There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

When I first hosted and participated in healing circles, every circle was a peak experience. I was in circle honeymoon! The subjects we talked about, such as terminal illness, death and dying, what it is like to receive care, to ask for help, were not necessarily joyful. But the relief that accompanied being heard and understood, and the profound insights that emerged, resulted in my feeling on top of the world. There was a transformation of suffering, and that felt quite magical. As time went on I came to expect that this magical quality would recur, regularly, predictably. I became attached to the expectation that whenever a group of us would gather in healing circles magic would appear.

Angeles Arrien suggests that we be open to outcome, but not attached. She recommends that we practice detachment, defined as “the capacity to care deeply from an objective place,” that we let go and maintain our sense of humor, that we calmly observe our reaction to situations and not get pulled into emotional reactivity.

While some circles are magical, others are not. I recognize that there is something about the collective energy in the circle that makes the magic. But I also wonder to what extent I, as the host, or individual participant, am responsible. When I get attached to making circle magic happen, I feel the pressure to perform. I judge myself and others as I evaluate each action, each utterance, with respect to “magic potential.”

So I return to the wisdom of Angeles Arrien to help me out of this pickle. She says that attachments are about control, rather than trust. Attachment is the shadow side of flexibility, objectivity and discernment.

I am thinking that I might want to settle on the side of light. The occurrence of magic is an act of grace, and coming to expect magic is a sure way to keep it away. Circles are dynamic creatures.


Header photo courtesy of Commonweal