Did you ever spin around when you were a kid? Haven’t we all? Back when we were full of innocence and joy, we would just spin around for no reason and feel a tranquil bliss that we long for now. Spinning or whirling is a basic and natural body movement and Sufi Whirling is one of the most unique meditation techniques.
“Dance until you shatter yourself.” – Rumi
Sufi Whirling is a form of dance meditation where we move our body to spin with our arms stretched out and our mind is still and centred. When we used to spontaneously spin around as children, we were actually practising Sufi Whirling meditation. It centred our mind and soul while our body moved like a spinning wheel.
However, as we grew up, we lost our innocence, joy and spontaneity which refrained us from experience the peaceful bliss that came from such spinning. Sufi Whirling allows us to experience that same feeling of being still and centered and heal the inner child.
What is Sufi Whirling?
“Sufi whirling is one of the most ancient techniques, one of the most forceful. It is so deep that even a single experience can make you totally different. Whirl with open eyes, just like small children go on twirling, as if your inner being has become a center and your whole body has become a wheel, moving, a potter’s wheel, moving. You are in the centre, but the whole body is moving.” – Osho
Sufi whirling is a type of dance worship practised in Sufism, an Islamic mystic tradition which is focused on seeking the divine within ourselves. This ancient Sufi practice is one of the most effective meditation techniques. This powerful & active meditation form focuses on whirling, experiencing and witnessing.
As your entire body starts moving, your centre becomes increasingly still and calm. This kind of meditation requires you to spin your body with outstretched arms, one arm pointed upwards while the other is pointed to the ground while keeping your mind and soul centred.
Sufi Whirling is the Journey Within
When practicing this dance meditation, imagine your body like a cyclone and your mind as the eye of the storm. Regardless of how powerful or chaotic the storm is, the eye of the storm always remains still amidst all the chaos.
Sufi whirling is an ancient practice that can be traced back to the 12th-13th century and was widely practiced by the disciples of mystic and Muslim poet Jalal ad-din Rumi. Sufis whoReadpractice this dance meditation technique are known as whirling dervishes.
They wear long, skirt-like white clothes while performing the whirling which enhances the motion visually. As you spin with your hands stretched out, you raise your right hand in a way that your palm faces the sky to receive blessings from the Universe and your left hand is pointed downwards with your palm facing the ground to communicate the universe’s messages with the earth. It transforms your consciousness into a meditative state.
As it is one of the best meditation techniques, Sufi whirling can be very intense and profound. You can have a life-changing experience even by practicing it just once. The technique is a combination of trance, meditation, prayer and dance which liberates and connects your mind and body, heals your heart chakra, improves breathing and allows you to express your inner self.
Related: Meditation: A Mystical Practice That Leads You To A Prosperous Life
What Sufi Whirling symbolizes
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi
We are destined to spin to experience harmony and oneness with the universe as the earth is destined to spin around the sun. Like the celestial bodies whirl in space, Sufi whirling is performed from the side of your heart, that is your left side.
The traditional long white attire that the dervishes wear while whirling represents purity while the length helps you to move gracefully and naturally, increasing the momentum. It is believed that during the elegant dance meditation performance, you become a conduit and receive divine blessings.
Spinning meditatively generates invisible, transparent and pure energy and the endless waves created by the movement of the skirt help your aura engulf your body like the earth is enveloped by the warm rays of the sun.
The faster you spin, the quicker your personal identity and ego are abandoned and you accomplish spiritual perfection.
Sufi Whirling is not just a dance but a spiritual journey. Because the only way to not get dizzy is to hold our awareness within us. During practice, we learn to align our attention to a centre—a still point within ourselves. This becomes a fulcrum of stillness around which movement happens.
Like the hurricane has an eye that is calm, despite the strong spinning forces all around, in whirling, we learn to access the still point within us, from where movement is generated. As long as the whirler is centred with this stillness, he or she can continue for as long as the music plays.
Through whirling, we find a centre within us that is still and silent. This stillness in the body becomes a bridge to the higher consciousness, realizing that all that is outside and within is the expression of the divine.
The whirling movement outside carries our presence deeper to the very centre of our being, where we can find a moment of rest and stillness—a meeting with the divine.
How to practice Sufi Whirling Meditation
“On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.” – Rumi
Before you start practising Sufi Whirling meditation techniques, you should know that this practice requires you to listen to traditional Sufi music for whirling while you perform. You can find a great collection of Persian and Arabic music online, specifically composed for this particular practice.
Here are the steps to practicing Sufi Whirling as a meditation form and attaining peace and divine bliss:
Step 1: Stand calmly
If you wish to practice this meditation technique, then start by standing still and crossing your arms around your chest to touch your shoulders. Slowly spin around and gently spread your arms. You should be very graceful in your movements. However, before you completely spread your arms, touch your face softly as if you’re receiving a divine caress.
Step 2: Start whirling
When you are practising this dance meditation, you should keep in mind to perform it for around 45 minutes. As you spin around elegantly, make sure to keep your eyes open at all times. While spinning around, try to feel the center of your body, mind and soul in that moment. Now lift your hands up to the shoulder level with your right hand pointed up and left hand pointed down. The right palm should be facing towards the sky while the left palm should face the ground.
Let your body loose and release all tension, physical and mental, while you turn in a counterclockwise manner. Once you have spun slowly for around 15 minutes, you can eventually increase your speed while whirling. As you keep moving faster, ensure your centre remains still, calm and silent. The longer you perform this routine, the more you will feel a stir of energy. Soon everything around you while appear blurry but you will feel more centered and still.
Step 3: Relax
After whirling for 45 minutes, gently lie on the ground and simply relax for the next 15 minutes. Lie flat on your belly to make it touch the ground and establish a connection with the earth immediately. However, if this feels uncomfortable, you can also choose to lie straight on your back. Now close your eyes and feel your body uniting with Mother Earth. Try to remain still and just take in the experience for the next 15 minutes.
Step 4: Celebrate
Once you feel relaxed, simply take a deep breath and observe how you feel. You may choose to sit up and stay still for a while as you process the experience. Feel the peace and tranquillity your inner self enjoys at this moment. You can also stand up and join the other Sufi dervishes in their celebratory dance to feel our joy and happiness in your soul.
Use caution while Sufi Whirling
Moving your body constantly in a whirling motion for 45 minutes can make you feel nauseous and disoriented. Dervishes believe this is a crucial part of the meditation and it prepares you to become mystically intoxicated. However, the intensity of this experience will vary based on your personal health and physical fitness.
Hence, it is very crucial that you start whirling slowly and gradually increase your speed as this will reduce these side-effects. Moreover, make sure you don’t eat a heavy meal before you practice as it will surely make you feel nauseous.
Tips for Sufi Whirling Meditation
“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.” – Jeremy Taylor
Here are a few tips to help you get started with Sufi Whirling and have a richer inner experience:
1. Dare to step out of your comfort zone as growth only comes from discomfort. When you first practice this meditation technique, you may feel very uncomfortable. However, if you wish to experience something truly divine, you need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
2. Establish a connection with yourself. All of us have an inner strength and this experience will help you realize the power you hold inside. However, with our minds staying busy constantly trying to cope with daily life challenges, we are unable to tap into our full potential. Sufi whirling will help you realize how independent and limitless you are.
3. Have faith in the Universe. Trust in God or the Supreme Being will help you let go of the fears and doubts that exists in your rational mind. Trust that everything is happening for a reason and everything will turn out well. Do not give up the practice simply because you feel nauseated as it is a part of your spiritual and emotional cleansing.
4. Learn to live a little. Apart from doing your work, chores, and fulfilling your responsibilities, it is crucial that you learn to enjoy life and manage time to nurture your relationships and have fun. Spinning around without any specific purpose will enable you to enjoy the little things in life and feel happy. You will realize that not everything you do has to make sense. It’s okay to just be yourself and do what brings you joy. This will help you discover yourself and practice self-love.
Live like a whirlwind
“We dance to seduce ourselves. To fall in love with ourselves. When we dance with another, we manifest the very thing we love about ourselves so that they may see it and love us too.” – Kamand Kojouri
Did you know Sufi whirling dervishes often spin around for hours and stop only when their bodies don’t allow them to move anymore? Like other meditational practices, whirling can be a satisfying experience that helps you attain stillness of the mind.
So go ahead and start whirling!