Energy moves in spirals. Is there a connection between the spiral energy movement and the mystical Whirling Dervish dance? Does the spiral pattern hold the secret to the meaning of the universe? Is it the pathway to a connection with God?
In Part 4 of this series of articles on “Encounters with Spontaneous Qi’, I discussed my first experience of initiating the spontaneous qi effect in my own personal qigong practice. After that, I continued to practice spontaneous qigong.
Perhaps one of the most curious manifestations of my spontaneous qi practice was spinning (or whirling). This one definitely came out of the blue for me.
One time during my qigong practice, I felt an overwhelming drive to simply spin in a circle. So I went with it and let it happen. Spinning is not a particularly enjoyable activity as I don’t like to feel dizzy. However, on this occasion, I let the spontaneous qi lead me into doing it, Surprisingly, it did not feel uncomfortable to do.
I kept spinning for minutes round and round in a circle. Eventually I decided to bring the movement to an end. I also found that during this period, whenever I went into a qigong practice, the urge to spin kept returning. It was apparent that my body or my qi wanted me to carry out this movement.
Due to a lack of understanding of qigong, I was not sure of the significance of the spinning act. However, this movement did make me think of a couple of different things – The Five Tibetans and Whirling Dervishes.
The 5 Tibetans
Years before I had studied a set of 5 exercises in a book called ‘The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power‘.
The book was written in 1985 by Peter Kelder and was said to be a set of exercises designed by Tibetan monks to enhance “youth-ing” or in other words to keep your body supple and youthful. The five exercises are very simple to perform and consist of mild calisthenic type movements like leg raises, back bends and a spinal twist. They need to be carried out 21 times each. It should take no more than 15 minutes daily to do them.
The reason I thought of this book when I carried out spinning in my spontaneous qigong practice, was because the very first exercise is exactly that – spinning.
5 Tibetans – Spinning Exercise
Here are instructions for exercise number 1 (Spinning):
- Stand with arms erect horizontal in line with the shoulder. Turn your palms face down.
- Spin clockwise. Work your way up to 21 spins. If you feel dizzy, you can stop and rest or build it up gradually. (Source: www.Valter.Saask.ee – PDF)
Unusual kind of exercise, don’t you think?
I have read lots of books on yoga, qigong and meditation, and tried out different exercises but I have never come across an exercise as unusual as this spinning movement from the 5 Tibetans.
It is very different to your standard tai chi movement, or downward dog, lotus position from yoga.
Firstly it is not a particularly enjoyable exercise to perform, as it can make you feel dizzy. Secondly there doesn’t seem to be any real purpose to it.
However, once I experienced the spinning act in my spontaneous qi sensation, I started to wonder if perhaps this exercise had more significance then at first seemed. I wondered if somehow it helps open up the central channel that runs though the spine?
This exercise and the spinning movement also led me to consider another type of dance I had heard of where spinning was used: Whirling dervishes.
The Whirling dervishes, also known as the Mevlevis, comes from a mystical Sufi sect, which was inspired by the spiritual poetry of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (1207-1273).
Rumi is a famous mystic and his quotes on spiritualist are often repeated throughout the internet. This particular order was created after Rumi’s death.
The Mevlevis believe in attaining a state of tranquillity, harmony and love, union with God and to release their earthly ties. Death is meant to be celebrated.
The Dervishes practice a whirling spinning kind of dance. It is has been described that this kind of movement can cause a kind of hyper-arousal of the senses, creating a feeling that a person is ‘channeling the energy of the universe’. (Source: www.factsanddetails.com)
The spiritual and energetic origins of Whirling
Due to its connection to the mystic poet Rumi and the Mevlevis, I can only assume that this kind of spinning movement does have a deeper spiritual and energetic purpose to it. My understanding of whirling dervishes is quite limited as the practice is still relatively unknown even in this time of the internet. I wonder if perhaps Rumi himself used spinning as a form of practice for great spiritual or energetic awareness? Perhaps the dance was discovered originally through a form of spontaneous qi practice? I do not know, but it would be interesting to research more into this area.
In the documentary – Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music of Islam, the Mevlevi Sheikh, Nail Kesova says:
“The whirling ritual of the Whirling Dervishes, we don’t say it is a dance. It’s a prayer.
Everything is whirling in the world. From the smallest cell, up to the galaxies of the universe. Everything is turning. Our whirling is to join in this universal prayer.
Whirling is not difficult. Everyone can whirl. At the beginning some get dizzy. But after one month, two months suddenly you become comfortable.”
The music for the Whirling Dance ritual is called the Sema.
Whirling is a where the Dervesh gets carried away by the rhythm of ecstatic dance. Music is an important part of Rumi’s philosophy. The Ney (a kind of flute) and drums are important instruments as they symbolise the breath of god.
“The Sema ceremony is a way to reach ecstasy. It has four parts:
The first part means – ‘towards God’. The second part means ‘with god’. And the third part – ‘in God’. This third part represents ecstasy. The fourth part represents ‘coming back’. At the end, we try to understand our mission.”
Mira Burke, (A female whirling dervish) says:
“There is this palpable stillness at the center of the whirling that exists that you can tap into. And you can feel as if you’re in the eye of the hurricane. And it feels easier to remain whirling than to stop.”
Whirling and healing
In the documentary, we see a group of Jilala musicians. These are female musicians, who incorporate a dance like trance into their practice. They are renowned for their spiritual healing abilities.
They believe that disease has at its root, an affliction of the spirit. And that it can be cured by sufi music. This occurs by putting the person (usually a woman) into a trance with the power of their music. The musicians match the type of music to the temperament of the person.
A Jilala performer said:
“As soon as they hear the right music, they have to do the trance dance. Even if you bound them with chains, they would have to dance”
From this, we can understand that the whirling dance is a way of connecting with spirit and inner consciousness. It is a way to connect with the universe, with God.
But why the whirling motion?
This then brings me to consider one of the most fundamental shapes in the universe – the spiral.
Is the whirling motion essentially the same as the spiral movement. Rather than tying to rotate in a circle. Is the body actually moved by the spiral pattern?
One of the reasons I thought of this was based on a quote from a colleague.
“Energy moves in spirals”
Miro Baricic, is a friend of mine and is an acupuncturist with the ability to set off the spontaneous qi effect in patients when he needles them. On one occasion, he mentioned to me that “energy moves in spirals“.
When he inserts a needle into someone, he can set off a spontaneous qi effect in them. I wrote about him in this post. Not everyone gets the effect, but many people do.
There is also another Russian acupuncturist called Dr Skakov who has the ability to set off spontaneous qigong effect in his patients with needling. I wrote about him in the same post. There is also a YouTube channel showing some of his patient reactions.
Energy moves in spirals
Going back to what my friend Miro said – “Energy moves in spirals”. It made me wonder if this principle applies to the acupuncture points and even to needling itself.
The Acupuncture Point?
The acupuncture point is defined as a ‘qi hole’ – where the qi of the body can be accessed by a needle.
When a practitioner approaches the acupuncture point with a needle, there must be a meeting of energies. The energy of the practitioner accesses the energy of the patient through that small opening.
Visually, there is nothing to see. But if we could see energy with our bare eyes, would the energy of the acupuncture point manifest as a spiral energetic pattern? Like a whirlpool or mini tornado.
When Miro sets off the spontaneous qigong effect, is it because he introduces a powerful spirally-moving energy into the body of the patient which gives a huge kick of energy to the patient?
Energy moves in spirals – acupuncture needling
In acupuncture school, we are taught how the qi of an acupuncture point can be manipulated after you insert a needle into a point for specific effects. The motion we refer to as “‘tonifying” involves moving the needle in a clockwise direction. Or “sedating” a point involves moving the needle in an anti-clockwise direction. Both movements are of course a circular motion. But actually, could they be a spiral movement?
Shudo’s Super Rotation Insertion (SRI) Needle Technique
I think a possible example may be found in, Shudo Denmei’s SRI (Super Rotation Insertion) technique. This SRI technique utilises a super-quick rotation of the needle into the acupuncture point. It may be that this quick movement speeds up the rotation of qi in the point causing a quicker response.
Spirals in Nature
Spirals are a fundamental movement of nature. The ancient Taoists were inspired by nature. And the spiral pattern is present in so many ways.
Here are some examples:
Cochlea of ear
Ammonite fossil (Jurassic era mollusc)
And there are these depictions of the spiral structure:
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid structure)
Kundalini energy relates to an esoteric aspect of yoga. The Kundalini energy sits at the base of the spine and is in a state of slumber. In some people it can awaken causing the energy to explode upwards, blasting and clearing through the 7 chakras, bringing the person into a heightened state of awareness and being.
Risks of Kundalini awakening
Sounds great, right? However, there are some downsides. The Kundalini awakening can be extremely traumatic, leading to all manner of somatic aches and pains, hallucinations and other physical and mental disturbances.
It is akin to having a mental breakdown and indeed there may be a significant overlap. It could be that some people are diagnosed and consequently sedated with heavy pharmaceutical drugs, when in fact that person was undergoing a kundalini awakening.
It is for this reason that kundalini awakening should be taken very carefully. Some people are anxious to awaken it early. This is the ego. One of my spiritual teachers Dorothea Linder told me a that ‘it will awaken when it is ready. Do not rush it’.
The Kundalini energy is depicted as a serpent energy (suggesting a connection to the Adam and Eve story from the Bible). The serpent is also drawn in a spiral pattern, moving up the spine.
The chakra system comes from traditional Indian yoga. There are 7 energy centres in the body. Each of theses chakras govern a different aspect of our body, mind and spirital self. If the chakras are clear and balanced, good health is had. If one of these chakras is blocked, than health problems associated with that particular chakra may manifest. For example if the sacral chakra is blocked, then problems associated with the pelvis area may occur.
If chakras are fully opened – then it is possible for spiritual powers to be attained. For example if the third eye is fully opened, it may be possible to see spirits and ghosts or develop clairvoyant powers.
The chakras are described as a whirlpool (another form of spiral). Each Chakra spins at a different speed and emits a different vibrational frequency and colour.
Contemporary Japanese horror
There is even a creepy Japanese horror movie called Spiral or Uzumaki. It is very very strange.
In that movie, a small town is haunted, not by a ghost like Sadako, but by the spiral pattern. This spiral pattern causes some of its residents to transform into snails or manifests in other ways in the body of the residents. It was based on a popular cult manga by Junji Ito. I wonder what could be the motivation for such an unusual concept?
External sources – energy moves in spirals
Other websites have written about how the spiral pattern is connected with how energy moves in the universe.
For example, in the website: www.ourenergymatters.com, the writer discusses how people who are familiar with energy work perceive it as moving in a “spiral fashion, counter clockwise” as it moves from the crown of the head downwards. Conversely, when working with Kundalini energy, the kundalini energy spirals up through the body, when awakened. This spiral movement is one the reasons why the Kundalini energy is depicted as a snake.
In another curious website, called www.constructingtheuniverse.com, the author Micheal S. Schneider discusses briefly about how the spiral is a:
“timeless glyth of nature’s design alphabet”
He briefly mentioned that:
- The spiral is the most common pattern in nature
- Plants are actually “living whirlpools”
- A spiral turns resistance to its advantage.
- Arises out of the conflict of opposites
- When energy is left alone, it will grow, move and balance as a spiral.
Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Mean
To answer some of these statements, he recommends looking into Fibonacci numbers and the Golden mean. His site recommends a book on this topic.
The Fibonacci sequence starts with 0 and 1 and then increases based on the sum of the previous 2 numbers.
For example: 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13, 8+13=21, and so on.
It has been observed that plants in nature, for example a sunflower’s florets also match the fibonacci sequence (source: www.discovermagazine.com). Hence the claim above that plants are “living whirlpools”
Sunflower spirals showing complex Fibonacci sequence
Energy moves in spirals
It is certainly an interesting concept. That the universe, the micro – (atoms, DNA) and the macro – (the galaxy) has at its source the spiral pattern. It gives weight to the idea that qi-energy moves in spirals.
Also the idea that plants are “living whirlpools”. That certainly makes them sound a lot more dynamic in an energetic way. Is this the same for all living beings perhaps?
The spiral (and spinning motion) is a fundamental movement of qi energy
As you can see the spiral is a fundamental pattern in the universe. And it may also be a major movement in the flow qi-energy in the body too. Could the spinning motion be a way of clearing or activating the qi energy of the body and its channels?
Spontaneous qi origin of exercises
After my episode of spinning, I wondered if the origin of the whirling dervish could have evolved in a similar way to the origination of tai chi or qigong practice. Could it have evolved from a deep meditative practice which led the creator of the dance to spin and spin, which in turn led to the formation of this peculiar dance?
It is quite possibly that many of these dances and movements we practice come from a spiritual or energetic origin. It is not the mind creating these movement, but the qi guiding the body and then the mind formulates it into a set of exercises.
What is the relevance of energy moving in spirals for the human body?
Could it be that blockages in the body – in the channels or in the chakras are simply examples of where the spiral movement is hindered? Could it be that to unblock and encourage a smooth flow of Ki energy, than we need to introduce a spiral wave into the sick area with a needle? If so, an acupuncturist with a needle or a healer could do that.
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But it is an area worth exploring more. The answer may even hold the key to the meaning of the universe.
If any readers know of any other spiral patterns in nature, please add in the comments.
- A Tribute to the Qigong Master Geoff Pike
- Encounters with Spontaneous Qigong: Serialisation
- The Legs Power the Qi: Spontaneous Qigong Practice (Days 17-19)
Spiral mural – taken from a park in Archway, London
Spinning lady – 123rf.com. Image ID: 10318224
Whirling dervish – 123rf.com. Image ID: 16020355
Spiral galaxy – 123rf.com. Image ID: 42689309
DNA Strand – 123rf.com. Image ID: 35850661
Cochlea of ear – 123rf.com. Image ID: 41711932
Tornado image – 123rf.com. Image ID: 3062883
Image of Ammonite fossil – Taken at Natural History Museum, London.
Sea Shell – 123rf.com. Image ID: 32771418
Sunflower- 123rf.com. Image ID: 81159597
Kundalini spiral – 123rf.com. Image ID: 56300851
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