I just came out of a four-day Sufi retreat, where I was immersed in Love and Light and ease.

Sufism is a beautiful practice of multi-denominational inclusion. You can be a Jew and a Sufi, a Christian and a Sufi, a Buddhist and a Sufi. You can be a Muslim, a Hindu. You can be no religion. Everyone is welcome because Western Sufism is not a religion––it’s a mystical practice. A core of this practice is the Dances of Universal Peace, which were introduced by Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), the founder of the Sufi Ruhaniat International.

The Dances of Universal Peace are not a performance, they are an experience. A small group of musicians, typically drums and stringed instruments, form the center. The dancers move around them in a circle. The dancers are often holding hands and there are usually several layers of circles, as there can be hundreds of dancers. The dances themselves are simple movements that create energy flow, with repetitive mantras sung in multiple languages. The dances are prayers of healing, peace, Love, Light, and joy.

We were 100 dancers. We danced for several hours three times a day. The collective energy created and moved in this dancing is enormous. I felt my body empty out of tension and fill with Love and Light. I felt connected through Love to everyone in the dance circle. I felt connected through Love to all Beings. At times, tears of joy streamed down my face. The collective circular movement of the dancers and their harmonic voices created a powerful vortex of energy lifting from the earth to the heavens. One night during the circle a huge lightning storm surrounded the building.

We were taught each dance by different spiritual leaders, and between the dance sessions there were seated talks to encourage us on our own and collective spiritual paths. Lovely communal meals were shared. There was a lot of laughter and hugging. There was a great, collective embodiment of Love.

When the weekend was over, I didn’t want to leave the circle! I had returned to my original, beautiful state of being and sharing. But embodying this Love in the ‘real world’ is what we are here to do. It’s much more difficult than in the container of a retreat. I have been inspired to be more intentional.

As Rumi says in Table Talk:

“…The root of the entire matter is Love. So when you feel Love hot within you, feed it with the fire of longing so it can burn hotter. And when you feel the goal of all things––the Quest for God––to be alive in you, feed that search by passionately searching further and deeper for “in movement is blessing.” What is not increased, diminishes. Are you any less than earth? [Men] change it by turning it over with their spades, and it yields crops. When they don’t turn it over, the earth hardens. So when you see the passion for the Quest is vibrant within you, keep that passion fiery.”