About ten years ago I was asked to give a talk to a group of forty people between the ages of 65 to 89, all suffering from acute pain for much of their lives. The group was held in a church hall in a deprived area of East London. I immediately recognised that inside their unique lives and humble hearts, they held their own wisdom and answers. So instead of a talk I asked them to put their chairs in a circle. We used a packet of biscuits as a talking piece. I asked everyone to remain silent and listen, not just with their ears, but with their feelings and body too, while whoever held the biscuits spoke. My prompt was to ask each person to speak of his or her pain and when we had completed the circle I would speak of mine. The facilitator is always a part of the circle, creating a safe, non-hierarchical setting.
Tears came and people were touched and moved. These men and women had never heard each other in this way before in all the ten years this group had been meeting. By the end of the evening the atmosphere was alive and electric. Something deeper had been opened, resulting in a profound encounter with themselves and each other.
There is a magic and mystery to the way of council that emerges as each person in the group aspires to speak and listen from the heart; empathy grows, revealing the deepest love, truth, hurt and pain of each participant. This brings about a healing and a deepening of consciousness, and for this reason the practice can serve and support the world we live in today.
The challenges of modern living can offer huge opportunities for change and healing. Courses in the way of council can strengthen inner core values, giving us a depth of soul and an appreciation of the importance of spirit in our everyday lives, helping us to take responsibility and encouraging us to realise that our duty is to something larger than just ourselves.
This Council Story was originally published on Positive News.org; click here to read full version.
Image: Council in a church