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 Nancy Bragard on February 26, 2012 at 5:39am

Wonderful, Wal, bring your experience on! Everyone's piece is a gift. Echoing Linda's words about receivng and then re-directing the fear, not letting it own us, but acknowledging it, (I love the kiss on the lips!) and then letting it go through us. Wal, it would be great to hold a physical circle sharing experiences, ideas, dreams around circle... Until we can, let's keep passing the piece here.

Comment by Waltraud HELLER on February 25, 2012 at 7:08pm

hello you all,

I am very touched, and encouraged, by what I read here from you. I would like to share an experience as well, am preparing a contribution, but need to let it sink in a bit... Just to say at this stage, looking at this enriching conversation here: wouldn't it be great to have a physical circle gathering to explore together our experiences, to share learnings, and to learn and grow together?   


Comment by Linda Joy Mitchell on February 23, 2012 at 8:21am

Hello ladies - lovely thread here and so good to feel the continued circle here.  Wanting to pick up on the themes of holding fear and cynicism as this feels so present in my work at the moment.  Some of the places Im going in to work hold such longing for human connection and yet the humans in the places hold enormous fear and negativity about the possibility of change. The 'strategic' places often hold the most of both.  I love what you say amanda about circle being such a good place for people to simply get to know one another,build relationship to collaborate, this I think is the real power of circle.  

Thinking about the effect of fear and cynicism on me, and realising that my response to it and how I allow that to travel through me rather than get stuck to me is possible one of the factors that enable a circle to take place.  It reminds me of Bob Wing who teaches Aikido who talks about surprising and disarming fear by giving it a big kiss on the lips, welcoming fear into the frame, thanking it for its contribution and letting it pass through

All power to us and our elbows in doing such fab work xx 

Comment by Kirsi Joenpolvi on February 23, 2012 at 5:51am

Thank you for sharing this- I have felt the same challenges as you, and Nancy everytime I am in the situation where I am supposed to tell about the benefits of circle to some "powerful management people" I find it challenging because it is about experiencing and feeling it, not about learning some mathematical theory. I think that exactly is the Big Bridge we are currently building, each of us. Recently one of my friends asked me to make a brochure about the circle work so that she could then introduce it to her colleaques, and if they find it beneficial I could come and hold them a circle. I could immediately sense some resistance there- talking about myself- to put down all the good things about the circle work, to filter it in the way  they could take in. Ok, I guess that is where I need to do some inner reflection as being part of my "building the bridge" process...(yet happy to receive some good advertising tips!)

Comment by Amanda Fenton on February 23, 2012 at 2:59am

Nancy, Nancy - thank you for your words and questions! The cross-talk I meant was people talking who didn't hold the piece. While this was happening I was reminded of some of the passages from The Way of Council where they described not holding so tightly to "the way" that it turns new participants off. This is big for me (one of my shadows is that I'm not doing circle 'right' or doing it justice!). 

I'm not sure if my long term relationship was key (it might have helped - but if Christina or Ann were there instead I'm sure it would have still worked!!). I think what was a bigger factor was that circle suited many of the reasons they were meeting - to build relationships, to get to know each other's area of the business, to collaborate. This was a group who had never collectively been together in the same room before we started these gatherings (we had one session before I shifted to a circle format).

Your other question about introducing it earlier in my time with them sparked a memory for me! It was November 2010 and a few of these leaders were part of a World Cafe I hosted (for some annual planning for one of the business lines). I invited the group shift into a big circle to break the pattern of a morning of presentations,  and there I introduced the cafe principles. Then after the cafe concluded we came back into a circle and I sent a marker around as a talking piece. Oh my nerves! That was the first time I had introduced a talking piece and it was incredible (the piece even travelled backwards a couple of times!) - such a rich rich check-out. I had forgotten all about that and that a couple of souls overlap those two sessions. Perhaps that experience imprinted something in them :)

Setting the talking piece down... look forward to hear others' stories and thoughts...

Comment by Nancy Bragard on February 22, 2012 at 7:02am

Thank you so much, Amanda, for this beautiful testimony to the magic of circle! I am moved by the courage with which you stepped into the fire with this group. This is a piece that is big for me today: how can we take the practice into the organisations we serve, meet and accommodate the skepticism and the fear-based comments and questions (I love it ... "what is this - confession time?") and find in us our center to bring in circle... I have done it, trembling every time. The results are positive, and yet I continue to tremble each time. And part of the trembling is fear about facing the skepticism and the fear! Can we use this fear as an ally in our practices? How to deal with it beyond acknowledging it, honoring it, and putting it aside? It is scary to deal with powerful people’s skepticism and yet this is often a given when we take circle into organizations. And yet this for me is our call. We know circle, we love circle, we do circle, we grow from it. How can we invite powerful people (organizationally speaking) to see that they can be powerful in circle? I’m really drawn to step up to gently “leveraging” circle (and other practices) so they can bring transformation to organizations still in the old paradigm. That will be truly serving them. I LOVE the elephant piece! And will proceed to buy an elephant for the center of my next circle!...

Amanda, a few questions for you:

When you say “cross-talk” do you mean the circle exchanging without the talking piece in hand?

Do you feel your long-term relationship with this team was key in bringing in circle? Retrospectively, how do you feel it would have been to introduce it earlier in your relationship with them?

Thanks … and I’m putting the piece in the center.

Comment by Amanda Fenton on February 22, 2012 at 3:10am

Picking up the talking piece... I have gently introduced circle to a group of leaders I am working with on an intact team leadership development program. Last September it was just moving the chairs, working with agreements they had already co-created about their gatherings, and building a simple centre with some flowers and their agreements. The different arrangement brought some comments (the funniest was "what is this - confession time?") but the group rolled with it - I'm fortunate that I have some "love in the bank" with this group as I've facilitated various sessions for them over the past few years. I introduced a talking piece (a rock that connected to one of our topics that day) and while there was still some cross-talking I noticed that the rock helped people say what they wanted to say in the check-in/check-out and hand it off when they were done (a bit of themselves holding the space for their own contribution).

We had a check-in call in December where again we used the rhythm of a check-in, some open connection conversation and a check-out. Today the group met again in-person, but with an added guest - their executive (two levels up). We had positioned this gathering with the executive as a "fireside chat" which I knew would help with the circle arrangement. The centre was built, the same rock talking piece, check-in and check-out.... still cross-talk but the structure was serving; flexible enough but respecting that the person with the rock wasn't done til they handed it off. I was ready to remind of the opportunity to focus on listening but felt that it was going okay (hope that makes sense!).

The comments when the session ended were very positive, and I planted the seeds about our next gathering and check-in that they are thinking about and looking forward to. So awesome! A colleague commented that she was walking by the room and could sense the energy, the engagement, the connectedness. Oh - and the idea of sending an elephant around the circle as a way to invite the conversation on the elephants in the room came up spontaneously. They loved the idea and my promise to them was to find little elephants for them to carry with them and take the practice into some of their other meetings and interactions (and I'll add one of the elephants to our centre for the next gathering). If that kind of shadow work can spread gently we will have some terrific ripples...

I know it can be scary to introduce all this (even without naming it) inside organizations that are used to traditional tables and chairs and all that. Hope this story is a glimmer of light that it is possible, even if a bit of stealth circling.

To the centre...

Comment by Frauke Godat on January 29, 2012 at 3:34pm

...and the circles continue in Greece: Story from the PeerSpirit newsletter

Comment by Mara Senese on January 27, 2012 at 8:57pm

Thanks for the heads-up on link, Frauke!  I am trying to figure out how to fix it. Don't seem to find the way to link to pdfs.  Will get help. 

Love your work in Berlin!  Great postings.  Very inspiring - all you wonderful AoH workers. Circles appearing everywhere. 

Kirsi - sounds like an idea to use for the Green campaign.

love M

Comment by Frauke Godat on January 26, 2012 at 1:03pm

Hello, lovely to read about the circle in Leeds. I also really like these pictures from that day! This has been the initial call for Flashmob Circles on January 15. Here is my experience from a circle in Berlin on the metro on that day and an inspiration from Tahrir Circles in November.

Btw, Mara, the link to the pdf on you blog is not working - I get an error message :-(


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