In our hurried, busy days, it seems there are precious few interactions of deep sharing and listening, few intimate conversations. If you have the opportunity, I invite you to bring the practice of Council into your group interactions, perhaps in your family, faith group, or work place. This way of facilitating meaningful dialogue originated in several Native American traditions. We have applied variations within men’s work, internships, and the Living School.
The process of Council is simple. Someone is selected to prepare the conversational space and protect its boundaries.
The group sits in a circle so all can see each other clearly.
A “talking stick,” or some symbolic object, can be used to indicate the speaker. Only the individual holding the talking stick speaks. All others listen.
The stick might be passed around the circle or placed in the centre after speaking, for whoever is moved to take it next.
Plenty of silence creates spaciousness for meaning—both spoken and unspoken—to be offered and received.
Begin by inviting each participant to set four intentions:
1. Speak from the heart (truthfully, including your feelings).
2. Listen from the heart (without judgment, with open mind).
3. Speak spontaneously (without preplanning your response).
4. Speak leanly (use only the necessary words).