Tips: Three essential practices for ensuring the well-being of the group

As a follow up to his thoughtful story about men’s circle, Roq Gareau reminds us that beyond sitting in a circle with the basic agreement of confidentiality, three essential practices ensure the well-being of a group.

Three Essential Practices for Ensuring the Well-being of the Group

1. Speaking to centre – Casting your spoke

The outer rim of the circle contains the group.  The power place and great transformer in circle is the centre. We lead from the rim, energetically connect through our spoke and receive from the centre. The spoke provides stability to the circle, which is essential to recover from wobbles in the group and to weather strong emotions and difficult content that naturally emerge. Casting your spoke to the centre is an essential circle skill. It requires presence, self-awareness, honest self-disclosure, a willingness to speak the unspoken, and a situational awareness of what is arising in the group. “Centrespoking” is simple but not always easy.

2. Tending to the outer rim – Brief frequent eye contact

While maintaining your spoke to the centre, practise brief and frequent eye contact with your circle mates. Acknowledging your fellowship and thinking well of the others on the outer rim promotes well-being and connected support in the circle relationship. To “periscope” regularly between tending to our own spoke and witnessing whoever on the rim is speaking is a way to observe the vital roles of the outer rim, spoke and centre.

3. Self-care and managing projection

Attending to your own spoke is essential; spoke-tending somebody else’s spoke is frequently counter-productive and often inappropriate, but sometimes unavoidable. Transference, counter-transference, strong triggers and shadow projection can cause us to bond our spoke with someone else on the rim. The best place to attach your spoke is at the centre – the one place that belongs to everyone and is occupied by no one.  “Centrespoking” is essential to your ongoing self-care and to the care of the group. A well-spoked circle can and must afford the occasional misplaced spoke – it is how we learn to become aware of our displaced projections – but too many misdirected spokes all at once can manifest a wobble that breaches containment, depletes trust and dilutes the collective sense of belonging.

Speaking to centre, tending to the outer rim and ongoing self-care optimize conditions for the benefits of The Circle Way to emerge. 

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Roq Gareau has trained and facilitated groups for 20 years and has co-facilitated men’s retreats for ten years. He has a keen ability to help folks have those difficult conversations they would rather avoid but know they have to get to if things are to improve. Roq is a Global Colleague of The Circle Way and Director of CentreSpoke Consulting. Soulful Fellowship is Roq’s first book. He can be reached at                         

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Soulful Fellowship is a vulnerable and honest, intergenerational dialogue between soulful friends who are part of a fellowship of men. It is written for anyone who wants to live with meaning and purpose, and particularly for men who have lost their spark for life.