Circle work is incredibly hard to describe. If you just read about it, it can look like simply sitting in a circle and waiting for your turn to speak.
Part of the reason why it’s so hard to grasp the power of Circle is that, when well facilitated, it lets us experience a way of being and relating that is profoundly countercultural. It does so in nuanced yet radical ways and this is why it is work that needs commitment and training, combined with a personal practice of “hosting oneself.”
It took me years to hone my craft as a facilitator, both online and offline.
Here are some of the most impactful transformational experiences that Circle makes possible.
Circle participants are invited to slow down and to “speak to the center.”
If something doesn’t feel right, each is invited to pause, feel feelings, body sensations and thoughts. This invokes not only personal responsibility, but also a shared responsibility for the wellbeing of the whole group. Healthy boundaries do not separate us: they are necessary to connect to each other without enmeshment and projection, so true relating can happen.
Healing through stories
When there is no other goal but that of being present, real connection happens. Consciously or unconsciously, we feel when people are truly listening to us – and when we experience being listened to, we can hear ourselves much more deeply. Our own insights become clear. We can accept how we feel, stop going around in circles in our heads (pun intended!), and we can experience clarity. Feeling heard can be healing.
I often feel more peaceful and relaxed after Circle, as if something deep was cleansed, released, healed.
Deeply felt empathy
When we truly listen to someone else, we can understand lived realities and experiences we did not fully connect with before. These experiences become real, personal, relevant, not generalizations or abstractions.
This makes a profound difference in understanding each other, even when disagreement or conflict are present.
When we get together, our different and common experiences merge in the transpersonal field created by Circle and a new kind of insight emerges, a collective wisdom that cannot be arrived at in other ways. It is often surprising, very effective, and deeply connective.
Circle is fertile soil to harvest solutions or choose the next steps to address complex situations. Through this way of gathering, we discover how much more resourceful we are, individually and as a group.
A new way of being in the world
Circle gives us an experience of what else is possible. We cannot change our culture’s drive to domination by simply changing who is in charge.
But what else can we create?
Circle shows us how to begin to feel the flow of power, not as something to grab and use against one another, but as a shared, creative and generative force that brings us into Oneness. And at the same time, it doesn’t ask us to give up our differences – it invites us into community and belonging as individuals. The more we experience this different way of being together, the more we become aware of the domination paradigm all around us. And we can finally face our own tendency to play its game…and opt out. Through Circle, we build the inner awareness and outer tools necessary to create a different way of being in the world. Together.
Master Circle practitioner and Circle Way Board Member Sarah McDougall told me Circle is a way of being, and that you can always be in Circle, with yourself, with others, in every interaction. I didn’t get her at first. Now, after deepening my practice of Circle, I get it.
We can do this, we can truly bring about the shift we need to save our planet, our communities, our wellbeing. One Circle at a time.
This piece first appeared on The Circle Way blog.