A Talking Circle, a Talking Stick, and the Opportunity to Be Heard
Let’s consider the need to be heard. It’s a basic, fundamental need. We know when it’s being met. (And, we sure do feel it when it isn’t!) It feels wonderful to be seen, to be witnessed, and to be truly heard.
One beautiful way to facilitate the meeting of this need to be heard — is through talking circles and through the use of a talking stick.
Among other traditions, Native Americans use a Talking Circle as a way to solve problems, remove barriers among individuals or groups, and to allow participants to express themselves freely. In modern circles, it has become a way to share thoughts, feelings, and individual stories.
How a Talking Circle Works
Everyone sits in a circle, facilitated by a ceremonialist who calls in the intention for that circle, and asks that each person speak one at a time. Traditionally this is done by going person to person in a clockwise direction. A token, or “talking stick,” is passed along as each person speaks. Everyone is encouraged to speak, although one may choose to pass along the talking stick without speaking. All those who are not speaking, are asked to give their undivided attention to the person who is speaking, and who is holding the talking stick.
Blending the Old with the New
Earlier this month, I led a talking circle of 14 women. This is a circle of women who have been meeting regularly in the conference room of a wealth management office — to discuss issues such as life transitions, wealth distribution, retirement strategies, and the like.
So, how does a modern day financial planning discussion group and a traditional Native American talking circle end up intersecting? Allow me to draw the connection, if I may.
I’ve been apprenticing as a Keeper Of The Water, based on Native American traditions of the Northwestern United States. As part of my training, I’ve been called forward to conduct Talking Circles. Through previous meetings, the financial advisor who brought together this group of her clients, has already set the tone for a wonderful circle and discussion group. Recently, however, she had invited me to introduce an element of ceremony into the next meeting.
A key element of a talking circle is to set an intention or focused inquiry. For this group, I asked them to consider, and to claim for themselves: What it is that they desire to invite in, or invite more of, into their life this year?
Full Moon Rising
On this particular evening (coinciding with the full moon), the energy was strong, amplified, and vast. You could just feel it!
This type of inquiry, and the talking circle, moves you from beyond the realm of thought, and directly into your heart space. You don’t “think your way” through a talking circle. By design, it allows room for your SOUL to speak.
As each person held the talking stick, it took on that person’s energy and full intention. In speaking her truth, each woman infused the talking stick with her story, and her experience.
And, as each woman shared her truth, unfiltered, unedited, and from her heart – all the other women witnessed her and what she desired and claimed for herself. Each person, one by one, was truly heard.
It was a soul sharing…from within…without judgment…without consternation…without any advice given or ‘fixing’ going on. Just acknowledgement, with honor, with respect. With love. That’s divine feminine magic.
Again, we all have a need to be heard. Truly heard. In our truth. In our vulnerability. Held and witnessed by kindred spirits. Sister souls. And so it is.
Okay, your turn:
What does it mean for you to be “truly heard?” What are some examples that you recall from your own life, when you felt truly heard? Take a moment and reflect, and then share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!