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Could ‘Circling’ be the next ‘big thing’ in personal development?
ShapingTheOdds in one’s personal life can take many forms and the correlation between mental, emotional and physical wellbeing is indisputable. Taking care of the physical self is obvious to most – healthy lifestyle combining good nutrition and exercise – but what about our mental and emotional health?

john350John Thompson, Circling EuropeAccording to John Thompson, one of the directors of Circling Europe, circling is a very effective method for personal development. He says: “Circling is a fresh way to develop presence in yourself and richer connections with those around you. It can provide fundamental and often unseen insights that once seen create new and exciting opportunities. It provides a doorway into flow experiences and breathes life into sometimes vague spiritual concepts and ideas. Part of what makes it special is that although it is based on complex ideas, taking part in it is simple and empowering. We believe it to be one of the richest tools for human development in the world today because it works on so many levels.”

The practice of circling involves group work where the attention of a small group is focused on an individual. The idea is that this person gets to feel the impact of being supportively seen by others while also experiencing their honest in-the-moment feelings. The process revolves around connection, understanding and authenticity between people.

Karen Floyd of ShapingTheOdds recently tried circling – led by John – at the European Congress for Personal Development on Gran Canaria. “Circling certainly is an interesting practice. In very little time I felt the potential of circling,” she says. “We did not have the opportunity to delve as deeply as we would have liked, but all participants – some accustomed to personal development and some not – got benefit from the practice.”

In the session attended by Karen participants were instructed to pair up with someone, sit opposite them, close their eyes, perform a simple, short meditation focusing on the breath and then open the eyes and hold the gaze of their partner and begin a dialogue starting with the phrase “when I see you I feel…”

“This particular exercise is the entry point to circling,” explains Karen. “So simple, yet so effective. It was interesting to feel initially how I was a little uncomfortable holding the gaze of a stranger so intently, but once I got past that and could feel into the practice it was fascinating to discover just how quickly and deeply I could connect with myself and another.”

According to John, circling involves bringing a greater awareness and appreciation into our connections with others and can be considered a type of relational meditation because of this. He says is a paradigm shifting practice that is supported by wide ranging research in how adults learn and develop.

Circling Europe has a deep research experience in the world’s most all-encompassing philosophy, Integral Theory, including published papers and award winning presentations. Integral Theory is a meta-theory that draws on a wide variety of academic and cross-cultural disciplines creating the most comprehensive guide and map of research into how humans grow and develop. Circling Europe’s approach has also drawn on Susan Cook-Greuter (Harvard University) and Robert Kegan (Harvard University), who are pioneers and world leaders in the field of adult development. Other key influences have been psychotherapists Robert Masters, Carl Rogers and Carl Jung; spiritual teachers, Almaas, Krishnamurti, Aurobindo, Eckhart Tolle, Mark Gafni; intimacy specialists David Deida and Nicole Daedone and philosophers Foucault, Socrates, Heidegger and Nietzsche.

Karen adds: “In a short session I felt the potential of circling and was encouraged to take it further. I think anyone with an interest in personal development would enjoy it. It is not a religious practice but it certainly felt spiritual to me. In a short session I had insights into myself, and others, that otherwise might have taken me much longer to realize. I highly recommend circling.”

Circling Europe holds weekend retreats on a regular basis throughout Europe and the US.

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