An Evening with a Sufi Master


From a student: “I have never forgotten everything that you brought me in Paris, the first time that I met you. ‘Go with the waves.’ It is not always easy but it is the best way to be happy and to feel peace in the mind.” ~ Evelyne Grenet, Rouen, France

Last night I attended a session with Adnan Sarhan, a Sufi master. I felt a deep interest in going after reading the flyer. The traffic was horrendous, so bad that the master himself arrived late because of it. And the yoga studio where it was held was unusually cold.

I was one of the few people that sat in chairs. I wrapped myself in a yoga blanket most of the evening. I don’t know what people call him, but he is very slight and humble. He speaks quietly and with an accent, so his words were not the thing. Not at all.

The drumming he did was a healing in itself. It went on and on and on, changing rhythms and intensities, nothing could be held onto but the sound. And at the end he begin a mysterious chant.

After that was over, he led us in a series of exercises. I smiled inwardly because the shaman, Don Theo, had given me neck exercises to do. Now the sufi master was beginning the exercises at the neck. We spent a long time stretching, turning, loosening the neck muscles. Then the rest of the body. Everything done slowly.

In the last exercise we were told to close our eyes and let the body move to the music as it wished. And then the chant of what sounded like “hay” began. I don’t know how to spell it; I just remember it sounded like “hai.” My voice began strongly enough but soon tired and I was just giving it a faint little “hai.”

When the program was over, and it seemed to go well past the scheduled two hours, I made bold to speak to the master. He urged me to come the next day. I had not planned on it, as it is way across town. But he seemed to know me and promised results. And then he said, “Why don’t you do something different for a change?” My spirit recoiled in fear, for no one feels able to make a commitment that would involve dissolution.

Vicki Woodyard

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