Equanimity as essential Circling capacity


The depth at which we can bring Circling is not determined by our understanding of Circling or what we do in a circle.

It’s determined by certain capacities that influence how we are. One of those capacities is equanimity. It’s a meditation term for being able to maintain composure under emotional distress. It’s the capacity to stay mindful of intense experiences. It’s determined by how much we can see and integrate on the spot, without getting into reactivity.

In trauma jargon, this is your window of tolerance: how well you can regulate the activation of your nervous system in the face of various threats.

In psychology, you could call this emotional resilience, although this is a slightly different flavor of the ability to ingrate experiences.

So when lead, we might run into challenging situations that are difficult for us to handle. We end up dismissing a part of our experience, a part of ourselves. We end up condemning or judging something that happens. We end up triggered or reactive.

And in doing this, we lose depth and we step out of Circling.

When we reflect afterwards, and we learn to welcome, accept and integrate the very things that we dismiss, condemn or ignore, we increase our capability to be present. We increase the range of what we can see.

It’s a practice of radical acceptance, compassion and emotional hygiene.

Being able to do this - to be with all that happens and have a profound underlying sense of OK-ness - is what holds the space. This is what helps people see and integrate their own experiences in more present, profound and deep ways. This is what liberates and brings aliveness.

The first few evenings I’ve led in Circling we’re either lucky or rough. Even with all the meditation practice, which trains my ability to be present, there was stuff that only comes up in relation to other people. This is why Circling so powerfully illuminates the blind spot.

But even as I gain more experience, I keep running into my own limits of what I can hold. I keep learning this way. I keep crashing and burning.

It’s almost a joke: Just the moment I think I “get” Circling, something shows up that knocks me off balance, and requires me to be fully present, fully open, fully willing to step into the unknown.

And it’s the uncanny consistency in which Circling keeps throwing me out my nest that I find tremendously exciting.