Guide to Opening Awakin Circle
- Reader will pass you the mic (or talking stick)
- Opener introduces his/herself by sharing name
- Introduce yourself: "My name is ... and I'd like to open with a few initial reflections before I pass on the mic around the circle."
- [30 Seconds] Quick recap of what stood out for you from the reading
- [2 Minutes] Reflection on one of the key points from that recap
- [2 Minutes] Personal story from your own life
- [30 Seconds] Pointed question for everyone to reflect on, and directions on how to navigate the circle
- Conclude by explaining the process: "As the mic goes around the circle, please introduce yourself and feel free to share any thoughts on the reading, the seed question or an aha moment. And (Hafeez), how much time do we have per person?" "Okay, 42 seconds each so we can finish by the top of the hour."
- Please refer to the tips below for helpful suggestions on content selection
- Pass the mic either clockwise or counter-clockwise, in the directions where there are some seasoned folks early in the circle (if you're unfamiliar with the group, look to an experienced volunteer and they can suggest a direction)
- At the end of the circle, take the mic to Mom and then hand it to Hafeez.
- Closer will share gratitude, lead a minute of silence, ring the bell, and Hafeez will conclude with closing logistics.
General Tips For Opening Second Hour of Awakin Circle
- Touch on the edges of the weekly reading and make it more accessible, but avoid strong opinions
- Avoid any particular philosophy (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.) and try to keep the language accessible to people who may not be into any particular tradition
- Remember that you don't have to 'teach' anything; trust that the hour of silence and the collective field is the real magic.
- If nervous, it can help to remember that opening is a gift and service to the circle, and it is not about me.
- While the passage is being read, truly listen (instead of rehearsing what you want to say), so as to arrive in an easeful and authentic space.
- Share a personal story, if possible, because everyone will relate to it.
- End with a question that people can latch on to, especially those who are new to the format. The question is an invitation for them to contribute.
- Try to stay within 4 minutes. If you have something deep to share, then don't rush it -- the quality is more important. Remind people that everyone else only has the time Hafeez allots them. :)
- When in doubt, err on the side of brevity, feeling no obligation to "fill up the time"; giving more time to the rest of the circle.
- The relevance of the piece should be established in the context of your own personal journey. While that's not hard to do with most of the pieces, occasionally, there will be a piece that gets analytical/critical about the world out there. Those are the more difficult openings, where we'd need to set the self-improvement lens in a constructive manner.
- Refer to others in the circle whenever possible -- 'verbal hyperlinks' :)
- Sprinkle humor generously.
- Generally, we've found that stronger overall circle-of-sharings tend to have stronger beginnings, and it also extends to the next 3-4 people. So be mindful of the direction in which you pass. Folks who tend to share things that are insightful, broadly relatable, heartfelt, and appropriately lengthed are better off setting the tone for the evening.
- During the circle, keep your eyes focused on the person sharing because they will look to the opener to non-verbally validate their sharing (particularly helpful when people are nervous about using a mic).
- If you have time, it can help to prepare a bit beforehand. Some of our regular openers find it helpful to:
- Listen to the audio of the passage a few times in a row, and allow half a day for the passage to sink in, and thoughts/inspiration to bubble up; write down gems of offering if worried about forgetting.
- Make a mental draft/outline of the opening share; review the outline in the mind before the 7PM sit, so as to be less tempted to 'rehearse' during the hour of sitting. :)
- Ultimately, of course, so much is beyond our wishes, so smile through it all. :)
As you open and have tips to add to above, please let us know as well. :)
About Awakin Circles
Awakin circles started in the mid 90s when couple friends got together to sit in silence in an ordinary living room. For over a decade, it was known simply as 'Wednesdays'. Today, it has touched numerous lives around the globe and are now being voluntarily hosted by everyday heroes in over hundred cities.
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