Healing circles are safe havens

  • They help us step out of ordinary time into a safe and accepting environment in which we can explore our healing.
  • With open minds, we work together to discover the best ways to remove obstacles to healing, alleviate suffering, and deepen our capacity to heal.
  • With open hearts, we access our own inner guidance to understand where the greatest healing—in body, emotions, mind and spirit—can occur.

They’re built on a foundation of kindness and respect

Circle participants agree to:

  • Treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • Listen with compassion and curiosity.
  • Honor each other’s unique ways to healing and don’t presume to advise or fix or try to save each other
  • Hold all stories shared in the circle in confidence.
  • Trust that each of us has the guidance we need within us.
  • Rely on the power of silence to access that guidance.

Participants behave in nurturing ways

When they’re in circle, participants commit themselves to:

  • Listen with attention.
  • Speak with intention.
  • Tend to the well-being of the whole healing circle.

Participants play specific roles

Members of a circle have an equal voice and are responsible for the leadership of their own healing.  In circles of more than two people, there are three additional roles that help a circle flow smoothly:

  • The host convenes and pays attention to the flow of a circle.
  • The guardian keeps an eye on the time, monitors the energy of the group, and protects the agreements.
  • A scribe can keep notes if the circle chooses.

Healing circles as a place of refuge

Very little matches the beauty and inspiration of a waterfall, and we’re blessed with many in the Northwest. They’ve played a huge role in Diana’s and my own healing, both metaphorically and physically, but like almost anything in life, context is everything. Things can go from awesome to awful pretty fast if you find yourself in the river instead of on the bank.

For anyone with the apparent misfortune of going over the falls, it’s good to keep in mind that at the bottom of every waterfall or cataract—regardless of how wide, how tall, or how thunderous—is an eddy, and often more than one. This is a place of refuge where the current turns back on itself, the river flows upstream, and time itself seems to stop. It’s a good place to catch a breath, get some bearings, and find perspective. Sometimes a person is automatically drawn into the eddy; sometimes it requires some navigational skill to reach; and sometimes just knowing it’s there is enough.

That’s what we think of a healing circle in general (and Healing Circles Langley in specific) as being: an eddy for those who find themselves going over the falls—whether from a cancer diagnosis, a chronic condition, the trauma of grief and loss, or some other circumstance of life. Healing Circles Langley is also an eddy above the falls, for those looking ahead with either anxiety or excitement about how life may unfold in the quixotic and mercurial ways it often does.

Eddies accumulate things: flotsam, jetsam, resources for the lucky, creative, or desperate. What arrives in an eddy has a tendency to stay in the eddy. Communities (if not entire civilizations) have risen from their shores. Healing Circles Langley is such a community. We accumulate things, too—shared experience and experiences to share; friends and neighbors with needs or gifts, and often both; circles of safety and support for those who want to get out of the current, and for those who want to get back in. Anyone is welcome in our eddy, but consider this fair warning: Those who wash into healing circles have a tendency to stay—and often get their feet wet.

Kelly Lindsay is a co-founder and co-director of Healing Circles Langley. He is the author of Something More Than Everything: The Story of What Went Right When Life Went Wrong.

Header photo courtesy of Harmony Hill