*But didn't know who to ask...
What’s a women’s circle?
Women's circles are a unique experience where (not unsurprisingly) a group of women sit around in a circle. However, women's circles are different to a usual girly catch up because the facilitated, supportive structure of the circle creates an environment of deep listening, both of listening to others and being listened to yourself.
How do they work?
The circle format includes various things to create an environment of safety and trust. In my circles, I tend to begin with a grounding meditation of some kind, an Acknowledgement of Country and Context, and the setting of circle agreements. These practical aspects help to support the women in the group to feel comfortable, and allows the circle to solidify. It also allows the main part of the circle – the sharing – to occur on a sturdy foundation.
Women’s circles can be held around a specific theme, or as an open topic. In my experience, even circles held around an open topic tend to have a spontaneous theme arise. As one woman shares, this can spark off ideas and things to share in the other women present – in this way, the sharing can often tend to weave around certain themes, either pre-specified or not.
What will I get out of attending?
Brené Brown and her work has helped us to understand that being willing to be vulnerable and authentic (as difficult as this can sometimes be) is what leads to a strong sense of love and connection with those around us. Women’s circles can create the conditions for us to practice doing this safely – for me personally, when I have the courage to be vulnerable and authentic in circle it creates the most extraordinary sense of connection that is unlike anything I experience elsewhere.
In women’s circles, we are invited to share from the heart and listen to each other. And it is the act of sharing and listening to each other that is medicine – feeling really listened to as we share can spark insights and solutions within ourselves, and listening to the stories of other women can help us to piece together wisdom relevant for our own lives.
Authentically sharing our experiences and stories from the heart can also help us to recognise that we are truly not ever alone, as we all experience similar things when you get down to it. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly our social masks and defences can fall away when we sit in circle with one another.
What if I feel anxious/ afraid around other women?
A core principle underpinning women’s circles is a sense of emotional safety. Deep connections and authentic sharing naturally arise in women’s circles when a space of deep safety and trust is created, and a lot of thought and care goes into creating a safe and solid container for all attendees.
Another core principle at the heart of women’s circles is that listening is of equal value to speaking. So, we do not need to speak or share anything in circle if we’d prefer not to – we can be a generous listening participant only if we feel more comfortable doing so, and that is very valued.
In saying that, women’s circles can inadvertently bring up things for women relating to past and/or cellular memories of exclusion, bitchy and mean girl type behaviour from other women. Women’s circles can offer a powerful opportunity to heal from that and release these memories. However, you are the best judge of you and your own needs, so please follow your own inner guidance as to whether a women’s circle is right for you at this time.
I prefer the company of men – is a women’s circle still for me?
I would say yes :-) Women’s circles are not just about connecting with other women, they are also about connecting with deeper aspects of yourself.
Women’s circles are also powerful because they tap into an aspect of connection that I believe is deeply yearned for (even if not totally recognised) within women: a connection with our feminine aspects. This is because women’s circles are based on and generate all the beautiful energies and qualities of feminine energy: deep listening, love, compassion, gentleness, connection, unity, and raw vulnerability. And in this energetic sense, women’s circles allow us to experience and be nourished by the healing properties of the feminine.
Do I have to dance around naked under a full moon?
No… it is a fully clothed experience! But full and new moon rituals (i.e. releasing and/or intention setting) can be incorporated into circle formats if you like!