Our path to modern animism at Pan Society is through cultivating sovereignty, connection, and Oneness. We host talking circles because it hits all three. How? Read on.
What’s a Talking Circle
A talking circle is an indigenous practice that is used by many groups for problem-solving, enhancing communication, and creating understanding. Participating in a talking circle opens the door to patience, mindfulness, grace, forgiveness, growth, honesty, sovereignty, intimacy, self-esteem, and probably many more things. It gives people a safe place to hear and be heard.
We sit in a circle to show equality. There is no hierarchy in the circle. Everyone has a voice.
What Are the Rules?
The rules of the talking circle are really simple. They are:
- Respect the talking piece.
- Speak from the heart.
- Listen with your heart.
- Speak with respect.
- Listen with respect.
- Remain in the circle.
- What’s said in the circle stays in the circle.
“Respect the talking piece” is about respecting the authority of the rules and the intent of being there. As long as we all adhere to the guidelines, we’re all safe. The process can be productive, supportive, and valuable. If any one of us makes it about us, it all falls apart. That’s modern animism in a nutshell, isn’t it? (We use a conch as our talking piece as it’s a wink to Lord of the Flies. It’s also a symbol of water, which is about flexibility, emotions, and what’s hidden).
“Speak from the heart” encourages us to connect with our feelings and impacts rather than facts. A holistic spiritual path is not just about data. It’s about mind, body, and spirit; past, present, and future; me, you, and us. So the marriage of opposites often creates greater understanding. It also helps us to practice our sovereignty and vulnerability which is crucial to creating connections.
“Listen with your heart” allows you to hear in others what matters to them. It puts you in their shoes. We’re all One. So this is about listening to our other selves – which could be in shadow.
“Speak and listen with respect” keeps us mindful. It keeps the space safe. While it may be true that we have a volcano inside and typically speak thunder, it isn’t effective to dump that on everyone else. It’s a shared space. We all need to feel safe.
“Remain in the circle” means to physical commit to being present for everyone and yourself. It also means to stay mentally present. We can check out or think about our rebuttal. By staying present, we give and receive more.
“What’s said in circle stays in circle” makes it a safe place for everyone to be honest and vulnerable. Nothing of value happens without this.
Sovereignty is about knowing, being, and expressing yourself. From the time we are children, we are told what’s acceptable and what’s not. If we grew up in dysfunction, our approval may have depended upon knowing what other people wanted us to be. This can distort our sense of self and send us off searching for love in other people’s eyes, books, workshops, escape, and who knows where.
The answer is inside.
Listening to others speak your truth in the talking circle could light up, “Me too!” moments. It could give you the courage to speak and own that truth.
Speaking your truth without getting correction or criticism in the talking circle could help you realize that it’s okay to say what you say and think what you think. It could provide a witness that your experiences are real. It could help you stand up in your body and say, “I am!”
My opinion is that our search for meaning is a search for self. When you know who you are, everything you do and experience has meaning because it’s all connected. We no longer have to scale Mt. Everest, make a million dollars, or write a best seller to be “somebody.” We’re already somebody far greater than all of that.
The talking circle teaches us how to connect. When it works as designed, connection isn’t something that we “do.” It’s something that is. It’s a byproduct of being present, respectful, and open. Once you have that, you can have it anywhere. You can have it everywhere. The crowd is no longer the loneliest place. The woods are no longer dead spaces. The whole world becomes alive and every expression is a beautiful, natural one.
I found out long ago that oneness can’t be created. It is also a byproduct of being in a space of nonjudgment and contentment. When we stop striving, wanting, hurting, resisting, rushing, or do-ing, and step into a space of be-ing, that Oneness happens. This is easiest alone. When it happens in a group, wow! Talking circles can create that wow for you.
Whenever I find something that lights me up, I want to share it. So, we’re hosting virtual Talking Circles now so that you can experience this for yourself. Maybe you will be inspired to host some where you are. Maybe we can start an avalanche of sovereignty, connection, and Oneness that takes over the hearts of all. Who knows? It starts with one.
Curious? Check out our facebook page and see when we’re doing the next one. And join us!