Tiohtià:ke/Montréal QC Canada  

Sema means mystic audition and movement. Join this monthly gathering to practice Sufi whirling alongside ancient poetry and devotional music. It is a powerful, challenging and ecstatic meditation based on the teachings of Rumi, the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes and the shamanic beyond. The future is ancient. The music is live. Come with passion, patience, loose clothing, good socks and a snack to share. Please eat lightly beforehand, this is an active meditation. Open to all. By donation.

Tawhida Tanya Evanson has over 20 years of study under Turkish Rifa'i Marufi Sheikh Sherif Baba Çatalkaya and Canadian semazenbashi (sema master) Raqib Brian Burke. She has  presented sema in public across North America, Europe and Turkey, as well as in 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 Persian mystic philosopher and poet Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi (1207-1273). It is said that he began whirling out of longing after the disappearance of his beloved teacher Shams.   

Mevlana's son founded the Mevlevi Dervish Order in 13th century Anatolia. The Mevlevi's ritualized the practice of whirling, but there is 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.