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What IS a Circle Immersion?

A friend of the family posted on my FB feed, “I’d like to know more about that,” which brings me here this morning. What was the Circle Immersion anyway?

Within one lineage of practice, an immersion in circle is the longer, more sustained exploration of circle-way with intention to learn principles-practice and to deepen shared experience of circle-in-community. There are 1-2 day introductory workshops offered within this web of affiliation, but an Immersion is the longer variation. It therefore drew participants across the spectrum of familiarity with the practice(s)—seasoned practitioners themselves, practitioners both new and seasoned in circle-way organizations (like schools), and folks unfamiliar with but interested in circle-way wisdom. We were a circle of 17/19 (with two facilitators) over five days.

There was therefore some introductory language-ing around circle-way: roles (host, guardian, scribe, participant-leader), flow (check-in, purpose, check-out), the basic energetics (in Venn diagram relation—being, doing, inviting, integrating), and the dance of Inner/Outer, present moment/later in the work/play that Circle invites.

One wall offered a systemic summary, though we never spent conscious time in summarizing aloud: Circle can help us to remember: We belong to each other; our voice matters; we are stronger together; our own personal power; the healthy masculine and feminine. Circle can help us dis-member: patriarchy; the illusion of separateness; thinking we need to go it alone; the belief of disposable people; our savior complex. We held these aspects in our being-circle-together more than thinking analytically about them. In one sense, we gave no energy to the things circle dismembers because we were co-creating the things we came to remember, together.

The facilitators pictured below—Quanita Roberson and Tenneson Woolf—bring varied lineages into their work of holding, which makes the space generative and inviting for a more diverse community. Circle-Way is a phrase connected to the work of Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea (and now hundreds of others). Family lineage and the Dagara Medicine traditions of Malidoma and Sobunfu Some´ weave in. The leadership work of Margaret Wheatley informed the spaces. And a variety of others—Open Space technology, Flow Game, Art of Hosting. A Circle Immersion therefore means an experiential encounter with a variety of ways of “being circley” together, planting seeds for deeper explorations later.

This brief overview gives a more comprehensive and outward-looking-in view which I think comes with the question on a FB feed. The Immersion for me, however, was opportunity to expand my circle-community; to dis-member my habits shaped in seminary/church contexts while remembering more of what I yearn to be in alignment with; and specifically in this season, to begin to slow down, to shift into a season of sabbatical. I entered into the circle in hopes of becoming more clear of how to begin, how to honor and be seen in the sacred work that is beckoning me.

And I did I bow to the Center of the Circle once again. Sacred bewilderment in forgiving the divine. May I get out of my own way, for Spirit/spirit to work it out into the world…

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