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Healing in Circle

Gathering around a cook fire has been central to many cultures for generations. Recreating that circle offers a way to promote healing, build communities, generate solutions and resolve conflicts.

The Circle Way principles by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea offer an approach to communication and decision-making that emphasizes listening, speaking from the heart, and honoring each person’s perspective. It is a method for bringing people together in a safe and respectful environment where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

The Circle Way involves sitting in a circle, with no one person in a position of authority or hierarchy. This creates a sense of equality and encourages everyone to participate. Given the cook fire and face-to-face lineage of gathering in circles, you might wonder if the same level of connection is possible online. It is! I learned about the Circle Way process while taking an online training program via Zoom and discovered that it works equally well in a virtual gathering.

Circles begin with a simple opening ritual, such as a moment of silence or a shared intention-setting exercise. Each participant is given a chance to speak their truth without interruption or judgment. During the sharing, the focus is on listening deeply and with an open heart rather than formulating a response or giving advice. Circles adopt a set of agreements that provide structure to the circle and protect the group.

Healing Circles Global

The concept of healing circles has been popularized in the modern context by organizations like Healing Circles Global (HCG), founded in 2010 by Michael Lerner and Rachel Naomi Remen. If Dr. Remen’s name looks familiar, it might be because I mentioned her before. The questions she outlines in her talk, How to Live Every Day of Your Life, are part of my daily routine now, so don’t be surprised if I ask you, “What touched your heart today?” HCG is a non-profit organization that provides resources and training for individuals and communities interested in using healing circles to support health and well-being.

HCG drew inspiration from indigenous traditions and adapted the concept to many settings. They saw the potential for healing circles to address the growing need for community support and healing in an increasingly disconnected and fragmented world.

HCG has grown to include a worldwide network of facilitators and participants who use healing circles to support people facing various issues, including cancer, chronic illness, trauma, grief, and more. The organization also provides training and resources for individuals and organizations interested in learning how to facilitate healing circles. (Trainings are added regularly.)

You can join a healing circle on the HCG website. Some circles are ongoing groups, and others have open registration, like the Coming Together Circles. Circles are free to attend, but donations keep them going.

Photo by Arthur Poulin on Unsplash