Creating a safe space in sharing circles
Satnam Loves, Myrah here.
I have been sharing and leading circles for the past 8-10 years now and it has been one of my life's greatest joys. I am the founder of La Luna Social, a global collaborative of women sharing in sacred ceremony and circles.
Originally I started sharing in women's circles as a way to connect with a new community when I moved from Los Angeles to be with my husband in Canada. I was new to the country and the city and I found that sharing women's circles was such a great way to connect and meet local like minded individuals.
I often facilitate sharing circles for the community around me. It can be tea ceremonies, moon circles or most recently a collection of birthing stories for new mothers.
This is a place where I find truth and meaningful connection.
For myself and guests it is a safe space to share, release and experience healing. When people feel held and supported, it allows them to let go and find freedom.
One must have intention to create a safe space is a zero tolerance internally and externally of judging. We practise non-judgement in our circles.
In sharing circles we do not judge. We respect each person’s unique journey and experience, however different to ours. We listen and we share. This is why we sit in a circle on the floor as we all have something to give and receive in equal measures.
If you’ve never been to a sharing circle before, the basic setup is that you have a facilitator that hosts the circle on a specific topic. People then join together to talk about their own experiences and stories. The host will explain how the journey will go, and will create parameters to make everyone feel safe, whether that’s a certain time frame, guidelines and order.
Every circle and every leader will have their own boundaries and rules and usually before the circle begins the leader should share a baseline of the rules of engagement and how the circle experience is planned.
If at any moment you don't feel comfortable with the rules or plan, do not feel bad or hesitate to excuse yourself of the situation. No questions asked, no guilt, its a sacred space and if you don't wish to be in it, do step out, its for the good of all involved.
I often use tea as a way to start the ceremony. It becomes a ritual for the circle to take time in silence to dive deeper into themselves before they begin. The smell and taste of the tea helps people relax and by drinking the tea collectively, we already begin sharing the experience.
Circles can be a very open and vulnerable place. For many people joining, it may have been the first time they have ever felt safe, or even been asked how they are feeling about the topic at hand. Listening is the greatest way we can honour someone. By not imposing our own solutions or opinions and just allowing the person to share can be such a healing experience for the individual.
As a form of release people will often cry. It is the body’s way of freeing itself from emotional pain, and helps the person to process.
Make sure a box of tissues is at hand. It is important to not touch a person whilst they are crying or physically hold them. This stifles the release and makes it about the comforter, rather than the sharer. Simply allow the person to be heard, this is love and kindness in its truest form.
A lovely thing to do once a person has finished sharing is to show gratitude towards them. This can be eye contact, a smile, a bow with prayer hands or a simple thank you. This is a beautiful way to close for each person as it shows their story has been received. More healing may be needed in the future, but this way of closing shows appreciation, love and support from the whole circle.
Everyone’s story and journey is completely unique, therefore it can’t be crafted or tailor made to fit a specific goal or destination. The intention of circles whether you’re hosting or joining is simple connection.
When you share a story you release, when you listen to a story you learn.
Also finding the time to close the space is key in creating that safe space. Remind everyone if the private nature of the content you all shared, be kind, be loving and just allow things to flow. Everyone is coming to it with their own life experiences and everyone is going through something.
We come together in community to heal, to share and to be in a safe space. A safe space is created by not only the leader of the circle but everyone involved.
I could write a novel about this topic but for now I wanted to share something short and sweet.
Thank you for listening,