Telepathy?

We take in lots of information through our senses, and our brains process this information in ways we cannot fathom! We can open ourselves to take in this information, allow our bodies to be impacted by it, connect with sensations in the body, and practice articulating what we sense. Through this practice we can see things and connect with people in ways that seem like magic and, in my experience, satisfy a deep need for connection and understanding. This is what I practice when I circle. If you read nothing more of this article I think you’ll get the essence of what I’m writing here.

I see examples of what we are capable of in many places. But the first example I want to share is my dog. She cannot speak. She does not understand language. Yet, my dog and I communicate… quite effectively. I find myself asking the question regularly, “How did you know we were going to …?” or “How did you know I was going to …?” So I’ve paid close attention to my subtle movements, intonation of voice, patterns of behavior, and anything else I could notice about me that might betray my intentions.

There’s no hiding. There’s no such thing as a secret. All we can do is not put something into words.

Maggie, my dog, will anticipate my commands when we are training or practicing. I have maybe a dozen or more “tricks” or “useful behaviors” that I’ve trained her to do. Some of them are complex and others are simple. In order for her to remember them and execute them well, we need to practice. During practice I intentionally try to randomize the order of the commands, reduce unnecessary movements and sounds coming from me, and exercise repetition. Often when we’re having one of these practice sessions she’ll do a trick before I even start to voice the command… and it’s the right trick!! I haven’t done any controlled study to see if perhaps she’s just randomly trying things and I’m only remembering the times where she succeeds. But if I pause for a moment and consider… it’s not so important whether I have a memory bias here. She’s trying to read me and anticipate and at least sometimes she succeeds.

I have experimented with sending small signals to see if she’s noticing or paying attention; like moving a single finger a little to one side on the hand that’s by my side while she’s looking at my face. To be clear, she’s sitting in front of me looking at my face, my hand is in her peripheral vision, and I am making a small adjustment. Sure enough, she’ll do something in response to that movement. Maybe she just glances at the hand to see if it will do something more. Or maybe she’ll lie down. Or even turn around.

I am convinced through my relationship with her that she is paying attention to lots of subtle cues. She’s taking in lots of information about where I am, how I’m positioned, how I’m moving, how I’m sounding, and where I’m looking.

I’ve also experienced this in dancing. I often have these experiences in social partner dances where my partner does things in alignment with my intended movement as a lead but before I really led the thing. I notice this most when I change my mind just before I execute the lead and my partner does the first thing I thought of and not the thing that I actually tried to lead. Often, my partner will apologize to which I reply, “actually, that’s what I wanted you to do and then I changed my mind, so my apology for changing something on you with short notice”.

There’s also those moments when partner dancing where my partner and I move together as one and it’s unclear where the movements are coming from, yet we continue to be in sync and together in our movements. What I’ve come to believe is going on here is a tuned listening to each other’s bodies and movements that’s so precise and so deep that we are actually able to sense each other’s intentions. Combine that with willingness and ease of changing my own intentions, my partner’s willingness and ease of changing hers, and a shared intention to align our intentions; and we get movement as one.

Back to circling.

This applies in conversation, too, but I think it is exceptionally difficult in conversation because we are usually paying close attention to the words and thoughts of the other… or perhaps just our own thoughts in response to the words of the other… or sometimes just our own thoughts… period. What I want in circling and in conversation is to feel connected and to see the other person. I want them to see me, too. I think this happens best when we bring in the lessons from Maggie and social dancing: listen to everything, not just the words. In fact, it’s fair to say we can just ignore the words all together in most situations and get the basic communication; which is not what’s being said by the way.

I feel called to move into sharing the process that’s happening in more detail without giving more examples, support, and explanations of the situations.

The process is our senses taking in, feeling, processing, translating, and articulating. It starts with perceiving sights, sounds and movements in the form of words, intonation, facial expressions, gestures, direction of gaze, body posture, and anything else that can be perceived. When we take all that in feelings and sensations are created in our bodies. These feelings and sensations inform us on a subtle level what is going on. They’re like an impression from a foot in the sand. Our brains and bodies process this information… in fact, they are built to process this information in incredible ways! From a footprint in the sand (to extend the analogy) we may know the weight and approximate height of the person who left it as well as the way they walk and what part of their foot strikes the ground first and much more. Our brains are built for this. But. The signals aren’t in words. The brain and body work in primal ancient ways that came way before words. So we connect with those primal signals by being aware of our sensations and feelings. Then we can try to translate what we feel and articulate our translation with words.

There are many places where this can go wrong. We may not be paying any attention to what we are perceiving. We may not see things, hear things, or notice things that are going on for the other person. So first, we must bring awareness to all that is happening (not just the words). Once we are perceiving everything we must open our bodies to be impacted by what we perceive. I know my body tends to close to what I perceive. Something in me does not want to be impacted because I’m afraid, on a deep intuitive level, of the impact being unpleasant or distracting. So second, we relax and open our bodies to feel what we feel when we perceive fully what is happening. Now that we are perceiving and feeling our body-mind will process automatically, but we still need to connect to those feelings consciously. Without a conscious connection the processing remains… well… unconscious. It still works in us and impacts us and affects us, but we are unaware of it. So third, we connect with our bodies and the impact. Now that we’re connected, we have conscious awareness of what’s going on inside us, but this inner activity has no words. It is pre-language. So fourth, we must translate it. This translation skill is not one we are gifted with naturally, it is one that must be practiced and learned. There is yet a fifth potential block for this process: the inadequacy of language. There is no easy way to get around this block. We simply do not have words for some things. Anyone who’s done a serious study of multiple languages will recognize that in one language there are words that have no equivalent in the other language. So we must practice putting words on things we have no words for. This is also a skill, and a very difficult one, to practice and learn.

I want to take a moment to elucidate that last concept even more. Imagine there is no word “table”. Now imagine that no one has ever even talked about tables. Yet, we use them every day to set our plates of food on, to sit at and study or read while sipping tea, and many other activities. But we never talk about them. Imagine, now, we’re all sitting in a room that has no tables and you’re having a desire or need related tables. Say you are holding a book and want the book to be put back on your table in your bedroom. If we had the word for table you could just say, “Will you put this book on the table in my bedroom?” But in your bedroom is a table, a nightstand, a desk, a dresser, and… wait for it… a bookshelf. All of which are suitable for placing a book, and one is particularly calling for the book: the bookshelf. Now you must describe to the others what you want them to do. What would you say? “Will you put this book on the thing in my room that isn’t the dresser, the night stand, the desk, or the bookshelf?” The person returns after putting the book on the thing in your room. You later go check and find they placed it on the bed! Ooops! Forget to mention the bed. Sure, you could add “bed to the list of things” and the book might end up on the floor. So you could say, “On the thing that has four legs and a flat top.” And then you find they placed the book on the wooden chair! I think you may begin to see how hard it is to put words on something that has no words, but this example is actually quite easy, in my experience, compared to the translation of the inner ineffable experience I have of the impact of other people’s words.

Yet, I have managed to find words for many experiences that land for the other person. With this, I want to say, it is possible to do the translation. And often, the translation is simpler than I am making it appear with my example above. I find often the translation is “You’re sad” or “You feel hurt” or “you’re afraid of what so-and-so will do” or “you’re excited” or “you’re in love” or something like this.

I could spend a lot more time on this translation step, but I want to wrap up this article because the main point is in the overall process and the basic blocks that we may encounter along the way.

For easy reference they are

  1. perceive – perceive everything; block: not actually paying attention to what’s going on or just paying attention to words.
  2. be open to impact – allow our bodies to feel what they feel; block: fear of impact and/or bodies are closed to feeling.
  3. process the information – this part is automatic and is the builtin intelligence of our body-mind; block: we don’t bring awareness to the processing and the body sensations such that everything remains unconscious.
  4. translate – take the information and put words and a thought to it; block: the block here is simply that we don’t try and haven’t practiced.
  5. articulate – find the right words to concisely express what we have noticed; block: language is an inherent block here and there are often no words or not the right words, so again we need to practice our language skills.

I wish for you mastery of this process and an experience of what it is like to connect with someone when you use this method of observation and communication. It really can seem like telepathy at times. Like magic. And like magic we can be in awe and amazement with each other and by each other. Delightfully surprised. Connected.

Facilitating from the Deeper “I”

I believe everything is “better” when it comes from the deeper “I”, but in this post I will talk specifically about what happens when facilitating from that place, how we can access that place, and what that place is.

The Deeper “I”

This may not resonate with you or it may sound too woowoo or like rubbish. I would like to ask that you set aside any skepticism right now and read this as a possibility and not something to be evaluated as fact or fiction. Though for some of you this will land immediately, the words here are pointers to something I’ve experienced and witnessed. Perhaps there will come a time when something will happen and you’ll remember these words and exclaim “Aha! I see!”. Or perhaps this really is rubbish and all in my imagination. I don’t want to claim a truth for you.

Here is the possibility.

The Deeper “I” is the source of life itself. In fact, it is the source of the universe.  I use “I” here to emphasize our connection to the Source. I use “Deeper” to distinguish between the personal “I” and the truer essence of our existence. The Source has a natural movement that emanates through everything. I find this easiest to witness when I watch trees or other life in nature. Contrast that to humans where most people most of the time act from a place of “will”. They want something or think something and then make it happen. There is not this kind of will in a tree to grow, to shed its leaves in the fall, or to sprout flowers and seeds in the spring. But it does. The Source empowers the tree with these abilities and sets them in motion. It’s a kind of deep will that emanates from deep within the essence of the tree.

The Source emanates from within you, too. It’s always emanating, but it does not always come through to the surface.

Access

The Source is always emanating into us, but there is another character in play. The Ego. The Ego has gotten a bad wrap, but fulfills a very important purpose. The problem is when we are unnecessarily coming from the Ego and the Ego is making the choices without input from the Deeper “I”. In a sense, we are blocking the Source… or rather… our Ego is blocking the Source.

The Ego gets activated by many different things and can be very tricky. I’ll highlight a couple that I think are particularly common as a facilitator: nervousness, desire to look good/receive praise, desire to be valuable (be a teacher/spiritual/facilitator), desire to give others a good experience. I think all these distill down to something about self worth.

To access the Deeper “I” you must detach your self worth from what happens in front of a group as a facilitator. You must also be comfortable in front of the group, though this comfort may be the same as detaching your self worth.

I have two ways to practice this access. Practice not in front of the group and practice in front of the group. When alone, meditation can be used to increase the chance to connect to the Source, or rather, be aware of the Source and quiet the Ego. Your value will become obvious and unimportant when you feel the Source. When you’re in front of the group you can also meditate. Practice silence in front of the group and checking in with yourself. If you feel awkward doing this then lead the group in a silent meditation by instructing them to do what you are doing as you sit in front of them. Also, you could simply tell them what you’re doing, perhaps in terms that are understandable by most people. For example, “I don’t know what I want to say yet, so I’m waiting and just allowing myself to feel into this moment. [pause]”. You can even take it a step further and more vulnerable by following with, “You may feel anxious for us to get into the exercises or awkward with the silence. I invite you to let go of that and know there is nothing for you to do here right now. I also feel some awkwardness and anxiousness and I just want to give it a moment to pass so that my words are not from that place. [pause]” What you want to do here is trust in the moment. Trust that the words will come. Trust that silence is ok.

A third practice is to facilitate to an empty room. Speak as if people are there. Use the examples above or create your own. Really speak out loud as if the room were full. Give time for the invisible participants to respond, move, interact. Play the whole scenario in your imagination, but for your role, actually speak, move, walk, etc. as you would if this were a real event.

When waiting in silence, the words may not come. I know I cannot always access my connection to the Source. Sometimes I just move on with the best words I have for the moment. This is totally fine. It’s really important that you don’t get caught up in self judgement about not being connected to Source. You gave it a chance! That’s what matters. Just move along and give it more chances. Eventually, it will come. You’ll have access. Judgements will block it strongly because they are from the Ego. See if you can let go of judgements… and don’t forget the trap of judging yourself for having judgements! Smile and notice those, too.

In some ways, accessing source is like digging a hole. Each time you welcome silence you take a shovel full of dirt out of the whole. The longer the silence the bigger the shovel full. So your efforts are not in vain even if you do not experience the Source immediately. Also, your every day life may pile on more dirt. I’m suggesting here that you simply continue and trust. Continue holding space for silence and listening. This analogy isn’t perfect and I want to mention that the Source shines through the dirt sometimes and has a certain amount of randomness to it. What we are really doing is increasing the probability, not providing guaranteed access.

The Result

When the Source shines through your words will come with greater ease, you’ll say different things, you’ll probably say less or at least not ramble, and the group will likely feel a power in your presence. People may feel safe, free to express or explore, and probably more peaceful.

There is another, possibly more important, result. You won’t be responsible for what happens. This is a great relief to the Ego. You will just be a channel for what’s happening. Perhaps a little fuzzy at times, but a channel just the same. You get to step back and watch.

Vulnerability

Step back and watch… that can be really vulnerable and edge. What might come up is an awareness of your own feelings and a desire to express what you see. And it may not be “nice” what you see. As you facilitate you may share vulnerably your awareness of your state, your feelings, your sensations. This may inspire trust from the group in you.

I caution you in sharing vulnerably just because you know it’s edgy. In some cases sharing your inner state is not what the moment calls for. When you practice silence in front of the group, you may take that silence before you share and see what really feels alive to share. Where is the Source taking your awareness. Maybe your awareness moves in that silence and sharing a vulnerable sensation or emotion you have isn’t relevant or “productive”.

Your experience is for you and is informing you. There is no default inherent value in sharing your experience. There is value in noticing your experience and allowing it to inform you… and the information may be “this is relevant to share!”

Give it a try!

I encourage you to give it a try. To practice facilitating an empty room. To add silence to you facilitation. To inform the participants what you’re doing in holding silence. To wait in that silence. I encourage you to meditate or practice yin yoga or some other practice that involves stillness and silence. Look into how you feel in these moments. Listen for movements from within. Have faith that something is wanting inside you to come out into the world and take time to listen for it and give time and space for it. This force from the Source does not coerce you… it just gently pushes up from within. You must give it space and remove pressures for it to succeed.

Good luck!

Circling 101

If you are new to circling or never even experienced it, this article contains what you need to get started. What you’ll find here is a very basic simplified practice of circling for you to try with your friends. The idea is to give you enough to taste what circling has to offer without giving you so much that you are overwhelmed and confused. I suggested circling as I’ve outlined it here until you find it easy or second nature.

Setting Up

Make groups of 3 people each. Each group is its own circle. Each circle should have enough space between it and other circles to give a sense of privacy. This distance will also help you hear each other and not be distracted.

Choose who will be “circled”. The person being circled will be receive the questions and attention of the other two. The other two are the circlers. So now we have two roles: circlee and circler.

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Put the timer where it cannot be seen but can be heard. You don’t want to be distracted by the time. I suggest a bell tone that is gentle in nature and just loud enough to hear but not distract the moment it rings.

These are all the logistics of setting up the circle. Once you’ve completed them, start the timer, and enter into your role as circler and circlee. The instructions for each role are below.

In summary:

  • Make groups of 3 and spread the groups out for privacy.
  • Choose the circlee.
  • Set a 15 minute time and put it aside where it won’t distract.
  • Start the timer.

Circler

Your role is to ask questions from genuine curiosity. That’s it. But what does that mean? It means if you ask the question and the circlee chooses not to answer you would maybe be disappointed, or hunger for the answer, or the question would stick in your mind. Genuine curiosity isn’t any different than curiosity… I’m just emphasizing that I don’t want you to fake it. I want you to feel it. Like when you’re a kid and you see a frog. You follow the frog because you are fascinated by it. You pick it up. You look at it. You are curious!

I emphasize curiosity by prepending the word “genuine” because often we ask questions and we really don’t care about the answers. Typical questions of this nature are “where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, “Do you have any siblings?”, “What is your name?”, “What did you do last weekend?” Now. Don’t avoid those questions just because I listed them here. You might genuinely be curious about where someone is from, what they do, or what they did last weekend. But take a moment to check before asking.

We find our genuine curiosity by waiting in silence looking at the circlee. It may feel awkward or uncomfortable. Stay with it.

The question you want to ask may edgy. You may be afraid or embarrassed to ask it. I challenge you to ask the question anyway. Though I do want you to use your judgement in deciding to ask the question or not. So for this beginner practice I suggest you lean into that discomfort a little and ask the questions that are a little edgy. You can increase the edgy-ness as you continue to practice.

Keep your questions short. A short concise question will give time for the circle to move on a journey through the circlee’s world.

Some common questions that I’ve seen come up when people are asking from genuine curiosity are “What’s your love life like?”, “How do you feel right now here with us?”, “What’s something you’re passionate about?”, “What’s your biggest fear?” Just like with the questions I gave as examples of not-genuine-curiosity, do not use these questions just because they are in this list. These questions appear here to prime your curiosity.

If you’re ever feeling bored… then there is something you’re holding back. This practice is anything but boring! Consider that you aren’t asking about what you’re really interested in!

In summary:

  • Ask questions from genuine curiosity.
  • Wait in the awkward silence for the genuine curiosity to arise before asking.
  • Lean into your edge to ask the scary or “embarrassing” questions.
  • Keep your questions short.
  • If you’re bored, perhaps you’re not asking from genuine curiosity.

Circlee

Your role is to answer questions honestly or choose not to answer. That’s it.

The choice to not answer cannot be understated! This is a powerful way to help the circlers find their curiosity. If you find the question uninteresting or boring to answer then there’s a good chance the circler will find it boring to and maybe just isn’t curios about the question they asked. You may simply say, “That question isn’t interesting to me.” or “I think I’d be bored answering that question. Will you ask another?”

Another reason to choose not to answer a question is if you feel too vulnerable answering. I want you to lean into your edge and give honest open answers, but if a question is too edgy or too personal for you then you may opt to skip it. The point of circling is to get to know someone more deeply, so if you don’t answer any personal/edgy questions then the circle will be flat and boring. The circlers will not know you any better and you will not benefit by being seen. You must pace yourself here, lean in to your edge, don’t jump off a cliff of vulnerability. You’ll become more and more transparent over time and more and more comfortable sharing what you use to consider really personal. And you’ll always have something too personal to share in a give moment with a given audience. That’s normal and healthy.

Keep your answers short. If you take too much time answering then the circlee’s will not have the chance to follow the threads you open up with your share. Their curiosity may fall flat. We want each question and each step to be small and on the path of curiosity. Long answers take us off the path.

In summary:

  • Answer the question even if it is edgy.
  • Don’t answer if something is too edgy or too vulnerable for you to share.
  • Don’t answer if something isn’t alive for you.
  • Keep your answers short.

Closing

Closing the circle should be done in 1-5 minutes after the timer rings (plus the initial 15 minutes that makes a maximum of 20 minutes for the circle). Set a timer for 5 minutes if you must to be sure you honor the time. We don’t want to abruptly end the circle if something is alive or someone is feeling something strong.

On first hearing the bell, allow whoever is speaking to finish. One of the circlers should verbally acknowledge the bell with a statement like, “I heard the bell. So we’ll be wrapping up shortly.”

Circlers may ask closing questions like “Is there anything more you want to share before we close?”, “Is there anything you need from us?”, or “Would you like some silence / a hug / or a hand to hold?”

If necessary, bookmark things with statements like, “I see this is really alive and we could explore this much more. How about we close here and we can revisit that another circle if its still alive?”

Circling takes energy and focus. The time container helps limit the time we exercise just like when you’re doing physical exercise. You need a break. A break to let the muscles of your mind rest.

In summary:

  • Acknowledge the bell after the current speaker is finished.
  • Ask closing questions.
  • If necessary, bookmark what’s alive for another day.
  • Close on time so you can rest.

Debrief

This is your opportunity to reflect with each other on what went well and what might be changed. This can be an open conversation about anything you experienced or think.

I suggest you start by answering these two questions:

  • Circlee: what do you wish the circlers asked that they did not ask?
  • Circlers: what moment felt most alive for you?

In the interest of time you may stop there and have another few circles. Though sometimes a longer debrief can be valuable.

Conclusion

This should get you started circling. It is a very simple version of circling designed specifically for beginners. It should be a great way to start the practice.