Several years ago I offered a course and only 3 people signed up.
Something told me to run it anyway and to completely let go of my “course outline”. Bless those three women who showed up each week with open hearts and open minds, and enabled me to feel my way to what I now call Deep Healing Circles.
Although it felt like I was making my way around in the dark, one thing that I was clear about was that the main intention of our gatherings was to create an environment that would support each of our unfolding into authentic fullness.
Naturally, I drew from the tools that I’d gathered over the years. It felt right to start with a guided centering meditation so that we could connect with ourselves and each other. Often I found myself speaking about a particular topic related to awakening to our true nature and letting go of the false self. Then I would open up the Circle and we practiced communicating transparently, meaning that we did our best to notice what was arising for us physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically and to express that as clearly as possible. We also listened to each other from that place. We trusted that each person had the answers inside themselves and there was never any need for advice.
During the Circles I often feel drawn to offer some soul coaching or energy work, or to guide the group in some gentle movement. Most of the time, over the course of each series, a theme comes to the foreground and we explore it meditatively from different perspectives throughout the weeks.
Sometimes people who are interested in joining the Circles express that they’re concerned that it might just be people getting together to talk about their problems. I set clear guidelines to prevent this from happening, and continually remind the group of our intention, which is to learn to be mindful and present within our own experience and to support others in doing the same.
Although I wasn’t aware of this when the Deep Healing Circles first formed, I realize now that many indigenous cultures have used circles, often around a fire to bring community together, reflect, gain clarity, strengthen bonds, bring understanding, solve conflicts and celebrate.
Here are some of the benefits that we’ve enjoyed from the Deep Healing Circles …
We share a common intention: when we feel deeply committed to our spiritual growth we can often feel alone within our family, social circles and work place. In group gatherings we feel ‘normal’ and strengthened by the kindred spirits that we meet.
We learn to communicate transparently: connecting to how we feel physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically and having the space to practice communicating these things in a supportive environment enables us to eventually bring transparent communication into all of our relationships. Healthy and mutually growthful relationships require transparency on every level. Of course we are always free to keep private certain things that we would rather not share at this time. In the groups that I lead, the story and details are only important in terms of what they have to teach us as individuals.
We learn to care for the relational space: realizing that all relationships form a relational space that can be cared for with or without the other person’s cooperation is empowering and healing for us and others in subtle but powerful ways.
We recognize and dissolve shadows and energy patterns through the mirroring effect: there is no doubt that all of our relationships mirror our strengths and weaknesses. When working with groups the emphasis is always on how our relationships, both easy and challenging, are here to help us.
We relax into increasing trust when we recognize our shared light and humanity: we feel relieved to realize that others have similar struggles, we’re touched by each others courage, and we’re uplifted when our fellow participants have breakthroughs.
The container that we create supports us between gatherings: there is an energetic container formed by the groups and community that feeds us throughout the week. When we are struggling, the thought of our co-participants buoys us. Often participants find that they are exploring and integrating common lessons.
A momentum is created when there is a commitment to an extended mutual journey: on some level our beings know that they have the support of the group for an extended period of time and as a result will bring forth deeply buried patterns and energies to be seen and transformed.
Our growth path is more direct with the support of the group, shared insights, and spiritual direction: there is strength in numbers, and guidance can help participants to see their way beyond old beliefs and patterns. As the group leader, I open to receive intuitive direction at the beginning of each week and incorporate that into the meditations and exercises.
When challenges come up the group container can help us to move through these quickly rather than floundering for long periods of time: the weekly gatherings expose areas where we’re stuck and give us the guidance, insight and tools to more beyond these.
Meditation is often more powerful in groups, and the group supports our spiritual practice between gatherings: it is very common for people to notice that they can settle more easily in meditation and have deeper experiences, both when they are being guided by an experienced and intuitive teacher, and when they are meditating in a group.
Also, on an entirely practical level: group work is more affordable than private sessions.