Circles Work: Transforming our Collective Consciousness

10/16/2016 10:08 pm ET

What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

-Krishnamurti

Women practicing Circlework at the 2016 Leadership Training with Jalaja Bonheim Ph.D., at Light on the Hill retreat center in
Helen Cooper Photography 2016
Women practicing Circlework at the 2016 Leadership Training with Jalaja Bonheim Ph.D., at Light on the Hill retreat center in Upstate NY

One of the many reasons I love Circlework is that it’s a powerful and effective tool for transforming our collective consciousness which, as one glance at the current election will prove, is currently in bad shape. It’s no exaggeration to say that collectively, as a species, we are mentally ill.

Of course, one circle won’t heal our collective insanity. But then, when you’ve come down with the flu, a single immune cell won’t heal your body, either. Like immune cells, circles thrive in community. Just as many immune cells are needed to help us recover from illness, so our world needs many circles.

However—and this is important—not just any kind of circle will do. For circles to have a transformational effect on our collective consciousness, they must address the specific issues that are causing us to make bad, even potentially suicidal choices. Here, I just want to briefly mention what I consider the top five: Negativity, divisiveness, ego-enslavement, patriarchy and stress.

By negativity, I mean all the nastiness that is so pervasive in our world today—the hatred, violence, callousness and cruelty. For circles to act as an antidote to all this toxicity, they must be clearly and consistently dedicated to the practice of kindness and compassion.

Second, we see every day how divisive ways of thinking are preventing us from realizing our oneness as a planetary community and taking the necessary steps to protect and heal ourselves. Therefore our circles should always acknowledge the oneness of the entire planetary community and dedicate their work to its well-being.

Every year women come from all around the world to participate in the Circlework Training
Helena Cooper Photography 2016
Every year women come from all around the world to participate in the Circlework Training

A third major problem we all struggle with is ego-enslavement, which creates a sense disconnection from our spiritual truth. As I explain in my last book, our ego truly does deserve to be held sacred. But even as we honor its nature-based desire to protect us, we also need to know that we are far more than just an ego encased in a physical body. As remarkable as the ego’s intelligence may be, it’s a mere grain of sand on the beach of the greater cosmic intelligence. Circlework gently yet powerfully softens our ego and allows us to expand into a much vaster awareness of who we are and what our life is about.

Many circle gatherings, especially women’s circles, get mired in the realm of personality and ego. Such circles can be helpful in their own way. However, they will fail to heal the inner sense of contraction and smallness that our culture evokes. In Circlework, our focus on sacred geometry ensures that we stay anchored in the transpersonal dimension. Our intention is always to come home to ourselves, in the deepest way.

Patriarchy is another major source of suffering that our circles need to address, if we hope to transform our collective insanity. When I say this, I am not referring only to the oppression of women, real and painful as it is. Patriarchy demands not only that women be submissive to men, but also that we suppress within ourselves all qualities traditionally labeled “feminine,” for example gentleness, kindness, beauty and receptivity. These obsolete patriarchal attitudes are not only harming our personal relationships but are threatening the very survival of our species. Therefore Circlework seeks to cultivate all the “feminine” traits that are essential to healing and peace-making.

Circlework focuses on coming home to yourself and promotes the release of stress and emotional pain.
Elaine Derby Photography 2015
Circlework focuses on coming home to yourself and promotes the release of stress and emotional pain.

Last but not least, our circles should help us de-stress. Stress is, as we all know, a constant problem in modern life. Circlework administers the antidote of spaciousness and peace. It invites us to slow down, breathe and relax. It challenges us to face our addiction to incessant thinking, talking and activity, and to let go into the natural freedom that is our birthright. As stress falls away, our mind becomes clearer, our relationships more intimate and our experience of life more joyful.

In our circles, our focus naturally lies on our own personal experience. Yet the more we do this work, the more clearly we begin to see just how significant and powerful the ripples are that we are sending out into the world. In small and sometimes not so small ways, we are indeed shifting the collective consciousness of our communities.

These days, we’re facing so many major issues. From poverty and climate change to nuclear proliferation and terrorism, they all seem equally urgent. Yet I would argue that the most urgent task of all is the healing and transformation our collective consciousness. We are governed by unconscious habits and behavior patterns that may have worked just fine thousands of years ago, but have with the dawning of the global era become unsustainable. And thankfully, in Circlework, we have a powerful and effective tool that can help us grow into the kind of humans our world needs now.

Jalaja Bonheim, PhD, is the founder and director of the Institute for Circlework. She is an internationally renowned circle l
Jalaja Bonheim, PhD, is the founder and director of the Institute for Circlework. She is an internationally renowned circle leader and leadership trainer and the author of many books, including her award-winning The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World. For more information, visit www.circleswork.org and www.jalajabonheim.com

Learn more about the ripples Circlework is making in our Global Community:

Take a look at www.circleswork.org and www.jalajabonheim.com for upcoming events and ways to get involved!

*Have you ever been part of a good circle gathering? Would you be willing to share something about your experience?

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