From The Book of Possibilities by the Earthlinks Circle:
Working in Circle
Using a talking stick
The basic structure [we use] for working together is the circle with a talking stick. Group members sit in a circle and everyone has equal status. The circle opens with a meditation of 20-30 minutes. Then the talking stick is passed round the circle, and people speak when the stick reaches them. At all other times, they listen to what is being said by the person holding the stick. The process reaches conclusion only with the assent of all members.
This way of working can also be applied and used for all conflict resolving, sharing and releasing, decision making and growth work on all levels. The main premise of working in this way is to hold the underlying intent: an aim without need of specified outcome, for the highest good of all.
At the beginning of a session, it's a good idea to state the intended purpose, eg. 'this is a round of sharing', or 'we are uncovering the area of our work'. A sharing round can very easily turn into a gathering of ideas, thoughts and feelings of what the work might be. These all go into the 'pot', an energetic container in the centre of the circle that holds all the strands of thought together. It is usual for every strand that is placed there to fit in somewhere during the duration of a meeting.
Once in session, allow yourself to become open, hearing everything that is being said in as many different ways as possible, stretching your conception beyond the surface layer of understanding. Through the process of listening and speaking with active intention to explore or resolve, the group moves toward the intended resolution. If an intention has been put in place, there will be an appropriate outcome.
Don't be concerned with how long the process takes: keep all clocks out of sight, as they are a distraction and interfere with altered time space. Remain open as to which way the process goes, and release any need to create a particular or assumed outcome, remembering the underlying intent: an aim without need of specified outcome, for the highest good of all.
As the group joins hands at the beginning of a session, the energies merge. Higher states are obtained and the circle becomes an 'I'. It encompasses all the parts of that 'I', and the representation of those parts is through the people in the circle. Although we are totally responsible for ourselves and our actions, and we represent and speak our own truth, there is an adding on to this. As we become the collective 'I' of the circle and open to the work at hand, we each can take on aspects of the issue.
These can manifest in numerous ways: the embodiment of individual energies or a general swathed feeling of a place of situation, to name but two. Aspects that we take on can go beyond our own personal feelings and personality, holding far more emotion or rigidity [than we ourselves usually experience]. Nevertheless, there will be some kind of resonance with what is being held, and if we allow full expression, we not only give the work its highest possibility but, as a kind of added bonus, we give ourselves individually the opportunity to transmute those elements within us.
It is important that each member has the understanding that when working in a closed circle in this way, it becomes impersonal. This knowing becomes most invaluable when dealing with more difficult elements, such as working to clear shadow or resolving problems. Speak as if you are addressing the whole circle, even if you are referring to one element within it. It means that we do not need to be concerned whether we are dealing with a personal or a collective issue. A concern such as this only distracts from the energy buildup and flow. Both personal and collective issues will emerge and separate, as and when it is completely appropriate. It is important therefore to have an understanding of and total trust in this process.
Taking both these elements into consideration generates a space where full expression can be given, unhindered. This allows potentially difficult aspects to be brought to the surface, acknowledged, incorporated, or cleared from the collective 'I', without anything being held against an individual. This creates the potential for great insight and understanding and very deep work.
Remember also that any growth, insights or realisations on a personal level happen alongside the main work. Personal resonance with an issue will also emerge for attention, but can, if needed, be looked at more closely at an appropriate time, or in one's own self-reflection.
As the process builds in energy we need to remain in our heart space and speak the aspects we are holding from there. Our analytical mind needs to be kept quietly still and our ego needs to feel comfortable, but to the side. We can then open further into the process, allowing for insight and deeper understanding of the subject to surface so that the nub of the matter can be reached more quickly.
As the work progresses, a spiral of energy is created, encapsulating the sitting circle. This energy raises the minds and consciousness of those within the circle, drawing it closer together as an 'I' and into an expanded and far-reaching one-pointed focus. This gives the circle the ability to touch that which they choose to connect with, allowing for heightened fluidity in communication, insight and understanding throughout every level.
Working in this way, open to all possibilities, in the moment and removed from all outcome, gives the potential for magical things to take place. At the very least you may discover deeper meaning in any work you are doing, or find yourselves communicating with each other on levels far beyond words. Flow with it, allow it to happen and trust the process.
As we begin to understand the nature and potential of circle working, it becomes clear why it is necessary that such care is taken in the setting up of a safe, contained space at the beginning of a meeting. The cleansing, clearing, blessing and sealing that holds the energy and power of the work becomes an essential ingredient for the protection of the circle.
Part 1: Beginnings
1. Introduction to the book and to the work
2. Essential energies: working in a circle and doing meditation
3. The working group: meetings, the circle process and group dynamics
Part 2: Practices
1. Circle-working in practice: creating working space and how to do circle-working
2. Practices focusing group energy: techniques and tricks for tuning up
3. Creating energy patterns: the group light body and constellations of energy connecting with the group
4. Working in the here and now: with the world, stuck situations, control lines and opposition, and the healing and transforming process
5. Time-space synchronicity: time, channelling, pendulums, healing the past, soul retrieval, creating the future
6. Unity in diversity: names and symbols, personal clearing, trust and humour
Part 3: How the work develops
1. Working weekends: accounts of two of our weekends, to give an idea of how things work
2. Taking the work into daily life: daily practice, second attention, creating our reality, and our personal lives
3. The potential of the work: possibility and choice individually and collectively, practical applications and creating critical mass
1. The effects of meditation on crime rates
2. About group agreement
The Book of Possibilities
by the Earthlinks Circle
A talking stick doesn't have to be special - it's the principle that matters, that the person holding the stick is the sole person permitted to speak until they pass it on. Ours was kindly made for us by a friend from wood he found that dropped from an ancient yew tree. A lamp, a hat, a stone or anything could be used.