As a somatic psychotherapist I highly value approaches that show a clear path towards decreasing suffering and increasing joy through effective techniques and intelligent theory. Over the years I have studied a number of different methods. I especially appreciate practices that cultivate basic being, and those that do so simultaneously in relationship with others are invaluable.
Basic being has a ring of simplicity, but is actually a profound experience of aliveness. Becoming more fully alive, to me, means waking up to the internal felt-sense of ongoing experience, and cultivating the capacity to be with an ever greater range of feeling, both our own and that of another. From worry, resentment, and heartache, to passion, joy, and heart-opening, whether there’s stuckness or resistance — the theories and techniques of Circling guide those in the Circle to stay in relationship to their experience of the one being Circled, rather than rushing in to alter or fix with advice or interventions, and without withdrawing nonverbally from the relationship.
For me, Circling is the personal practice of how fully can I be myself in relationship in any given moment. For over two years I’ve been Circling weekly, and in that time there was a gradual process of completely unwinding the ways my mind typically works as a therapist, assessing and providing interventions. This unwinding didn’t have me forgetting how to work as a therapist. Quite the opposite — the distinction between being and doing in the therapeutic relationship is heightened.
In fact, I’ve been experiencing another kind of internal doing — an awakening of aspects of myself in relationship that had been dormant. Circling is the playground for consciousness-in-relationship with others. It is an inter-subjective meditation that widens my perception of the boundaries and capacities of my Self. The deeper into it I get, the more wonder-full it becomes. For anyone in the healing profession, this is a unique opportunity to sharpen the skills of transparency for your personal life.
Circling also provides a visceral reminder to those in the healing profession of the power that comes from relaxing the pressure to produce results. As therapists, of course we want to see results, since that is after all why we’re doing this. The paradox is for interventions to arise and change to occur from the mindstate of fully being with rather than the mindstate of pressure.
The liberty that emanates from abiding in the continual state of being with is a sublime gift that we unwrap together. We delight in discovering, as Guy Sengstock says, that which we didn’t know was there and couldn’t have known to want when the Circle started. And often, as we’re being with — without trying to produce a specific result — the unexpected happens. Self-acceptance and belonging happens. And we start to feel more alive.
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Being Peace
Marenka Cerny, MFT somatic-psychotherapy.org