I’ve always been interested in this type of group process, following the works of Parker Palmer’s Circles of Trust, Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication or (Compassionate Communication as I prefer), Beginning Anew from my Buddhist lineage, and all the psycho-social experience and education I have. I know firsthand that creating peace begins with oneself and have worked with 100’s of folks in guiding awareness, insight, and understanding into the realms that foster this. With mindfulness as a leading practice, we learn to take responsibility for our lives and our outcomes and, importantly, do so in a non-judgmental and curious way. It’s been an important and joyful part of my work.
When in conflict, our first response might be to blame the other person for what has been done “to me”. We feel hurt and it can be challenging to see ourselves as responsible participants in the actions that led to conflict, preferring to seek solace or justification in what “the other” has done. In it’s gentle way, Restorative Circles doesn’t remove the personal responsibility piece of conflict but, through a process of deep listening and reflective speech, participants discover their role. As they hear from the others in the conflicted community, they expand their knowledge of other’s view, ultimately creating a more complete perspective. Understanding doesn’t necessarily equate to agreement but, as all parties develop understanding of causes and conditions, barriers are reduced, allowing the creating of bonds of shared humanity.
We all have “our stuff”; our views, private struggles, defense mechanisms. It’s much easier to drop them, to soften their impact, when we feel heard and seen. Restorative Circles is a process to support this so that everyone impacted by a hurtful situation can be heard, seen, and hopefully healed.
“Peace and healing through conversation” was my tag line all weekend. Simple but not easy. I’m happy to explore this process further, anxious to see what shows up, and curious in how I can support deeper peace in the community.
And next weekend I’m off to the monastery for a mostly silent retreat - another form of deep listening. Love, love, love it! More on that later so, for now, stay in peace and keep that view open.
With many blessings for peaceful days,
Mindfulness & Stress Management Coach