Circles of openness
Hey @NADIA @GEHAN and @NOEMI,
In my experience it these circles work very well when the group shares a common willingness to receive, listen, and is open to go into deep experiences. Also what works well is to set a clear invitation and some simple guidelines, such as the ones I described. They help the group process and give a certain structure to build up momentum. My experiences have been diverse. I’ve experienced beautiful gatherings where love, depth and understanding were shared among all participants. Sometimes when the group was mixed deeply sharing also lead to some confusion as these depths were not familiar to everyone and not everyone seemed to grasp the depth of the experience of someone else. Although I think it didn’t harm or shock anyone too much, I do think it may have lead to some confusion. For instance, I once went very deep receiving the talking stick and staying silent for a few minutes, all attention on me, I didn’t want to “just say something” so I stayed present with my inner dynamics (and doubts) in front of everyone. Finally, I said something that felt true to me. So I remained connected to my inner truth. The woman who was sitting next to me didn’t know how quick she had to say something when I gave her the talking stick. Ever since our contact between me and the woman have been somewhat weird. Coming to think of it, I should have probably talked to her sometime and exchange perspectives lightly… (oops).
This particular meeting was organized by a friend of mine btw and was a gathering of about 20 people, which is quite big for such a sharing. I’d say depending on the size of the group there will be different forms and formats that suit best the conversation. Not necessarily the bigger the group to more superficial. Groups can go very deep together when they are guided properly. This is a true art. And ideally, one question/ sharing leads to another, being able to deepen the conversation coming closer to opennings. And, maybe most importantly everything is good. So not resisting anything nor having an agenda helps for creating the space to be who you naturally are.
I believe the Circles of openness serve best around a certain theme that is loaded and which everyone has experiences with: I organized a series about money and I participated in one about sexuality. Both topics lead to a very vulnerable and warm sharing and brought everyone closer together. Also I think Circles work well for existing communities that work or live together, as tensions may arise during the daily practices. The latter I have some experiences with at the Synergyhub and the principle we used was to share from what’s alive in you at the moment. This worked pretty well.
I also initiated a circle once during a workshop where people didn’t really know each other and there wasn’t a real theme or topic. In that setting it didn’t feel really appropriate to do a sharing, as apart from being human and sharing a similar human experience (so there’s always (some) interest), there wasn’t really a common intention or relevance to have this talk together. So I wouldn’t organize a circle “out of the blue” again.
Most of the meetings I was with had both familiar people and strangers. As long as the intention for the meeting is clear, it’s no problem and good examples will follow.
Most circles I went to lasted for about 1 to 2 hours. Although probably you know about retreats/ satsangs for instance with Bentinho Massaro that take about the whole day (with sessions of about 1,5 to 2 hours each). Have to say that during these days Bentinho (or some other "teacher) is the one who does most of the talking. Yet, he knows how to bring a group into depth. So, even though it’s a different form, there’s also huge transformation happening during these meetings.
@Nadia about organizing this at The Reef. I would say a circle is very appropriate and effective if there is a theme or topic that has great interest. When this is the case, we can do it. You could also guide it yourself if you feel excited.
And is there a learning curve, @Noemi ? Yes, for me personally very much. Through sharing so openly in a public space among others really gave me confidence to be vulnerable and fully present. Also for many others I feel sharing with each other has this effect. During some of my meetings I really saw people transform, releasing some of the doubts and limiting beliefs they had about themselves! Truly magical to be there when that happens! Moments I have very exciting and warm memories of.
So let me summarize my experiences:
Sharing from personal experiences - yet not getting caught up into the story. The aim is to gain clarity to let go of stories and have space te create the new.
Circles work well around certain (loaded) theme’s and communities who work/ life together with a clear invitation.
Listening from the heart, listening from beyond the personal perspective (not taking anything personal)
Everything that pops up from a genuine sharing is welcome, even if it’s off topic. What’s alive here and now is relevant, provided it serves the conversation & transformation of the whole (including the individual).