Could you do with a break from the everyday and take the opportunity to bask in the energy and wisdom created within a Circle of Trust? These peaceful, safe, yet rejuvenating spaces offer you a chance to check-in with yourself on a deeper level, reflect & listen to your own highest wisdom…. Surrounded by an authentic community we feel supported, yet there is also plenty of room for solitude…. and this wonderful combination of company and quiet means people can emerge from this work with what they need, and with more energy, love, and grace to bring back to the world.
A Circle of Trust offers an opportunity to pause and reflect in a setting where it’s okay to be quiet and listen more to your own heart and mind, rather than wonder or worry about what other people are thinking and saying. This focus on an inner level opens up new perspectives and ways of understanding ourselves, wherein we can uncover answers that we have often looked for in vain elsewhere.
These circles are based on the work of author, activist, and educator Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal that he co-founded with Rick and Marcy Jackson in 1997.
The circles are guided by ‘touchstones’ that create an intentional group setting that is confidential and welcoming for us to talk and listen in this deeper way. Guidelines like ‘when the going gets tough, turn to wonder’, ‘responding to others with honest open questions’ and ‘giving and receiving welcome’ help everyone to enter this counter-cultural space knowing there are boundaries which help make people feel safe, build trust and offer the chance for us to be together more authentically. So, whether you are unravelling in some way right now, or feeling in a good place – there is no judgement. As a group, we simply listen and offer open, honest questions that support each other, without trying to ‘fix or save’ anyone.
Here is some information on the foundations of a Circle of Trust developed by Parker J. Palmer & the Center for Courage & Renewal interspersed with some of my own ideas –
Everyone has an inner teacher: So often we are taught that the answers we are looking for lie outside of ourselves, but what if what we need to know lies inside of us and we just need to create the right conditions in order to hear it?
In the yoga tradition, this wisdom is called dhi and refers to an inner voice of higher wisdom that knows and is capable of guiding us through life’s challenges. Circles of Trust give people a chance to listen to this source, learn from it and discover what it has to say about our own lives.
Inner work requires solitude and community: There is power in not only having time alone to listen to our dhi, but with a community of caring people around us at the same time, we need not feel alone. We are social creatures in an often increasingly isolated world and these connections, this sense of belonging helps us to integrate what our time in solitude reveals. Community fortifies and strengthens us, so we can move back into the world after a retreat with more joy and resilience.
Inner work must be invitational: Circles of Trust are welcoming spaces where people only share if they wish. People can benefit from the offerings in a way that suits them, knowing there is a flow and a structure to the retreats which is voluntary.
Our lives move in cycles like the seasons: Life is full of ups and downs, and it invariably alternates between the seasons. Some are so full of joy, of belonging, of experiencing indescribable blessings that fill us up so much that our hearts might burst and yet, sometimes we feel so empty, we fear our difficulties will break us. As time passes though, we have the opportunity to see that these experiences come and go like the seasons and we can let all of it contribute to our growth, even if its sometimes difficult. This appreciation of paradox enriches our lives and helps us hold greater complexity.
The journey we take in a Circle of Trust teaches us to approach the many polarities that come with being human as “both–ands” rather than “either–ors,” holding them in ways that open us to new insights and possibilities. We listen to the inner teacher and to the voices in the circle, letting our own insights and the wisdom that can emerge in conversation check and balance each other. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions and emotions.
We live with greater integrity when we see ourselves whole: Integrity means combining all that we are into our sense of self, embracing our shadows and limitations, as well as our light and our gifts. It can be difficult to find the parts of ourselves that we left in the dust over the years, but the journey is worth it. Through the process we move closer toward self acceptance and self love and we can see ourselves as whole again. As we deepen the congruence between our inner and outer lives, we show up more fully in the key relationships and events of our lives, increasing our capacity to be authentic and courageous in life and work. Out of this can blossom our highest offerings to the world.
A “hidden wholeness” underlies our lives: Each moment can be filled with joy, sadness. anger and allowing all things to be as they are gives us the freedom to truly be who we are. When we embrace all of what we are experiencing, something magical happens, and the “hidden wholeness” that Thomas Merton speaks of, is revealed and we remember we are okay – no matter what.
Poetry, stories or art are often used offered as a kind of doorway we can walk through – prompting some time for individual reflection, as well as optional sharing in small and large groups.
Coming together with a circle of trusted people helps us stay energised and sustained in a world that is often challenging and full of complexity – whether it be on a personal or professional level or when we are facing these matters in our communities, our country or globally. We hope to see you at the next event!