Tag Archives: Council

Poem Of The Week: A Ritual To Read To Each Other By William Stafford


The Way of Council

It’s only Day 4 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge and although my list of ideas is growing, I am finding the writing is slow going.  One of the things I have wanted to do is share more poetry as regular part of the Heart Of Awakening Blog.  So here goes with the first official Poem Of The Week Post.  I can’t guarantee how things will unfold but look forward to seeing weekly poetry posts and if you have suggestions or favorites please feel free to share your comments.

Today is our Independence Day here in the U.S. and there is a lot of focus on Interdependence as well.  There are many benefits that we experience here in America.  I know as a woman I have had many opportunities and privileges that I may not have now, had I grown up in another country.  For that I am grateful.  And, there are certainly many areas for growth and change as well.  As we are existing in a more global system, it feels so important to focus on connection today and how we relate with one another in our own countries and in the world.

So, the poem that I felt called to share is one of my absolute favorite poems.   It speaks of the need to be open, honest and authentic as we relate with each other.  It is called, “A Ritual To Read To Each Other” by William Stafford.

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

by William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.


Celebrating 10,000 Views On The Heart Of Awakening Blog


thank you languages

It may seem like a small milestone to some but it’s an exciting one for me.  Last night, we passed 10,000 views.  I am so thrilled to see The Heart Of Awakening Blog Community growing and learning together.  It was my birthday on Wednesday, 1/23, and one of the things I have begun to share here already is that I intend this year to be a year of CELEBRATION!  So it feels fitting to celebrate here on The Heart Of Awakening and most of all, to celebrate everyone who has journeyed with us over the past 10 months.  I am so grateful for the community that has emerged and the connections that have been made.  I am amazed to see people visiting each day from all over the world.  Visitors from such places as Denmark, Chile, Japan, Australia, Italy, Mozambique, Pakistan, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka are a few that have visited in the last week.

Curiously, are some of the key words that come up in searches most regularly.  The most popular include:

Soham mantra ~ soham breathing ~ soham meditation ~ bach flower remedies ~ transformation~ salmon power animal ~ breath connection ~ metta meditation, ~ power of intention ~ animal spirit medicine ~ prayer for a new day ~ the heart of awakening

I have been so fascinated by the popularity of the Soham mantra meditation that I plan to do a follow-up post soon.  I, personally, find it to be one of the most simple and profound practices available to us.  It is wonderful for any beginning meditator as well as an experienced practitioner.  Stay tuned for a new post on this topic soon.

The following are the 10 most popular posts on The Heart Of Awakening Blog:

Soham Mantra Meditation: Breathing, Connecting, Being

Day 2 of May is for Metta 2012: Loving-kindness Practice For Oneself

Lessons From A Salmon: A New View On Struggle

7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself

Bach Flower Remedies: A Tool For Transformation

Grounding In A Rapidly Changing World

Finding Connection Through Ceremony & Ritual

Exploring Metta Meditation

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Shamanic Healing: A Journey Of Reconnection

Although folks tend to land on a specific post, May Is For Metta is actually a 31 Day Guided Practice of Loving-kindness Meditation which occurred here in May of 2012 and other sites previously.  I am so happy this is here as a resource for people to explore this wonderful practice and to support cultivating a daily meditation practice.  I am planning to do additional daily guided meditation programs here in 2013.  There is a page dedicated to May Is For Metta which summaries the practice and has links to all of the daily posts for anyone who wishes to explore this as their own guided process.

Most of all, I celebrate and thank everyone who has journeyed here and explored the path of the heart as a gateway for awakening and creating a new paradigm for our world – one based on Love, Compassion, Acceptance, Collaboration and Unity.

If you have a favorite post or if there is anything you’d like to see more of this year and would like to drop a note, I’d love to hear from you.  I am so looking forward to exploring in new and beautiful ways in 2013.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin… All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today.

Love & light,


The Way of Council: A Path To A Heart-Centered & Authentic Life


This is a time when
is split off from
and Being is hardly at all.

But here and there
on this side of the horizon,
people meet in sacred circles
to form communities
and speak their heart
that seek the same.
                                           – Meir Carasso

As we flow through the last quarter of 2012, many are feeling the call to deepen into the energy of the heart and into greater authenticity.  I have been working with my dear friend, Maria Lucia, on the Choose Love 2012 initiative, which invites everyone to participate in a campaign to empower love throughout the year of 2012.  Much of this is done through personal work and sharing with the intention of gathering together in Council or circles in various locations all over the world on December 21st, 2012 to anchor in the energies of divine love on our planet.

Recently, I had the opportunity to present on The Way of Council at the On Purpose Woman Conference.  Council or talking circle is one of my favorite topics to share about as I feel it is such a valuable tool for our times and one that supports living in the energy of the heart.  Coming together in circle is a process that is as old as time itself.  It is a practice that is a foundation in many indigenous cultures and one that is seeing a resurgence in our own society as people feel the call to gather together in a more intentional, heart centered and authentic way.  The loss of a sense of connection is one of the great maladies of our times and coming together in Council is a process that can help us to connect more fully to ourselves, others and the collective wisdom of life itself.

In preparing for my talk, I really felt the inspiration to focus on utilizing the principles of Council in daily life as much as in the process of gathering together in a Council or circle process.  The Way of Council symbolizes an approach to life which can be used as both a group process and a personal practice.  The guidelines or principles of Council offer a foundation for living in an authentic and heart-centered way.  When we gather together, we practice this in the container of our circle, however we can walk in the way of Council in each and every moment.  Council is really about creating a sense of intimacy, trust, and connection.  If we can allow ourselves to move in this intentional way throughout our daily lives, we carry the circle of wisdom, love and understanding with us where ever we go, into all of our relationships and into the world as a whole.

As we gather in Council, we are reminded of the circle of life, the interconnectedness of all things and our place in it.   As we gather in circle, we benefit from the collective wisdom of all participants.  Each person is considered both a giver and receiver.  Drawing on our collective life experiences and wisdom allows for the emergence of new understandings and new possibilities.  Imagine if we were to carry that intention with us into our daily lives, reminding ourselves in each moment of this bigger picture.  Every interaction is a moment when we can connect with and honor the sacredness of life.  Every experience offers an opportunity to be both giver and receiver.  Every relationship is an opening into oneness, love and understanding.

In a Council gathering, a talking stick or piece is used to signify who is the speaker at any given time.  In many indigenous cultures, the talking stick was used during circle to discuss issues or concerns peacefully by “speaking from the heart” and by listening intently to what others had to say.  The person holding the talking piece is the only speaker and all others are active listeners.  This guarantees that every person in the group has the opportunity to speak and to be heard.  It also allows the listener to simply listen instead of reacting to what has been said.  And, it provides an opportunity for speaking without fear of being interrupted, criticized, or judged.   Whether we are in an actual Council gathering where we are using a talking piece or as we are going about our daily life, shifting into a space where we allow ourselves to speak from the heart and listen actively in a non-reactive, non-judgmental way is a powerful practice.

There are a variety of council formats for different needs, such as community building, visioning, peacemaking, etc.  The following are some basic Council principles which can be used in the process of a Council gathering or can be adapted for a personal practice of living the way of council in daily life:

  • Sit in a circle to foster connection.
  • Use a meaningful talking piece to empower the speaker and focus the listeners.
  • When not speaking, listen actively and attentively; this is an opportunity to practice mindful listening.
  • Don’t interrupt – even by disagreeing in silence; try to be open-hearted as you listen.
  • Be spontaneous and in the moment; avoid rehearsing what you will share.
  • Accept others for who they fully are.
  • Witness your own internal response or inner dialogue and just let it be until it’s time to for you to share.
  • Speak from the heart; sometimes this requires fewer words than when speaking from the mind –  try to be succinct.
  • Be aware of the energy and spirit that is present; notice shifts and changes in the field from moment to moment.
  • Seek to understand individual positions and assumptions, even unconscious ones; avoid defending or attacking.
  • Seek a collective truth, viewpoint and wisdom from the circle, one greater than that of any individual, including yourself.
  • Listen deeply; listen for what is emerging.
  • Listen between the lines;  listen to what is not being said as well as to what is spoken.
  • Consider everything that enters into awareness to be part of the process, including environment, interruptions, sounds, etc.
  • Favor inquiry over advocacy.
  • Favor curiosity over opinion.
  • Favor understanding over self-defense.
  • Favor building connection over scoring points.
  • Favor being truthful over being right.
  • Favor trust over doubt.

Council can be a valuable tool for individuals, community, groups, families, relationships and organizations.  It fosters authenticity, awareness and a heart centered approach to life that is applicable as a group process in the form of a Council gathering or as a personal practice in everyday life.  It supports the development of self-awareness and self-expression, empathy and listening skills and a sense of interconnection with others and the world.  As we begin to live more from the heart and embody greater authenticity in our daily lives, our world changes.  Council is a way to explore what’s possible!

I hope you will join us in exploring the principles of Council both in community and as a path of a personal practice toward a more heart-centered and authentic life.

Celebrating The Very Inspiring Blogger Award


I feel so blessed to have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Ganesh, whose beautiful blog is titled Known is a Drop, Unknown is an Ocean.  It is through connecting with Ganesh and other amazing bloggers that my own blog has grown and I have felt inspired to see what’s possible.

I started The Heart of Awakening Blog in early March of this year after many years of talking and thinking about starting a blog.  So far it has been a wonderful adventure.  I feel as if I have just touched on bits of pieces of what I feel called to write about and am excited to see how this journey emerges.  When I started I shared an intention of living the big picture in daily life.  As I put forth that intention and began posting, I found that I have connected with many like-minded others from all over the world.  Our backgrounds and cultures may be different and yet, the energy of the heart and a desire for awakening is so apparent by the openness, willingness and passion that comes through the blogging community.  It is a joy to be a part of that.

Participating in Council or talking circle is an important part of my life and my work.  Through the experience of blogging, I feel as if my circle has widened immensely in just a short time.  There is no talking piece that is passed but sharing and listening from the heart is evident.  In circle, we say “Aho” when we resonate with something someone has said.  It is short of Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota term, meaning, “All My Relations.”  We are honoring each person for participating in the circle of life with us.  In blogging, we “like” a post and this is affirming our connection and support of what was shared.  When we “like” a post or comment, we are creating connection and making our big world a little smaller.

On Friday, I celebrated my 50th post, publishing my first audio post and the honor of receiving the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I am grateful to all who have supported me and shared in this exploration.  I am thankful to connect with the heart-centered community that is emerging globally.  It is through these connections that I am inspired to write, to share and to deepen in my own exploration of the heart.  Namaste.

Rules for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and write a post about it.
2. Share 7 things about your Self.
3. Pass the award on to 10 or 12 bloggers you enjoy, link to their blogs, and let them know you nominated them.

7 Things about myself:

1. I love to read – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blogs, even Tweets.
2. I feel most at home in Nature. I spend as much time there as I can, but it’s never enough.
3. I play the Native American Flute.
4. I am a practicing shaman.
5. My favorite poets are Rumi, Hafiz, Wordsworth, Mary Oliver and William Stafford.
6. A book that has shaped my life is Healing the Shadow, by Shaman Ross Bishop.
7. I love to write, draw and paint.

Here are the blogs that I recommend for Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

The Art of Earth 

Moments With Millie

Manipal’s Photo Blog



the journey

Martine Chin – nutritionista

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

Through the Healing Lens

Peeled Onion

I hope you’ll take some time to explore and enjoy these very inspiring blogs!

I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by William Stafford:

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Embracing Heart Wisdom as Our Guide


 “Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be threatening.  Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest.  This opens the door to deeper communication all around. It creates self-empowerment and the kind of connections with others we all want in life.  Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us.  These secrets are what make us sick or fearful.  Speaking truth helps you get clarity on your real heart directives.” – Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart


It took me until my early thirties to really accept that in order to live a life of authenticity and truth I needed to make a paradigm shift.  This shift was based on moving the guiding force in my life from the mind to the heart.   I’ve been blessed to have many teachers along the way who have shared their heart wisdom and who have helped me to find the courage and strength to access my own vulnerability.

I grew up in a world where “everything was okay”, all the time.  Even when things were really not okay, when they were chaotic and at times, insane, the messages I received were that we didn’t talk about that, we just said, “I’m fine, everything is okay.”  Needless to say, it was very confusing and it didn’t take long for me to have the awareness that what people share with the world and what is really going on in the their lives, let alone inside themselves, is vastly different.

The “I’m fine, everything is okay” was my paradigm for a long time.  Even as I began to do some deeper work, to explore my inner landscape, and to access my emotions, there was still a part of me who held onto to that pattern.  In fact, at times, it still emerges today.

I believe this pattern is inherent for many of us and is one of the great obstacles to shifting into the new paradigm.  I see this on both the personal and collective levels.  As individuals, when we say, “I am fine, everything is okay,” and it is not what we are feeling, we are denying a part of ourselves and we are denying our own truth.   We are also putting a wall around our heart that is then forced to hold in and suppress what our true experience is at that time.

On a larger scale, we all see and experience things in the world that are not okay.  And, we do focus on those things and address them in a variety of ways.  I wonder what things could look like if we all really spoke up about our true feelings about what goes on in our world.   Most often, it is anger that is the driving force to speak up and/or take action.  But if we were to go into the depths of our heart, what would we share about our world and what do we feel needs to be spoken?

One of the experiences that supports this opening is the process of Council, which is based on traditional talking circles used by many indigenous peoples.  When we come together in circle, our intention is to share our hearts and our truth, tuning into what is arising in the present moment.   A talking piece is used to indicate that whoever is holding the piece is the only speaker at that time and the others circle members are listening until it is their turn to have the piece.  The council process can support communication, self-awareness, collective wisdom, relationship, community building, and peacemaking.

Although Council is usually done in a group, the principles of Council are a powerful tool in creating a shift into the new paradigm and breaking the old pattern of  “I’m fine, everything is okay”.  The guidelines of Council, which help to create safety and allow truth to emerge, are:

1)   Listen from the heart.  Take a few moments to drop down from the head into the heart space.  Whether you are in circle listening to others, or tuning into your own heart wisdom, listen with openness, knowing there is no need to give advice or feedback.  We often feel that we must have answers for other people and really what we need is to be heard and to have our heart sharing witnessed.  So much healing comes from the place of listening and sharing.  As we listen from a heart-centered place, we are being more fully present and allowing our own vulnerability to emerge.  Also, where we really need to begin this shift is in listening to our own hearts and being willing to hear our own true feelings without trying to suppress, resolve or fix them.

2)   Speak from the heart.  Take a few moments to be still, to drop from your head into your heart and allow what is true for you in that moment to be arise.  This may be something you need to practice with yourself as well as others.  Before we are able to become vulnerable with others, it is necessary to be willing to be vulnerable and truly honest with ourselves.  Speaking does not have to mean words; it can include sound, song, and even silence.  In Council, the intention is to speak what will serve you, the circle and the highest good.  This is a great way to think about what we need to communicate.

3)   Be lean.  Focus on what is important and what is really at the heart of the matter.  We often have many thoughts circling round and round in our minds but when we drop into the heart space, it takes few words to express what we feel and what is important.

4)   Be spontaneous.  When you allow yourself to drop into the heart space, you may be surprised by what arises.  We often think we are going to talk about one thing and then when we allow ourselves to move below the surface, something very different emerges.  Allowing ourselves to be spontaneous and letting go of agenda allows for playfulness, real-ness and our true voice to emerge.

One thing I would add to this list is patience.  Shifting into a heart-centered way of being is a process.  The heart moves much slower than the mind.  As the energies of our world are moving faster and faster, the need to slow down and drop into this heart space is even greater.  I encourage you to take some time to explore your heart, to access your vulnerability and to allow your deeper truth to emerge.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings and reflections.