Siraj Paletta, director of the Spirit of Guidance Healing Center in Wanship, wants to share something dear to her heart — Sufism.

"Sufism is also called the Path of the Heart or Liberated Spirituality that connects you with everything in the universe," Paletta said during an interview with The Park Record. "It is a personal reflection or what one perceives what god or the Great Spirit is."

To do so, Paletta will host a series of events that will include Sufism, an introduction to the Native American tradition of a Medicine Wheel and a Lakota Pipe Ceremony from Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 9.

The idea is to help people who are looking for balance in their lives.

"We feel that real development can only take place if people work with what is meaningful for them, and that a deepening of one's spiritual experience is essential to informed practice within any faith tradition," Paletta explained. "Sufism is a lifelong path that keeps unfolding, so I wanted to give people a place to start."

Sufism began in India more than 700 years ago, affirming the common ideals of all religious faiths, according to Paletta.

"Most Sufis worldwide are Muslims, however, it is not associated with classical Islam," she said. "You may be a Muslim and practice Sufism. You can be a Sufi and be a practicing Buddhist. It also works with Native American traditions, Hindu traditions and good old-fashioned Christian traditions.


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Friday's introduction to Sufi meditation will not include any dogma or religious policy, but a way to open up an approach participants to develop a spiritual awareness, she said. "We hear about being spiritual and not being religious and this is a valid point to make," Paletta said. "Many of these traditions have beautiful techniques for anyone individual who is called to them to benefit not only their own life, but also to benefit ones community in the world at large.

"There are practices with sound, known commonly as mantras," she said. "There are practices with light and practices with meditations. And there is breathwork, which runs through all the major mystical traditions."

Paletta believes the practices are gifts from her creator and the bridge between the inner and outer world.

"We breathe unconsciously, which allows us to live, but if we learn to breathe consciously, which is the beauty of the Buddhist teachings, we allow ourselves to manifest all the benefits of the full and deep breath that is connected with spirit — healing, mental clarity and relaxation," she said. "There are sacred traditional teachings that are pretty much universal in the Native American traditions. We will introduce it as another pathway of discovery."

On Saturday morning, Paletta will give an introduction to the Native American Medicine Wheel.

"The Sufi Healing Order International merged the two traditions of Sufism and Native American traditions in the early 1990s and found they worked together well," said Paletta who established Spirit of Guidance Healing Center in 2008. "The Medicine Wheel is an ancient and powerful symbol of the universe. It honors and makes real the interconnection with all things, when you stand in the sacred circle to hear the chanting and be present and aware of that connection. We will introduce the Medicine Wheel teachings and the four Sacred Directions are a power of achieving balance and harmony in life."

The final event of the weekend will be the Lakota Pipe Ceremony that will take place Saturday evening.

"The pipe itself is a beautiful object and is the most sacred object to the Native American people," Paletta said. "It was given to the Sioux more than15 generations ago and was brought to the Lakota Nation by a beautiful woman."

The woman, who manifests herself in other religions as Mother Mary and the Lady of the Lake, was on a mission to connect the people with the spirit. Paletta said.

"The drumming during the ceremony represents the sacred heartbeat of not only the individual, but nature, Mother Earth," she said.

The ceremony will include shamanic healing that will be led by Muqit Stephen Sachs, known by his shamanic name, Rainbow Bear.

Sachs is a senior teacher in the Sufi Order International and leader of the Desert Rose Sufi Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is well respected by many Native American tribes.

"He's been doing this for more than 35 years," Paletta said. "He was introduced to the Pipe Ceremony by a Grandmother of Leonard Crow Dog's Sun Dance and was trained in the Lakota tradition, which is what many people are familiar with.

"His Sufi name, Muqit, means the one who brings together," she said. "He calls himself Rainbow Bear, and we all know the rainbow is making its way in to all different cultures."

Rainbow represents the non-native people in the world and these workshops are a way for non-natives to learn about these ancient and sacred traditions, Paletta said.

"We are offering these events and sessions to teach and restore these teachings," she said. "The spirits are guiding me and telling me its time to present the teachings in the way that I can at this point in my life. I hope this becomes something that touches many hearts."

Spirit of Guidance will host a series of events this week including a Sufi meditation workshop on Friday, Aug. 8, from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., an introduction to the Medicine Wheel session on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. until noon and Lakota Pipe Ceremony later that day from 1:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Admission to the meditation workshop is a suggested donation of $10. Admission to the Medicine Wheel session is $20 and admission to the pipe ceremony is $40, however, no one will be turned away. Contact Siraj at 435.659.0761 or siraj@spiritofguidance.org for directions and gate code. For more information, visit www.spiritofguidance.org/classes.html#sufimeditation.