Author Archives: Shamsia Sandra Sunfire

About Shamsia Sandra Sunfire

Shamsia Sandra Sunfire has been living and Dancing in Mid-Wales for 24 years. Her local circle at Derwenlas in Wales has been Dancing Dances of Universal Peace for around 28 years now and continues to welcome new Dancers as well as those with more experience and visitors who are in this beautiful part of the world. Shamsia has been part of the Sacred Arts Camp teaching team as well as part of the team at the Latvian Dancing Heart Camp. She has completed a training with Neil Douglas Klotz on the Interspiritual Leadership Training being particularly drawn to his work. Shamsia finds the process of retreat very valuable and enjoys sharing that process with others. Shamsia mentors others in leading Dances of Universal Peace and would love to see more people leading and Dancing in Wales. “The Dances continue to be a central part of my practice, my healing and my journey through life. I love to be part of the very real flourishing sense of community that the Dances bring in such a joyful way.” Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, Grandfather of the Dances said: “See what an atmosphere the harmony of ten people can create; the power of love and the influence created by ten people is much greater than that created by one. Think then what would be the blessing for humanity if nations, races, and communities were united!”

“Individual points of light that dance on water and dazzle the eye” – Reflections on Retreat

What a privilege, what a blessing, to gather in a small field on the mainland and having stowed luggage on board the trailer, to make our way on foot down to Porth Meudwy and the boat to Enlli.   How moving to be with those drawn to retreat, to this sacred place of pilgrimage, to the universal ancient way of knowing that sacredness, the Goddess.  Leaving behind our everyday lives, taking steps to re-membering, not just our relationship to the Divine but also to ourselves, all our selves.

Enlli, a sanctuary of abundant life in the sea, the air, the earth.  Summer solstice, with day after day of sun and heat, light dancing in our elemental beings, as it does upon the waters and crosscurrents, this way and that, textured light and water, crossing and spiralling.  Breathing with seals, hearing their song, sharing practice together on our last morning, ecstatic moments of prayer vocalised and carved in air, dancing body.  Miss Ruth (Ruth St Dennis) leading the way to finding such freedom in form through her encouragement to join the “Divine Dance”.  Dear Kamae (Kamae Amrapali Miller) encouraging movement and expression through this breath, this heart, blessing our Goddess Zikr, remembrance of Her Name, in Unity.  Such harmony, eating, dancing and praying together.  Such beauty, maybe not surprising walking in Her footsteps but such delightful beauty and so many gifts.  The slow worm who nestled in the heat and shelter of the slate sign, the mature one that snaked across our path, the gathering of diving, feeding gannets, so many altogether, the clarity of the still waters (relatively still), revealing layers of rocks, forests of seaweeds, the whole body of our seal friends.  Purity of elements as we open to purification, spaciousness, a doorway to vastness, the silence so welcome, the invitation to stop and notice, as all do, the day trippers, the warden, Enlli guardian.  Drenched in light we sought the Dark Mother, finding shelter and protection, blessed coolness in her gentle embrace in the shadows.  The force of anger, hurt and jolted, opened up a new avenue of healing, searching and re-membering, finding and uniting in the chapel.  The unexpected heat as we joined the reunion and rebirth under the full moon.  A Welsh chapel feeling more like a Middle Eastern Temple, we danced, we sat, all the while watched over by a feathered friend.  Light reflected as well as direct.  Sunset upon sunset, each unique and awesomely beautiful, sometimes accompanied by the brass band, music carried on the wind.  Pools of salt on dark rocks created by such fierce heat, the altar water evaporating too and needing replenishing.  Laughter and tears, harmonies resounding again and again.  These are glimpses of our retreat on Ynys Enlli, Bardsey Island this year, like individual points of light that dance on water and dazzle the eye.

I write as I digest and integrate one of life’s potent, peak experiences.  Calling on the Goddess and her Beloved with beloved retreatants, helped me to integrate and heal so much in my own being at a time in my life of intense healing.  She guides me through not having a chance to prepare through thought, the head, but forcing me to stay in the heart and to know that all that comes to me through life is preparation, just the right preparation, for ripeness, juicy and full of the greening life force that Hildegard von Bingen spoke of, sang of.  How wonderful to receive the “perfect remedy” during retreat for my beloved’s recovery through the generosity of a retreatant.  How lovely, full of love, to enjoy so many precious gifts to be treasured in the midst of daily life, to nourish us further on this pilgrimage of life.  There is a longing to return………………..

– Shamsia Sandra Sunfire on the mainland of Wales, Cymru 28.07.2018

The pilgrimage referred to was “Elemental Being Dancing in Light, Ancient Names of the Sacred: the Goddess & Her Beloved,  23rd June – 30th June 2018”

 

Leaders Retreat Jan 2017

Leaders retreat 2017Dear Dance Leaders,

Along with a photo, here are some comments about our 2017 Leaders Guild Retreat in Oxford. It was such a lovely weekend, deep, and heart-warming, and so encouraging to see the dedication and talent that are being shared in dance circles all over the country. Like last year, we all really appreciated the chance to meet as a circle of dance leaders, sharing support and inspiration, in deep mutual understanding of our shared journey. We would like to share some comments from many of the fifteen participants. We think they speak for themselves!

– Thank you for many insightful sharings and practices. I feel inspired to move forward!

– I feel grateful for the precious time and sharing with fellow beloveds on this blessed but also challenging path of Dance Leading. It felt very nurturing and enjoyable too.

– I was so grateful for the meeting, and it has renewed my confidence in and enthusiasm for dance leading.

– It was very rich to share this time together. Stirring and deepening. Good to be with the Sangha. renew old connections and make new ones.
– For me there are always some challenges too but that’s all part of it…”willing, unwilling, what does it matter!”

– What did that weekend do to me? At first it was hard to adjust back to normal life back at home, children arguing…. how do I deal with the sudden disappearance of all these beloved people? Then something happens and I seem to be much more alive, at home, at work. I speak more freely, I am more able to stay present when things are hard; wonderful changes! A very powerful experience and I don’t know quite what or how.

– I felt re-inspired to keep leading,  just being around other dance leaders and hearing their journeys. Loved hearing about Jules’ planned family day, some old ideas I’ve had for leading dance in schools came back to me. There were many other conversations and sharings i wished we could have done, for example being mentored and the journey of this relationship. I loved being with everyone, and i loved my little single room at night.

– The blend of heart sharing circles and dances worked wonderfully together, making it possible to let go and be vulnerable with each other.  Such a gift! Thank you all.

– Once again I loved spending a weekend in such a beautiful and comfortable venue with old friends and newer ones, deepening my appreciation of this community through dancing and sharing with each other. It was great to spend time just with other Dance Leaders, sharing the joys and challenges of the role, and also learning new things from each other about aspects of the dance journey. I thought the sessions led by the Dance mentors an excellent idea, and particularly illuminating. I will definitely be going again next year!

– Thanks for your hard work. I found it a very supportive experience to come. For me the dancing and sharing work so well together. I felt like you held the space beautifully as a team.

Every leader present took a turn in leading a dance, a chant or a walk. The mentors who came each had a slightly longer session to share their current growing edge of deepening insight and experience, which was inspiring and illuminating for us all. Personally, I find the enormous variety of styles and approaches wonderfully rich and also encouraging. There is no need for any one of us to be anything other than ourselves. Each one brings the gift of who they are, deliciously unique and yet sharing the same underlying journey. Truly we are a model of unity in diversity.

These are some of the subjects we touched on in our sharing:

  • Exploring the story I tell myself
  • Issues that face us as leaders. What the heck are we doing? Why do we do it? What are we trying to achieve?
  • What happens to us in the dance, our inner world.
  • How do we draw people in and explain what we are doing
  • Meditation
  • Walks – sharing around the walks
  • Culture and history of the dances in America

We also had some time to share and discuss around certain areas of development for DUPUK as a whole. There is need for movement forward in how we engage with dancers who are not leaders, and the discussion focussed around using the website to connect with these people. We agreed that we could encourage those who dance with us to sign up for the mailing list  ‘News from DUPUK’. And we will start to send out a regular digest of longer dance events that are on the calendar using this mailing list. We have also added a Paypal button to the website to allow people to make donations easily if they feel moved to do so.

We raised the idea of having a membership category for Dance Musicians, now that they can be mentored (by a Dance Mentor). This would make it possible for them to access the dance write-ups and other useful resources. Those present were in favour, so we will work on this with a view to clarifying how it can be set up so as to be voted on by the whole membership at the next opportunity.

Here are some actions and ideas that were suggested by the leaders who were present:

  • Place a standard reminder on all our Mailchimps to remind people to sign up for News for Friends of the Dances, in order to hear more news about U.K. Events
  • Include anything longer than a day in a national digest, sent out to Friends of the Dances
  • Contract with leaders not to use other dance leaders mailing lists
  • Research the need to register with data protection
  • Remind leaders that overseas events or teachers can be advertised on the International website
  • Send information about big events to the Friends list – eg dance leader training events
  • 24 hour fund raiser/outreach dance session in a big city to raise awareness and funds
  • Deepening events for dancers and leaders
  • Formalise a mentoring buddy system – horizontal mentoring

For those of you who were not present, we hope to have given you a flavour and sense of the Annual retreat. We want to include all of the supportive contact that most of us love so much: dancing, sharing, praying, eating and (some) discussion, but without too much talking! It is our chance to meet together and move forwards together, as individuals and as an organisation. And by removing the need for a business meeting (making it electronic instead) we made more time available for this.

Blessings,

Jilani, Shamsia and Kate