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What is this form of 'circle practice'?

‘The Way of Council’ or ‘circle practice’ is a method of authentic, compassionate communication that has been practised throughout history by indigenous communities and many ancient cultures. It involves sitting in a circle and sharing stories, feelings and perspectives with the intention of building trust, understanding and empathy among participants. The practice is often used in community-building, conflict resolution and personal growth contexts as it promotes deep listening, empathy, and connection.






Council is typically guided by a couple of council hosts or facilitators who help create a safe, non-judgemental and respectful container. The circle is opened by acts such as lighting a candle, setting an intention or sounding a bell. The facilitator offers various prompts to the circle, inviting people, including themselves, in turn to respond and share from their personal experience. A ‘talking piece’ is used and gets passed around the circle; when it comes to each person, it’s their invitation to speak. The guiding principles when in circle include: one person speaks at a time; speaking and listening from the heart (rather than the head); getting to the heart of the matter in order to share just the essence in a succinct way; being spontaneous, with no expectations or pressure to speak (this is a listening practice) and not sharing others stories outside the circle. Once the Council is complete, it is closed by, for example, blowing out the candle, doing a group gesture or sounding a bell.





The Way of Council circle practice has regained popularity in recent years and has been used with all ages in settings such as schools, workplaces, prisons and in the home as a way of cultivating deep listening, trust and belonging. Essentially, circle practice helps us feel our shared humanity.

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