How Healing Circles Began

After Diana Lindsay’s improbable recovery from stage four lung cancer, and her husband Kelly’s recovery from kidney cancer, the two turned the building that once housed their communications company into a healing center.

What a Healing Circle is

Commonweal co-founder Michael Lerner explains that, in a healing circle, you step out of ordinary time and into a welcoming, safe, accepting place.

Agreements in Circle

Healing Circles Langley co-founder Diana Lindsay lists the agreements that protect those who participate in a healing circle.

In circle, people:

  • Treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • Listen to each other with compassion and curiosity.
  • Honor each other’s paths and don’t attempt to “fix” each other.
  • Hold each other’s stories in confidence.
  • Trust that members have the guidance they need within them and embrace silence as a means of accessing that guidance.

Circle Practices

Commonweal co-founder Michael Lerner describes the simple (though not necessarily easy) practices that make circles a healing experience. They include:

  • Listening with attention
  • Speaking with intention
  • Tending to the well-being of the circle

Roles in Circle

Healing Circles Langley co-founder Kelly Lindsay says establishing the mechanics of a circle is what allows magic to happen. Although everyone in a healing circle is a peer, there are specific roles that some members play. Based on the work of Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea of Peer Spirit, these include:

  • The host, who convenes and pays attention to flow of the circle.
  • The guardian, who watches time, monitors the energy of the group, and protects the agreements.

All members share responsibility for what takes place in the circle and also take responsibility for their own healing.

Preparing a Healing Circle

Diana Lindsay and Michael Lerner talk about creating a safe environment that incorporates beauty and comfort in creating a welcoming space.

People heal by being together, Diana says, and that alone contributes toward healing. Welcoming people and making space for social interaction before and after circle is an important aspect of preparation.

A center is also an essential element of a healing circle. It acts like the hub of a wheel and helps people stay focused on the intention, so they’re not conversing directly with each other.

Holding a Circle

Diana Lindsay describes a simple sample format of a healing circle.

  • Rituals (such as lighting a candle, ringing a bell, and reading a poem) help people step away from their everyday life and become fully present in circle.
  • A check-in gives each circle member an opportunity to share how his or her discovery process is going. Members pass a talking piece, giving each a chance to speak and be heard.
  • Often, a question arises as a result of the check-in. A second round enables members to share their collective wisdom in response to that question.
  • Rituals help close the circle and transition people back into everyday life.
  • Social time precedes and follows circle.

Header photo by David Welton