If you are interested in gathering with like-minded women, you can either join an existing group or create your own. Here are some ideas for creating your circle.
The first step is to determine the need that your circle will fill. In other words, what is your purpose, your focus? Will this be a group for spiritual exploration, either within one tradition, or across a broad spectrum of beliefs? Is this a circle that will get you in touch with your creativity? Identify your needs and you will attract others who have similar.
Next, give some thought to the location for your first meeting. Can you custmoise the space? For example, if you are using a village hall, or public space, can lights be dimmed to promote intimacy? Is the site accessible? Is there comfortable seating that can easily be moved?
Consider who you would like to invite to your first meeting. Aim for a final group number of twelve to fifteen committed group members. Keep in mind that people will come and go, especially at the start, and during key transition points in the evolution of the circle itself. You might invite twelve or thirteen people from various aspects of your life - two or three from work, a neighbour or two, your yoga partner, etc.
Another approach is to invite six or seven people yourself, and then ask them to each bring a guest. Personalities, communication styles, and life stories have a better chance of being diverse with this technique. In addition, you are quietly giving responsibility to the circle from the very start, and this is the ultimate goal.
The last step in the planning process is truly the first step in the life of your circle - creating the agenda for the first meeting. Fear, excitement, doubt, confidence, and nervousness may be your companions at this stage. This is normal. You are creating something significant!
It is useful to create a set of simple guidelines for group behaviour that can be presented at the first meeting to include, for example: confidentiality, speaking from personal experience, and respectful active listening.
- Confidentiality - All that is shared in the circle remains in the circle. There are no exceptions. Building group trust is too important.
- Speak from personal experience - Use “I” statements that reflect your personal experience. No blaming. No “shoulds.” No judgement.
- Listen respectfully and actively - Give the speaker your undivided attention. This is harder than it sounds. A way to make it easier is to introduce the idea of a “talking object”. This can be a specially decorated wand, stone, stick, etc. that is held when one wants to speak. The one with the chosen object “has the floor” while the other group members are asked to quiet themselves and listen with the ears of their heart. This technique prevents the unfocused chatter that can be so draining.