Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 20

C I R CLE P RAC TICE Continued from page 17 with circles so I will speak to circle practice in detail, but want to acknowledge the im- portance of mindfulness as well. These two practices are strong partners. What is Circle Practice? The circle is a structured dialog process that allows every participant an opportunity to speak and encourages attentive listening and truth-telling. Participants sit in a circle free of any table or obstacles in the center. They pass a talking piece which regulates the speaking. Participants may only speak when they hold the talking piece, allowing the circle to create equality of voice and dignity. Consequently no one is interrupted while speaking. Each person has the opportunity to speak their truth but cannot assume the truth for anyone else. Participants discuss shared values before trying to do work to- gether, and they work on building relation- ships before trying to achieve any task. The circle begins with an opening cer- emony and ends with a closing ceremony, which mark the circle as a space apart, a space where participants are invited to drop the usual masks and protections that they wear. The circle nurtures connections and empathy while honoring the uniqueness of each participant, and can hold pain, joy, despair, hope, anger, love, fear, and paradox. The circle welcomes difficult emotions and difficult realities while maintaining a sense of positive possibilities. Decisions are made by consensus; the will of a majority cannot be imposed on a minority. The circle is deeply Page 18 Winter 2019 “ Circle is a powerful tool for cultural transforma- tion, for changing how members of a commu- nity treat each other every day, all day long. ” rooted in an understanding of profound inter- connectedness as the nature of the universe. Circle practice emerged initially as a re- sponse to behavior difficulties. However, circle is not just an intervention strategy, it is also a community building strategy that prevents behavior difficulties. Ultimately, I believe circle is even more important in its capacity to strengthen relationships and build a culture of mutual care than it is for its capacity to resolve conflict and harm. Circle is a powerful tool for cultural trans- formation, for changing how members of a community treat each other every day, all day long. Circle Slows Things Down One of the signs of persistent stress is rush- ing, moving constantly, always in a hurry, never enough time... When done properly circles create a big SLOW DOWN. An open- ing ceremony starts the SLOW DOWN pro- cess easing participants into a different CSEE Connections