"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

The Mindfulness Circle

The Mindfulness Circle: Holding Space for One Another
A Brief Facilitator’s Guide

The purpose of the Mindfulness Circle is three-fold:
1.     To support the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, authenticity, ease, and insight through group meditation and council practice.
2.     To provide an environment of personal safety and mutual support for the sharing of personal experiences of life’s challenges, successes, aspirations, concerns, and questions.
3.     To share information on the specifics of individual meditation and spiritual practices.

The Basic Agenda: (1.25 to 1.5 hrs.)

1. The Opening Check-in Mindfulness Council:
Circle Mates are encouraged to speak openly and honestly of their current experience of “life and practice,” one at a time around the circle.  It should be made clear that “passing” is totally acceptable.  Most often, the facilitator will begin and move either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the Circle.  (A newcomer should not be required to share first.)

In Council Practice, the expectation is that participants are mindfully holding space for one another.  There is no “cross talk.”  Commenting on another’s experience is discouraged, other than possibly noting a resonance, empathizing, etc.  While speaking, the intention is to focus on your own experience not that of others.

While not speaking, participants in the Circle are instructed to “deeply listen,” without allowing their attention to be drawn into judging or analyzing what the speaker is saying.  As in mindfulness meditation practice, if a listener notices that they are “lost in thought,” they are encouraged to make the mental note “thinking” and again devote their attention to the person speaking.

2. Silent Sitting Meditation (20 minutes)
Depending on the experience and agreement of those present, the size of the group and/or the timing of members who enter late, this can be shortened or lengthened. If a newcomer enters late and seems in need of attention, the facilitator can shorten the session or engage in a quiet conversation outside the circle.  {At Community Yoga only: Silent Walking Meditation, 10 minutes}.

3. Practice Council
Members of the Circle are asked to share their experience of the meditation session, noting what technique(s) they used, how the session flowed, and what “came up for them” that they would like to share.  As before, this is done as a Council Practice. 

4. Silent Sitting Meditation (20 minutes --or shorter if time is restricted.  Facilitator should allow for 5-7 minutes for the closing activities – Gratitude Council & OM and hOMe.

5.  Gratitude Council
Participants are encouraged to share something that elicits gratitude or appreciation.  It can be pointed out that the ability to direct our attention to something positive can often alter our experiencing of life – in the moment and over the course of time.

6.  OM and hOMe (or AUM) is shared. 
Anyone can begin and there is no set number of repetitions.  Participants are encouraged to listen as well as vocalize the AUM with special attention paid to the moment that the end becomes “self-evident.” Ring the Bell shortly after the Shared Silence emerges.

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