What is Council
“Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say” - William Shakespeare, King Lear
The call of Council was a natural means of communication for our indigenous ancestors. Story was a way of maintaining the connection to the myths, gods and spirits and of keeping the ways of the tribe alive. The ancient form of Council embraces the sacred in all life and is a spiritual practice that moves one to a compassionate deeper level of communicating and being.
I teach Council throughout the UK and internationally – see my coming courses.
In modern times the core practice of Council sets a container for empathy and honesty. It provides a way of bearing witness and of peacemaking that accepts diversity in our self and each other, and helps cultivate non-hierarchical power. When in Council we step into a timeless space and spirit moves through us. We experience the deep connection to all life.
Council is not about fixing things and being right. It is a practice of speaking and listening from the heart – a means of opening to heartfelt compassionate expression and non-judgemental acceptance of how and who and where people are. Council is a practice of witnessing – self, other and the environment at one and the same time. Council is a teaching that brings intention, acceptance and authentic speaking to the centre of ones heart, creating the possibility for truly engaged relationship, the understanding of community and an opening to wholeness.
How do we embrace the form of Council?
We need two or more people in a circle, a ‘talking piece’ to focus attention and a few chosen intentions.
Speaking from the heart
When speaking from the heart, we speak with simplicity and honesty. We aim to leave preconceived thoughts; ideas and concepts outside the circle letting the truth of the moment allow what needs to be said.
Listening from the heart
When practising listening from the heart we aim to leave judgments outside the circle. We listen with our whole body and being, like listening to the wind or the silence at dawn. When we listen in this way we start to embrace the person who is speaking. When listening deeply we feel the connection of our truth with the truth of others’.
Lean with words
Resisting the temptation to prepare what we are going to say and being aware that there are others who need to speak means that we do not lose focus with rambling dialogues. We learn to trust that when we get out of the way the larger voice and deeper truth of the circle can come through. We take collective responsibility for the time, knowing that if some people need more others will realise the need to take less. This way we create ceremonial time together.
It is important to feel safe enough to share our heartfelt truths without the fear of gossip. A commitment to integrity and confidentiality creates a safe and loving place to express ourselves.
- Creating special time and place
- The practice of the Four Intentions of Council
- The way of story and the art of listening deeply
- Various forms of Council – spiral, fish bowl, dyad and more
- The fundamentals of leading Council in your own field of work
“The Way of Council is an extraordinary process that I’m so lucky to have experienced. It was a magical weekend, transformative and potentially life changing, laughter, trust, new and vibrant movement all arising out of such gentle and powerful work together. A rich source of learning about so many things – love, death, shame, fear, nature, facilitation, paradox – I could go on and have done to anyone who would listen. Profound!” ~ Bala Brook, Way of Council 2012
More about Council
The age-old practice of speaking and listening from the heart
An introduction to council I wrote for the ‘Positive News’ newspaper.
The Practice of Council
My personal experience of the way of the council, from my first experience to now.
Past Present Future
My personal experience at the 3rd European Council Network gathering.
The Practice of Council in Nature
Deepening the practice.
Council Ways within Our Body
A Practice of stillness and listening through the body.
The Circle and the centre
The circle is a universal and ancient sacred symbol.