The Art of Hosting


Circle Practice

Location: everywhere where people meet for real
Members: 81
Latest Activity: May 3, 2019

Share your experiences!

After a Circle Intensive - Sept. '11 in Belgium, hosted by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea - we opened this group/space to share experiences with circle practice. So, here it is for anyone to use. Please share any stories of how the circle has worked, lived and digested in your self and in your work and life.

On this site is also a conversation space that is intended to gather reflections on how important Circle Practice is for Art of Hosting practitioners to deepen their overall practice; so that one has a more specific focus.

October '14 there opened a Facebook group on The Circle Way, that you might enjoy too!

Here all kind of stories are welcome!

Conversation Forum

Opening of a regular, weekly circle practice space in Rixensart (Genval), Belgium. 1 Reply

InvitationIf you think you need a space where you feel safeWhere you can stop and breathe, and slow down, feel at home, in peacewithout time constrains and the hassle of everyday life, because it is…Continue

Started by Annamaria Erdei. Last reply by Anne-Claire CHENE Apr 1, 2015.

Art of Healing - reconciliation 1 Reply

Picked from the AoH emaillist, summer 2012:Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to participate in a sharing circle as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada (a process that is…Continue

Tags: love, of, revolution, reconciliation, healing

Started by Ria Baeck. Last reply by gina cenciose Aug 9, 2012.

After the Circle Intensive in Belgium - Sept.'11 1 Reply

This is an invitation for all present in the Circle Intensive in Belgium to share their experiences of how this intense experience has translated into your life and work.Be welcome!(and you can't do…Continue

Tags: sharing, Belgium, Intensive, Circle

Started by Ria Baeck. Last reply by Martin Jugmans Sep 27, 2011.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Stephen Hinton on May 2, 2014 at 11:56am

We are doing a Circle Way Camp in July in Sweden

Circle Way Camp, July 14-19, 2014

Get inspired by Native American worldview and way of life!

For the 12th year we offer an adventure and a growing experience for all ages at beautiful Mundekulla. Find tools for actively listening to others, getting closer to your feelings and becoming more conscious of your goals and dreams. During the five days of camp we create a ”tribe” in the spirit of the circle, living in greater harmony with nature and each other. Besides circle here will be traditional story-telling and optional workshops.

Workshop leaders
Manitonquat (Medicine Story) and Ellika have led workshops and camps all over the
world for many years, inspired by Native American worldview and meeting in the circle.

-Manitonquat, 85 years old: Storyteller, author, lecturer, elder of the Wampanoag nation (USA).
-Ellika Lindén: Director, playwright and women’s circle leader.
-Sara Norrby Wallin och Maria Estling Vannestål (workshop leaders)
-Peter Elmberg (singing and circle dances)
-Kalle Grill (workshop leader)
-Stephen Hinton (workshop leader)
-Gittan Wallin-Wester (children's activities)
-Camilla Måne (chef + workshop leader)

During the camp people of all ages meet in clans (little groups) based on respect, to get mutual support and appreciation and to experience a possible alternative to the actual situation of society. Activies include talking stick circles, co-counselling, sweat lodge, story telling, music and dance. The daily workshops give us a theoretical and practical background and support us to deal better with our strained emotions and our partner- and friend ships to women, men, children, the environment and other cultures and nations. There are also daily activities for children (from around ages 6-7).

Read more

Comment by gina cenciose on August 9, 2012 at 8:12am

Thanks Rose, I too, have been in circle with folks in businesses, in families outside in nature, and inside prison walls (sometimes 3 day circles) for the past 20 years. It is a weekly part of the lovely work I get to do, and live for myself also, as we have circle with our own family and our own friends regularly too. What grace and deep mysterious learning comes to me in circle and to the hundreds of other circle folks I have sat with over the years, or only for 1 circle, a huge celebration! Gina

Comment by Ria Baeck on August 9, 2012 at 4:18am

Also a thankyou from me Rose! Great sharing and I sense the many, many experiences coming through your words, making up the wisdom that you share. Thanks again!

Comment by Waltraud HELLER on August 9, 2012 at 3:45am

Dear Rose, many many thanks for this - so encouraging!! and indeed... let ourselves "drop into the circle process" is that secret also for me - but needs so much practice in safe space I find...


warm regards,


Comment by Rose Gordon on August 9, 2012 at 12:35am

hello everyone. Enjoying your comments and I really appreciate your investigation Wal! I love Circles in beautiful settings, indoors or outdoors, because the environment brings its own "voice" into the Circle. Perhaps the places that seem so unhospitable to Circle are also bringing an important "voice", one that shouldn't be ignored...I have to think about that! No matter where we are I know its our relationship to one another, even under the most trying situations, that creates the Circle. I always feel blessed to practice Circle in supportive environments where a Circle can be physically created and a talking piece used. Practicing that way, as Wal mentioned, is very valuable- because it is where we grow confidence and learn to rest in the process and yes, grow muscle! I find that if i am confident, remembering that the Process is larger than I am, and in fact HOLDS ME, as much as i hold it, then those who are new to Circle can become "woven" into the Circle more easily. The essential components Wal mentioned are, i think, tools to help shape the tapestry that is being created. The weaving process itself is still a bit mysterious, and should perhaps stay the way, without words put to it. Maybe its a bit like entrainment, the process that happens when people "synch" up to a shared rhythm. And I think that the capacity to realize and "rest" in our connectedness is a basic piece of who we are as human beings. I first practiced Circle in a quiet, simple but gorgeous setting, but since then I've been in Circle with women in jail, sitting in a cement room, behind a steel door, on plastic chairs and now again on plastic buckets! in rehab center with recovering addicts, under florescent lights on a shag rugged floor in a narrow hall in a building at Auschwitz, in a hospital meeting room with people with Cancer, or in a very very small Circle with a person who was dying, and in Restorative Justice Circles with a young woman serving time for vehicular manslaughter and those affected but that event, and in a hearing room in a courthouse, with officers and a young man in detention. In every situation it has become clear that if I have practiced and can relax into the Circle process, others can also relax into it. When those gathered "drop into" the process, the Process Hold Us All. We transform "place" and create the space thats (paradoxically!) needed for connection to happen. I may be a little over the top, but for me its how we make space sacred...and that can happen anyplace! which gives me great comfort.

Comment by daniela terrile on July 17, 2012 at 6:07am

thank You Frauke, hope you are fine


Comment by Frauke Godat on July 17, 2012 at 4:59am

A lovely little video about Kufunda and the youth program - using Circle Practice as one of the AoH practices for youth leadership development:

Comment by Ria Baeck on March 5, 2012 at 3:57pm

Waauw Waltraud - great story! (I will point it out to Christina and Ann - I guess they like to read it!)

With love,


Comment by Waltraud HELLER on March 4, 2012 at 5:10pm

Hi to you all, 

It is a joy to read all your stories, see your faces (well the photos) and connect here – in fact this connection feels like a circle itself – even if we have no circle shape. This brings me directly to what I want to contribute here.


I work in an organisation (public administration) which operates in a hierarchical environment, and we have the running joke that in our meeting rooms “the tables are screwed on to the floor”. Our main conference room: Imagine a very long and not very wide room – the seating is a rectangle with tables, with 4 places on the small side, and 18 places on the long side. Perfectly awful, even for someone who is not into circles…


So what do you do if you nevertheless want to do circles?

Well, you (have to) do them there…


Since we had our first AoH training at my organisation some 8 months ago, we (about 10 colleagues) started making more and more meetings participatory, first external meetings with stakeholders, then also increasingly (some) internal meetings. In the beginning we were very frustrated about our conference room, also no way to put sth in the center, plus difficulties to getting café settings etc.


So my most encouraging experience, that I would like to share with you for encouragement, is that even in our non-ideal setting, circle can work, hosting conversations of a different depth and quality can work!


This may sound naïve, or be naïve, but really – I experienced how “circle” can work in rectangular shapes around tables, it can work without a talking piece, and without a center. To be precise, and here lies my learning: without a VISIBLE circle shape, without a VISIBLE talking piece, without a VISIBLE center.


Of course, the perfect circle is a perfect circle with the right shape and without tables etc., especially for deeper, more personal stories –but when you don’t have it you have to go with what you have. I’d like to encourage you to do just that – as Amanda writes, that in The Way of Council it says not holding so tightly to "the way" that it turns new participants off. Yes I guess this is big for all of us…


But – anyway, what does it mean doing circle “right”?


Circle, for me, is there to support better, deeper, more honest conversations and connections from the heart. It is when we achieve this that then, we have done it “right”.


In that sense, circle is “only” a TOOL for something – no I’m not a heretic :-) I Iove circle and for me it is the most powerful, most beautiful, and deepest and also most tender of all the “methodologies” I have learned through AoH so far. For me a lot of it is linked to the art of creating the best possible “container”.


To go back to the theory, circle has some basic principles. I quote from the “Basic circle guidelines”: THE COMPONENTS OF THE CIRCLE

 Intention

 Welcome Start-point

 Center and Check-in/Greeting

 Agreements

 Three Principles and Three Practices

 Guardian of process

 Check-out and Farewell


Funny. Now that I copy them I see that shape is not even explicitly mentioned. My argument would have been – ok so if you have to compromise on the shape, but have all the other components in place – you can of course do circle, as you can of course create a container – even if admittedly it may be more difficult.


So how do we do it at my workplace, in our lovely meeting room? The (physically not visible) centre becomes the purpose/intention that you hold between you – for this we placed one of us on each of the 4 sides of this awfully long rectangle. The different sort of talking piece was the push button from the table microphones. How to cope with a rectangular circle shape I explain to myself in the following way: Ann and Christina taught us that a circle is not a circle, but a ball. Now, squeeze a ball (or say a balloon) in its middle into a rectangular frame – it still remains a recognizable balloon, with round parts both up and down, just a silly square belt in the middle…

Just to say, this image has given me a lot of confidence to host circles even in rectangular shapes – forget about the two-dimensional square, think of the three-dimensional squeezed balloon! :-)


What I find more challenging than the rectangle is that people do not sit as closely to each other as they would in a proper chair circle – this is, for me, what makes it more difficult to work on connecting them.


We have already hosted several stakeholder meetings with up to 50 participants in this conference room. I admit what helped was to break out in cafés often inbetween. With some of our stakeholders (EU administration, Member State government representatives, academics and researchers, civil society organisations), when there are smaller groups, we have started moving out to a smaller meeting room, where we do “proper” circle shaped chair circles as well. Every time a fight to get the room rearranged, so often we do it ourselves – I guess that sounds familiar to many of you…


My last, but important comment: When we have to compromise on shape, or visible center or visible talking piece – it becomes harder, of course. So what is key for me is the regular PRACTICE in a “proper” circle setting, with mates, and with all the ingredients to build up our “heart mussels” and practice our container-creating skills – and of course, to never host alone!


In that sense I am very much looking forward to meeting you all for joined circle practice!




Comment by Ria Baeck on February 27, 2012 at 4:34am

Hello ladies, I'm not working in these environments, but I want to let you know that I'm following this conversation. Very nice!


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