The Power Of Circles

Posted by Thao Phi on Mar 7, 2015
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"For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do
Unable to see, I heard my name being called
Then I walked outside.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you,
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want,
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill,
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open,
Don’t go back to sleep."

I heard this poem for this first time last summer. A colleague shared this poem with me while we were in an intimate closing circle with our “family” at the end of a summer program on social-emotional learning for educators. Almost a year later, I was able to share the poem with another circle.

Last week I had the privilege of guest speaking with a lovely bunch of students at Gavilan College in Gilroy, CA. While I have been a guest speaker in small segments, this was my first time leading a group of students. I decided to adapt a format similar to the Awakin circle – choosing a passage to read (a previous Awakin passage - "Don't Go Back to Sleep"), several minutes of mindfulness, writing their thoughts, sharing in pairs, and sharing in a larger circle. With no prior experience to leading my own circle, I thought a circle would put less pressure on the group and we could all be on the same ground-level instead of a teacher/lecture-dynamic.

We gathered in a larger circle, and I started off the sharing with my own experiences relating to the passage. Surprisingly, the experience I was most reserved about sharing, my mom’s passing, was the one the students seemed to resonate with the most. Students shared about their own experiences of loss, “going back to sleep”, and things they learned in retrospect after “waking up”. Another unexpected but refreshing moment of the circle was that it was the male students who were more vocal about their personal experiences. Even if they weren’t sharing aloud, you could tell there were reverberations going on in their minds. The sincerity, vulnerability, and authenticity of the circle created more ripples than I could have anticipated.

I am so deeply grateful and humbled by this experience.

No matter the deviation, all things come full circle. You begin and end your journey in the same place, but with a different set of eyes.” -Jennifer DeLucy  

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Comments (2)

  • Kozo Hattori wrote ...

    Love how you are sharing Awakin-ing with Gavilan students, Thao, especially the male students.

  • Nipun Mehta wrote ...

    Great to hear this, Thao!