Until last year stories had become moments of idle gossip, memories from childhood or a good book. At school you were taught that the basis for a good story was a beginning, a middle and an end. Yet now I know most stories are ongoing, they evolve and shift with time. In the last two years I found myself moving away from idle stories and misguided sharing. However trying to find connections that felt meaningful and in person was not easy.
I went to many yoga workshops and various retreats which were all lovely. Yet there was always an expectation, the idea that in order to be here I already had to be at a certain point. In October last year I went to my first Sister Stories event, a Women’s circle. The idea was to come together in a small group to share stories and listen to others. I must confess initially the thought of going to this scared me. The thought of being in a room with other intelligent women and sharing, what did I have to offer? Thus I built up this false perception that my intelligence was non-existent and that intelligence was what this circle was based upon. I finally plucked up the courage to attend the circle, coaxed by my heart and inner voice.
The evening was like nothing I had ever experienced before. For the first time in a long time nothing was expected of me. I was in a room full of strangers where no one was the least bit concerned about who I was and what I did. That felt so liberating and empowering. I could share whatever was on my mind, or I could just sit in silence and listen to others share their stories. In the process vulnerability appears. The actual stories shared didn’t matter at all. Yet somehow as if by magic an invisible thread was being woven story by story. Reminding each of us that we are all here living this experience in this human body. Somehow we all feel and experience things similarly even if the circumstances are completely different.
The space was warm, safe and inviting, that in itself was an invitation to just be. To be your true authentic self without worrying about what people think of you. To sit in a space where there is no judgement or advice being offered. It made me recognise how so many of us internalise our stories. Thinking we cannot be share them due to shame and guilt. Fears of being judged and other people’s opinions can block even the most joyous of stories from being shared. This leads to the creation of internal blocks and weights in the physical body. Imagine if we could find a space where we could go to regularly to give voice to our stories and hear others doing the same. Helping us release the internal blocks and weights through the power of stories.
That first circle moved in me in a wonderful way. The sacredness, the care and the simplicity of the entire evening was heart-warming. I had finally found the meaningful connection I had been searching for. When the wonderful Gemma Brady, founder of Sister Stories, decided to open up the circle in order to allow more women to lead them within their communities. I knew I had to sign up. The weekend spent with Gemma and Sophie Howarth (founder of School of Life and founding circle leader) was wonderful. It is clear that stories and circle hold a power that cannot be fully described. The undertaking to be a facilitator cannot be taken lightly. You are responsible for holding a space that is warm, inviting and safe for all who enter. As I sat with the 12 other women that weekend something shifted, a doorway opened up.
It was almost 2 months before I held my first circle. I realised that I needed to trust myself a bit more before I started. The day before the circle, expectations started to creep in. Would everyone who signed up come, would they enjoy it? Luckily another facilitator was on hand to remind me that I just needed to trust the circle. As I prepped the space I took some time to clear and bless the room with a simple intention. With the space ready, the candles lit I was ready to welcome my fellow sisters into the circle. The evening came and went, my first circle complete. The lessons were beautiful and everything I needed. Even though I was leading the circle I was a part of it, on equal ground with each of the women there.
The power of trusting the circle ultimately led to trusting myself. In those moments of silence where no one held the magical talking stone my ego continually appeared. It urged me to pick up the stone and speak, instead I shifted my focus to my heart space. I let the glow within expand outwards, sharing love with everyone in the space and fully trusting the process. The stone lifted and another story shared. Joyful stories, powerful stories, stories that brought tears. All of this in just one simple evening.
I am in awe of this circle, its power to bring stories and people together in such a beautiful way. There is a blessing in being able to offer such a space for women to come together and experience the magic for themselves. I also realise that we cannot control anyone’s experiences but our own. All I can ever truly be is myself in every moment. So I’m taking the trust, the love and kindness from the circle and spreading it beyond. How can I show up every day in every moment with a little bit of circle magic. A little less judgement, and a lot more listening to the world surrounding me.
If you feel intrigued by this post and would like to learn more go to www.sisterstories.co to find out more. There are circles throughout London and slowly spreading within the U.K. You may also wish to become a facilitator yourself and offer these circles within your community, check out the website for details of the next facilitation opportunity.
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