The Yale International Center was the site of a unique event Thursday night. Shyakh Waleed "Leonardo Stoute" was invited to host an evening of Sufi Meditation, Remembrance "Zikr" and Healing. Shayakh Waleed is returning to Yale after nearly nine months traveling abroad, teaching in such countries as Indonesia, England, Turkey, and Japan. By 7 pm a good crowd had gathered in the common room of the International Center, and some of Bapak Waleed's regular students where there to welcome the guests and offer them refreshments. Soon the program began with the showing of "Rumi: Poet of the Heart", a PBS documentary on the Sufi poet Rumi featuring commentary and performances from Robert Bly, Coleman Barks, Deepak Chopra and others.
After the movie, the organizers of the event gave the audience a brief overview of the meditation and introduced Shaykh Waleed. Everyone gave him a warm welcome and he spoke briefly on the experience of zikr, some of its history, and its healing nature. Then everyone was invited to sit in a circle on the floor, and the zikr began with Shaykh Waleed leading and offering some explanations along the way. At the appropriate time in the zikr, the Shaykh rose and began to perform the traditional whirling movements. There are many stages to the whirling, each with their own meaning and significance. Shaykh Waleed concluded the whirling and the zikr finished soon thereafter. At the end, Shaykh Waleed thanked everyone for coming, restated the supplication for peace and blessings for all those who attended and even those who couldn't make it, and offered some explanation about the movements and their context. The session then came to close and everyone was invited to enjoy the refreshments and mingle.
Everyone flocked to the Shaykh and expressed their gratitude for his coming and their interest in joining future sessions. There were smiles everywhere, and people were eager to learn the whirling movements for themselves.
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