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”