Whole hearted healing- the power of women’s circles - Kelly Mansfield
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” Brene Brown
Where good food nourishes your body, circle nourishes your being.
I’m sure I am not alone in having felt wounded by other women and as a reaction have contracted, put up walls or avoided women and mostly been friends with men. But it has at times also left me feeling isolated and lonely, as sometimes there is a certain understanding only time with another woman can bring.
I got my first taste of the power and nourishment a group of women can bring while participating in an art project a few years ago, it highlighted to me a yearning that I didn’t know I had. A couple years later I went to my first women’s circle and I was hooked. Circle gave me a perfect blend of real life connection with other women, self-reflection /discovery, acceptance and playfulness all rolled into one.
Each month I looked forward to going, it was my chance to connect with myself and others, a time to check in with myself and dig a bit deeper; to find out what was really going on for me, it gave me support and taught me to learn to trust again. The last 3 years of circle have taught me to turn up just exactly how I am, to lean in to the pain and reach out and ask for support when I need it. It has helped me to heal and accept the parts of myself or past actions that I was holding shame about, things that I had, and would have kept carrying around for years. It has also helped me to forgive myself and others.
Being in circle gives you an opportunity and experience of practicing vulnerability, a chance to begin to open your-self up to the fact that our struggles are common, we are not alone in our experiences. Also, there is no advice given in circle. There is a magic blend of meditation, ritual, movement and sharing but when someone shares we beam them. Holding your hands palms out in front of you, you are showing that person you see, hear and witness them, in whatever they are going through. The power of this small act is so healing, so nourishing- the feeling of being seen and accepted for who and however we are. This for me is where the magic lies.
So much of our modern life can make us feel lonely and disconnected, social media can often leave us feeling like everyone is having a better time/life than us. Circle creates what social media does not, a real life connection, an authentic experience of being with other people in a space intentionally created to be safe and confidential and where you can be exactly who you are- a human being with struggles and joys, and it makes you realise that all of us are on that journey. That no one gets off lightly, they may have a great job and a lot of money or be beautiful with glowing skin and a great diet, but they are all struggling at times, all wanting to feel love and acceptance. So over time this knowledge begins to filter out into the rest of your life. It deepens your relationships.
What set me off on the journey of facilitating circles was bringing the gift of circle to a friend who was dying; I created an honouring circle for her and our female group of friends gathered around. It was that circle that deepened all our relationships, for although we had all known each other many years, in the past I hadn’t felt comfortable or confident enough to reach out to them when I was lonely or vulnerable. I felt they were so together. Sharing circle with them showed me that they are not. They struggle too. Past the confident outer exterior I perceived were whole human beings who felt overwhelmed, anxious and uncertain at times as well.
I have also twice had the privilege of being in circle with my mother. We have lived in other countries for the last 20 years and although we spoke and got along well I didn’t really speak to her about my vulnerabilities. Now, after just two circle experiences our relationship has changed. I lean in more. Not because at circle we spent our whole time bearing our souls and talking about our deepest darkest secrets, but because I recognise that she is there for me, and I for her, that she is a human being doing the best she can, trying to get past her own stuff… just like I am.
This year has taught me many things, how to lean in when in pain rather than contracting, to trust the process more and to keep turning up. Circle has healed and strengthened and celebrated me and this is why I want to share it with others.
Women’s circles are a way of connecting and honouring yourself and others in their experience of life; celebrating our womanhood through sisterhood. Circle leaves you beaming.
If you are interested in experiencing it for yourself please contact Kelly Mansfield