Traditional Indigenous Teachings – power of the circle #TruthbyBrenda
I’ve been sharing traditional indigenous teachings for a few weeks here in Toronto and I thought I’d share with you about the power of gathering together, and especially in a circle. There are some very important reasons why when I’m giving teachings, or going deep with subject matter, I prefer to hold a circle instead of speaking from the front of the room with the audience sitting theatre-style. Gathering together in small groups is awesome but when you add the deeper layer of it being in the shape of a circle, you add a lot of power to your gathering, whether it’s 3 people or 30.
Here’s what happens in a traditional indigenous style circle where space is held well:
1. You are eye-to-eye and the teaching I’ve heard so many times from many different indigenous elders is that we are all equal in the circle and we all have our gifts to share. So many of us feel like we are not good enough, so it’s important – HUGE, in fact – to sit together in circle and have that reminder that no-one is better than anyone else and we all have our own unique purpose, gifts and voice. If you didn’t, you would not be here.
2. We are heart-to-heart connected. This creates a palpable physical and spiritual connection between everyone in the circle, and it helps us to raise energy, relate and understand each other and have compassion for other people.
3. Learning is faster and easier for everyone, because we can all see each other (plus having that heart connection). Focus is also easier to maintain.
4. Sense of Safety and Openness. When a circle is done well and the facilitator can hold space well, there’s a sense of vulnerability and openness because everyone feels safe to share in ways they wouldn’t normally share of themselves, not just with words but energy as well. Most of us are holding back much of who we are in different situations. Being in circle gives you a chance to let yourself out to play. The way I do circle, I create safe, sacred space, so that people can relax and express more of who they are.
5. Friendships get built and strengthened. Here’s the thing. Because we are eye-to-eye, at each other’s level, and connecting through our heart centres just by being together in that circle, an energy goes around the circle until we close it, and it even can continue to affect you in positive ways well after the circle. You get to feel connected to the others in the circle as well as to that deeper part of You. Communication becomes easier because there’s just this sense that you can let down your guard and be more of who you are. Yes, that takes time to develop, but even in just a couple of days or like when people keep coming back to my monthly circles, a bond is formed between people. It’s beautiful.
6. Now, when you come together in circle with like-minded people who are spiritually aware and connected to some degree, the strength of that circle amplifies! Not to mention, whatever gifts and energy you bring, you are sharing with the circle. Highly sensitive people and empaths will often feel those energies. So it’s not to say that somebody really angry can’t ruin a wonderful circle, because that can happen. But it most often will not happen because the energy and strength of the circle on a spiritual level can actually transmute or dissolve anything getting in the way of harmony. The circle’s energy wants to flow, so it will do what it takes to create that flow.
7. Being in a circle FEELS GOOD! You can have a sense of feeling held, supported and part of something special. You can experience healing, even physical healing. I’ve had people walk away from my circles many times without the headache or backache they came in with. It’s not all me facilitating the healing. It’s also the energy of the circle and YOU accessing MORE YOU. So powerful.
This is so very exciting for me! It’s mindblowing to me how just being in circle creates a sort of positive domino effect. When one person gets healing, others in the circle experience some kind of healing too. When one person learns something, the rest of the group gets accelerated learning on that topic too. It’s amazing.
I do love the stage and sharing in front of hundreds to thousands of people, but there is something really special about gathering in a more intimate circle of only up to 50 people, to do spiritual work and teachings.
I’m a bit biased here, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to sing and drum in a circle either. But that’s a much bigger topic best experienced in person. That’s why I hold regular circles in Toronto and it’s why I’m now holding an annual women’s weekend drumming and singing retreat, #DrumVoicePower. I want to share indigenous cultural teachings (with ALL women, not just indigenous women), as well as raising energy and singing and hand drumming together the way we do in the Ojibwe tradition. It’s not the same as banging on a drum you bought at a music store, or singing in a choir. It’s about developing a relationship with the deeper part of You, Mother Earth and Spirit, through your relationship to the drum, which by the way is a living being.
I encourage you to do a field experiment. If you haven’t sat in a circle before where you’re getting spiritual teachings, I encourage you to go find a circle and get yourself in there, just to check it out. It could be a drumming circle, it could be a mastermind, a meetup, a writing circle or singing circle, friends hanging out regularly for tea, anything you want. It’s important to find the right circles for you, and that might take some trial and error.
HOT TIP: Be willing to walk away if it does not suit you. Every circle is different and it’s important to feel safe to express yourself and to be learning what you want to learn. There is nothing dishonourable, disrespectful or bad about walking away gracefully from something that does not align with you.
Remember too that no matter what your experience, you can take away teachings and blessings from any circle you attend.
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About Brenda MacIntyre
Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre, author and artist of the Medicine Song Oracle Cards™ & Music, is a Juno Award-winning singer, motivational speaker, indigenous drummer and wisdom-keeper. Brenda has shared her leadership and soul nationally on stage and in the media, such as MuchMusic, APTN, CTV, CP24, Global and CityTV’s Breakfast Television, as well as CBC Radio. Having experienced major loss and fear of being seen and heard, she is passionate about helping women to bring out their playfulness, edge and inner rebel, so they can live a life brimming with self-authority and soul-satisfying expression.