- Establish purpose:Reflect on what you want to cultivate and why
- Heal & Integrate Ego:Commit to your own personal healing practices
- Create Content + Structure: Plan Plan Plan
- Create the Space: Prepare and cultivate an environment for those to fully engage
- Cultivate the Community: Strengthen the circle
Over the years I have had the honor and pleasure of holding space for hundreds of courageous women across New York City, representing all types of ethnicities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations and ideologies, who show up ready to bare their truth and connect with one another. After many years of holding space, I have the honor and pleasure of supporting women as they step into their leadership, connect with their divine feminine, and lead circles of their own. As a guide, I’ve reflected upon my experiences and those of my fellow healers to compile a manifesto of sorts detailing my advice on how to lead a circle. I hope you find this blueprint to be a guiding light as you work to create your own space. Experience the Magic of Gloetry Assembly’s Women Circles is another article I suggest — it provides additional texture and depth to the topic of women’s circles and Gloetry Assembly, a collective I lead.
Reflect on why you want to offer this experience to your sisters, honing in on what you want them to receive and what you hope to gain from your time together. This is the most important step in the process. Your purpose is the foundation for the experience so if you want anything of substance to grow, you must spend time nurturing it. It’s important to remember that circle is rooted in reciprocity — we must not only think of what we can give, but what we are truly hoping to gain. Being honest and transparent with ourselves about these things will help us define the best approach for everyone’s satisfaction.
I started Gloetry because I needed a space to express myself. I was in the midst of a transition, and felt lost about where I was going with my life. I was craving emotional intimacy, purpose and connection and wanted a space to have conversations beyond the superficial, to create meaningful and long lasting relationships. I was seeking a tribe, one that shared my interests and my passions and being honest about what I was hoping to gain helped to ground my approach.
Once I identified my goals and values, I found women seeking similar things, and invited them over to my apartment to co-create this space with me. That was our first Gloetry Assembly circle.
Heal and Integrate the Ego
This is an ongoing step. As circle facilitators, we must be committed to our own healing. The process of becoming a clear channel involves actively working through our own trauma, facing our own fears, and dismantling our own limiting beliefs. Our circle can only travel as deep as we have traveled ourselves. Journeying through our shadows, accepting all the messy and dark parts of our being gives permission for others to reveal their darkness in your circle. You want to understand the inner workings of your identity, diving deep to understand your triggers, fears, judgements, assumptions etc.
Becoming the master of yourself builds your empathetic capacity, and strengthens your confidence to hold space for others. It’s impossible to be a true vessel for others without this work.
Create Content + Structure
Choosing a topic
I will often advise my clients to center their circle on a topic they feel passionate about. You are the leader of your circle and you will feel confident in whatever you have experienced personally. Some of my clients have started circles for women who struggle with addiction, others have started mother/daughter circles, and some have started circles for women who have lost children.
All of these women created spaces for communities that speak to them directly. From there you can decide what the agenda for each circle will be. But once you choose your purpose, the content comes much easier.
You might want to keep your first circle open ended for the purpose of learning more about everyone you have invited to come. For example if you are starting a circle for women of color, you may want the topic for your first circle to be: What’s your experience being a woman of color in (country)?
Always be sure to do your research before every circle to prepare yourself and to guide the conversation along if necessary.
To honor everyone’s voices and stories, every circle needs to establish guidelines and expectations on what is acceptable and what is a violation. My favorite guideline is that no one can give unsolicited advice. I created this guideline because I found that sometimes we can be triggered by someone else’s share and feel the need to insert our own opinion, and feel we have the “moral authority” to influence another person. So take time to think of a few guidelines that you want to uphold in your circle.
Setting an Agenda
As much as a women’s circle is based on feminine principles, it needs the masculine support. Time should be spent planning out a flow — when we have a structure in place it allows for the feminine to flow freely and effortlessly. Take time prior to your circle to gauge how much time to dedicate to each item. Be mindful about staying in the designated time.
An agenda might include:
- Introductions: Members of the circle share their intention for the circle
- Topic Introduction: What are we discussing? Why this topic? What’s the context? What’s the personal connection?
- Group Meditation: Short introduction to ground group. You can always invite a member of the circle to lead
- Individual Journal session: Free flow on the topic
- Share Out: Open discussion on journal entries, thoughts, and feelings
Create the Space
Choose a location to hold your circle (your home, a wellness space, in the park, etc) You want it to be intimate, removed from heavy traffic, and distractions.
On the day of, make sure to meditate, set an intention and bless the space prior to beginning.
Adopting a practice of meditation before your circle and calling upon your highest self, higher power(s) and your spirit community to assist you in supporting the women in circle is also quite powerful, replacing ego with guidance from a higher mind allows spirit to speak through you.
Intention Setting + Blessing the Space
Setting an intention before your circle is essential and key in producing the outcome or energy you want to bring forth. I like to use crystals and burn sage as tools to set my intention, but you should set an intention in any way that resonates for you. For example, before the circle you can say “May everyone in this circle feel safe, at peace and connected with each other. May this circle bring love and light into their lives.”
At the beginning of the circle, welcome everyone, establish guidelines asking if anyone has things they want to add, communicate how these agreements will be honored, and share the agenda.
Managing different personalities
You will experience people have a spectrum of voices, from those that dominate in group settings to those that hesitate to speak up, and everything in between.
Tips to manage include:
- Establish a time limit
- You can tell everyone they have 2–3 minutes to share, and that if they go over, you will politely tell them they have 1 minute to finish their thought
- You can use a timer, I have never set a timer, but I know other facilitators who have had success with one
- Inviting shy personalities to speak. This could mean saying “I invite anyone who hasn’t shared before to do so if they wish…”
- Never force anyone to speak and never ask someone who hasn’t spoken before specifically by name to share, this puts them on the spot
- Include in your guidelines that people must be mindful of their time during sharing to make sure everyone is seen and heard
- Use a talking stick
Cultivate the Community
Once you have brought all of these beautiful people together, take time to “poll your members.” You want to understand what they liked about their experience, what they didn’t like, if they would want to continue to engage with the community and, if yes, how so. Whenever possible, ask for feedback anonymously.
Once you’ve reviewed their feedback, and you get a resounding yes that they want to engage more (which you will:)), develop a plan forward.
Take time to answer the following questions, including the group’s voices as much as possible in the process:
- How often will the circle meet? Once a month twice a month?
- How will you stay in contact? Will there be a text group chat, facebook group, a whatsapp group etc.?
- Where will you meet? Same space each time? Alternate homes or community spaces?
- What role will everyone play? Roles don’t have to be large and not everyone needs an active one but a question you should always ask yourself is “what are the unmet needs of this community and are there people within who can help address these issues?”
Congratulations, you are on your way! Take what you will from my words, but ultimately your circle will be a magical expression of you and your creativity. Have fun with it and give yourself permission to unfold and blossom along with your circle. Most importantly, the key here is to just get started.
Circle has guided me to people, places, and experiences I could have never imagined. It is all about staying open and surrendering to this new found purpose. You are being called to step into your gifts, to spread love and to be a symbol of joy. I believe in you and wish you well on your journey.
Interested in diving deeper? Sign up for Karmay’s free e-course: How To Lead Women’s Circles.
Looking for one on one support? Contact Karmay about her coaching and circle training programs.
Karmay is the Founder of Gloetry Assembly. She is a certified Level II Reiki Practitioner, workshop facilitator, Life Coach, and Circle Trainer. She created Gloetry to help women and girls transform their lives by creating safe spaces for authentic expression, self-development and collaboration.