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It feels so good to be heard

A Talking Circle, a Talking Stick, and the Opportunity to Be Heard

talking circle - imageLet’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!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Give us this day, our daily practice…

Why a Daily Practice?

First off, you may be asking yourself: Why bother with a daily practice? Is it really that important?

On any given day, many of us often find ourselves in the midst of busy-ness, chaos, and confusion. Life seemingly just keeps “coming at us,” right? Before we know it, we’re caught in the throes of life’s seemingly endless tasks, to-do lists, and responsibilities. They seem to arrive from all angles – from loved ones, work associates, four-legged furmily members, community, school and volunteer projects, and on and on.

Ah, so where to go for solace, reassurance, and a place of refuge from the storm? Sometimes the best way to use a refuge is to go to that place well before the day revs up its proverbial engine.

Daily practice is in devotion to you, and in turn your life, and to those with whom you come into contact throughout the day. I invite you to consider it to be a spiritual discipline as well. It’s a golden opportunity to connect with Spirit and to recommit to all that is meaningful.

The Value of Consistency

Consistent, regular focus and attention establishes a soothing, grounding rhythm. It builds and deepens, settles in, and at the same times expands and elevates your consciousness. You’re no longer simply “going along for the ride” in your daily life.   You’re in the driver’s seat. How empowering!

A little goes a long way. Keep going. Resist what may be an initial urge or temptation to stop, for no other reason than that it feels strange at first. Anything new will likely feel a little strange. Strange is good – really dreadful, however, not so good! Pay attention to how it feels – in a deeper sense – not just in a superficial, “I’m not accustomed to this” kind of way.

Feel free to experiment, too. Liken it to other ways in which you repeat something and fine-tune it over time. For example, picture it in the way that you would adjust a recipe: What makes for that perfect spaghetti sauce, or that perfect cup of tea?

Just as you would with practicing the guitar, or perfecting your golf swing, it will likely get better and easier over time, too. You will begin to see, feel and enjoy the improvement.   It will begin to feel more and more “natural” to you. Before you know it, you’ll likely wonder what it was ever like before you began to engage in a consistent, daily practice.

What are Some Examples?

A daily practice could be: meditation; focusing on your breathing; reading; journaling; or visualization exercises. Or, it may involve being outside or in nature.   What’s important is that your daily practice be done with a sense of reverence for the sacredness in it, and your self-honoring commitment to taking some dedicated time, just for you – to exploring what’s meaningful for you in your life, and how you wish to show up in it.

Feeling into It

If you’re just beginning a daily practice, or starting a new variation of one, allow it emerge. Allow it to come into being in an amount and degree of intensity that feels right for you. It should feel inspired, not forced.

Build slowly and consistently at a pace or intensity level that you can maintain. It’s not about seeing how quickly you can “get it done and over with” or creating a pressure-filled item to add to your ever-lengthening “to-do” list. It is, however, about honoring the time you’ve set aside for this, and sticking with it. It’s about savoring. (Envision a slow cooker, not a microwave oven!)

Another way to approach it may be to consider this: If you were to venture away from it – your daily practice – would you “miss” it? Would you miss the feelings, the centeredness, the groundedness, the solace, that it brings? If not, either change the practice, or step away from it. Set aside some time to get quiet, be still, and allow a new, more inspired practice to come forward to take its place. This is not something you do out of a sense of sullen obligation or worse yet, out of a sense of guilt…yuck! Turn back! Reconsider! Regroup!

Sacred Space

To the extent logistically possible, aim to maintain this daily practice at the same time each day, and in the same sacred location and designated space. It can be within your home or outside.   When traveling, bring with you an object or piece of clothing as a reminder of, and that holds the same sacred energy as, that of your daily practice back home.

For me, my daily practice takes place in a corner of my bedroom, with an altar and a yoga mat. Each morning, I light a candle, and clear my mind of any chatter, through breathing and meditation. Next, I’ll engage in prayer, yoga, reflection on my heart and soul’s desires, visioning or a combination of these.

If any or all of this seems intimidating, or overwhelming, relax and let that go. Allow any anxiety to subside.

Start with what is “do-able” for you, in the place and space that you are, right now, on this day. And congratulate yourself for embarking on any, or any new-for-you, daily practice! It’s a beautiful way to honor yourself and to take stock of the day and all the wondrous potential within you and all that awaits you.

A Spiritual Discipline – A Ritual with Meaning

When well designed, a daily devotional practice is an easily repeatable process that tells you, your body, mind, spirit and soul – that this is your special time each day – devoted to this practice, and not like any other time of day.

Remember, it’s helpful to “set the scene.” Light a candle, or wear a particular item of clothing. If journaling, have a particular pen set aside just for this purpose. Maybe you choose to sit in a particular spot in your home, or out on your deck, or on a particular bench in a nearby park? Maybe for you, it will involve taking a particular walking trail each day?

Approach it with a certain consciousness, deliberateness, and awareness. It’s surely not done aimlessly and out of a sense of “this is just my same ol’ routine.” It shouldn’t feel ordinary. Rather, welcome it as a divine invitation. Embrace it.  It’s as special and unique as you are!

Okay, your turn:

What is your current daily devotional practice? What feelings tend to arise as you participate each day? What, if any, patterns have been emerging for you, from day-to-day and over time? What are you noticing about your mood, energy level, ability to focus, and the like? Or, if you’re ready to start a brand new daily devotional practice, what are you choosing to incorporate into your day?

Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.