Vision for The Circling™ Method:

Let’s Create a Movement

I’d like to share with you a vision of where we think the Circling practice can go, with your help.

First, I want to change the context of what we are doing, from teaching courses on authentic relating & The Art of Circling to…creating a Movement with a Mission.

A mission to: Change the way the world relates, one heart at a time.

Of course this starts with ourselves, with “me”… embodying this way of relating with realness, depth and heart. I do this practice because it’s my favorite thing to do. Talking to someone I feel connected to, sharing our heart and soul, exploring and discovering new territories of ourselves, with new insights, wisdom and sometimes hard truths. Speaking out loud our appreciation and the beauty we see in each other. The healing, safety and strength of having someone who gets me and advocates on my behalf. It’s why Circling is the most profound communication practice I’ve experienced and shared with others.  

It’s why I use these skills to communicate with my friends, whether they know how to or not. And yet, I notice that over time, almost all my friends come to check out Circling for themselves. And I’m happy about it. It’s allowed many friendships to go much deeper, once they’ve discovered the richness that happens when we regularly drop into a more profound curiosity about what each other’s experience is like, with the understanding and unconditional love that seems to evolve from that.

I want my local community to learn to relate this way as well. So I don’t have to open my heart with my friends only to close it as I walk down the street to protect myself. I want the grocery store clerks, my clients, vendors, doctors, bank tellers and the tech support person I waited on hold for 30 minutes to speak with, to know this type of compassion and empathy is possible…at every moment in their work and home life.

Re-weaving the World

I actually want the entire world to be able to relate this way and recognize its extraordinary value to create understanding and compassion – the kind that can actually lead to world peace.  

I want to weave this way of relating back into the fabric of our culture, our upbringing and our daily lives. I want to redefine the importance of getting each other’s worlds so that it becomes…

  • it’s own school of study, offered in all schools, just like math and science.
  • a valued skill for entering public office so we teach its use in governing and international diplomacy.
  • a skill and expertise that is taught by corporations for their leadership teams and employees to upgrade their emotional intelligence and learn how to have courageous conversations.
  • an integral requirement for the Peace Corps, Red Cross, United Nations and any negotiation training in the military.

I also want to allow for a lightness and sense of humor in authentic relating. For me, if I can’t find humor in something, it probably has control over me. So if someone dismisses this work by calling it cult-like, let’s playfully own it and refer to it as a Cult of Compassion.  

I used to teach workshops involving walking over 1200 degree hot coals, both to overcome fear and to realize we can create beyond what we believed possible. But the world didn’t need more people who could walk on fire. It needed people who could walk through the fires of life facing us all, with courage, creativity and camaraderie. As we considered this toward the end of an event, often people were passionately inspired at first, then somewhat overwhelmed and disheartened by the enormity of the issues we face in the world. So I would tell the legend of The Hundredth Monkey to help us refocus on what we can accomplish and our true power.

The 100th Monkey  

In the 1950s on some Japanese islands, scientists were studying the behavior of monkeys. Each day, they left the monkeys sweet potatoes on the beach. The monkeys promptly ate the potatoes even though they did not like the sand. One day some of the young monkeys discovered they could wash their potatoes in a nearby stream and taught their parents this as well. (I love this concept of the children leading us.) After some time, many of the young monkeys learned to wash their sweet potatoes but only some of the adults imitated the children. The majority of the adult monkeys were still eating the potatoes with the sand.

Legend has it that only 99 monkeys were washing their potatoes. Then one day, overnight, the entire island of monkeys were washing their sweet potatoes. This happened when the 100th monkey learned the innovation. Not only that, but all the monkeys on all the surrounding islands in the test also started washing their sweet potatoes!

The theory being proposed is that when a critical mass of consciousness is reached, it instantly becomes universal. So, we don’t need to change the whole world, for the whole world to change. We don’t even need to change half the world. We only need to change 10% of the population, maybe even 5%. Marketers know this well. If they can achieve 5 to 10% market penetration with a new product, they know it will achieve overnight market acceptance.  

So all we need to do to change the way the world relates, is change ourselves first and share it with our friends and as many people as we can. We may not be the 100th monkey. Our friends may not either. But perhaps the person they share it with will be the one that reaches critical mass and shifts the consciousness of the world.

An Army of You  

How do we accomplish this? We can’t do it alone. We need help. We need YOU. We need an army of You’s.

Help bring this work out into the world. Share it with your community. Get more practice in Circling. Our weekly events offer the opportunity to do that while being supported. Do the intensive trainings to dive in deeper. Study this practice until you master it. Take the advanced trainings if you want to learn how to most effectively teach it to others. Become a living example of the work that people are magnetized toward. Remember, becoming great at this is not an accident or something you’re born with.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed for myself and others: change first requires an awareness of a new possibility, then the technology (methodology, framework) to implement it. The awareness of this possibility can spread fast. So an important beginning step in change, is demonstrating an innovation as better than the old way. I found myself able to do this, after my first few weekly Circling events, although somewhat awkwardly. The more practice and training I got, the better example I became of this way of relating and the more people wanted to learn about it.

But teaching the technology takes a degree of training and mastery. I became skillful at Circling so that I could listen and get someone’s world – in a way they had never been listened to and gotten before, such that they left with more self confidence, understanding & deep comfort in their own skin – once I took the Art of Circling Practitioner Training. There are numerous powerful techniques and distinctions taught as the 7 Stages of the Circling™ Method in the course. These taught me the art of really noticing and navigating the nuances of communication that are often missed, even in the regular Circling events given the time and format limitations.  

And then, it wasn’t until I had been facilitating in the Art of Circling course for a couple of years, that I developed the skill to adeptly teach others the practice so they would get it in their bones.

I’ve done 25 years of personal growth work, including teaching hundreds of workshops. Still, during my first 4 years of Circling I let myself be mostly a student, soaking in the training and immersing myself in the practice. Eventually it started to live inside me and merged with everything else I had learned. How did this transition happen?  

Through commitment. I came to every weekly Circling event for 4 years straight to practice with beginners and newcomers, because this seemed to most closely simulate what I would encounter in everyday life as I learned to relate differently. Eventually I was leading the evenings because I made myself valuable. I also facilitated in the Art of Circling Courses after I graduated myself. By the time I became a partner, I had become the lead facilitator. You can chose to follow a similar path if you desire mastery.

But you can also start where you are and begin to make a difference…

Make a Massive Difference

We are growing and need help with every aspect of the business, events and courses. Here’s what we envision…

– Volunteer at first and/or become part of our advanced trainings. We will offer these as demand occurs, If you want in, let us know. Those who participate the most will be given the most opportunities to participate at a deeper level. But play with us at the level that you can and that makes your heart sing.

 – We will have more paid positions as we grow. For now, here’s your chance to help create a movement even at a grassroots level. Eventually we will have the revenue to pay you well…revenue you can help build and that comes from making a massive difference.  

– Strategic alliances – if you live out of town and take our training, we can help you get set up with a Circling/coaching/workshop business in your area and list you as someone we recommend – we get inquiries every day from around the country. We can cross-promote each other, put your events on our web site, come teach longer events in your area and teach you how to do so. We are also looking into alliances to help us bring this work to the corporate world to re-humanize and reconnect the corporate world back to the heart of humanity.

 – As this grows down the road, we will need more partners. If that’s attractive, then make yourself indispensable. One day, I’d like to see The Circling Institute’s offerings in every major city with divisions for schools, corporate training, government and public trainings, with a staff of facilitators being allocated daily to Circle and teach in these arenas.  

There are lots of ways to participate. The plan is to dramatically increase the number of events and trainings we offer. Our initial ideas include the following…

Upcoming events and opportunities to learn and play:

1. Circling & Authentic Relating intro and drop-in events (let’s create these all over the Bay and country):

– Weekly in Berkeley – this has been the longest running experimental, experiential drop-in Circling event. We’ve deliberately allowed anyone to participate, even lead a Circle with minimal training, to see what we could all learn about authentic relating and connection if we let go of the reins somewhat to see what naturally emerges as the group creates together. It’s sort of been like the wild west of Circling…  Check our Facebook Page or our Website for details. 

2. Authentic Relating Play & Practice (Games):

Find out more about these here.  (Dates to be announced)

 3. Brainstorming Day – for anyone excited to help create this Movement! This is a chance to figure out together the most effective and achievable ways to share this practice with the world and determine how to play together.

March 18 – Berkeley…

4. Circling Intensive Weekend – a deep dive into Circling. Experience much longer Circles with the depth and magic that can produce. Life is often altered forever after these weekends. Find out more on our Facebook Page or our Website.

5. Three Levels of the Art of Circling Training –

a) Practitioner Training – learn the 7 stages of Circling and become a master communicator, Circling Practitioner and coach. Major personal transformation is guaranteed icing on the cake. If you want to help us change the way the world relates, this training is extraordinary and irreplaceable. It will touch and shape you for life.  Check out both the Online and In-person options. 

b) Facilitator Training – become a master at leading Circles, coaching students learning the practice, learn to create & lead Circling and authentic relating events. Will include leadership training and nuances of adult development.  

c) Trainer/Apprenticeship – learn what we are doing…to teach courses and everything it takes to effectively put this work out in the world. We don’t want this to be a secret. We want to share it and we imagine it can be more impactful to have one focused, unified, potent voice for change.

6. Webinars, online Circling & more to come – stay tuned or join us, as we learn to go global with Circling training.  

7. Future workshops – Men’s, women’s, relationship, sexuality, empowerment, etc… We are creating these offerings, tell us what you want!

8. Corporations – We are starting to help companies evolve into more conscious corporate structures with adult development as part of their mission. Imagine when the Facebooks or Googles of the world adopt Circling as a deeper form of current communication and coaching services for every one of their employees worldwide along with their management teams. This relational technology is starting to spread to the corporate world like mindfulness meditation already has! Which one of you could be the 100th monkey now in helping to spread this movement?  

9. Your ideas – Feeling creative? Imagine us Circling, along side you, your groups and friends,   schools and organizations. In some respects we will be creating this movement in the same way that we Circle…following what’s most alive! So spread the word. Tell your friends. Let us know how and where we can support you. When we post events on Facebook, click “Interested” and “Share” the event with your Facebook friends, with your own personal comments. It helps spread the word through Facebook marketing (the more an event is joined and shared, the more people Facebook allows people to see it).

Changing Hearts

Yes, there is training and many ways to learn, grow and embody consciousness. But I invite you to consider something beyond that. Something far more powerful, personal and important. Become part of this Movement. Politics rarely changes the world, after all the world is run mostly by multi-national corporations. But we can change from the inside out. We can change the consciousness of the world by starting with ourselves.

It’s very hard to change people’s minds.

But we can change their hearts.

And when we change their hearts, their minds will follow.

Join our mission and movement…

Changing the Way the World Relates – One Heart at a Time  

So much love to you,

Jon Cotton 

P.S. A huge thank you to my partners, Guy, the original visionary of Circling, without whom Circling might not exist and who continues to Circle, coach and teach Circling every day, and Praveen who has a compelling and inspiring vision of bringing this work to the corporate arena. I’ll let him share his wisdom and experiences in a future newsletter. Guy and Praveen are also devoting their heart and soul to this Movement, one of many reasons I love and respect them so much.

My top 3 values are personal/spiritual growth, love and making a difference. This work accomplishes all of them. If you value these too, come join this movement and play with us.