Nov. 29, 2009
If my mammogram had been normal, I wouldn’t have found myself in the tiny room with the radiologist that day. As she brought up the round white cloud on the black screen, I sat erect in my chair. Slouching would have been like admitting defeat.
“You have an abnormal spot on your mammogram,” she announced. “We need to do surgery.”
There’s a lot of cancer on both sides of my family, so I was scared. I wondered if I might lose my breast or if it would be deformed from having tissue removed.
As I scheduled the surgery, I prayed. I also contacted my friends and asked them to send positive thoughts.
Then something remarkable happened.
I have a friend who practices Sufism. He’s also an incredible professional drummer. We’d lost touch over the years and I’d tried contacting him, but never had any luck.
For the past two weeks, though, I had a feeling I should try reaching him again.
I sent an email and he responded, inviting me to his concert the following night!
After the show, I told him I’d been having some health problems.
“Do you have any friends who can do a healing with you?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Would you be open to that kind of thing?”
“I’d be open to just about anything at this point.” I felt a sense of comfort even then.
He introduced me to several people and told them to arrange a healing circle dance with me. A week later, I received an email telling me where and when the dances were held and that Sufi master Shabda Kahn would be making a rare appearance at the next dance.
Entering the building, I became instantly aware of the fact that I was wearing jeans and a Harley-Davidson shirt while everyone else wore dresses or nice slacks. This made me want to make myself very small or invisible so no one would notice me.
As the dances began, the musicians—my friend with his djembe (drum), a woman on acoustic guitar, another on flute, and the Sufi master playing a round, stringed instrument, sat in the center. Three rings of people surrounded them.
Shabda demonstrated the first dance and gave us the words to sing. Holding hands, we moved in a circle.
Although most of the words weren’t in English, the song was about our connection to God, the Divine within.
At first I felt as if I’d been transported back to the ‘60s: women in flowing skirts, people of all ages and colors holding hands, dancing and chanting a melody of peace and love. But as the dance progressed, I saw that my fellow dancers’ eyes were filled with kindness and I felt myself letting go: melting into the music that washed through me like water through a sieve. When I’d stopped concentrating so hard, I found that my body “remembered” the movements on some primal level.
After the first dance, while everyone closed their eyes and stood motionless, I felt energy pulsing in and out of my body in all directions and I experienced a tremendous amount of love and acceptance. It became increasingly apparent that the initial disapproval I had encountered upon entering the room had come not from those around me but from myself. No one there was judging me. My soul began to settle within itself.
When the dances ended, my friend suggested I tell Shabda about my surgery.
“Uh, okay.” I felt self-conscious all over again. I wondered how one was expected to behave around a Sufi master, a person whose superior spiritual background I had no clue about. All I knew was that everyone was bowing to him and yet, he looked just like an ordinary man to me.
My friend approached the master and sat down beside him. He waved me over. We sat facing one another as I told the master about my upcoming surgery. He said some kind words and told me that he would think positive thoughts for me, then the three of us joined hands while the two men began to chant.
“You can join in, if you know it.” The master smiled reassuringly.
But I had never heard these words before, so I sat with my eyes closed, trying to absorb every hypnotic syllable, every inflection of the foreign words. The sound of their voices soothed my soul as I was swept into the warm embrace of MYSTICISM AND MUSIC. I suddenly felt empowered.
On the day of my surgery, the radiologist scheduled to do the procedure was a different doctor than the one who had first interpreted my results. Before taking me into the operating room, the new doctor ordered more mammograms. He then called me into his office to discuss the films.
“If this is what the other radiologist was concerned about, I don’t see it,” he said pointing at the screen. “This is benign. There’s no reason to do unnecessary surgery.”
Was it simply a matter of two different doctors’ interpretations of the results? Or did the healing circle dances I’d attended days before, along with the prayers of my friends from many different beliefs cure me?
I choose to believe in the healing power of love.
SIDEBAR: Dances of Universal Peace are a means to revivify our love and joy, and integrate ourselves with the power of Peace through the practice of meditative circle dances and walks, with singing and chanting of Divine Names and sacred phrases from many spiritual traditions.
The Dances are all-denominational and everyone is welcome. For more information, please visit http://www.riverrock.org/peace/index.html or http://www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org/