A Heart Circle is a group of men who share, one at a time, how they are feeling. Each person speaks from the heart. Whilst group members are free to say what they wish: no one interrupts and all listen respectfully. This is not so much an opportunity to talk about opinions, ideas, thoughts, so much as feelings. The Heart Circle is not a discussion group. If a member raises an issue that they are concerned about, it is not for others to offer advice, or to comment. However, in the spirit of sharing feelings, it is appropriate to talk about how the concern raised leads you to feel. Themes can sometimes develop in the group, whilst at other times the feelings shared can remain very individual, with nothing particularly following on from one member to the next.
Feelings will include ‘negative’ feelings: perhaps these are the more difficult to express, such as feelings of depression, irritation, boredom etc. As long as you own these feelings as your own, rather than putting them onto someone else (such as, ‘You make me feel’…) then group members can accept these are your feelings and not an attack on them. Confidentiality within the group is assumed as a given ground rule.
Be aware of whether you are waffling or prolonging your time talking, out of a need to be listened to: perhaps then it is more honest to say ‘I am really enjoying having the attention of all these men!!!’
On the other hand, it is absolutely fine to pass and to say nothing if you don’t feel moved to do so. Simply being there is participation.
Humour is fine and so is seriousness. Be aware whether what you say is from the heart, genuine and expresses your real feelings.
From a practical point of view, arriving after the Heart Circle has started should be avoided if at all possible, because this can feel quite disruptive, as can leaving before the end. However if individuals need leave for comfort breaks during the Heart Circle, that is perfectly acceptable, as long as they don’t ask for updates on what has been said during their absence!
These notes are intended to help develop a clear culture for the Heart Circle: they are not rules and you do not need to worry about getting it wrong: speaking from the heart is a skill we can all develop over time, learning from each other and noticing our heart felt feelings.