Archive: Flowing with the circle

by James Wells
November 2010

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This month's Circle Tale was written by James Wells. James is a Toronto-based consultant, teacher, host, and facilitator. His use of circle process, tarot, reiki, and journal writing inspires clients and students to enter their full humanity.

In this tale, James describes a training he co-led this fall with Bev Haskins. Both James and Bev are circle practicum alumni. Thank you James for sharing this story with us.

This past week, my friend Bev Haskins and I taught a two-day circle process practicum in Ottawa to a very diverse and long-standing group of 19 people. It was fascinating to condense what can be a five-day retreat into a two-day workshop, but it allowed us to expose people to the basic skeleton of a circular way of being together.

At the point when we invited the group to discuss what agreements they already have in place and what new agreements they might formulate, shadow entered the room in the form of strong reactions to certain aspects of how they regularly meet, how they want to meet, and how they don’t want to meet. Three or four very firm voices expressed some difficult things. “Here we go,” I thought as I breathed energy into the centre to support the group and breathed energy from the centre to support myself. 

I looked over at Bev while privately wondering, “Now what?” We suggested that people continue to pass the talking piece around the rim and just express what they were feeling about what was taking place. This continued until one round when the talking piece travelled around the circle and no one had anything more to say.

We took a short break. Bev and I decided that, even though we were scheduled to teach about shadow and conflict on the morning of the next day, this was the time to bring it in. The group members agreed. So, we quickly revamped the rest of the afternoon to offer teachings on shadow and some things that could be done about/with it. The next morning, we continued by offering an activity that allowed people to take what bothered them about someone and to reframe these things into constructive gifts within themselves that these qualities might indicate.

It was a real lesson for us as facilitators and hosts of circle. The circle was teaching us to flow with what’s needed in the moment, to be present to what’s happening here and now, and to do what we can about it. It really brought home the third and fourth of Christina Baldwin’s Seven Whispers: Practice certainty of purpose and surrender to surprise. We had a plan in place, then had the courage to drop the plan and be with the situation and what it required. Thank you, archetype of circle, for this profound reminder.