Let us be companions in the quest that never ceases—the inquiry into who we are and why we are here. We remind each other of our inner truths and support each other in living our beauty. What a rare experience! To feel equally empowered to hold the circle, to question the process, to be held as vital and sacred by the others.
From Wisdom Circles by Charles Garfield,
Cindy Spring, and Sedonia Cahill
People are often amazed when I tell them I’ve been meeting in circle with several groups for more than thirty years. Invariably they are infected by my enthusiasm, and are eager to hear stories of the many ways circling has supported and changed my life for the better. Often, people who are new to this way of getting together are inspired to start a circle of their own, but are bewildered by not knowing how to begin.
There are few activities that are more supportive than having a circle of friends of the heart with whom you build a history. You hold their history and they hold yours. Through the months, and hopefully years, you begin to trust the courage, wisdom, and brilliance of your friends. Over time you learn to not be afraid for one another, but to hold one another through the ebbs and flows of life’s challenges. This is not a therapy group; it is a loving commitment to listen from the heart and to be honestly authentic with one another in a field of love and respect.
As with any other new venture, the first steps are the biggest steps—but in truth they are really baby steps. The key is to keep it simple; start small. Here are three simple steps you can take toward creating a deeply meaningful connection with others who will support you in your fullness for years to come.
Step One: Set forth a clear intention.
Years ago I learned from Reverend Mary Morrissey that everything is born twice. First it is born in the imagination, and then it is manifested in the physical world. A circle is no different. Set an intention to create your circle, and you will set in motion a chain of events that will make it a reality.
Intentions are most effective when they include as much detail as possible. However, in the beginning you will not know all the details about how your circle will evolve. Each circle is different, and yours will be a creation of the combined wisdom and energies of its members. Just be very clear about your intention to meet regularly, and your expectation that those who join with you will grow into what I call “friends of the heart.” It is important that you have a powerful expectation that your life will be well served when you meet regularly with others who are willing to be fully and authentically present. Most of all, don’t be tentative in your conviction. Feel your intention as a firm commitment to follow through. Instead of thinking, “Having a circle in my life is a good idea,” or, “Yes, I think I’ll create a circle in my life,” know in your heart that it will become a reality. Say to yourself, “It’s as good as done. I’m going to make it so, no matter what.”
Write your intention down. When you do, your idea will have form in the physical world, and that’s the very first step towards the manifestation of your idea. You’re on your way. Your intention might look something like this: “I feel myself sitting in circle with friends of the heart who, like myself, are committed to meeting regularly in a safe space where trust and caring are nurtured and where I can bring my dreams and my authentic self.”
While you’re creating your vision for what your circle can become, it might be helpful to explore the many books and web resources that describe what sitting in circle is all about. One of my favorites is the website www.MillionthCircle.org.
Step Two: Put out the call.
After you have made the inner commitment, put up your sail and catch the wind: Tune in to other people who want to travel this breeze with you. You won’t need a lot of people to get started. In fact, just one or two others will be fine. There is no magic and nothing complex about it. Just talk to a friend about your idea, and then talk to another. You may feel awkward at first, but be assured that there is a field of energy holding you. Human beings have been coming together in circles since the dawn of history.
If someone declines your invitation, do not be discouraged. Trust that the right combination of people will begin to show up. Remember, you only need one person besides yourself to make a circle. If two of you meet on a regular basis, using circle principles—speaking and listening from the heart, sharing leadership, speaking from experience rather than advising others, keeping the confidence of the circle, and making group decisions by consensus—you will attract others.
Step Three: Meet on a consistent basis.
Write your circle time in your calendar as you would any important event. Make a commitment to yourself and keep it, just as you keep an appointment with your doctor. When someone wants to schedule time with you, and you look in your calendar and see that it will conflict with your circle time, say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t make it at that time.”
I would add that it advisable to establish the routine of starting on time and ending on time. Even if things are very juicy and you may not want to stop the process, it is better to conclude the circle on such an exciting note and commit to continuing in the next session. Also, it is good for participants to show up on time. Try not to let the doldrums set in with people wandering in late.
There will be times when you feel too tired to go. Go anyway. Push through. Afterwards, you’ll be truly delighted that you went. Meeting consistently builds a powerful and vitalizing bond and a strong field of energy. If your group is sporadic in its meeting time it can begin to leak the good energy that has been built up. It is important to keep the dates you set up as a group and not let outside activities take precedence over your commitment to meet regularly. By treating this sacred time with respect your group will build a strong container for the positive gifts that a circle can bring.
by Justine Toms, adapted from
Small Pleasures: Finding Grace in a Chaotic World