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Greetings from the Shamsiverse, September 8, 2017

It’s been a week of Practices, and Rest. Practices, and Rest. Rinse, repeat.


We are awash in them, uplifted by them, drowning in them, carried away by them, set straight by them.

We try on emotions like expensive gowns, in uptown boutiques, and then slough them off in cleansing.

We wring them out of us as though we could squeeze their effects from our bodies.

We cling to emotions as small children cling to Woobies, Nook-nooks, and Blankies everywhere.

Emotions are a freaking Roller-Coaster Ride.

Emotions are Humanity’s best-ever barometer …showing us what our internal weather systems look like.

I believe it’s good to pay attention to our emotions, and not let them carry us away …at least not too far at any rate.

This week, because of messages I received from Spirit, I committed to a whirling practice.

It’s been more than a few years since I’ve committed to a practice that involves whirling.

It’s an intense practice.

But sometimes Spirit says a thing, in so many different ways, in so many different places, that I have no choice but to listen and follow through. Sometimes it’s like that.

So, I girded loins, sucked-it-up-buttercup, and announced to the World (You know – Publicly, through the Book of the Faces) that I would be whirling for three mornings this week, where, and what time – in case any and everyone wanted to join in.

<– This is just me whining. I have a thing about ‘being seen’ – for real. I know – go on, laugh. It’s okay. But – yeah – most of the things that keep me from being afraid of being seen are basically, being on a mission …yes, just like The Blues Brothers. But my missions never include getting the band back together, eating four- whole-fried chickens, or getting blown up by Carrie Fisher♥.

So, yeah. Missions from Spirit. Heck, I may be making it all up, just like Jake – but then again, aren’t we all?

This has been an extreme week of ups and downs. Full Moon, hurricane in the Atlantic, my garden going beautifully-nuts, my neighbor injuring herself, the same neighbor having a solid job interview and both of us almost crying over it, baking, worrying …and this whirling.

“Whirling is a primary purification practice of the Sufi.” my teacher Dunya would tell us, and so I’ve told my students.

The one thing I always forget in this purification practice (because it’s such a simple practice) is that the effects are real and immediate.

Nausea and exhaustion are some of the possible side-effects. Each of the three days that I’ve approached the opening of the practice, the place where we stand, solid in place, with our arms crossed over our chests, and just breathe – become solid, and then begin to step/turn to our left – I’ve felt the world tilt out from beneath me. In the instant I began the movement, I was off-kilter, and had to allow the practice to catch me.

I don’t know how else to describe it, other than that I trust this process so much, that even though it didn’t feel like it normally does to me – I trust that it was my own body and perceptions that were off, and not that I was going to fall.

Because every location for the whirling was outdoors, and in public spaces, I wasn’t sure of what any surface would be – but I trusted that if Source was going to send me on this mad-capped mission, surfaces would be provided. Well, no surface was even, smooth …no surface was ‘perfect’.

Honestly – no surface ever is 🙂 like Life, no?

Also, I had no idea if anyone would join me. I’d posted once that I would be doing this, and didn’t take it any further. (See above, ‘being seen’.) So, Wednesday morning, as I drove to the Audubon Park Labyrinth, realizing that I’d forgotten my speaker …I actually hoped no one else would join in. *Sigh* the efforts I’ll go through to self-sabotage. Well, it was just me, so I propped my phone up against my shoes, and began to whirl.

Sometimes I wonder if Spirit really does have a plan. Ya know?

Because Wednesday morning was luscious: cool (low 70’s degF), almost a cloudless sky, and the Full Moon. Y’all, I couldn’t have coordinated that. I just followed some guidance, and BOOM – there I was whirling, and feeling deep down like I was taking care of myself – for the first time in ages.

When I have to bring my awareness to everything my body is doing, my focus becomes razor-sharp, and the world becomes extraordinarily clear.

When I have to pay attention to what my feet are navigating, without being able to see, while maintaining a consistent and smooth movement (so as not to shake my stomach any further) – I remember that this is also a really good way to live Life.

I remember to breathe more deeply. I remember to listen to the subtle things my body is trying to tell me. I remember to allow feelings to flow through me, without holding. I remember to soften my gaze – that I cannot ‘grab’ the World with my eyes – but when I soften …the World is absorbed into me.

Timing is everything.

I was late to the practice every day. But each time – it was perfect. Thursday, I managed to tuck the practice in between one individual birdwatching, and another fishing. We all occupied the same space, within moments of each other, engaging in such completely different, but equally meaningful to each of us practices, that just the thought of that small miracle fills my heart.

This morning, my friend Kryss joined in. She was there when I arrived, but the space was cluttered with tree leaves and sticks so we spent more than a few minutes with our shoes ‘sweeping’ an area where we could whirl without pain. The park had only just opened, but already many houseless had come in to sit on the benches, just to get off the concrete (put their sleeping bags on the grass beneath the shade of the trees.) There was a group practicing Tai Chi on the far side of the park, and people collecting garbage out of the cans. With all of that, plus the noise from the traffic of Elysian Fields, only five feet away, I had to marvel at my choice of locations. Seriously.

By the time we swept off an adequate space, and I got the music queued up, it was very nearly 8:30, a full 30 minutes after I’d set the start time.

And as I was about to press ‘play’ – I turned to see my friend Jessica Bourgoyne …freshly banned from Turkey (so it’s really a miracle that she was even in the States right now), whom I haven’t seen in over a year, and who had just driven more than an hour …maybe almost two – just to whirl with us, for what could possibly be as short as 10 minutes.

Timing is everything.

My final thought on whirling out in public, is that it’s the perfect practice.

As we whirled this morning, amidst the noise, the mingled smells of garbage, cigarette, and pot smoke, amidst the flow of humans, and so much Life, I remembered when Duyna told us the meaning of her name …”The Profane World.”

It derives from the root word “dana” that means to bring near. In that sense, “dunya” is “what is brought near”. It refers to the temporal world—and its earthly concerns and possessions—as opposed to the hereafter (ʾākhirah). – Wikipedia

The lesson for me is always remembering that we are Spirit made Flesh, and even though there are times I would wish much of the fleshy-world away, there’s a deep beauty in balancing and acceptance of both the Spirit and the Flesh.

And so, in this wild week of ups and downs, I’m grateful to have returned to this practice these last three days.


The Happy Freyja’sDay Dance video from this morning is below, & as always, I hope you dance along.

Until next time, I hope you get to spend time with people you love doing stuff that fills you up and brings you joy!

~Shamsi, Charlie, Me

Happy Freyja’sDay World!

Happy FreyjasDay World! Are You Ready to Dance?! from Shamsi Charlie Pettus on Vimeo.


For the foreseeable future, my Shamsi-schedule over at Crescent Lotus is:

Sat – PoundFitness® 9AM
Tue – PoundFitness® 6PM followed by Anatomy of Bellydance (A.o.B.) @ 7:15PM
Wed – PoundFitness® 6PM <—-NEW DAY & TIME!!!!
Thu – PoundFitness® 5:30PM
Fri – PoundFitness® 9:30AM <—NEW TIME!!! We’re now an hour later on Friday Mornings!


This week, in the Shamsiverse ...