Why Try Circling? Part 1
Over the next few days I’m going to share a few reasons why you might want to try Circling. It can be hard to understand exactly what it is without doing it, but what I can share are the experiences I’ve had practicing it and how they might be of benefit.
I’ll start with Circling as a way of breaking out of scripts.
We all have scripts we repeat over and over again in our relationships. You can call them habits, cycles, or loops, but they are all about falling into the same pattern time and time again. They can be scripts specific to a particular relationship or they may be scripts that play out with all of your relationships. For example, there may be a point of contention in a marriage and every time it comes up, it’s like you are literally following a script. Maybe not word for word, but close enough that you know what you’re going to complain about, you know how your partner is going to respond, and you know what’s going to happen five steps after that. For my wife and I there was a particular discussion that would always come up about making art for a living. I would describe some new project I wanted to start and she would explain why it wouldn’t be feasible and we would go round and round in circles until we got exhausted. Then we’d repeat the script again in a few weeks.
Those types of relationship scripts can get pretty frustrating. Sometimes they get so frustrating that it pushes you to do something. If you’re lucky, it pushes you to do something that actually will break you out of the script. Sadly most of the time we end up responding to it in more destructive and confused ways.
Circling is a way of breaking out of these scripts. Without experiencing it directly it’s hard to get exactly how, but it has to do with seeing what is happening underneath the script. For my wife and me, we broke out of our script once we saw that underneath our disagreement about art was a need I had to express myself and do meaningful work and a need for my wife to be safe and provided for. We also discovered that we cared very much for each other’s needs.
Sometimes breaking out of the scripts can be uncomfortable and weird and sometimes it can be exciting and sometimes it can open space for love to flood in, but the one constant I’ve noticed with every Circling session I’ve done with friends or family is that it always opens up new territory. Circling is built to interrupt scripts.
In a single session of Circling I’ve seen things that I had not previously seen in decades of knowing someone. With repeat sessions, this only increases.
So what’s left once the remnants of stifling scripts are scattered on the floor? Once the scripts are dismantled, all that is left is discovery and love. The relationship is no longer about watching a pattern repeated, but watching a mystery unfold. Those in the Circling community are often quick to make the point that Circling is not about therapy — it’s not about trying to fix or change anything — and Circling in absence of scripts is a tribute to this.
Circling with my wife these days is not so much about breaking out of scripts as it is about sitting back in awe at what emerges. It is about understanding and loving one another deeply.
I once wrote an essay about how I see creativity as the opposite of addiction. A more popular notion is that the opposite of addiction is connection. Circling reveals that it is both. True connection to yourself and others is about constantly sitting at the brink of the unknown and doing so with total trust, love, and gratitude for what is created from moment to moment.