Deep Listening Circles
I acknowledge Indigenous Peoples as a source of my learning and wisdom that grounds and informs my current practice of the Circle process.
Deep Listening Circles are a practice that nurtures relationships with ourselves and others in an inclusive and reflective environment. Each individual has the opportunity to speak without interruption, to sit in silence, or to pass, cultivating an opportunity for deep listening, respect, and acknowledgment of the importance and validity of each person’s experience and presence. The wholeness of an individual’s experience is welcome in the circle.
Inherent in each Deep Listening Circle are seven core assumptions. Those listed below are excerpted from Heart of Hope and Circle Forward, by Carolyn Boye-Watson and Kay Pranis.
- The true self in everyone is good, wise, and powerful.
- The world is profoundly interconnected.
- All human beings have a deep desire to be in a good relationship.
- All human beings have gifts, and everyone is needed for what they bring.
- Everything we need to make positive change is already here.
- Human beings are holistic.
- We need practices to build habits of living from the core self.
Deep Listening Circles differ from traditional facilitation in that each member of the circle holds responsibility in creating the culture and care of the shared space, and is invited to contribute to the well-being of the container. Additionally, it provides an inclusive and equitable environment that allows for each participant to share at their discretion and in complete confidentiality. The practice of listening becomes one of the keys to success in this environment, as it affirms, validates, and deepens the opportunities for vulnerability and connection.
Deep Listening Circles are just one of many tools in my facilitation toolkit, and they are also an entity of their own. It is an invaluable approach that is dynamic in its ability to be successfully used in settings from peer support groups, to professional development offerings, to transformative justice practices, to spiritual accompaniment, to strengthening leadership teams inside of large organizations. Whether they serve as one-time opportunities or a series of circles connected to a specific topic, the process is informed by the original intention, shared values, and contributions of those who attend.