There is a notion that I have learned from one of my primary Circle teachers, Christina Baldwin, that I want to state and then tweak. “Fifteen seconds of silence in contemporary culture,” she says, “can be profound.”
As a culture, I would suggest that many of us have raised chatter — filling communications and relationships rather than listening for the natural silence of them — to an unchallengeable norm. Many people that I meet have grown uncomfortable with even short moments of pause. “They’re awkward.” “They’re uncomfortable.” “They’re unnatural.” We tell ourselves these things, don’t we.
The tweak I want to offer on Christina’s statement is that by extension, “fifteen seconds of listening can also be profound.” And I want more than fifteen seconds of that too.
In my experience, Circle helps four levels of listening to occur: to self, to each other, to the group, to the subtle. Circle, among all other things, is most centrally that for me — a way to listen well in a world that has so frequently replaced listening with noise. Circle is not a whiz-bang, flash-in-the-pan, new-fangled methodology. And no, I don’t believe Circle is a fix all for all situations. But good connecting and good listening will always help.