There's a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it. Give more of your life to this listening. -Rumi
Way of Council is a powerful practice of deep listening and authentic sharing that helps people connect with themselves and each other, as well as the world beyond.
Sitting in circle, people share stories and experiences from their lives. It takes time to hone the ancient traditional skills of true listening and heartfelt sharing. By doing this, we see our own stories reflected in those of others and are drawn closer in community.
Way of Council in this form was developed by elders and teachers from many traditions at the Ojai Foundation (pronounced O-Hi) in California.
Participants are invited to commit to four basic precepts: to speak from the heart with integrity and spontaneity; to listen in a heart-felt way without judging others or rehearsing what to say; to keep the content of the Council confidential by not sharing the stories of others; and to be mindful of the community by practicing leanness of speech and offering what serves the greater whole.
I am learning and being mentored in the Way of Council and facilitate a group which meets every few weeks near Ottery St Mary in East Devon. I find the practice of sitting in Council to be deeply restorative, like deep meditation or a massage. It is a real antidote to the pressures of modern life! And in these polarised times being able to listen with heartfelt acceptance feels more important then ever.
Buddhist teacher Tich Na Hanh says when we have offered deep listening to another person they can find healing and then they can listen to us. Deep listening is healing.
The Hopi elders have a poem:
"There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore… Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water… The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for."
Do get in touch if you are interested to find out more. I am a member of the European Council Network and follow their guidelines and precepts.