Council in Family and Intimate Relationship Settings

by Leon Berg, Jack Zimmerman and Glori Zeltzer

Over the years one of the most compelling and productive settings for council practice in the TOF tradition has been in the context of family and intimate relationship. In the early years of implementing council in schools, it was often the children, strongly taken with the practice and usually of middle and high school age, who brought council home and initiated family practice.

Most families circled weekly with leadership rotating among the older children and parents. This natural evolution was supported by a number of “family trainings” on the Land, mostly in the 1990’s and early years of the new Millennium.

And so it was for Jack Zimmerman and Jaquelyn McCandless during the formative years of council at Heartlight School. This council-based small school setting led them to initiate council in their intimate relationship, and soon they began sharing the practice with other couples in relationship workshops.

Their practice led to the awakening of “Third Consciousness,” the presence and voice of the relationship itself. Identifying and nurturing the presence of Third Consciousness has become an integral teaching for couples who wish to deepen their intimate connection so that their relationship takes on the fullness of a spiritual path. The vulnerability of dyadic council fosters the development of skills to create mutually supportive, emotionally rewarding connections between partners. Being willing to be vulnerable keeps relationships alive, keeps couples growing together and deepens love and intimacy.

In 1998 Jack and Jaquelyn published, Flesh and Spirit, a book that explores council practice, as well as  dreamwork, intimate collaboration and expanding the erotic life of the relationship.This work led to the formation of a small circle of relationship trainers who continue to be active in the US, Israel and, more recently, the European Council Network.

Each of these trainer couples share the work in their own unique way under a variety of workshop titles such as the Art of Intimate Conversation, and From Ego to Heart. Currently, the more active trainer couples include Glori Zeltzer and Leon Berg, Galit and Shai Hanien, Mary Grace Orr and Russell Atkinson and Ronit and Moti Peleg. After couples go through the F&S trainings they are encouraged to form Circles of Lovers that meet regularly to deepen the practices and support each other in an ongoing way. There are several such functioning circles in California, Hawaii, Israel and now Europe as well.