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The Power Of Circle

Wild SisterRising

The power of Circle is in its structure; its completeness and wholeness. It is the vessel that holds all the juices of life that each person within that Circle brings. The joy, the tears, the laughter, the love, the truths, the challenges, all held and contained within the Circle. There is its power and strength.

Circle mantra is always What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle.

If you have already read my previous blog post about Circles or have attended Circles yourself you will already know what I am talking about. But if this is new to you, a Women’s Circle or Sacred Sister Circle (or any other name given to it) is a dedicated space for women to come together, to share in each other’s lives with their stories, truths, real feelings, to be heard and supported but not judged. Its a place to learn from one another, to grow, to know (yourself) and just take some time out for you, to reflect, be inspired and develop friendships.

Women gathering in circle is a tradition as old as time, but a tradition destroyed over the many years by the Patriarchy, who succeeded in their mission to turn women against each other in competition rather than supporting each other as previous generations had done, where daughters learned from their mothers, aunts, older friends and grandmothers. Wisdom was passed down though generations, about what it was to be a woman; menstruation, birth, raising children, being a wife as well as a sovereign being. Skills shared and learned. This was the village. Women were respected, the elder women revered. They had knowledge, abilities and each other;  they held the community together. There is an old Native American saying that states :

To destroy a village, destroy the moon lodge.

The moon lodge was the women’s sacred Circle, their menstrual lodge, where they gathered. Not a menstrual hut where the women were cast out of the community until their dirty bleed was over, as per what happens in some countries today, but honoured as a special and sacred time. Time to rest, eat well, and restore themselves for the following month ahead. During a women’s bleeding time, it was believed that she was closer to the Divine and therefore was powerful and wise.

Thankfully circles are enjoying a resurgence and are currently back in vogue, where I hope they will remain. There are so many different types of Circles popping up and taking place regularly, especially in the West. I have been to a general Women’s Circle where the women present spanned the generations of maiden / mother /crone and the discussion was rich because of it. A Mother’s Circle where it was incredibly healing to know that we as mothers, while we may have different styles of parenting, all share so many similar experiences and emotions. It was a real tonic for those mothering wobbles we rarely admit to with others. A Full Moon Circle where we were letting go of what no longer served us – it was incredibly cathartic and whilst we met with our shadow (hidden) selves it was such a joyful experience.

Other types of circles taking place are New Moon Circles, Mother~Daughter Circles, Sacred Sister Circles, Monthly Circles, Weekly Circles, Red Tent and Moon Lodge Circles, Covens even, plus a wheen more. You may think you have never been to a circle before, but have you ever been to a baby shower – sharing your own birth experience or parenting tips with the Mother-to-be? A hen night – sharing and celebrating stories of marriage with its ups and downs, passing on advice and lived experience? Sat around a campfire chatting and telling stories? A group meeting where generally discussion happens in the round? These too, are Circles of a sort. Granted, not a  gathering whose purpose is for going soul deep, but a deliberate coming together nonetheless.

fire

You might wonder whether you need to go to a circle or what the point of going would be when you have already found your “tribe”, so to speak. You already have close knit circle of friends who offer support, solidarity, advice, fun and friendship spanning years of shared experiences. Great, that’s wonderful and something that many people don’t actually have, or at least not on that level. But consider how else a regular Circle may enrich your life? There is a reason that Circles are having their moment now. There is a soul deep longing for the village, for cross generation wisdom and teachings and relearning, for connection with community and like minds, for confidence in rising up and reclaiming our place in society out from the shadows of the Patriacrchy,  and being authentic and true to who we are/want to be rather than who are supposed to be. For some people that is scary and they need the sisterhood.

Circles are the AntiBitch

I have been told that Circle’s cant work as women are too bitchy / catty / competitive / judgemental / name another label that keeps pitting women against women. THIS in itself is a reason FOR Circles. Circles are the AntiBitch.  They foster belonging, connection and nourishment (for the soul and the body – tea and chocolate anyone?).  Friendships founded in a shared bond, respect, understanding and being honest, raw, seen, heard and held. Not everyone has to like everyone else, as is the way in life, but there remains a connection, the belonging to and understanding the Circle and its members. The power of Circle.

If you feel excited to Circle with women, either your mates or looking for like minded women but not sure where to find them, either set up your own Circle or find one in your town or city, I guarantee there will be Circle’s happening in local community centres or more probably in people’s living rooms (where all the circles I have attended or hosted have taken place).

The power and strength of a regular Circle is so restorative and I’d say, vital, to our health and well being that I will be hosting more Circle’s this year. If you are not able to join in person, I also have the online circle on Facebook (its a private group so keeping with the “What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle” ethos – click to join and I will approve your request) where you can join the conversations or start new ones.

Circle of Women

Blessings

Lx

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When Women Circle

Circle of Women

When women come together in circle there is an unspoken bond, a sense of community, familiarity and sisterhood. Even amongst strangers.  How do I know? I experienced these very sensations and feelings just yesterday evening when I attended a Mother’s Circle, organised and hosted by Hollie of Winter Grace Circle.

I have been only to one other circle in my life, and it was a lovely, honest and refreshing experience.  It was held in a friend’s home and I knew most of the women there. It was a something I have wished to be part of again, but had never since found the time or place.

A circle is different from having a “girls night” with your pals. Essentially it is a gathering inwhich to be honest and free, let your guard down, to speak and be heard, for fellow sisters in circle to hold the space for you and for each other. It’s not gossip or judgement, it’s not material surface “stuff” but a chance to connect with a deep understanding, appreciation and trust. A space to just be.

What is shared in circle stays in circle.

Hollie and I have followed one another on Instagram and have mutual friends in common, but have never met in person or spoken to each other. I saw her circle appear on my Insta feed and felt compelled to find out more.  I went along to the circle, feeling a little apprehensive as I didn’t know anyone else who was going, having spoken with a couple of like minded friends to inquire if they were going, only to find out that they were not. However, when I arrived at the door, I was greeted with the most welcoming and warm hug from Hollie, and immediately felt so comfortable as I found my space in the circle with the women who had arrived before me.

The Circle of Women
Image from Pinterest

Our circle held 7 mothers, each with different stories yet each with an element of our own truth that resonated with every woman present. Through story and mediation, tea and relaxation, we shared that 2 hours in communal nourishment of the soul. I filled my cup back up, without the usual “mother’s guilt” that goes hand in hand with time out for myself. And I didn’t want to leave.

women in circle

This is such an ancient tradition that has been lost and since rediscovered and for that I am thankful. To be part of, and, sit in circle like this was just the medicine I needed, and am writing myself a prescription to attend the next one.

When women gather in circle, ripples are created, healing takes place. For all of us.

If you feel called, I encourage you to find or create your own circle.

Lx

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Meditation – How do you practice?

Meditation. Chanting “Ommm” whilst sitting legs crossed in lotus pose, thumbs and middle fingers touching, eyes closed. That’s meditation, right? Remaining in that position for half an hour or multiple hours, with an empty mind seeking inner peace.

Well, no, that’s not how my practice goes. Not at all infact.  I use several different methods when meditating, depending upon the circumstances and where I am. For instance, if I need to calm down, take a time out or collect myself in a stressful situation, I focus on my breathing. This can be done anywhere at any time! No need for candles or incense to do this, the car or a public loo if needed are perfectly suitable. All I do is take a deep breath in through my nose, counting slowly as I do so. Hold the breath for the same amount of time plus 1 second, then slowly exhale the breath for the same length of time as inhale plus 2 seconds. It doesn’t matter (to me) if I exhale through my nose or my mouth. This slows my heart rate and allows for clearer, calmer thinking and a better mood for continuing with my day or situation.  This always works when I practice it, I just need to remember to practice it more…

Another method I use, if I need a more specific focus or advice, is a much more recognisable as a form of “meditation” as it does involve sitting down in a comfortable position (I have yet to try the lotus pose, I prefer a comfy chair if I am honest) and sometime I do burn candles or incense, but I absolutely need time and peace and quiet on my own, which is rare giving that I am a home-educating Mama. In this practice I have a place, a home, I go to in my mind and can seek assistance or guidance from my circle of inspirational advisors, which is essentially a group of women (real and fictitious) who chip in with their tuppence worth during these sessions.  Over the years my circle has changed with various members of my imaginary tribe being replaced, or their numbers increased as I have evolved. I started out with 6 women on my team which has grown to 12, with me being the 13th.  The only constant has been that my advisory squad has been made solely of women.

So who has a place in my circle?  In alphabetical order I have Brene Brown, Caitlin Moran,  Dharma Montgomery, Eilidh (my friend), Fearne Cotton, Glennie Kindred, Gloria Steinem, Lisa Lister, Maggie Chapman, Maya AngelouMinerva McGonagall and Sharon (my friend). A nice blend of mothers, wise women and crones. Previously I had shared this space with other friends as well as the Aunts, Jet and Francis, from Practical Magic, Anita Roddick, Anais Nin, Nicola Sturgeon, Hillary Clinton, Dolly Parton, Susan Sarandon, Geri Halliwell, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna amongst others.

The other place I find it very easy to meditate, believe it or not, is in the shower! The motion of washing my hair is a no brainer requiring zero effort, which leaves plenty mind space to gather and process my thoughts and gain clarity. I often have my best ideas and moments of inspiration as I lather and rinse!

For anyone who has never meditated before, it can seem a bit woo-hoo or a little daunting, with the unsure feeling of where to start or even knowing what the point of meditation is, if not for finding inner peace.  There are lots of books on how to meditate and why, plus Youtube has a variety of videos to watch or listen to as a guided meditative practice. I would recommend even just starting with the breathing exercise I use.  If you want to sit in lotus, or create a dedicated sacred space at home for your practice, do it. If you want to light candles or incense, do it. Or don’t. There are no rules here, and the practice is entirely yours. It is worth noting though, that it is nigh on impossible to completely clear your mind, it will wander off in all directions, especially if you have a busy life with work or kids (or both), but as soon as you notice it going off on its own tangent, bring it back by refocussing on that breath.  It takes practice.

I keep referring to meditation as a practice because practice is what it takes.  Practice to get comfortable with what you are doing, with what you want to achieve and practice to make it a regular part of your routine.  I have been “practicing” for the past 15 years but have yet to establish a proper and regular habit. It’s very much ad hoc and fitting it in when I either remember or feel the need.

meditation2

Back in 2002 I attended a 2-day motivational event called Mindstore, by a bloke called Jack Black, and it was brilliant. My employer at the time was really into personal development and self empowerment and transferring that energy into the work place (recruitment consultancy) so sent myself and 2 colleague to the Mindstore programme.  During the event, Jack guided the packed auditorium, which must have held about 500 delegates, through a meditation.  This was the first time I had ever meditated, infact, I didn’t realise at the time that that was what we were doing.  It felt like 10 minutes had passed, no more than that, but it had actually been 30 minutes.  As it happens I still use that guided journey today (incorporating my advisory soul circle) . The general story is similar but I have changed details here and there over the years. It is as effective now as it was then.

Meditation has also helped (A) with calming down, expressing his anger in healthier ways or even to relax into sleep.. I find that guiding him with focussing on his breathing or visualising colours has been the most beneficial and effective way to meet his needs. It’s short and simple for little minds with big imaginations.

When I was coming to the end of my maternity leave around 6.5 years ago I started a distance learning course on meditation. I complete all but the last 2 modules as returning to work full time and having a toddler proved enough for me to take on at the time.  I wish I had finished the course as it was really interesting and I picked up plenty tips and ideas for both my own personal practice and for guiding others. It is on my ‘to-do’ list to complete it one day, but I figure after 6 years I will probably have to do the whole course over again…

Since 2002, I have never participated in a group session, but a woman local to me runs guided women’s meditation workshops in 6 weekly blocks. At this stage in my own journey and with my own practice being so sporadic and inconsistent, I am contemplating signing up for a space – 6 weeks of dedicated practice, who knows where that could lead or open up?

Do you medidate? I would love to hear how other people practice and fit it into busy lives.

Namaste

Lx

#wildsisterrising