Councils of Whole-Hearted Engagement

About Councils: Humans have been holding council throughout our recorded history and across our myriad cultures. Councils provide an opportunity to express our experience of our selves within our community; to be heard and seen; and to hear and see one another. The power of councils are in the experience of participating; the pervasiveness and persistence of councils affirm their value. Our current culture is desperately in need of councils that support our collective future.

Participation in a council involves bearing witness, holding space, and being heard.

How are councils organized (what happens in council)?

  1. Groups are small, limited to eight to ten people

  2. Sharing is done one person at a time

  3. Any topic is appropriate

  4. The way people share is important

    1. First person statements (e.g I feel that...)

    2. No didactics (it is not about sharing information or lecturing)

    3. Helpful starting places

      1. I feel, I want, I think, I know, What is true to me, I am, What is guiding me

  5. Sharing time is limited to allow everyone to share and to encourage people to get straight to the point of what is happening inside their hear​​

  6. Participants do not respond to others with words/advice/information - only listening

  7. Through listening deeply, participants provide one another respect/equanimity/compassion

  8. Depending on the format, participants may choose to carry on with discussions after the council session concludes

    1. It is fine to solicit feedback based on your personal sharing

      1. E.G. I wonder what you thought of what I shared?

      2. E.G. I'd like to share how your contribution impacted me, would that be okay with you?

Councils of Whole-Hearted Engagement are closed groups, meaning that once a group of individuals have joined, no-one else can join until someone gives up their place. Replacements can come from group member referrals or from the facilitator.

Groups meet for 1 hour. Meetings begin with about 5 minutes of silent contemplation and end this way. After the circle closes, participants are free to interact. Members ask permission before referring to content that was shared (e.g., "I'd like to share with you how I was moved by what you shared, would you mind or would you prefer not to talk about it"?)

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