How we hold the space

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How we hold the space for our circle might feel unfamiliar, so we want to point out a few of these differences. We don't have any pre-planned material to deliver in a teaching sort of way, instead we model the things we have to share. For this reason, we might seem more like fellow participants rather than like leaders.

Another difference is that we slow things way down and encourage asking for pauses. This helps us to not jump over things and makes it so we can pay attention to things we often don't pay attention to. It also allows us to take more time to notice what emerges if we don't go with habitual patterns.

Many of us have patterns that include overriding ourselves or suppressing something, often because it doesn't fit social norms. We may want something about ourselves to be different, including wishing we knew how to parent in ways that feel better. In our circle we encourage welcoming and being with what is. The invitation is for each of us to come as we are instead of how we wish we were.

As we practice acknowledging our current experience and as we find that others experience many of the same things, we can often soften a bit and drop some of our discomfort. From that softer place, it's easier to recognize what stimulates us, what triggers us, what motivates us, etc.

The following quote may also be helpful in conveying how we want to be with the person that's speaking. It is a piece by David Castro on learning to listen called Empathy in 8 Minutes, and it is about how he experienced doing an exercise where you listen quietly for 8 minutes as someone tells you his or her life story.

When my partner started to tell his story, I wanted to ask a truckload of questions directing the conversation. I wanted to follow up on particular details, ask about things he hadn't mentioned, shortcut certain areas and learn more about others that interested me, like someone fast forwarding through a TV show.
After about three minutes, however, something remarkable happened. That incessant voice in my head began to quiet, and for the first time I began to listen at a deeper level. I observed my partner’s body language, soaked in his selected words and stopped trying to control the conversation flow. In the remaining five minutes, I learned something profound about the person speaking. I began to see and understand him for the first time. I was actually listening to him instead of focusing on my bundle of projections about him.