Values, Basic Principles, Guidelines
A Circle is held together by clear and strong intentions on the part of all its participants. It is best when the intentions of a group have been spelled out and agreed upon by all members. In doing so, Circle members become fully aware of their interactions with, and impact upon, others in the Circle. With this awareness, members modify their behaviour to honour others in the group and the values of the Circle.
Creating ‘safe’ time and space is a prime foundation for Circle work. All who come to the Circle can feel safe, that they will not be threatened nor experience new injuries. They will not be verbally attacked, condemned or put down. This communal safety allows Circle members to step out from behind the barriers that keep them apart and enter into a different and deeper presence with one another. Safety is created in many ways, but begins through the act of mindfulness. When Circle members are mindful, they are aware and conscious of what they do and say. They are focused on what is before them whether that is sharing an opening reading, listening to another member of the Circle, speaking their own truth, or lighting a candle. The space created to engage each other is built on safety for all present.
Circle participants must be willing to commit their personal time and energy to the Circle. A willingness to respect the meeting times is foundational for building trust within the group. Each member of the Circle is a vital part of that Circle: one member missing creates a break in what was whole. Circle members have a responsibility to bring their truth to the Circle, to hear other people’s truth, and to work collaboratively to address the issues they face.
There is no ‘head’, ‘top’, or ‘above’ in a Circle. All people are equal in a Circle and share the role of leader. All voices carry the same importance, each a vital piece of the whole. Equality within the Circle means acknowledging the reality that all of the wisdom needed to resolve and respond to the problems Circle members face are found within the people present in the Circle. It is simply a matter of creating opportunities for tapping into that rich resource. Acceptance of the value of equality assures that all within the Circle, who choose to do so, have the opportunity to contribute and be heard.
All people have a need to be heard, accepted, and loved. Many Circle members also share life’s difficulties, including pain, loss, and grief. This common ground is a reminder that as people Circle members are usually more alike than they are different, and it is through the Circle that they can sometimes touch their commonness. To do this requires a move away from perceiving the world solely with one’s brain, to a position of sharing and listening from the heart. Operating from the heart changes us and those we are with. Heart based communication allows us to discover the great wisdoms that we, and others, hold in our hearts.
Encourages Circles members to set their judgments and opinions aside and offer a deeper and more complete self to the speaker. It honours the risk and vulnerability of the speaker when offering their heart-perspective to the Circle. This is an opportunity to understand life from the speaker’s perspective, to feel their pain, to know their hopes, and to share in who they have been and who they are at this moment in time.
When Circle members speak from the heart, they share their truth without changing that truth to please others. Circle members also avoid speaking in a way that is disrespectful or intentionally inflicts pain on others. Speaking openly from our heart gives others the opportunity to learn from our inner wisdom, to understand in new ways. And sometimes, the unrehearsed story that we tell is a revelation even to ourselves!
Gratitude acknowledges that Circle members are grateful for the opportunity and privilege to be part of a Circle, and particularly for all who sit with them. Thanking someone for sharing their time, their truth, their heart, and their energy tells them that Circle members appreciate being connected with them as human beings, for that moment – and beyond. Gratitude acknowledges that Circle members are always connected, even if they are only physically together for this instant in time.
1. Shared leadership and equality
2. Visual contact among all participants
3. Focus on peace building
5. Respect and accountability
6. Input and participation by ALL
7. Inclusion and mutual responsibility
1. Listen with RESPECT
– seek to understand, not convince
– with empathy and an open mind
2. Speak with RESPECT
– speak honestly and from the heart
– use respectful words that do not hurt or offend
– honour the person whose turn it is to talk
3. No one if compelled to speak, but all have the opportunity if they choose to do so
4. Confidentiality – what is spoken is Circle stays in Circle.