I want to continue exploring practices that could foster mutual support for the spiritual-but-not-religious. Let’s start with circles. I am very grateful for the privilege I have to participate in a circle of women who meet regularly for this purpose.
There are elements that seem especially important, including:
- using ritual to create sacred space
- committing to ground rules that maintain privacy, promote deep listening, and create a safe container (e.g. no fixing or giving unsolicited advice)
- participating as equals – no leaders or followers
- embracing authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty
- honoring the diversity of each member’s spiritual path and experience
- using movement, sound, breath, and silence to attune to the group energy and cultivate presence
The opportunity to gather with allies who share the goal of supporting one another’s soul journey is amazingly rich. It is different from simply sitting with a friend or loved one and sharing conversation. Perhaps because it allows us to set aside habitual roles and interpersonal patterns. But there’s something more. The power of group intention and conscious focus opens up a unique space that we cannot access on our own. Speaking one’s truth and being deeply heard by others enables a profound healing that is different from what we can achieve by ourselves. There is something mysterious about the energetic field created by group consciousness that triggers shifts and breakthroughs that may otherwise elude us.
I have participated in other groups and gatherings that were not as helpful. A major missing element was trust and the ease and freedom that it creates. When people bring small, stubborn agendas with them into circles it generates static and noise that clutters up the spaciousness that would otherwise appear. The willingness to set aside the anxious contraction of our egos is a key ingredient of transformative connection.
There are many circle practices beyond my example. Indigenous cultures are full of such traditions, including sitting in council and using a talking stick, prayer, ceremony, etc. Perhaps you can describe examples from your own experience? I recently participated in another circle that had several interesting rules that were new to me. First, the use of names was not allowed. So, when it was my turn to speak, I could not refer to something X said earlier. Second, no questions were allowed. The reasoning was that using names and asking questions pulled the group’s attention too much in the direction of specific participants (the one named and the questioner) and away from the emerging field of the collective.
Perhaps we also form a virtual circle of sorts through our blogs. I like the taking turns and holding space. Heart-speak. Thoughtfulness. Mirroring. I like watching an insight float up from California, or South Africa, or Seattle, and see how it settles and maybe works on me for a spell. The comments… bowing.