Photo: Lisa Chapman (c). @primalembrace
Down to earth, real talk circles where you can show up exactly as you are always
A 'brave space' to connect to yourself and others, reclaiming community
I choose not to use the work 'safe space' because safe is subjective, there is no universal experience of safe. Thank you to @pusssywitch on Instagram for coining the term'Brave Space'. It takes such a lot of bravery to open up and feel in front of friends and strangers but to do so is to weave the potent healing medicine of emotional connection back into the fabric of our lives.
What is a Women's Circle?
A women's circle is simple ~ it's a space where we can come and just be. A place to rest, breathe, feel and move. A place to be seen AND heard in a world where women have been taught to be seen and NOT heard.
There is something incredibly powerful about women gathering together in sacred space. In the moon lodge we can show up exactly as we are and feel heard, nurtured, supported and understood. In a world of predictability and restraint here we are reminded of our innate cyclical and feeling natures and are invited to explore a life lived in full flow of our emotions and at an intuitive pace.
Explorations of the Feminine are inherently inclusive and as such these circles are open to all who identify as women including trans, non-binary or any other expression or identification of femininity. These circles value diversity of expression, experience and perspectives.
Open to all ages, life stages and cycle phases, including babies and young children (with adults).
I feel very strongly that this is something that all women should have access to and so offer regular free women's circles as well as the paid workshops, events, classes and retreats. Although many of these are also available for free through my suspended yoga programme or at a reduced rate through sliding scale pricing. It's not always possible when being hosted at studios for workshops but will always be the case for my own work.
'A circle of women may just be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it. If you find one, for the love of all that is good and holy, dive in. Hold on. Love it up. Get Naked. Let them see you. Let them hold you. Let your reluctant tears fall. Let yourself rise fierce and love gentle. You will be changed. The very fabric of your being will be altered by this, if you allow it. Please, please allow it.' ~ Jeanette LeBlanc
How Women's Circles Changed My Life
Women’s Circles have transformed my life and the lives of many women before me and I see them continue to transform the lives of women over and over
I remember being completely terrified the first time I sat in circle, I had no idea what to expect, I was terrified of speaking in a group and had always had tricky relationships with groups of women (girl gang school vibes) but it was completely transformative, healing in ways I could not have expected and changed the course of my life's work completely.
I am not a natural feeler. I have always run from challenging emotions given half a chance and if left unchecked still catch myself trying to! Women's circles help me connect into how I am feeling, remind me how important it is to feel fully and offer the space to welcome and release challenging emotions.
In these spaces I am able to show up unfiltered, untamed and in the complete truth of who I am in each and every moment.
In these spaces I often see parts of my story in the stories of other women and in doing so feel understood, heard and held.
In a safely held circle of women I am able to put down the burden of suffering and step into my true nature.
If you feel the call please join us.
Photo: Lisa Chapman (c). @primalembrace
Women's Circles & Trauma
There has been a surge of interest, information and offerings for trauma healing of late and in doing my own research I discovered many, many crossovers between trauma healing work and the work we do in women’s circles and on women’s retreats.
As more of this work comes to the fore it becomes clear that almost every human on the planet is living with the impact of trauma to a lesser or greater degree and often this is how we find our way to this work. We sometimes joke that we could call these circles ‘Mummy/Daddy Issues Circles’.
So I thought it would be really useful to list out these crossovers as often women’s circles can sound inaccessible and perhaps a bit new-age and too esoteric for some, so I want to share how practically useful this work can be too:
Isolating is a typical response to trauma but the trauma often occurred in relationship and so must by its very nature be healed in relationship – women’s circles offer a safe space to explore social engagement and reconnecting to others at your own pace
Being given space to share can allow connection to self and others and deeper insights can be come possible through this connection
Self expression and self exploration are incredibly healing for those dealing with trauma
Sharing without input, advice or comment is the cornerstone of a women’s circle and this capacity to share without anyone steering the conversation can support self exploration and deeper insights
Holding each other and being held in unconditional positive regard can be incredibly healing and is the method many therapists use with their clients
Facing emotions in a safely held space with equanimity can help to broaden and expand our window of tolerance and integrate trauma
Rhythmic reciprocity such as singing, chanting, clapping, drumming or moving in sync can be deeply healing for trauma survivors, anything that creates a sense of group rhythm can be healing.
Somatic mindfulness helps to support emotional healing and awareness of the body; we use this technique during sharing as we hold space for each other
Feeling what another is feeling through the mirror neurons in the brain helps us to feel which can be deeply healing for anyone who has shut down from their emotions
Self touch of some kind such as placing hands on the body for example on the heart and/or belly can be soothing for the nervous system and is invited at the start and end of our circles
Joy and laughter ~ to quote my soul sister Cherry, we are sincere but never serious. There is always a huge bucket load of belly laughs in our circles and we fully invite it in, there is nothing more soothing and safety inducing than a good laugh
Nervous system support ~ as well as our sharing circles we always incorporate breath work, movement practices, sound work and explorations of relaxation and rest through savasana, restorative yoga and yoga nidra to work to restore and replenish disregulated nervous systems
Speaking in Circle Guidance
Talking egg ~ holding the egg is your invitation to share but know that there is never any pressure to speak and that you can always pass
Time ~ endeavour to keep the time and duration of your share in mind to ensure each woman has equal opportunity to speak
Holding space ~ we all hold space for each other with total presence without need to respond, advise or comment
Somatic mindfulness while listening ~ a tool for emotional growth and healing which simply involves observing your experience and the response from your body and mind as others share
Unconditional positive regard ~ holding each woman with unconditional positive regard without judgement. Listening and sharing with an attitude of openness and a willingness to learn and grow together
Cross sharing ~ it is totally fine to express that you resonate with what another woman has shared but it can be hurtful and harmful to give advice or make comments
Direct personal experience ~ in circle we share only from direct personal experience as to speak generally is to make assumptions, we can only ever be our best authority on ourselves
Confidentiality ~ by attending a circle you agree to total confidentiality around everything shared which includes not speaking to a woman post-circle about what was shared unless explicit permission has been given
Comforting ~ in daily life we often comfort emotions away but in circle we offer the space for each woman to drop fully into their emotions without being comforted. It is important to develop the capacity to feel fully and self soothe. After the circle of course feel free to offer support if wanted or needed
Window of tolerance ~ it is important to respect your window of tolerance and if at any point you need to move, leave the room or take a break you are absolutely in charge of your own experience and can always choose to take care of yourself
No taboos ~ anything you wish to share in circle is welcome, there are absolutely no taboo subjects, this is our safe space to speak out
After care ~ we do our best to incorporate practices before and after the circle that are designed to help soothe the nervous system, release stress and reconnect to the body. It is important to honour your need for rest, emotional release and space after a circle. Please reach out for support.
And to quote a good friend of mine 'you're a human not a board meeting'. I think often there is a strong focus on improvement and self-work but it can be heavy going and life is also about enjoyment and pleasure so know that you do not always need to bring your heavy stuff, you can also bring your celebrations and joy. These spaces are for us to show up as we are and truly sometimes that is dark but sometimes that is light and sometimes it's somewhere grey in between. You are welcome as you are always.
This list has been compiled over years of running circles but for sure there will always be more to add and as such I am always open to suggestion and input. Hit me up.
Photo: Lisa Chapman (c). @primalembrace