Last night I went to the Men's Circle run by Andy Clubley-Moore. I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive about going for a number of reasons (one of which is my general preference towards mixed groups).
We kicked off with a cuppa and a chat, and then Andy outlined the plan for the evening. First up was starting off a sourdough culture. The circle is going to be an ongoing, regular event, and I'm looking forward to some bread from the culture at future circles :-). That didn't take long, and then we moved on to Word of the Year. My wife did a Word of the Year last year (she went to a workshop run by Andy's wife Vicki) so I had an idea of what it involved. Andy had already picked his word, and described the process for choosing and the reason(s) behind his word. He asked if any of us had chosen a word. None of us had, but we all had ideas of the sort of word we were looking for, which we explained in turn. I was really struck at this point by how open and vulnerable everyone was prepared to be. Also, everyone listened - really listened, without any judgement, just with acceptance of what was being said. It was a great connecting experience.
Next up, was making paperchains. On strips of paper we wrote words that expressed things we would like to get rid of, and then joined them up into paperchains. This was closely followed by sitting round the fire and putting our paperchains on it. I was surprised to notice that I had a smile on my face as I watched the last of my paperchains disappear in the flames!
After that, we stayed sat around the fire, sometimes chatting, sometimes sitting with our thoughts. Again, the sense of being listened to was there - there was no competition to speak, no dismissing ideas, no following up with your own story, just being listened to. And the silence. The periods of silence felt really comfortable (at least to me!), and gave chance to reflect on things. Again, a great sense of connection.
It was a good evening, and as I drove home afterwards I felt a little lighter. I'm looking forward to the next one...connection listening word of the year