Here are some guidelines to help any man or a group of men to conduct their own men’s circle:
- Someone with Men’s Circle experience should ideally facilitate the Circle, although this is not critical and I recommend all men to try, even without experience.
- However, the facilitator is not the leader. Everyone in the circle is equal. Everyone’s voice is equal.
- Perform a Circle with at least 3 men, ideally 8-12 men, and not more than 20 men.
- Choose a specific venue for the Circle or rotate the meeting every session in a different man’s home.
- Perform once per week, ideally once every 2 weeks, and not less than once per month.
- All men should be able to commit to attend Circles over an agreed period of time before reviewing if, when, and where the Circle will continue.
- A Circle can simply be a spontaneous flow of thoughts and feelings with no theme or a specific theme can be spoken about (e.g. male sexuality, intimate relationship, etc).
- No one is allowed to enter the Circle once the Circle has begun. You can be flexible with this rule as long as the energy of the Circle is not disturbed.
- Individual comfort breaks are allowed provided that the Circle is not disturbed and the person leaving the Circle remains in complete silence.
- It is good to have spent at least 3 Circles together before moving onto specific themes.
SETTING UP THE CIRCLE
- Create a sacred space which is free of clutter, ideally quiet, dimly lit, clean, and pleasantly smelling. Incense can be used to promote a feeling of calmness.
- Place something in the center of the circle that symbolizes the importance of the Circle (e.g. a candle, a symbol of manhood, picture of Jesus or Buddha, flowers, etc) acknowledges the shared intention for healing and growth.
- Men may also be invited to place articles of personal meaning, like a photograph, a rosary or something from nature in the center of the Circle.
- Open and close the Circle symbolically, for example by having a member of the circle light a candle before the circle and blow out the candle at the end of the circle.
- Before sharing, someone in the group should offer a short invocation (e.g. a prayer, poem, meditation, intention, etc) and a dedication of the Circles work together for someone, some group, some cause, or to our higher self, for the benefit of all humanity.
- A good way to pre frame the Circle before each man speaks is to open the following question up: “What is alive in your heart right now in this moment”?
These guidelines are principles and practices that we do our best to honor, despite any difficulties we might encounter:
- Speak from the Heart
- This simply means to share your truth, your experience and your feelings, as much as possible without blaming or judging others.
- Share your feelings more than your thinking.
- Own your story without projecting any consequences on anyone else in the world or blaming anyone for your past.
- When talking or describing a situation use ‘I’ statements, instead of ‘you’ statements.
- Be concise and straight to the point. Avoid going too much into the drama. No one wants to listen to too much waffle, even if your story is beautiful or traumatic.
- Be aware of whether you are waffling or prolonging your time talking, out of a need to be listened to.
- On the other hand, it is absolutely fine to pass and to say nothing if you don’t feel moved to do so. Simply being there and compassionately listening is participation.
- Humour is fine and so is seriousness.
- Listen with Compassion
- Listen with your mind but feel deeply into what the other person is saying with your heart.
- Listen with love and compassion, with an open awareness, actively and deeply without judgment when listening to others, even if you disagree with what the person is saying.
- Do not interrupt the person speaking unless they ask for feedback.
- Use a talking stick that moves around the circle from one man to the next. The only man allowed to talk is the man with the stick.
Listening from the heart is a skill, which like any other, improves with practice. The practice of compassionate listening will improve over time and have a tremendous positive ripple effect through all your relationships in life.
“Everyone likes a good listener”