Events

October

1st. Glastonbury. Dancing in the Dharma.

What is the purpose of life? What am I here for? Are there ever easy answers to such questions? Discovering one’s authentic purpose and path and in life can be something of an elusive search even leading to a sense of frustration and lack of fulfilment.For thousands of years the Dharma traditions have offered an inexhaustible supply of wisdom and potential for realisation. They are as richly relevant today as ever offering practical methods for the ongoing unfoldment and ultimate realisation of our inner nature.

Dharma can be described as timeless or eternal wisdom, universal law. The Vedantic and Buddhist schools have what they call the transmission of Dharma. It is not exactly definable but it is characterised by some transmission of light, wisdom and spiritual realisation from person to person. Buddha taught that by doing one’s own dharma, by acting according to one’s own nature, talents and ability one may reach perfection. Dharma refers to that truth which is the essence of reality as well as the path to its realisation. The Bhagavad Gita teaches the Dharma of right actions and right action means peace, even on the battlefield of life.

This is a day of dances drawn from the Dharma traditions. If you are used to chanting the mantras from any of these traditions you can find that dancing with them adds a number of different dimensions to the whole experience. In these dances we combine the transmission of blessing with the spirit of devotion in a dynamic rhythmical way. Our focus is on the breath through the chants and mantras that we sing and dance. The Divine Names are repeated over and over during the dancing. Invoking the energies of Radha, Krishna, Shakti, Shiva, Sita, Rama, Buddha, Kwan Yin, Tara, Chenrezig and others we can create together a deliciously refined and potent atmosphere.

The energy created in the dances circulates between all the dancers in the circle in a fluid and harmonious way. The electricity of touch and the vibrational resonance of sound are subtle yet influential forms of energetic communication that operate below our conscious level of awareness and yet they can have a profound effect on the way we feel. Like nothing else the dances increase our capacity for and experience of joy and exaltation.

A special word for those who may be new and are considering coming along. It is not necessary to have had experience of this form of spiritual chant and dance – sometimes called Dances of Universal Peace. These dances are for those who have a sense of inner adventure towards engaging with body, heart and mind in a new way. They are simple and accessible as well as being profound and deep.  Mostly in our practices we dance and sing as we move together in a circle. The sacred chants we sing and internalise are from various spiritual and mystical traditions. The dances originated in the USA through the inspiration of Samuel L. Lewis and they have grown and spread to many other countries over the years

The Venue: Sweet Track Centre, 44a High Street, Glastonbury, BA6 9DX

Date and Times: Sunday 1st October from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Prompt start at 10.30am. Arrivals for refreshments from 10am.

Please bring along delicious food to share for lunch.  Refreshments will be provided.

Further details. Contact: Philip

20th-22nd Oxford. Healing into Wholeness: an Enhanced Dance Experience. Part 1 of 3. Residential series of weekends.

For some time now the idea of offering a series of weekend retreats based around the dances and healing has been slowly coming together in my heart. Over the years as we have danced together our capacity to experience the energy of dances has clearly increased. Perhaps what we appreciated as a deeper experience in the past can now be surpassed and taken further. So now we have it – an experiential, enhanced dance course with a special focus on healing.

What is Healing into Wholeness? No doubt we all have a sense of what healing is but here’s my take on it. The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen, which means to make whole. A way to look at it is as harmony of mind, body, and spirit: it can be seen as a process of becoming sound or healthy again. It’s an on-going, unfolding process not something static or a one-off event: it is always part of a larger process of personal inner growth.

Healing is not the same as curing (which is more about fixing problems, eradicating disease, and decreasing symptoms). People can be healed even if they are not cured. Similarly, people can be cured yet not healed. Lack of rhythm and tone in one’s life, in one’s body, mind and heart, are often the main causes of the disharmony that many people call disease. Healing can be seen as simply re-tuning of the body, heart and mind to their natural resonant frequencies and returning to one’s natural rhythms in life. Healing is a gift, healing happens – if we can create the right conditions in heart, mind and body.

Wholeness is Oneness. In wholeness we are fully aligned with our original nature, our essential nature. There is a sense of completeness, of coherence, of being fully integrated in body, heart and mind. We are already naturally whole and complete though mostly we are not aware of this: the goal of our journey is to re-member and to fully realise that this is the actually the case.

What is an Enhanced Dance Experience? The dances are an embodied form of spiritual unfoldment. Murshid Samuel Lewis was clear that the dances were a unique and integral part of his inner school of mysticism. His legacy in its fullness is still with us and I know we can build on his vision especially in the more subtle levels of being. It’s not simply what we experience it’s how we experience it that really counts. The dances are no exception. Let’s deepen our awareness of self, the circle of dancers and the Infinite Healing Presence. As we are breathing, singing, feeling, moving with increasing awareness we are able to refine and enrich the body, mind, heart and soul.

It’s not just a matter of listening to the body; beyond this it is matter of listening with the body. In addition to the many complex aspects of the physical body there are also the more and more subtle interpenetrating energetic layers of our being known as koshas in yogic sciences. These layers of energy constitute the totality of our embodied being, our sense of wholeness. As our awareness embraces these layers of being more fully our realisation of the dimensions of Consciousness increases. This involves breath and how we breathe, how we express ourselves through voice and song, how we move, how we feel, how we think, how we connect with our whole self, with the whole selves of others and with the Only Being – how we experience life in all its fullness. Progress along these lines is the path to healing and the continuous experience of wholeness.

Intention and focus with ever increasing awareness deepens the whole experience. We all have an innate capacity to heal ourselves and yet we can often be the main obstacle to our own healing. What can be experienced is entirely dependent on us yet we always have direct access to all the Illuminated Souls and the unlimited potential and power of the Universe.

What will be the framework of the course? The course will take place over three weekends and is designed as a whole package. Rather than there being a specific focus as such for each segment the practices we will be exploring will develop and deepen stage by stage with each weekend. The various practices take time to take root within us for any level of competence to be gained and it will undoubtedly work best if we deepen in them and through them each weekend.

Our method will be to awaken, cultivate and expand our awareness through our own experiential wisdom. Not surprisingly the dances will form a major part of this course as for me especially they are a significant part of any healing process. Interspersed with the dances we will focus on other complementary practices. There is a clear reciprocity between how such practices as deep relaxation, meditation, breath and sound help us to deepen in the dances and how the dances help deepen in these other practices. These practices will be drawn mostly from the Yogic, Tantric, Buddhist, Aramaic Christian, Sufi and other western systems. There is no sense of separation in any of this in terms of spiritual traditions or in terms of spiritual practices. All is one and all the following are seamlessly connected in terms of our inner experience. Spaciousness will be an underlying theme.

Deep Relaxation. In this day and age one of the major problems facing many people is stress and tension in its various forms. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing most people are full of tensions all of the time. Besides which such stress and tension is a major cause of many diseases. Relaxation is a term bandied about but most people do not know what relaxation really means. Unless we are free from muscular, emotional and mental tensions we are never relaxed. Of course the mental, emotional and physical aspects of our being are not separate and all inextricably linked: each has its impact on our whole being even though it might seem they have separate effects. To relax completely we must release the inner tensions of the body, the emotions and the mind. Techniques of deep relaxation and the practice of yoga nidra takes us deep into the realms of the subconscious mind and help us to change our way of thinking and feeling as well as relax our bodies and release the mental and emotional tensions. Learning how to relax in such a way will be a foundation for almost everything else that we do in this course. Everything we can do we can be done better from a place of relaxation.

Science of Breath. The breath first lesson and the last lesson in spiritual development for Inayat Khan. It is the connecting link between all the planes of consciousness. For Inayat Khan every disease is the result of a disorder in the breath. For him rhythm and tone are the keys to health. Rhythm of breath, its tone, its depth and its gradual refinement will all be explored on the course. As well as breath as energy, as life force; also individual prana and cosmic prana and how they interconnect. Mudra, specific gestures which affect the flow of prana, will also be utilised. As well as learning how to direct prana for healing purposes with and without the use of sacred phrases.

Sound Healing and the Healing Voice. The way we use our voice and the way we respond to sound and music have direct and indirect effects on all of us, both positively and negatively. With practice our voices can become resonant, sonorous, vibrant and mellifluous. The voice is breath amplified so any sound practice is also a breath practice. As we breathe more fully we can also learn to sing more fully, engaging and revitalising our whole being. Our utilisation of Mantra in the dances and in seated practices naturally and effortlessly harmonises our being, returning us to our perfect energetic pattern. Sound is vibration, so are we in essence and of course so is the whole of the manifested universe. Together we will explore the mysticism of sound.

Meditation Murshid SAM points out that “the first thing in meditation is to realise in meditation that it is an act of attunement, an attunement with God.” In meditation the practices of relaxation, of breath, of mantra held in thought, all join together to help us explore the mysticism of silence and the state of Pure Awareness. Pure Awareness is the background of silence in which and from which all experience can occur. Mystics also refer to this state as Universal Peace hence the name of our Dances of Universal Peace. Through meditation one relaxes one’s mind more fully so that it becomes recharged with magnetism: one develops the faculty of insight and strengthens one’s personal atmosphere. Through meditation we can reach the inner recesses of the heart. There is no end to the healing benefits of meditation practice and we will utilise a number of different methods of concentration that can lead to the state of meditation.

Who is the Course For? Essentially it is for anyone seeking healing, harmony and a peaceful rhythm to their life. Naturally it is likely to appeal most to those who already resonate with the path of the dances or who can at least see that as being a potential path for them. It is a rare opportunity to dive deeply into the dances with an on-going committed group of people. The power and uniqueness of the dances is in no small measure due to the group energy generated by our practices. Although we may be thinking in terms of self and how we may benefit from the practices, we naturally support each other hand to hand, heart to heart in our collective journey towards spiritual realisation. As a group we can also focus the energy we generate towards the healing of others and the healing of the natural world including the earth itself.

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

 December

1st-5th, Oxford.  Meditation Retreat for Sufi Mureeds.

More details to follow.

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Tuesday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

January

5th-7th, Brigsteer near Kendal. Sufi Dancing and Meditation. 

At this time of the year when it can be cold, windy, wet and dark it can be easy perhaps to feel downhearted, to long for the warmth of the sun. Yet there are ways to allow the inner sun of your own heart to shine more brightly and to feel its healing radiance flowing throughout your whole being.

Learn how to let your light shine more fully and to experience joy, real joy, in all its fullness. In joy we live and move and have our being we could say.

Taking time to replenish your inner being on a regular basis is a necessary form of healing and maintenance. Step aside from your busy life to taste some real spiritual nourishment. This kind of food for the soul is healing on all levels of being.

Our Sufi Dance gatherings happen in Brigsteer three times a year. It’s always so wonderful to join in the circle together. Each time we gather we have the sense of reconnecting with Unity, of Re-Union with the Beloved. It is our Yoga, our Union with the Divine. As we say in our Zikr, our Remembrance of Unity, la illaha illa ‘llah. There is only One Reality which is Unity.

In our circle everyone stands equal to everyone else. The dances, or more accurately we could call them body prayers, are easy and accessible. The movements are simple and the sacred phrases of the chants are all explained fully. It’s an easy process and we all come as we are. As Rumi would say, “Whatever coin you may bring along is acceptable currency.”

There are many layers of being to be explored and mastered on the spiritual path. Sufi practices are the most joyful way to share this journey with other people that I have ever come across.

The weekend is non-residential and will take place at Brigsteer Village Hall, a spacious and clear, ecological venue in a tranquil setting with plenty of parking. For those travelling from further afield there is accommodation in the village. Brigsteer is less than four miles and only a ten minute drive from Kendal.

Bring along mats and blankets for relaxing in the breaks and also cushions for the sitting meditations if you prefer. The hall has plenty of chairs.

Further details. Contact: madowson@gmail.com

February

2nd-4th Oxford. Healing into Wholeness: an Enhanced Dance Experience. Part 2 of 3. Residential series of weekends.

For some time now the idea of offering a series of weekend retreats based around the dances and healing has been slowly coming together in my heart. Over the years as we have danced together our capacity to experience the energy of dances has clearly increased. Perhaps what we appreciated as a deeper experience in the past can now be surpassed and taken further. So now we have it – an experiential, enhanced dance course with a special focus on healing.

What is Healing into Wholeness? No doubt we all have a sense of what healing is but here’s my take on it. The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen, which means to make whole. A way to look at it is as harmony of mind, body, and spirit: it can be seen as a process of becoming sound or healthy again. It’s an on-going, unfolding process not something static or a one-off event: it is always part of a larger process of personal inner growth.

Healing is not the same as curing (which is more about fixing problems, eradicating disease, and decreasing symptoms). People can be healed even if they are not cured. Similarly, people can be cured yet not healed. Lack of rhythm and tone in one’s life, in one’s body, mind and heart, are often the main causes of the disharmony that many people call disease. Healing can be seen as simply re-tuning of the body, heart and mind to their natural resonant frequencies and returning to one’s natural rhythms in life. Healing is a gift, healing happens – if we can create the right conditions in heart, mind and body.

Wholeness is Oneness. In wholeness we are fully aligned with our original nature, our essential nature. There is a sense of completeness, of coherence, of being fully integrated in body, heart and mind. We are already naturally whole and complete though mostly we are not aware of this: the goal of our journey is to re-member and to fully realise that this is the actually the case.

What is an Enhanced Dance Experience? The dances are an embodied form of spiritual unfoldment. Murshid Samuel Lewis was clear that the dances were a unique and integral part of his inner school of mysticism. His legacy in its fullness is still with us and I know we can build on his vision especially in the more subtle levels of being. It’s not simply what we experience it’s how we experience it that really counts. The dances are no exception. Let’s deepen our awareness of self, the circle of dancers and the Infinite Healing Presence. As we are breathing, singing, feeling, moving with increasing awareness we are able to refine and enrich the body, mind, heart and soul.

It’s not just a matter of listening to the body; beyond this it is matter of listening with the body. In addition to the many complex aspects of the physical body there are also the more and more subtle interpenetrating energetic layers of our being known as koshas in yogic sciences. These layers of energy constitute the totality of our embodied being, our sense of wholeness. As our awareness embraces these layers of being more fully our realisation of the dimensions of Consciousness increases. This involves breath and how we breathe, how we express ourselves through voice and song, how we move, how we feel, how we think, how we connect with our whole self, with the whole selves of others and with the Only Being – how we experience life in all its fullness. Progress along these lines is the path to healing and the continuous experience of wholeness.

Intention and focus with ever increasing awareness deepens the whole experience. We all have an innate capacity to heal ourselves and yet we can often be the main obstacle to our own healing. What can be experienced is entirely dependent on us yet we always have direct access to all the Illuminated Souls and the unlimited potential and power of the Universe.

What will be the framework of the course? The course will take place over three weekends and is designed as a whole package. Rather than there being a specific focus as such for each segment the practices we will be exploring will develop and deepen stage by stage with each weekend. The various practices take time to take root within us for any level of competence to be gained and it will undoubtedly work best if we deepen in them and through them each weekend.

Our method will be to awaken, cultivate and expand our awareness through our own experiential wisdom. Not surprisingly the dances will form a major part of this course as for me especially they are a significant part of any healing process. Interspersed with the dances we will focus on other complementary practices. There is a clear reciprocity between how such practices as deep relaxation, meditation, breath and sound help us to deepen in the dances and how the dances help deepen in these other practices. These practices will be drawn mostly from the Yogic, Tantric, Buddhist, Aramaic Christian, Sufi and other western systems. There is no sense of separation in any of this in terms of spiritual traditions or in terms of spiritual practices. All is one and all the following are seamlessly connected in terms of our inner experience. Spaciousness will be an underlying theme.

Deep Relaxation. In this day and age one of the major problems facing many people is stress and tension in its various forms. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing most people are full of tensions all of the time. Besides which such stress and tension is a major cause of many diseases. Relaxation is a term bandied about but most people do not know what relaxation really means. Unless we are free from muscular, emotional and mental tensions we are never relaxed. Of course the mental, emotional and physical aspects of our being are not separate and all inextricably linked: each has its impact on our whole being even though it might seem they have separate effects. To relax completely we must release the inner tensions of the body, the emotions and the mind. Techniques of deep relaxation and the practice of yoga nidra takes us deep into the realms of the subconscious mind and help us to change our way of thinking and feeling as well as relax our bodies and release the mental and emotional tensions. Learning how to relax in such a way will be a foundation for almost everything else that we do in this course. Everything we can do we can be done better from a place of relaxation.

Science of Breath. The breath first lesson and the last lesson in spiritual development for Inayat Khan. It is the connecting link between all the planes of consciousness. For Inayat Khan every disease is the result of a disorder in the breath. For him rhythm and tone are the keys to health. Rhythm of breath, its tone, its depth and its gradual refinement will all be explored on the course. As well as breath as energy, as life force; also individual prana and cosmic prana and how they interconnect. Mudra, specific gestures which affect the flow of prana, will also be utilised. As well as learning how to direct prana for healing purposes with and without the use of sacred phrases.

Sound Healing and the Healing Voice. The way we use our voice and the way we respond to sound and music have direct and indirect effects on all of us, both positively and negatively. With practice our voices can become resonant, sonorous, vibrant and mellifluous. The voice is breath amplified so any sound practice is also a breath practice. As we breathe more fully we can also learn to sing more fully, engaging and revitalising our whole being. Our utilisation of Mantra in the dances and in seated practices naturally and effortlessly harmonises our being, returning us to our perfect energetic pattern. Sound is vibration, so are we in essence and of course so is the whole of the manifested universe. Together we will explore the mysticism of sound.

Meditation Murshid SAM points out that “the first thing in meditation is to realise in meditation that it is an act of attunement, an attunement with God.” In meditation the practices of relaxation, of breath, of mantra held in thought, all join together to help us explore the mysticism of silence and the state of Pure Awareness. Pure Awareness is the background of silence in which and from which all experience can occur. Mystics also refer to this state as Universal Peace hence the name of our Dances of Universal Peace. Through meditation one relaxes one’s mind more fully so that it becomes recharged with magnetism: one develops the faculty of insight and strengthens one’s personal atmosphere. Through meditation we can reach the inner recesses of the heart. There is no end to the healing benefits of meditation practice and we will utilise a number of different methods of concentration that can lead to the state of meditation.

Who is the Course For? Essentially it is for anyone seeking healing, harmony and a peaceful rhythm to their life. Naturally it is likely to appeal most to those who already resonate with the path of the dances or who can at least see that as being a potential path for them. It is a rare opportunity to dive deeply into the dances with an on-going committed group of people. The power and uniqueness of the dances is in no small measure due to the group energy generated by our practices. Although we may be thinking in terms of self and how we may benefit from the practices, we naturally support each other hand to hand, heart to heart in our collective journey towards spiritual realisation. As a group we can also focus the energy we generate towards the healing of others and the healing of the natural world including the earth itself.

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

March

9th-11th Crewe. Annual Spring Residential Retreat With Neil Doublas Klotz and Philip

Further details to follow.

The venue: The Oblate Retreat and Spirituality Centre is located between Crewe and Nantwich. It is 1.5 miles from Crewe railways station, with easy access to motorways and to Manchester airport. The comfortable rooms are mainly twin and singles – many en suite. Vegetarian food option is available. Please indicate preference at the time of booking. The weekend begins with supper at 6.30pm on the Friday and ends on the Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

April
6th-8th, Oxford. Dance Leader Training: Ease, Simplicity and Spaciousness. Residential weekend.
As we all know leading dances is a continuous unfoldment of inner and outer capacity and the development of potential. I know from my own experience that  there is always more to learn and appreciate about the energy of the dances and the path of dance leading. This is no doubt the case whatever stage we are at in this journey.
We will again be focussing on the inner transmission and the deeper aspects and refinements of the dances and walking practices. As with trainings in many other disciplines after spending much energy, time and enthusiasm learning how to lead dances as the years pass by people can lose their sense of purpose and direction and begin to drift away. My intention for keeping these annual training weekends alive is to help people continue to develop their skills and retain their enthusiasm for and commitment to leading the dances. Many times there are places that we come up against in ourselves which we find it difficult to move through and so we begin to pull back. While we may interpret the problem as being external to us (people don’t show up, it’s too difficult to keep a group going where I live. What’s the point? etc.) the solution is always within us. I have come up against this kind of thing in myself many times over the years and as many of you know have almost given up leading dances on a few occasions. However I have always found that when I had the courage to open up to whatever energy within me is causing me to feel stuck that my commitment and my capacity invariably strengthened, deepened and widened. We break through to a new and different level.
The Dances are such a gift to humanity particularly at this time.  It is a shame that we hide their light under a bushel. There’s no need for the dances to remain as one of the world’s best kept secrets! The dances are in our hands. It’s up to us. Success in leading the dances however we understand that is mostly the result of keeping on keeping on.
Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

28th/29th, Brigsteer near Kendal. Sufi Dancing and Meditation. 

Taking time to replenish your inner being on a regular basis is a necessary form of healing and maintenance. Step aside from your busy life to taste some real spiritual nourishment. This kind of food for the soul is healing on all levels of being.

Our Sufi Dance gatherings happen in Brigsteer three times a year. It’s always so wonderful to join in the circle together. Each time we gather we have the sense of reconnecting with Unity, of Re-Union with the Beloved. It is our Yoga, our Union with the Divine. As we say in our Zikr, our Remembrance of Unity, la illaha illa ‘llah. There is only One Reality which is Unity.

In our circle everyone stands equal to everyone else. The dances, or more accurately we could call them body prayers, are easy and accessible. The movements are simple and the sacred phrases of the chants are all explained fully. It’s an easy process and we all come as we are. As Rumi would say, “Whatever coin you may bring along is acceptable currency.”

There are many layers of being to be explored and mastered on the spiritual path. Sufi practices are the most joyful way to share this journey with other people that I have ever come across.

The weekend is non-residential and will take place at Brigsteer Village Hall, a spacious and clear, ecological venue in a tranquil setting with plenty of parking. For those travelling from further afield there is accommodation in the village. Brigsteer is less than four miles and only a ten minute drive from Kendal.

Bring along mats and blankets for relaxing in the breaks and also cushions for the sitting meditations if you prefer. The hall has plenty of chairs.

Further details. Contact: madowson@gmail.com

May
 25th-27th Oxford. Healing into Wholeness: an Enhanced Dance Experience. Part 3 of 3. Residential series of weekends.

For some time now the idea of offering a series of weekend retreats based around the dances and healing has been slowly coming together in my heart. Over the years as we have danced together our capacity to experience the energy of dances has clearly increased. Perhaps what we appreciated as a deeper experience in the past can now be surpassed and taken further. So now we have it – an experiential, enhanced dance course with a special focus on healing.

What is Healing into Wholeness? No doubt we all have a sense of what healing is but here’s my take on it. The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen, which means to make whole. A way to look at it is as harmony of mind, body, and spirit: it can be seen as a process of becoming sound or healthy again. It’s an on-going, unfolding process not something static or a one-off event: it is always part of a larger process of personal inner growth.

Healing is not the same as curing (which is more about fixing problems, eradicating disease, and decreasing symptoms). People can be healed even if they are not cured. Similarly, people can be cured yet not healed. Lack of rhythm and tone in one’s life, in one’s body, mind and heart, are often the main causes of the disharmony that many people call disease. Healing can be seen as simply re-tuning of the body, heart and mind to their natural resonant frequencies and returning to one’s natural rhythms in life. Healing is a gift, healing happens – if we can create the right conditions in heart, mind and body.

Wholeness is Oneness. In wholeness we are fully aligned with our original nature, our essential nature. There is a sense of completeness, of coherence, of being fully integrated in body, heart and mind. We are already naturally whole and complete though mostly we are not aware of this: the goal of our journey is to re-member and to fully realise that this is the actually the case.

What is an Enhanced Dance Experience? The dances are an embodied form of spiritual unfoldment. Murshid Samuel Lewis was clear that the dances were a unique and integral part of his inner school of mysticism. His legacy in its fullness is still with us and I know we can build on his vision especially in the more subtle levels of being. It’s not simply what we experience it’s how we experience it that really counts. The dances are no exception. Let’s deepen our awareness of self, the circle of dancers and the Infinite Healing Presence. As we are breathing, singing, feeling, moving with increasing awareness we are able to refine and enrich the body, mind, heart and soul.

It’s not just a matter of listening to the body; beyond this it is matter of listening with the body. In addition to the many complex aspects of the physical body there are also the more and more subtle interpenetrating energetic layers of our being known as koshas in yogic sciences. These layers of energy constitute the totality of our embodied being, our sense of wholeness. As our awareness embraces these layers of being more fully our realisation of the dimensions of Consciousness increases. This involves breath and how we breathe, how we express ourselves through voice and song, how we move, how we feel, how we think, how we connect with our whole self, with the whole selves of others and with the Only Being – how we experience life in all its fullness. Progress along these lines is the path to healing and the continuous experience of wholeness.

Intention and focus with ever increasing awareness deepens the whole experience. We all have an innate capacity to heal ourselves and yet we can often be the main obstacle to our own healing. What can be experienced is entirely dependent on us yet we always have direct access to all the Illuminated Souls and the unlimited potential and power of the Universe.

What will be the framework of the course? The course will take place over three weekends and is designed as a whole package. Rather than there being a specific focus as such for each segment the practices we will be exploring will develop and deepen stage by stage with each weekend. The various practices take time to take root within us for any level of competence to be gained and it will undoubtedly work best if we deepen in them and through them each weekend.

Our method will be to awaken, cultivate and expand our awareness through our own experiential wisdom. Not surprisingly the dances will form a major part of this course as for me especially they are a significant part of any healing process. Interspersed with the dances we will focus on other complementary practices. There is a clear reciprocity between how such practices as deep relaxation, meditation, breath and sound help us to deepen in the dances and how the dances help deepen in these other practices. These practices will be drawn mostly from the Yogic, Tantric, Buddhist, Aramaic Christian, Sufi and other western systems. There is no sense of separation in any of this in terms of spiritual traditions or in terms of spiritual practices. All is one and all the following are seamlessly connected in terms of our inner experience. Spaciousness will be an underlying theme.

Deep Relaxation. In this day and age one of the major problems facing many people is stress and tension in its various forms. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing most people are full of tensions all of the time. Besides which such stress and tension is a major cause of many diseases. Relaxation is a term bandied about but most people do not know what relaxation really means. Unless we are free from muscular, emotional and mental tensions we are never relaxed. Of course the mental, emotional and physical aspects of our being are not separate and all inextricably linked: each has its impact on our whole being even though it might seem they have separate effects. To relax completely we must release the inner tensions of the body, the emotions and the mind. Techniques of deep relaxation and the practice of yoga nidra takes us deep into the realms of the subconscious mind and help us to change our way of thinking and feeling as well as relax our bodies and release the mental and emotional tensions. Learning how to relax in such a way will be a foundation for almost everything else that we do in this course. Everything we can do we can be done better from a place of relaxation.

Science of Breath. The breath first lesson and the last lesson in spiritual development for Inayat Khan. It is the connecting link between all the planes of consciousness. For Inayat Khan every disease is the result of a disorder in the breath. For him rhythm and tone are the keys to health. Rhythm of breath, its tone, its depth and its gradual refinement will all be explored on the course. As well as breath as energy, as life force; also individual prana and cosmic prana and how they interconnect. Mudra, specific gestures which affect the flow of prana, will also be utilised. As well as learning how to direct prana for healing purposes with and without the use of sacred phrases.

Sound Healing and the Healing Voice. The way we use our voice and the way we respond to sound and music have direct and indirect effects on all of us, both positively and negatively. With practice our voices can become resonant, sonorous, vibrant and mellifluous. The voice is breath amplified so any sound practice is also a breath practice. As we breathe more fully we can also learn to sing more fully, engaging and revitalising our whole being. Our utilisation of Mantra in the dances and in seated practices naturally and effortlessly harmonises our being, returning us to our perfect energetic pattern. Sound is vibration, so are we in essence and of course so is the whole of the manifested universe. Together we will explore the mysticism of sound.

Meditation Murshid SAM points out that “the first thing in meditation is to realise in meditation that it is an act of attunement, an attunement with God.” In meditation the practices of relaxation, of breath, of mantra held in thought, all join together to help us explore the mysticism of silence and the state of Pure Awareness. Pure Awareness is the background of silence in which and from which all experience can occur. Mystics also refer to this state as Universal Peace hence the name of our Dances of Universal Peace. Through meditation one relaxes one’s mind more fully so that it becomes recharged with magnetism: one develops the faculty of insight and strengthens one’s personal atmosphere. Through meditation we can reach the inner recesses of the heart. There is no end to the healing benefits of meditation practice and we will utilise a number of different methods of concentration that can lead to the state of meditation.

Who is the Course For? Essentially it is for anyone seeking healing, harmony and a peaceful rhythm to their life. Naturally it is likely to appeal most to those who already resonate with the path of the dances or who can at least see that as being a potential path for them. It is a rare opportunity to dive deeply into the dances with an on-going committed group of people. The power and uniqueness of the dances is in no small measure due to the group energy generated by our practices. Although we may be thinking in terms of self and how we may benefit from the practices, we naturally support each other hand to hand, heart to heart in our collective journey towards spiritual realisation. As a group we can also focus the energy we generate towards the healing of others and the healing of the natural world including the earth itself.

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Friday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip

September
22nd/23rd, Brigsteer near Kendal. Sufi Dancing and Meditation. 

Learn how to let your light shine more fully and to experience joy, real joy, in all its fullness. In joy we live and move and have our being we could say. Taking time to replenish your inner being on a regular basis is a necessary form of healing and maintenance. Step aside from your busy life to taste some real spiritual nourishment. This kind of food for the soul is healing on all levels of being.

Our Sufi Dance gatherings happen in Brigsteer three times a year. It’s always so wonderful to join in the circle together. Each time we gather we have the sense of reconnecting with Unity, of Re-Union with the Beloved. It is our Yoga, our Union with the Divine. As we say in our Zikr, our Remembrance of Unity, la illaha illa ‘llah. There is only One Reality which is Unity.

In our circle everyone stands equal to everyone else. The dances, or more accurately we could call them body prayers, are easy and accessible. The movements are simple and the sacred phrases of the chants are all explained fully. It’s an easy process and we all come as we are. As Rumi would say, “Whatever coin you may bring along is acceptable currency.”

There are many layers of being to be explored and mastered on the spiritual path. Sufi practices are the most joyful way to share this journey with other people that I have ever come across.

The weekend is non-residential and will take place at Brigsteer Village Hall, a spacious and clear, ecological venue in a tranquil setting with plenty of parking. For those travelling from further afield there is accommodation in the village. Brigsteer is less than four miles and only a ten minute drive from Kendal.

Bring along mats and blankets for relaxing in the breaks and also cushions for the sitting meditations if you prefer. The hall has plenty of chairs.

Further details. Contact: madowson@gmail.com

November

21st-25th, Oxford.  Meditation Retreat for Sufi Mureeds 

Details to follow.

Venue: Carmelite Retreat Centre, Chilswell, Boars Hill, Oxford. OX1 5HB. Accommodation in single or twin rooms. The weekend will begin on Wednesday with supper at 6.30pm and will end on Sunday after lunch.

Further details. Contact: Philip