“When you turn, your left foot must remain always on the ground. In former times the pupil’s big toe and his next toe actually had to stay on either side of a nail driven into the ground – for, after all, the real Sufi must live and work firmly in this world.
To learn the movements of the turn is easy. To learn how to turn may take a lifetime; it is the real purpose of the Mevlevi activity. Concentration is the keystone of this activity, and is applied when turning with extreme precision in relation to a point in the middle of the chest. The eye may gaze at the left thumbnail, but the mind must remain free from all thoughts and the whole attention should be fixed on the centre of the chest, while the name of Allah is repeated continuously with the rhythmic mental beat to accompany the movements of the dance. This repetitive mental activity should be like the beat of an internal metronome. The mind itself is quite with the quietness accorded only to prayer.
In that state all the worlds – indeed the whole Universe revolve around that still quiet point in the middle of your being. As you turn in each Sema and as you turn in your life from the ways of the world towards Allah Almighty in your heart, the inner light within your own being is made manifest to you as it begins to shine in your heart or head. This is the light of heaven itself and is of the same quality that burns in the heart of the star.
People of this world do not understand why we return, and many believe we seek oblivion in some ecstatic trance. We turn because our bodies turn but our minds become absolutely still in the stillness that is Hu (Thou), where we find peace in our Lord and refuge from the madness of the world of the ego.
In this eternal peace we respond to the forces governing the Universe and merge in our hearts with them. When we can do this we relate to Him whose commands direct them. In this way we turn for Him, and as we turn we experience an ecstasy of knowing – a knowledge of the heart; a knowledge of certainty — which is ‘at-one-ment’ with Him in the way that a drop of the ocean is at one with the ocean.
~ Sheikh Abdullah Sirr Dan al-Jamal.