Here are examples of various circle guidelines:
When we are in circle conversations, we agree to:
• Speak from our heart and from our own experience.
• Listen with respect, compassion and curiosity.
• Hold stories or personal material in confidentiality.
• Be willing to discover and explore, noticing patterns, themes, new questions.
• Create a circle.
• Consider it a sacred space.
• One person speaks at a time.
• Speak and listen from the heart.
• Encourage and welcome diverse points of view.
• Listen with discernment instead of judgment.
• Share leadership and resources.
• Decide together how decisions will be made.
• Work toward consensus when possible.
• Offer experience instead of advice.
• When in doubt or need, pause and silently ask for guidance.
• Decide together what is to be held in confidence.
• Speak from your own experience and beliefs rather than speaking for others.
• Open and close the circle by hearing each voice. (Check-ins and check-outs.)
• Welcome Start-point
• Center and Check-in/Greeting
• Three Principles and Three Practices
• Guardian of process
• Check-out and Farewell
The circle is an all leader group.
1. Leadership rotates among all circle members.
2. Responsibility is shared for the quality of experience.
3. Reliance is on wholeness, rather than on any personal agenda.
1. To speak with intention: noting what has relevance to the conversation in the moment.
2. To listen with attention: respectful of the learning process for all members of the group.
3. To tend the well-being of the circle: remaining aware of the impact of our contributions.
Every circle is unqiue and fluid, changing and evolving to reflect the needs of the group. There are many different ways to create the sacred space of a women’s circles:
Meditation Circles: Some women come together weekly or monthly to meditate in silence. You can allow some time at the end of the circle to reflect on any guidance, images or awareness that arose during the meditation – or not.
Prayer Circles: Your prayers could be spoken or silent. You could focus your prayers on a specific issue or need – or each woman could bring the prayer that is most present in their own heart.
Interfaith Circle: This circle would be formed with the intention of bringing together women from diverse spiritual perspectives. The focus of your circle might specifically invite women to share information about their spiritual beliefs and practices – or you might allow the conversation to arise organically from women’s needs and weave in observations and reflections about how our spiritual practice supports and challenges us as women.
Mentoring Circles: Here women come together to exchange wisdom and mutual support. This might an intergenerational mix of women so that younger women and elders have the chance to learn from one another – or it might be a group of women with a shared passion (like writing a book or environmental action).
Dream Circles: This is an opportunity for women to gently turn their attention to their dreams, taking turns sharing a recent dream and reflecting as a group on the feelings, images and symbols.
Art Circles: Women gathered around a table create art – paintings, colored pencils on black paper, collage, multi-media images, etc. You may choose a quote or a question as the theme of the art. The piece is completed within a defined amount of time (one hour) and then the group can take time to reflect on each piece.
Phone Circles: Many kinds of circles can be done on conference calls with women scattered across great distances. Even silent group meditation can be effective on a conference call. The same basic elements of circle are essential to phone circles. You can create a sacred center as you each light a candle and open the call with a blessing; you begin with a brief check in so every voice is heard; and you follow circle guidelines. Be sure to close your circle before you end the call.