heart-centred ~ joyful ~ meditative

   

MEETING THE DANCES OF UNIVERSAL PEACE

The Dances of Universal Peace are like the blood that flows through my veins and I can't begin to imagine how my life would be if I hadn't found them one dark, wet March evening in 1992.  

As I walked into the big room at the Quaker Meeting House in Lancaster it was filled with people gathering and greeting each other. A man, Philip Tansen O'Donohoe, stood with a guitar and we formed a circle around him.

We held hands - some words were said - an invocation.
What followed changed my life... 

Words, sacred phrases and mantras in many languages; Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, English, Zoroastrian filled the air as we sang.  The most wonderful music from the guitar moved us through the movements.

 I was lost in the words, the music, the movement. I was lost to myself. 

During that evening I was so completely absorbed by the Dances
that I had no thought for who I was in that circle. 

We moved and breathed as one.

Voices intermingled ~ only the men sang ~ only the women sang, we moved in silence with only the music, and harmonies wove themselves around the melodies.

That evening, from the first chord, I knew I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. By the end of the evening my heart was full,  I felt completely at one with myself, inspired and deeply connected with everything.

In the movement I felt such stillness.
It was like a blessing.

I still feel the same way today.
 
   
I knew then that I had reached a turning point in my life.    

The Dances are a moving meditation, a means of expression that links the individual with the divine and the inner self. As a meditative practice it can open the pathways to inner peace and awareness of positive energy. A powerful tool for healing they help to strengthen consciousness and keep us grounded and centred.

 I completed a Dance Leader training course with Philip O'Donohoe in 2000 and since then I have been leading regular monthly groups and day workshops in the North West, in other parts of the country and at the Dance camps.

Leading the Dances or participating is a joyful experience and I am always very happy to introduce new groups to the Dances.

As a Mentor for the Dances I help to guide and support those who wish to become dance leaders and continue the transmission of Samuel Lewis, the founder of the Dances of Universal Peace.

  "Words are not peace. Thoughts are not peace. Peace is fundamental to all faiths, all religions, all spirituality"   Samuel Lewis, originator of the Dances

WHAT ARE THE DANCES OF UNIVERSAL PEACE?

These Dances are a powerful way to connect with others, to experience the true heart of many spiritual traditions and draw on them for inspiration. In many parts of the world, circles share this unique form of meditative yet celebratory body prayer.
Through moving, chanting and singing together we create a sense of peace and unity,  a sense of joyful oneness.

From the beginning of time, sacred movement, song and story have brought people together at times of seasonal ceremony and celebration, as part of everyday life and during life passages, in daily renewal and meditation.

Circles and circular movement are ancient practices symbolizing the natural cycles of the seasons and of life. Walking a circle around a sacred site was an ancient religious activity. The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless
tradition of sacred dance and practices.

The Dances are simple, direct, accessible and profound, being inspired by the wisdom and sacred phrases of the spiritual traditions of humankind. They are most often danced in a circle using natural and devotional movements. Being in a circle each person is equidistant from the centre, the still point centre which represents the still centre created within us through the mantra and the movement.

The Dances can be joyful, contemplative and liberating; in fact the mood of the Dances is infinitely variable.  Essentially they are a form of celebration and meditation in song and movement. Through remembrance of our divine unity we can experience peace, harmony and healing.

Celebrating the diversity of earth's spirtitual traditions and eperiencing a compassionate connection to others and to nature.

SOME HISTORY

The Dances of Universal Peace were originally created in the late 1960's by Samuel Lewis, who studied many of the world's spiritual traditions. He was a lifelong practitioner of Zen Buddhism and Zen Roshi. His Hindu guru was Papa Ram Dass. He taught Christian mysticism and, being Jewish by birth, was well versed in the Kabballah.

The Dances were inspired by his Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, who first brought Sufism to the West, and Ruth St Denis, an American feminist pioneer of sacred dance. Following Hazrat Inayat Khan and the 'Unity of Religious Ideals'
(that the truth at the heart of all religions is the same truth) Samuel Lewis envisaged a dance form which would embody this ideal, one which would allow people to directly experience for themselves such states as joy, peace, harmony and unity.

Samuel Lewis saw the Dances as a form of 'peace through the arts', a way of sharing the blessings of peace throughout the world and within each individual.
He was also greatly concerned with the environment and global understanding.

EXPERIENCING THE DANCES

The Dances can be experienced in many different ways. There are regular groups who meet to dance together, at day and evening sessions, day workshops, residential retreats and dance camps.

The Dances can also be part of life celebrations such as weddings, baby blessings, burials, peace gatherings, healing rituals, earth caring and ecumenical worship.

The Leaders' Guild of the Dances operates a certification system based on the mentoring principle as a method of training and supervision for teachers of these Dances. All those in this process have a mentor (please see the Mentoring page for more information) to whom they are responsible and all agree to abide by a set of ethical guidelines.

The only way to know the Dances is to experience them. Participants have described the dances in the following ways:

The Dances create such energy and harmony they have to be experienced to understand their true effect upon you.

I find it such a spiritually uplifting experience... even at times when I am feeling low or tired the Dances work with such subtle energies

It is a truly joyous experience.

The Dances radiate a joyful feeling of unity and compassion.

SOME OTHER INFORMATION

The Centre for the Dances of Universal Peace was established in 1983 to further the work begun by Samuel Lewis and to help make the Dances available to all people. Now called the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace, it has a growing membership in 28 different countries. The UK Network for the Dances of Universal Peace is affiliated to the International Network.
You can visit the website:
www.dancesofuniversalpeace.co.uk which will give details of your nearest Dance circle and other events. Please also visit the Links page for other relevant information.

The Dances of Universal Peace change lives.
And the world changes life by life.
All over the earth people long for an actual
experience of
reverence for the earth The Dances show how.
and life in all its forms.

                                                                                             Neil Douglas-Klotz