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Natural Awakenings

Ideas for Starting and Maintaining a Circle

Nov 30, 2021 09:30AM ● By Justine Willis Toms
The backs of people in a circle with their arms around each other

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When I tell someone that I’ve been meeting in a circle with the same people for more than three decades, they invariably ask, “How can I have that in my life?” They are eager to hear my stories, but feel overwhelmed about how to start a circle of their own. While those first steps feel like the biggest steps, they are really baby steps.

Three-step advice:

1. Make the commitment and write it down

2. Put out the call

3. Be consistent

Step One: Set forth a clear intention.

Years ago, I learned from Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey that everything is born twice: first in the imagination and then into the world. In the beginning, you will not know all the details, but you need to be clear in the overall intention of starting a circle and meeting regularly. Instead of saying, “Having a circle in my life is a good idea,” say, “It’s as good as done; I’m going to make it so no matter what.” Then write it down. This anchors it into the world of manifestation.

Step Two: Put out the call.

After making the inner commitment, you need to tune into other people that want to travel with you. It doesn’t take a lot of people to begin; one or two others will be fine. Talk to a friend about this idea. You may feel awkward at first, but be assured there is a field of energy holding you—humans we have been circling since the dawn of history. If people turn you down, do not be discouraged. Trust that the perfect people will begin to show up. It is my experience that if even two people meet using circle principles on a regular basis it acts as an attractor for others.

Step Three: Meet on a consistent basis.

Put your circle time in your calendar as an important event. Keep this commitment just as you would a medical or dental appointment. Show up and keep the appointment even if you are the only one. There will be times when you feel too tired to go. Go anyway. Afterwards, you’ll be truly delighted you went. Being sporadic in your meeting time will create a “leaky container”. Meeting consistently builds a powerful and vitalizing bond.

Best Practices for Circles

These agreements  have helped circles to function more successfully for all participants.

• Consider it a sacred space

• One person speaks at a time

• Speak and listen from the heart

• Encourage and welcome diverse points of view

• Listen with discernment instead of judgment

• When in doubt or need, pause and silently ask for guidance

• Share leadership and resources

• Decide together how decisions will be made

• Work toward consensus when possible

• Offer experience instead of advice

• Decide together what is to be held in confidence

• Speak from your own experiences and beliefs rather than speaking for others

• Open and close the circle by hearing each voice (Check-ins and check-outs)


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