The following information can also be found in the Viewer's Guide, a more extensive section dedicated to recommendations for viewing Reaching Out.
"We are called upon to find community, and to build it,...to find a place where truth can happen, to find a place where the truth of our experience can get expressed."
Joanna Macy, Reaching Out, Program One
We encourage you to watch the Reaching Out series as part of a home viewing group, or in a public venue, where participants can share their thoughts and feelings after each program. To create such a group "where truth can happen," we suggest a "wisdom circle" format, based on ten simple guidelines that enhance the creation of a safe space within which to be authentic, trusting, caring, and open to change.
We know that the place to begin change is within our own hearts and minds. A wisdom circle provides a way to share our efforts in self-discovery, social activism and spiritual inquiry in the company of kindred spirits. In brief, here are the guidelines:
One -- Honor the circle as sacred time and space by doing simple rituals to mark the circle's opening and closing. Light candles, or take a few moments to breathe deeply and meditate. You can be as creative as you want with these rituals.
Two -- Create a collective center where there is a commitment to each individual and to the group as a whole. Make a physical center, perhaps placing a low table or small object in the middle of the circle.
Three -- Ask to be informed by our highest human values such as compassion and truth, by the wisdom of those who have gone before us, and by the needs of those yet to be born. One person can speak for the group, or each member can do a personal invocation. This can be the opening ritual.
Four -- Express gratitude for the blessings and teachings of life. In silence, or by taking turns, give thanks for those people and those things great and small whose gifts enrich and nourish you. This makes a fine closing ritual.
Five -- Create an atmosphere conducive to full participation and deep truth telling. To help the dialogue get started, the Reaching Out Viewers Guide will offer suggestions for questions that can be used after each program. Allow each person to speak without interruption or cross-talk. Pass a talking stick (or any object that has symbolic significance) around the circle, (or keep returning it to the center) until everyone has the opportunity to participate. Respect a member's right to silence. Keep everything confidential.
Six -- Listen from the heart and serve as compassionate witness for the other people in the circle. To be an effective witness, pay attention to what's being said without interruption, judgment or trying to "fix" or rescue the person speaking. Be willing to discover something about yourself in the stories of other people.
Seven -- Speak from the heart and from direct experience. When you are moved to speak, do so thoughtfully and with care. Avoid abstract, conceptual language, and stay in touch with your feelings as deeply as possible. As this capacity develops, you may be moved to share those feelings and to say difficult things without self-judgment and without blaming others.
Eight -- Make room for silence to enter. During the circle allow time for reflection or meditation, so that deep feelings can surface.
Nine -- Empower each member to be a co-facilitator of the process. If possible, designate a different person to be the circlemaker each time. This person readies the physical setting, initiates the opening and closing ritual and poses the questions from the Viewers Guide. Encourage each other to give voice to feelings of satisfaction or discomfort about the group's process.
Ten -- Commit to an ongoing relationship with the people in your circle so as to engender trust and caring among members. Extend that caring to other people, to the Earth and all her creatures by practicing the capacities, developed within the wisdom circle, in daily life.
Reaching Out viewing groups will provide a unique opportunity to come together in common quest for racial healing, ecological awareness, and compassionate community. If you are interested in taking this training, please contact Cindy Spring and leave a message at (510) 272-9540.