Why call a Healing Circle?
A healing circle is typically born out of love and a desire for service. Discovering your own purpose is a vital first step. There are many types of healing circles, and all begin with a purpose or intention. Before you start a circle, get clear on why you’re calling it.
- Where does hosting this circle fit into your life?
- How does it serve your own wholeness?
- What will the people in this circle have in common?
- A shared physical condition or life circumstance?
- The desire for self-discovery through media such as art, writing, or music?
- A commitment to learning something new together?
- Caregivers of others who desire support?
Types of Circles
Four types of circles have emerged:
- Healing circles are safe environments in which those who are impacted by a condition or circumstance can share their experiences and harvest collective wisdom. They are the foundation on which other circles are built.
- Discovery circles are for those who want to gain insight into whatever they are facing through intuition, inner exploration, and creative expression. The people within them share a common way of processing life but may not share a common circumstance.
- Learning circles are for those who share an interest in a topic or wish to develop a healing skill.
- Caring circles support those who care for others, whether as a family member, friend, volunteer, or professional. They can also include experiences for caring for ourselves.
Creating a Circle of One
True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible … In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.
All circles entail deep listening—even circles of one. Circles of one are more than simply being alone. They offer an opportunity for self-discovery and a way to source inner guidance.
Agreements with yourself
Like all healing circles, a circle of one begins with agreements:
- I will treat myself with kindness and respect.
- I will listen to myself with compassion and curiosity.
- I will honor my unique ways of healing and won’t presume to advise, fix, or try to save myself.
- I hold these stories as sacred.
- I trust that I have the guidance I need within me and rely on the power of silence to access it.
It can be crowded in a circle of one
You may engage in a dialog with:
- Your body or your organs (for example, “What are you trying to teach me?”)
- The various roles you play in your life (for example, “If a friend were in my situation, would I treat her differently than I’m treating myself?”)
- Emotions (for example, “Anger, what’s the message you bring?”)
- The Universe, Source, God, or a deity (for example, “Why is this happening to me?”)
- Guardian angels, guides, or totems (for example, “Where is this journey taking me?”)
- Your values (for example, “I always valued achievement. Now all I can do is be.”)
Things you can do in a circle of one
You can do more in a circle of one than you can in any other type of circle. Examples include:
- Dreams and their interpretation
- Drawing or collage
- Being in nature
- Whatever your creativity offers
Ways to nourish listening within
- Fidelity to a daily practice of solitude and interior silence
- Gently releasing things that don’t nourish our spirits
- Living as much as possible in the present moment
- Sharing with a trusted friend
- Being aware of what is going on in our bodies
- Being patient in the darkness
Signs that we can trust what we hear
- We feel right and peaceful “deep down,” even though we may also feel fear, resistance, and insecurity.
- We are free to speak our truth.
- We are not dependent on what others think.
- We are less attached to outcomes.
- We are drawn to love and to serve.
Holding a Circle of Two
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”
– Rachel Naomi Remen
How is a circle of two different from a conversation between two people?
Like every healing circle, circles of two are built on the foundation of agreements. In a circle of two, participants:
- Treat each other with kindness and respect.
- Listen with compassion and curiosity.
- Honor each other’s unique ways to healing and don’t presume to advise or fix or try to save each other
- Hold all shared stories in confidence.
- Trust that each person has whatever guidance is needed within and rely on the power of silence to access it.
What happens in a circle of two?
To hold a circle of two:
- Put something in the center—a candle if you’re at home, a stone if you’re outside, a salt shaker if you’re at a restaurant. Or skip this step if you’re on a walk.
- Use a talking piece. One talks, the other listens, then switch. This slows the conversation down and makes sure both are heard.
- Practice circle. Speak to the center using only “I” forms. Listen carefully without forming a rebuttal, jumping in with advice, or wanting to tell your story.
- Ask each other if you’d like to do another round of sharing? Another round could include clear reflection, an open, honest question, or simply repeating step 3.
- Close with an appreciation for your partner and your circle time.
As humans, we are happier and healthier if we have someone to talk to when we need it. For people who are newly diagnosed, grieving, at a turning point, or simply needing to connect, we offer circles of two at Healing Circles Langley. Our primary purpose is to listen and help people find their own voice.
At minimum, we can offer a hug, a cup of tea, and an attentive ear to whatever the day’s concern is—whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. We aspire to both generous listening and open questioning, affirming strength when we hear it and supporting inner guidance as it emerges.
Our volunteers are trained in peer-to-peer co-counseling methods such as active listening and clear reflection. Circle hosts do not offer medical (or other) advice or therapy, but they can serve as a clearinghouse to assist people in finding additional community resources.
The same circle agreements apply: confidentiality; listening with compassion and curiosity; honoring each other’s respective paths; and pausing for a moment whenever necessary to catch our breath and bearings.
It’s not easy to turn to a stranger for help, but some of the pain that gives new people the courage to cross our threshold includes:
- “I’ve just been diagnosed with a life-altering illness.”
- “I’m overwhelmed by being a caregiver.”
- “I’ve just lost a loved one.”
- “I’m at a turning point in my life.”
- “I’m having a bad day, and I’m lonely.”
- “I’ve just moved to town and have no support network, and now I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.”
- “I don’t know why I’m here. I just needed to talk with someone.”
So far, our reach has not exceeded our grasp. We have enough volunteers to host circles of two three days a week, and in 95 percent of the circles that take place, our volunteers have felt comfortable in their role. We’ve enlisted the help of a team of crisis counselors who are willing to take a call and perhaps offer a complementary session for those with mental health issues. So far, we’ve had to call on their help only a few times.
We have additional volunteers experienced in working with those suffering from grief, pain, cancer, and aging, and we also direct people to other social organizations or therapists who could be of better assistance.
Starting a Circle of More
Circles are living entities: a full-bodied presence that we create together. They’re the mother of methodologies and are based on the fires that our ancestors gathered around to build tribe and clan.
There’s a difference between meeting in a circle and invoking or calling a circle. Healing circles are functional blends of mechanics and magic. The mechanics are necessary to establish and maintain a safe, conducive environment for magic to emerge. The trick in a healing circle is to be vigilant of the balance between the two—to avoid over-emphasizing one at the expense of the other.
What takes place in a basic healing circle is:
- Welcome and transition into circle: stepping away from what you’ve been doing, taking a deep breath, and committing yourself to being fully in the circle.
- Checking in: sharing how your particular journey is going.
- Learning: harvesting the collective wisdom of the group.
- Closing/checking out.
- Social time.