The most outstanding feature of Circling is the way the wisdom and understanding from the individual practice of meditation has been brought into an interpersonal dynamic to be shared between people. Although there are many different forms of meditation there can be said to be an underlying purpose to the practice. This could be described as a way of bringing your attention inward to allow more connection and clarity to your experience. In this process the meditator aims to cultivate presence; the feeling of being immersed in the moment beyond thought. Anyone who has tried meditation will tell you that the first attempts can be confusing and difficult. Often it involves sitting in a posture and being instructed to observe your breath or sensations in your body. If done for a significant amount of time it is usually accompanied by endless and seemingly trivial thoughts and often a lot of pain. In some moments it can be relaxing and peaceful and can bring a sense of it being an important practice to take further.
This is a similar experience that can be told of relationship. If you have tried to deepen the sense of presence in a relationship with someone close to you it can again be incredibly difficult and painful. Some of the challenges include; being unable to escape gossip, theory or familiar talk that doesn’t feel nourishing, confusion around knowing what you are feeling in the moment, concern not to hurt the other, uncomfortable silences of not knowing what to say. If well instructed, conscious relationship like meditation can be relaxing, intimate, exciting and an opening to a potential learning about self or other that can feel huge.
Meditation as a practice of human development has potentials that are not immediately recognisable. To an experienced practitioner meditation can open a different world of experience than what is imaginable at the beginning of the journey. What can reveal when you sit quietly observing and feeling into yourself is a continual unfolding of wonder, challenge, vulnerability and presence. From this practice your whole understanding of reality can be changed and developed and this can profoundly impacts the rest of your life. There are many gifts that come from this discipline, these include; a sense of being that is deeply satisfied and non seeking, dropping a sense of aloneness or separation that is always in the background of our experience, a deep appreciation and understanding of stillness and silence, opening to deeper feeling of appreciation and love, greater self trust and experiences of awe and mystery. There are also significant health benefits; reducing stress, improve bodies functioning – sleep, digestion, circulation etc… In the past these new capabilities were thought to be available for the individual, but what is being found in circling are these can be shared and enhanced in relationships with others.
Circling has a comparable developmental process to meditation that has a special dimension of being practiced in relationship to another or many others. The more you connect with others at this level of intimacy and openness the more astounding it is to find out what is possible. Spontaneous openings of love, spiritual insights, finding more purpose, therapeutic healing, understanding blocks you have always had in relationships and feeling freedom from this, greater acceptance and understanding of self and especially others. However, these benefits take time and vulnerability to cultivate. It would also be misleading to say that there are not significant trials along this path (which will be discussed in future posts).
It is an exciting time where practices from our spiritual past can shed the traditions that no longer fit more modern understandings and lifestyles but still maintain their wisdom. Most exciting of all is the wisdom of meditation can now be a vehicle to enlightened relationships with the people that most matter.