEN­TRE WITHIN WHICH VAR­I­OUS FACETS OF OUR­SELVES COME TO­GETHER TO CRE­ATE A HAR­MO­NIOUS PUR­POSE OF BE­ING

Dance is nat­u­ral to our body. It is uni­ver­sal. Dance forms of ev­ery tra­di­tion has turn­ing and whirling tech­niques. Like bal­le­rina pirou­ettes, kathakchakars, odis­si­brah­maris, gypsy spins and the sufi whirls.

Whirling is as old as move­ment it­self. It is nat­u­ral to our body. Have you seen chil­dren spin, whirl, get giddy, and gig­gly, fall, get up and whirl again? We have all done this nat­u­rally. It is a nat­u­ral force within our body. It re­flects the forces of the earth and the universe. Th­ese spin­ning forces within us and around us are vor­tices that shape our form and the world around us. How­ever, at the cen­tre of th­ese whirling forces is a ful­crum of still­ness. This is the para­dox­i­cal re­al­ity of ex­is­tence. Si­lence is the ori­gin of sound. Still­ness is the ori­gin of move­ment.

When I first watched sufi whirling at the Osho Com­mune, Pune in 1994 I was awestruck by the ex­pe­ri­ence of still­ness that I felt within. Some­thing shifted in me. It was as though I was in med­i­ta­tion while the whirlers whirled and this ex­pe­ri­ence lin­gered on for sev­eral days af­ter. I stud­ied ex­ten­sively, trav­el­ling to Amer­ica and Europe to study with world renowned teach­ers from the Gur­d­ji­eff Ben­nett tra­di­tion.

Sufi whirling is an ac­tive move­ments med­i­ta­tion. The premise of this work is cen­ter­ing and still­ness. Ge­orge Gur­d­ji­eff, an Ar­me­nian mys­tic from the early 1900s brought an­cient sufi tem­ple dances from se­cret tem­ples out into the world. He ex­plained how we are de­signed to func­tion. We op­er­ate from three main cen­tres of func­tion—the phys­i­cal cen­tre be­ing the body, the heart cen­tre which con­sti­tutes our feel­ings and emo­tions and the mind cen­tre that con­tains our thoughts

and log­i­cal cog­ni­tive pro­cess­ing. Of­ten we find our­selves op­er­at­ing in chaos, where our three cen­tres op­pose each other. The heart de­sires one thing while the body is act­ing on another and the mind is busy with other thoughts. The prac­tice of th­ese ex­er­cises aligns us to a cen­tre within where all the var­i­ous facets of our­selves come to­gether to cre­ate a har­mo­nious pur­pose of be­ing. In this cen­tred space we touch still­ness and be­come silent. It's a space of deep con­tent­ment and a sharp­ened aware­ness. From this still­ness dance arises. When par­tic­i­pants have reached this space of cen­ter­ing, whirling tech­niques are in­tro­duced. The still­ness be­comes a ful­crum around which the body turns. The con­scious­ness of the whirler is still, as the body con­tin­ues to whirl. And then there is no dizzi­ness. The still­ness gives us bal­ance. This bal­ance al­lows us to whirl.

I be­lieve that in our chaotic world to­day sufi whirling is a cen­ter­ing force that brings forth a crys- tallised pres­ence of be­ing. We come in touch with our source—the spring of health and well­ness within us, the ori­gin of our ex­is­tence and touch­ing this space is an ex­pe­ri­ence of bliss. Know­ing through ex­pe­ri­ence, that we touched this point of bliss within us and on our own is an em­pow­er­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that re es­tab­lishes self trust.

Peo­ple come for whirling from all age groups and di­verse life­styles. Some doubt if they can re­ally do it as they have never danced be­fore. Some in­quire if they can man­age with their vertigo. By the end of the class, ev­ery­one is whirling and I have a hard time get­ting them to stop. Awak­ened to their higher con­scious­ness, they are thrilled that they can touch this space again and again. This is the mys­tique of the sufi whirl. The danseuse will be part of Zamb­hala, slated to be In­dia’s big­gest yoga and life spirit fes­ti­val that kicks off its first edi­tion in Goa, on Dec 21st and 22nd.

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