It’s a strange thing: the more I circle, and lead circling, the more excited and engaged I am about the potential of the modality and of the movement. In this article I take a step back and try and discern why this is so, along with some practical approaches for promoting A/R and Circling events and building a community.
My Circling Manifesto (where I think this is heading)
I say this here, even though it’s something that I consistently fail to convince anyone, until they have actually attended a Circle (and even then. Most people fail to get the social and political implications of the movement, in my view). I have spent 30+ years exploring human change modalities, looking for something that would be (a) powerful (or effective), (b) open-source, (c) low-cost, (d) that would have sexual and financial integrity, and (e) would have a global presence and community (i.e. a possibility for anyone anywhere on Earth to join a group or start a group). 98% of human change systems fail one or more of those tests, mostly because they are proprietary (or brand-controlled), and/or have limited reach. The 2% which do pass these tests, which include Buddhism and NVC, derive much of their effectiveness by harnessing the power of group intelligence. This is the central point of Circling and A/R practices, its specialty shall we say. And I have not seen any movement or group, proprietary or not, harness the group intelligence for transformational purposes as well as Circling does. Or that is anywhere near as fun, frankly.
And furthermore, Circling and A/R practices are very easy to sell. I mean: the impossibility of adequately explaining the practice, is more than compensated by the dramatic impact that I have seen from people attending even a single event. Whether you are leading A/R games or Circling, and assuming a certain skill level (just how much skill level is required I have yet to discern, but I don’t feel that any of this is rocket-science. I am far from being the best leader in the world, and yet I think I am having really good impact), it is very common to see people leaving a group very inspired, what I call the “home-run circle” (everyone leaves happy and smiling and wanting more).
And finally — as if all this were not enough — Circling is a perfect complement to most any intentional community, any ashram or church or spiritual community, any mind/body transformation program, any social-change movement, any addiction or mental-health recovery program, or any conscious business venture. I call it the “missing link” — without it, you will forever be missing something. It doesn’t matter how powerful the underlying philosophy or modality is. If you are not dealing with relational reality, you are fucked. Very few communities or social-change organizations are adequately dealing with relational reality. Why? Because, in general, it’s a swamp. Better (a lot of people think) to just ignore it, since fully locking-in to emotional and relational truth, communicating lovingly and responsibly around that and fully owning your emotional experience, can be dangerous. Things can get very hot very fast, relationships and entire organizations can blow apart. In essence, we are all babies in the art of relationship. Our parents didn’t teach us and society does everything possible to shut us up (for somewhat obvious reasons: because we would tell capitalism to take a walk and just make love all day long. But that’s another conversation). Fundamentally we are all “learning on the job”. Being authentic and loving at the same time is very difficult. But the alternative, which is to live inside a lie, is generally worse.
For sure, I am a Circling fanatic. I imagine I could Circle all day long and be perfectly happy. So perhaps I am not the best person to bring a balanced opinion to bear here. “Multiple simultaneous perspectives” — no argument. There have been a number of recent scandals rock the Circling world. Even so: my desire is to see more people in the Circling community claim their power here, and start to lead, especially locally. We are on to something, folks. Something that the world desperately needs, and which not many others are bringing.
Selling A/R, 1-2-3
I want to expand on the above, as per my previous article Love for Sale, Half-Price, on how easy it is to sell Authentic Relating. There is not a lot of money in it, at least at the beginning. But the personal and social value-added is so extraordinary, it’s worth doing regardless, in my view. My desire for myself, is to lead on-the-ground every night. Why not? It’s super-fun for me, I have a lot of time on my hands, I am pretty good at it (or at least “good enough”), and I could use the money. My plan for “filling seats” is to reach out to other Meetup organizers and compatible organizations (co-working spaces for instance). Personally, I have a deep desire and am very passionate about intentional community, residential or not (as told in my personal blog post Moving to Asheville, and other news), so that is also on the agenda. I am very interested in expanding A/R and Circling practices into real-world scenarios that would include intentional community and eco-villages, mental health and addiction recovery, sexuality, and conscious business. This is my life’s work.
Where to go from here?
Creating a thriving A/R community in your locality is challenging, for reasons already mentioned: human relationships are a swamp. Especially when questions of money, power, prestige and sex start to come in. I will still passionately declare, that it is a game worth playing.
Here are some good resources for learning A/R skills and building community:
- Circleanywhere. The best-value Circling training on the planet. Authentic World is also good but doesn’t have the same level of activity. There are (sometimes) free groups offered by Daniel T. Johnson and by Josh Stein.
- Sara Ness’s new community course [link needed]
- Jordan Allen’s community course [link needed]
- The expanded Circling Guide, which includes updated A/R Game Leader Format and Circling Introduction Leader Format
- Local Circling and A/R groups, which you can generally find on Meetup.com
- Finally, you can always post and look for support on Circling Europe Facebook, Authentic Relating Event Facilitators, Circling Community Facebook, Circling Facebook, Circling and A/R for Organizations, CircleAnywhere Facebook, Authentic World Members. As well as Facebook pages for your local community.