Circles of Trust
Holy listening—to “listen” another’s soul into life, into a condition of disclosure and discovery, may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another. — Douglas Steere
From Parker Palmer’s book: A Hidden Wholeness:
A circle of trust has no agenda except to help people listen to their own souls and discern their own truths…Its singular purpose is to support the inner journey of each person in the group, to make each soul feel safe enough to show up and speak its truth, to help each person listen to his or her own inner teacher.
In our society we make spaces for our intellect, our emotions, our will and our ego to show up, but we know very little about creating spaces that invite the soul to make itself known… Spaces designed to welcome the soul and support the inner journey are rare. But the principles and practices that shape such spaces are neither new nor untested. Some are embedded in monastic tradition…Some emerged over 400 years of Quaker faith and practice. Some are embedded in the processes of spiritual formation that can be found at the heart of most of the world’s great wisdom traditions.
Like a wild animal,, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places…Yet despite its toughness, the soul is also shy…A circle of trust is a group of people who know how to sit quietly “in the woods” with each other and wait for the shy soul to show up. The relationships in such a group are not pushy but patient; they are not confrontational but compassionate; they are filled not with expectations and demands but with abiding faith in the reality of the inner teacher and in each person’s capacity to learn from it.
The soul will show up only if we approach each other with no other motive than the desire to welcome it. When we “protect and border and salute” (Rainer Maria Rilke) each other’s solitude, we break our manipulative habits and make it safe for the soul to emerge.
In a circle of trust we are governed by a simple rule: “No fixing, no saving, no advising, no setting each other straight.”
For a printable two page flyer of Palmer’s Circles of Trust Touchstones basics: Touchstones-Updated2019