The Talking and Healing Circle
The North American First Nations regarded the circle as the main symbol for understanding life's mysteries. They have observed that all of life was circular movement which could be seen everywhere throughout nature. Man looked out on the physical world through their eyes, which is circular. The Earth is round, and so is the Sun, Moon and planets. The rising and setting of the Sun follows a circular motion. The seasons form a circular movement. Birds build their nests in circles. Animals marked their territories in circles. In the old days, tribes lived in circular homes called tepees and their communities were arranged with the tepees in a circle. Indeed, to the Natives, the whole of life appeared to be circular.
Talking Circle or Healing Circle
An Ancient Tool for better decision making and strengthening a team or a community. It is a method of collaborative learning built on the ancient wisdom and traditions of the Natives, which uses the group process for developing direct, honest, and effective communication in a team or community, using the "circle" format. An experience of partnering in action, when the "compete and dominate" models, under the condition of increasing complexity and interdependence, are growing largely ineffective.
What the Circle Provides
A framework and tools for using the diversity of views and talents present in the group, to create better decisions and strengthen community by reaching high-level synergy. The circle format offers new possibilities for better understanding of self, others and the issues at hand. The circle improves communication and collaboration between team members and relationships with others.
How to use the Circle
As in the ancient circles of elders, each member comes to know they bring a piece of the truth to the circle - essential in itself, but only a part of the whole. The passion of our personal vision is shared without attachment, and then our position is released to the larger truth of the circle.
In the Circle, a specially chosen object, frequently a talking stick, an Eagle Feather, a Stone or a Crystal, is passed around to each person and in turn speaks his or her truth. These tools often embody the wisdom-heart of their group, and are objects of great beauty, simplicity or significance. They spiritually empower the holder of the object to speak her or his heart-felt truth as an offering to the circle. These tools should serve as an encouragement to speak from the most undefended place in one's self.
The Rules of a Circle
Speak honestly and truthfully from the heart, be brief, and listen attentively to others, do not cross talk or interfere with what someone else is speaking.
The process is not one of making strong arguments for or against something, or convincing one another of right or wrong, but a process of becoming still and quiet, connecting with collective wisdom. When the truth is spoken on some issue it is seen and heard as such.....it rings true.
It’s listening without reacting or intending to respond, listening without being influenced by long-held images, memories or firmly held position, listening instead with a beginners mind. This is not to say that all is serious. Wholeness includes all forms of experience, good and bad, light and heavy, joyous and sad, trivial and significant. Everything is an invitation to look deeper, sense more fully.
The power of a circle lies in our seeing and feeling exactly what is, and suspending the noisy internal and external responses that get in the way. There's no right and wrong way to do participate in a circle or to do a circle. There are only honest efforts to hear, see and say what is most real at any given moment.
The Talking Stick Circle Can Help: decision making, inquiry management, prioritizing opportunities, clarifying group dynamics, team product development, problem solving, planning, conflict resolution, creating the bonding needed to build learning communities or just about anything that organizations use meetings for.
Whether with humor, the weaving of words or silence, strong leaders stay present and committed to what is actually taking place, rather than invested in the Circle being "successful"... a truly successful Circle is an authentic one, no matter how dark or unresolved the outcome.
Good facilitation is usually "transparent," in the sense that members leave the Circle less impressed with the wisdom and power of the facilitator(s) than with a strong feeling of the movement and connectedness of the whole circle.