Our Story Up To Now
John and Sean meet in Hong Kong. John doesn’t think much of Sean’s ethics but takes him into his heart…Sean tells John he doesn’t think as deeply as him…John spends the next fifteen years trying to prove otherwise.
They have a synchronicity filled holiday to Italy with Circling like experiences for days with the people they meet that shifts the course of their lives.
They start studying intensely together into philosophy, spirituality and psychology with the hope of recreating their experience in Italy and living a more meaningful life in the world.
John invites Sean to help run a big tennis academy in Shrewsbury, UK, using Integral principles. They find Decker and Circling online prompting them to start Circling everyday and applying it in the nightclubs of Shrewsbury!
John and Sean train in Circling in San Fran with Decker and an infamous Circling hit and run incident with Guy Sengstock! (disappearing on a plane back to Europe after a 2 hour long incredibly deep first meeting!)
They are invited to lead a workshop at the Festival of Love at Venwoude in Holland. It’s a hit, and they start to be invited to lead all over Europe.
First SAS runs. They also notice something special happens in their leadership when Alanja Forsberg is in the team in a Norweigan workshop. They love it, and spend the next few years pretending that they’re not learning massively from each other and All There Is is born.
They meet Jordan Myska Allen in Texas. He criticizes their leadership while simultaneously being awed by their daily embodiment of presence. Three workshops in as many countries and dozens of Skype calls later, he officially joins Circling Europe.
First International Circling Festival!
CircleAnywhere is launched to connect the global community through daily facilitated practice.
Closing the gap between practice and living
Before Circling we were troubled by the distance that seemed to appear between those in spiritual practice communities and their ability to connect with those outside their inner circles.
In contrast, Circling teachers Decker Cunov and Guy Sengstock embodied presence and communication that enacted a higher awareness in relationship.
This gave a new potential to spiritual practice; it could be playful, spontaneous, accessible all the time and inspire those around us, especially those we are closest to.
Importantly, it also had ‘street value’; it did not require complex maps and language that made it inaccessible to a friend at a bar. Yet at the same time, it was incredibly effective at giving us access into the complex theoretical maps that we had a great passion for experientially. It was the strongest practice we had come across.
One Basic Practice
We started doing one basic Circling practice: looking with meditative awareness into each other’s eyes and waiting for an authentic question to arise.
It was simple and not easy.
Sitting in the tension of waiting for genuine embodied curiosity and receiving questions that went right to the heart of our unconscious ways of being was vulnerable. I remember shivering in the cold darkness of our house in Shrewsbury, no one around for miles, staring into John’s eyes, voice quivering as I asked him if he really liked me, thinking he’d lampoon me for revealing this insecurity. (He said yes).
Integrating Circling into work
Gradually, with intention, we started to try to embody what Circling represented in all areas of our life. We began to see all the places we were avoiding presence and connection, and how much we needed each other’s support and direction to confront our avoidance.
It was a hard undertaking to bring our authenticity while honoring those around us—especially at the Tennis Academy where we worked. Parents were paying top-dollar for their kids to become excellent players, expecting drills and techniques from the pros. Yet we found more success teaching them to feel their feelings on the court. So we practiced daily with the parents as well, diving deep into their assumptions about success, parenting, and the good life. Soon we started to notice our work, relationships and spiritual life reflecting the depth we experienced in the practice together.
From Practice to Leadership
In 2011 we were invited to lead a workshop in a well-established Integral retreat centre, Venwoude, in Holland, during the Evolutionary Love festival.
Circling was a big hit; there was a big impact in seeing us trusting connection and being invited into it.
From this small beginning, we were invited to start leading workshops. There were consistently deep group fields happening in the workshops with profound openings for individuals and a feeling of togetherness that was incredibly rich. This led us to expand our offerings organically while we were still running an Integral Tennis academy in England.
The Community Began to Flourish
Within a year we had led workshops in 7 countries. In each place we would work with a small community that wanted a deeper experience of authenticity with people in their local area.
While this would create special group experiences on a weekend, we would also work deeply with the community members in real time with the real issues facing their growth. This was always key to our understanding of the practice: the weekend spaces were magical, but if the principles were not practiced by the leaders and between key people in the community in every moment, especially to organize the events, then the full potential of the practice was being missed. When the practice is being grounded in every moment, with the real challenges we face in our lives and relationships, it becomes a new way of being.
Through this approach, the communities started to flower and grow.
Soon we noticed people returning to workshops after workshop. Our friends and fellow community leaders wanted a deeper taste of the practice. And we wanted a way to bring the power of Circling further out into the world. We wanted to develop people’s capacity to access and inspire others to the kind of consciousness the principles point to (a deeper trust in experience, more flow with what is present in the moment, continual exploration of the complexity of development and surrender to a deeper embodiment in connection). And we knew this would take a longer, more sustained format—so we created the SAS Leadership program.
Like everything we’ve done, we wanted the training to embody the principles we teach. As a result it is constantly changing as we change, but learning takes place largely in presence, being together and following the movement of authentic embodiment. And our emphasis is as much on each individual’s particular leadership and developmental challenges being seen at a deep level and held by a group all at once, as it is on training Circling as a modality.
In other words, we consistently want to train a “way of being,” rather than a skillset.