What is a Witnessing Circle?
In short, it's a gathering of souls present to what is arising and wishes to be shared and witnessed in ourselves and each other.
But it's so much more...
It's true listening. It's transformation. It's spiritual practice. It's energy work. It's relationship healing. It's life-affirming connection. It's resilience building. It's community creating. It's space to speak into, be heard in, and hear others in. It's what we bring to it. It's what we receive from it. It's where we go with it. It moves no faster than any one person and leaves no one behind.
This practice is simple but it's powerful. It draws from the generous sharing of traditional Aboriginal practices of Talking Circles and it draws from other traditional circling practices too...those from my own ancestral roots.
A circle is a sacred geometric form. It is unbroken, balanced, and infinite. It's inclusive. It's ancient. And more and more as a culture we are circling in ways shared with us by the wisdom keepers on the earth, because even if we've lost our way, our bones know this medicine. It resonates when it's right for us.
What is the practice?
We gather in a circle with the intention of being present to what is true in our hearts, share it if we feel compelled, and witness what is in the hearts of those we have gathered with.
When the talking stone reaches our hands we respond to the question, "what is on my heart?" and share this with our circle if we wish, or pass the stone to the next person beside us. The stone is passed around the circle until we all feel complete.
This is not an intellectual process. It's a practice. And like every practice, it's wisdom reveals itself to us in time. It's another path into our hearts.
Why a Women's Circle and a Men's Circle?
Binaries in gender have profound and often damaging limitations too, but these ones are intentional and not exclusive. Circling with the gender we identify with, or most closely identify with, also has geometric power that can be drawn upon to support connection and belonging. These circles are working with this energy. I am not currently offering specifically gender neutral or inclusive circles.
Elements of a Circle:
Sanctity - We step away from other worlds into sacred space. There is an agreement both spoken and unspoken to hold ourselves, each other, the gathering, and the practice itself in sacred space.
Trust - We are not expected to automatically trust. Trust is something that builds as we risk sharing ourselves and we discover that our feelings, experiences and stories are heard and held with respect, care, and in confidence. While we are encouraged to share our own experiences and stories, it is understood that we do not share the words, information, experiences, or stories of another.
Listening - We listen with our whole hearts. The only person who speaks is the one holding the stone. Everyone else listens. Deeply. We do not offer advice, feedback, or referrals. We do not fix, solve, discuss, network or comfort. We listen. And we understand that each of us has deep wisdom held within us that we are more likely to come into connection with if we are heard and we can hear each other and ourselves. So we listen. Deeply. With our hearts.
Authenticity - Circle is a space where we get to show up...just as we are. Circle is the space where we get to share exactly what we feel. This is what makes us human. In circle we have time...time to pause, reflect, take a deep breath, go inside, and notice how we feel in our body before we speak and therefore share what will more authentically connect us with others too. In circle we invite acceptance of our own authenticity and that of others.
Silence - Silence is a powerful response and sharing. Silence allows us to unearth the mysteries and wisdom within and allows integration of experience. In circle we recognize the power and choice to remain silent and pass the stone without sharing verbally. In circle we honour and respect pauses, spaces, and the inevitable tension and desire to fill the space that we may feel in response. Tension and desire are feelings/sensations too. We lovingly witness these as well.
Ritual - This is a ritual. It is an intentional practice that invites us to connect with ourselves, others, the world around us, our humanity, and the divine.