Nyata Nyata Dance Studio
4374 St. Laurent, 2nd floor
Montreal QC Canada H2W 1Z5

January 19 & 20 2019

February 24 2019 2-4pm

Sema means mystic audition and movement. Join this workshop to practice sufi whirling alongside ancient poetry and music. It is a powerful, challenging and ecstatic meditation based on the teachings of Rumi, the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes and beyond. The future is ancient. The music is live. Come with passion, patience, loose clothing, good socks, a cushion or yoga mat for sitting and a snack to share. Eat lightly beforehand for this active meditation. By donation

Tawhida Tanya Evanson has over 15 years of study under Turkish Rifa'i Marufi Sheikh Sherif Baba Çatalkaya and Canadian sema master/semazenbashi Raqib Brian Burke. She has presented sema publicly in North America, Europe, Turkey, Japan, India and Kazakhstan with the Vancouver Rumi Society, Rumi Canada and music groups Mercan Dede (Turkey) and Niyaz (Iran-US).

Whirling yields benefits on many levels:
  • Access to deep states of meditation
  • Sensitivity to others
  • States of ecstasy
  • Intense workout at advanced levels
  • Stamina
  • Patience
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
Everything in the universe turns - planets around a sun, Earth on its axis, wind in the trees, the protons, electrons and neutrons in our body. The whirling dervish engages in sema (listening, turning) to align with this basic, cosmic movement.

Sema is an active meditation; a prayer during which a dervish’s body can open to channel divine invisible energy. "Dervish" literally means "doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from the material world to the spiritual world. In order to open, the dervish attempts to be empty of ego or sense of self. Whirling in place with one symbolic palm extended upward to receive and one extended downward to give, the dervish does not attempt to hold onto energy but to be a vessel for it to pass into the hearts of others. Sema is an open secret - the whirling dervish tries to get out of the way to reveal it but as in any type of meditation, it is a struggle.

The origin of the Turkish Sufi Mevlevi whirling ritual, lies with the Persian mystic philosopher and poet Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273). It is said that he began whirling out of ecstacy after his beloved and teacher Shams disappeared.

Mevlana's son founded the Mevlevi Dervish Order in 13th century Anatolia. The Mevlevi's ritualized the practice of whirling, but there is clear evidence that the practice of whirling has  ancient African and animist roots. Sufi whirling meditation is currently practiced in Turkey, Canada, U.S., Italy, Spain, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan. It is considered a universal symbol of peace.

Each December, a Rumi festival takes place in the city of Konya, Turkey to celebrate Sheb-i-Arus (Mevlana's "Wedding Night"). It is a rejoicing of Mevlana's passing to spirit and union with the divine. During the festival, there is public sema and zikr (Sufi rituals of rememberance). For more information visit mevlana.net

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