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Unabridged VERSION

How to Lead
Circle
7 Principles to Lead Circle
t h at w i l l h av e wo m e n e n g ag e d, co n n ec t e d a n d wa n t i n g m o r e !

ta n ya ly n n pa lu s o
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Introduction
Circles are stronger than ever right now. I see them forming everywhere. From Sheryl
Sandberg’s Lean In Circles to Sistership Circles to Wisdom Circles, the movement has caught
wildfire.

Women are craving connection — tired of the social norms of isolation, doing it on your
own, being the lone wolf. Women are seeking community support to build businesses,
develop meaningful friendships that are more than skin deep, and a place to rediscover their
authentic selves.

The Dalai Lama predicted a few years ago that the world will be
saved by the western woman and circles have become the
breeding ground for empowered feminine leaders who want to
answer the calling.

You have found How to Lead Circle because you get it. You
resonate with that calling deep in your bones. It is a soul
calling. You want to be in a community of women and
you are one of those women determined to make it
happen. This is part of your purpose.

There is no coincidence that you are here.


Women have been gathering in circle for
thousands of years. Women have known that
their collective power is stronger than their
individual power. Women were prevented
from gathering in public and stripped of their
power when the church deemed them witches and burned them at the stake.

The circle is reemerging with the rise of the divine feminine. We can all feel it. The shift.
Women are becoming stronger, speaking up, and taking charge of their fate.

Right now in 2016, Hillary Clinton is running for president. There are historic highs for women
in positions of congress and the executive suite of fortune 500 companies.

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We need to balance out the strong masculine energy on the The key lies
planet to make sure humanity does not go extinct. We need
to take care of mother earth before she kicks us all out. She within humanity
(the earth) is always in harmony; the key lies within humanity
balancing the feminine and masculine energies to create
balancing the
complete harmony, and circle is where this is happening. feminine and
Women have been taught that in order to succeed and be masculine
worthy they must be masculine. They must be like men. Now, energies to
with the reemergence of circles, women are relearning how
to be women. To be feminine. To find their power from within create complete
and tap into their feminine presence.
harmony, and
I have created How to Lead Circle because I believe in circle is where this
the power of circle and my mission is to empower the
leadership in as many women as possible on this planet. As is happening.
we become more and more conscious, we can see the power
of collaborating instead of competing with one another and becoming more mindful of our
impact on others and the planet.

Imagine if there was a local circle in every town. When women feel seen and heard, they light
up. They feel empowered to make a difference. When women work together, magic happens.
We are by nature nurturers, connectors and caretakers. This is why we need more women
to raise their hands and be the catalyst for more circles to exist, more places for women to
gather and support one another.

For the past 5 years, I have been leading groups of women and have mastered the art of
feminine leadership. From my personal experience, I wrote a book called Open Your Heart:
How to be a New Generation Feminine Leader and developed a curriculum for women to
gather in Sistership Circles. I teach women how to fill, lead and grow circles around the world.

Anyone can lead a circle. I have trained women with no


When women facilitation experience and they have successfully led
work together, Sistership Circles with rave reviews from the women sitting in
circle. That’s why I have created a simple formula for you to
magic happens use.

This Guidebook is the unabridged version where I go deeper into each principle to create a
highly effective and powerful circle experience.

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But that’s not all!

If you are ready to take the first step in


your leadership and are craving deeper
connection with other women leaders
who share the same interests and
mindset as yourself, then I recommend
that you take your seat in circle with
us. We have designed the 6-week How
to Lead Circle Program where we go
even deeper into the teachings and
show you how to apply them in circle.

Each week of the How to Lead Circle


Program, you receive a new training
Module inside our private membership
site. Each Module contains step-by-step
training videos, done-for-you templates
and scripts, supplemental audio
meditations and visualizations, and
action guides designed to take you through the exact process to lead your circle program.

In addition to receiving your new training Module, you participate in a weekly circle call with
other participants and your trainer.

On these calls:

ŠŠ You will get to experience the application of the facilitation teachings you have
been studying that week.
ŠŠ You will connect deeply with the other feminine leaders in the circle and
go through Sistership Circle’s “The Circle Experience” (our signature circle
program) firsthand.
ŠŠ You’ll then be able to ask questions at the end of each circle call and in the
forum to receive coaching from our team and feedback from the community.

I’m here to serve you the best I can which means meeting you wherever you are currently at.
This is my dharma and my passion and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned over the years.
So let’s begin!

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Contents
What Is Circle? 7

Principle 1: Your Intention Sets


the Context: Start Here 9

Principle 2: Honor the Container:


Have Consistent Masculine Structure 12

Principle 3: Have Guidelines and


Agreements to Create Safe,
Sacred Space and Go Deep 23

Principle 4: Invite Women Into


Co-Creative Leadership 29

Principle 5: Listen For Their Brilliance 34

Principle 6: Lead From Your Intuition


(You Know What To Do) 40

Principle 7: Give AND Receive 42

Putting It All Together 44

Filling Your Circle 47


What is circle?
Circle is the place where women gather Circle is a space for all voices to
to be seen, heard and loved. It is held be heard. No one sits back just to
in the living room of someone’s home observe and listen. Everyone is an active
or in a room designed specifically for participant. Everyone’s voice matters.
circle. The women sit in a physical circle
and go around so that each woman has Circle is like a wheel, not a pyramid.
an opportunity to share. I have found While there is a facilitator, that woman
that it is important for every woman to is not put on a pedestal and treated as
know she has equal time for her voice separate. There is no hierarchy in circle.
be heard. There is a facilitator, or two Each woman matters. We are each
co-facilitators, who make sure there is a spoke on the wheel, which means
integrity in the circle by adhering to the that we must all pull our weight. The
circle agreements and guidelines. wheel cannot turn without everyone
understanding and believing that they
Here are some of the key distinctions for are equally important in creating the
circle: structure of the wheel.

Circle is for every woman. This is Circle is a place of abundance. We


not a clique nor a sorority. We are all are giving and receiving in the circle. It
mirrors of one another and so there is is not about always showing up as your
no woman who does not belong. We are best self to give. Sometimes, a woman is
not trying to create more separation with down and needing to receive support.
circle; we are creating unity, harmony, This is where we learn that everything
connection and collaboration. When we we need is in circle because we have
acknowledge our judgments toward one everything we need inside of us. While
another and see that those judgments each woman is equal, the facilitator
are our own shadow, we begin to have should be compensated for the work
more acceptance of ourselves and she does to hold the space. The lesson
others. We start to heal the division here is in valuing the container and
between humanity. We get to be the the facilitator and seeing it as a mirror,
change in the world that has Palestine valuing yourself.
and Israel make peace.

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Circle is sacred. When we step into circle, we honor Circle is a place
the space. We come into a place of devotion — to
ourselves, each other and the circle itself. We turn off where women can
the distractions. We stop the chatter. We treat it as holy share the things
ground.
they are afraid to
Circle is safe. We feel safe by feeling connected to one
speak and learn
another. We develop trust through our agreements with
one another. Circle is a place where women can share how to shine light
the things they are afraid to speak and learn how to
on shame so it no
shine light on shame so it no longer exists.
longer exists
Circle is a mirror. There is no judgment in circle
because the part of you that I am judging is a part of myself I am not accepting. In
circle we learn acceptance. You are my sister, reflecting both my shadow and my light.

We leave the Circle is empowering. When we feel disempowered in


an area of our life, we can claim back our power in circle
circle feeling from the other women reflecting our brilliance. We leave
recharged, filled the circle feeling recharged, filled up, energized and
empowered to take action in our lives.
up, energized and
empowered to Circle is expansive. By being filled up with love and
support, we leave the circle feeling expansive in the
take action in our areas where we came in feeling contracted. This is the
lives place to unwind, uncoil and let go.

Circle is life. There is no separation between circle and our life. The goal is to
bridge the safe, sacred space that occurs for a woman in the circle and her other
relationships so there is no longer a gap.

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Principle 1:
Your Intention
Sets the Context
Our thoughts become our words become our actions. Reality — the outer world — is
simply a manifestation of the inner landscape of our minds. This is why intentions are
so powerful. What we put our focus and attention on our intentions, they become
our reality.

Before stepping into circle, you must set some intentions for yourself, the women in
the circle and the space you are holding. It creates the context for the circle.

Definition of Context: the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs :


environment, setting

I have noticed a difference between the circles where I took the time to set my
intention before showing up in the circle and the times when I unconsciously stepped
in and just “winged it.”

Women didn’t show up and there was a casualness to the circle when I came in
without an intention for the evening. It didn’t feel as powerful and intentional.

That’s why it’s called an intention.

An intention differs from a goal in that it is bigger and broader than a goal. Intentions are
not usually specific and measurable and they don‘t always have a time frame or deadline
associated with them. A goal is always specific, measurable, and has a time frame or
deadline. Intentions aren‘t concrete the way goals are; rather, intentions are thoughts
about ourselves-thoughts about who we want and need to be.

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Goals and outcomes are sometimes used interchangeably, and often confused. An
outcome is a change that is likely to take place or a change that has taken place; it is a
change in the status or condition of something. Outcomes are a „bigger picture“ result
than goals. Goals are used to achieve desired outcomes. They are stepping stones on the
way to achieving a particular outcome.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4501664

The intention for the circle is the foundation. It provides everything that you need to
create context. It gives direction. It allows for the circle to do its magic. It allows you to
let go and trust in a higher power.

Intentions are about a way of BEING.

I set a few different intentions:

1. The intention for the entire program. If your circle has a start and end date, set an
intention for the designated period.
2. The intention for each time the women gather in circle.
a. My personal intention for myself of what I want to receive.
b. What I want the women to walk away with at the end of our circle.

Write the intentions on the top of your notes for your agenda/timeline.

You can read this intention to the group at the beginning of the circle, or you can
keep the intention to yourself.

Have the women set their intention at the start of the program and each time they
meet. This can be done either silently in meditation or by sharing in front of a partner
or the entire group.

Remember, circle is a mirror. Whatever happens in circle, happens in life. Whatever I


am feeling, someone else in the circle is also feeling. By setting intentions individually
and sharing them collectively, we see our common purpose.

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When we have an intention, we then trust that we will get exactly what we need
in circle. Some refer to this as the “circle medicine.” The circle is the space for our
intentions to be realized. When we want something, sometimes we have to overcome
obstacles. The circle may provide some mirrors that are not so nice to look at. This is
the shadow side of circle. This is what makes it real and authentic. It’s not all rainbows
and butterflies. Like life, there is day and night, darkness and light, winter and
summer, illness and health. The medicine, then, helps us heal the parts of ourselves
we have shamed or deemed bad and wrong.

What is your intention for leading circle?

What do you want to receive?

What do you want the women to walk away with?

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Principle 2:
Honor the Container:
Have Consistent
Masculine Structure
Once you have set the intention, then you build the container to hold that intention
to be fulfilled. The container consists of various structural elements so that the circle
doesn’t fall apart and the circle can work its magic.

When I first started leading circle, I didn’t understand the concept of circle medicine.
I didn’t know about containers either. I brought 12 women together to support each
other with our dreams for 12 weeks and at the end, it fell apart, along with some of
my relationships with some of the women.

That scarred me for a long time. It wasn’t until I healed those old wounds that I was
able to put together the structure of Sistership Circle that works with or without me
as the leader.

What I learned is that circle is very feminine in the way it draws women together to
connect. But the masculine is equally as important. You can think of it like a glass
filled with water. The glass itself is masculine. It has form and structure. The water
inside is feminine. It is essence and flows.

For the intentions to be realized, the magic to occur, the medicine to work, the
container must be solid by having consistent masculine structure present at all times.

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For the intentions Women, by nature, are more feminine than masculine,
and so it is easy to resist the structure. We can flow with
to be realized, the each other and go off on tangents and be more organic.
magic to occur, The masculine is more linear.

the medicine What is the masculine?


to work, the Focus, direction, purpose, goal-oriented, break through
boundaries (football and war) to accomplish a mission.
container must
be solid by The problem with just “going with the flow” all the time
and being ultra-feminine is that the group can get lost
having consistent and dissipate. What happens when the water gets out of
masculine the glass? It spreads out. It is no longer held together in
one place.
structure present
at all times. The value comes from honoring the container.
Understanding that it is what brought the circle to form
and holds it together in existence.

To understand the container, we need to distinguish a solid vs. wobbly container.

A wobby container occurs when women do not show up for this reason or that
reason. This is the first sign that a circle can fall apart and go out of existence. It feels
shaky, casual, almost boring. It is not intentional nor potent.

A solid container feels supportive, strong and firm. It’s as if we can all lean back into it
and feel like the circle’s got our back.

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The three pillars of the masculine “solid” container

Integrity - doing what we say we will do (as outlined in agreements - see Principle 3)
It is important to be our word. We show up when we say we will show up. We say what
we mean and mean what we say. This is critical to establish trust within the circle so
women can open up more willingly. Connections go deeper when there is trust.

Accountability - congruency
In circle, we are doing work to come into alignment with ourselves so our appearance
to the outside world is congruent with who we are inside. This is about being real,
authentic and true.

Responsibility - ability to respond instead of react


Triggers come up in circle. The easy way to deal with them is to hide, run away or
avoid. We are afraid of speaking up if someone triggers us because we don’t want to
“hurt” her. The truth is, it is in the space and it needs to be dealt with. In circle, women
learn to respond to their triggers by communicating without blaming or shaming
instead of reacting.

It is also important that everyone is 100% accountable and responsible for how the
circle goes. It is not up to the facilitator to police or mother the group. The facilitator
is constantly bringing awareness to the container and guiding the group to “empty
out” all that doesn’t serve the intentions from being fulfilled. We’ll talk about emptying
out later in this section.

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Elements of the Circle Container

The container consists of the following six elements:

Agreements
The agreements are like the “rules” of the circle. They are not there to be restrictive,
but to be supportive. They create safety. They give us context in which to relate to
one another. It’s important that you create agreements that support your intentions
and to get everyone to agree. In Sistership Circle, we have created a ritual for
introducing the agreements during the first circle.

Time boundaries
When I first started leading circles in 2010, we didn’t use a timer. The first few women
to share would take a lot of time. By the time we got to the last two women, time was
up. So I started to use a timer and give each woman 3 minutes to share. This is to
create equality in the group and honor each woman’s share as important.

I make sure that circle starts on time, ends on time, and that I divide up time equally
for shares. I ask that the women come early so that when it is time to step into the
circle, everyone is ready. I don’t wait if someone is late, otherwise it trains women to
come late.

Curriculum
I created a week by week curriculum using my book Open Your Heart for Sistership
Circle. The women have a playbook, which is supplemental material to aid the women
in going deeper and provide questions for the facilitators to ask in the circle.

You can make up your own curriculum. Or have questions for discussion on various
topics each week. I believe that it is important to have some sort of curriculum to follow.

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Consistency in structure
Each week, we start and end the same way, same time. This creates a consistency in
which the women can trust and rely. They know what’s coming and they can feel safe
and secure in the container.

Physical Space
It’s important to meet at the same place every time and to set up an environment
that is conducive to discussion. I prefer to sit on cushions on the floor; when we used
the couch, women got a little too comfortable and borderline lazy. I always set up an
altar in the middle with candles, goddess cards and crystals.

Silence
When we enter the circle, we come in silence. We are honoring the sacredness
of the container as if we are entering a church. We are in devotion of ourselves,
as goddesses. Silence can also be used for us to pause and empty out. Talking,
sometimes, can be a distraction from being present.

Elements of the Circle Structure aka The Sandwich

I like to think of a circle meeting as a sandwich. I call our opening and closing rituals
the bread of the sandwich and the content in the middle the meat. The bread is
always the same. The meat can either be ham, turkey, chicken, pastrami or veggie.

Opening ritual
Starting the circle the same every time creates sacredness. It also helps women feel
like they are coming to something familiar, like home. It creates safety and security.
In Sistership Circle, we always start seated in meditation as the facilitator reads our
opening invocation and then asks each woman to bring her voice in an activity we call
“stitching the circle.” An invocation, from the Latin verb invocare„ to call on, invoke, to
give“. It is a prayer, calling in an energy to the space.

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Clearing/withholds
When we enter circle, we are usually carrying energy from our day. We may have
just had a fight with a loved one or had a bad day at work. We may be triggered by
another circle member or be holding something against the group. Having a space
in the structure for each woman to clear anything so she can be fully present helps
strengthen the bond of the circle. We use a technology called “Withholds” as a tool for
clearing.
After a woman
Group share
One of the most potent parts of Sistership Circle is how
shares, we use
we give each woman at least 3 minutes to share in front a tool called
of the group. We go around the circle and no one can
“pass.” This is where the magic happens. For the first
“beaming” where
time in some of the women’s lives, they are given the the women raise
opportunity to be truly seen and heard. Women claim
their power in our circles because of this activity. The
their hands and
topics change week to week and we make sure that “beam” love
there is no feedback. After a woman shares, we use a
tool called “beaming” where the women raise their hands
and light to
and “beam” love and light to acknowledge that they acknowledge that
heard the share. This empowers each woman to speak
and find the answers within because no one is trying to
they heard the
fix, coach or give advice. share

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Paired share
Sometimes we divide up the group into pairs to share in a more intimate way and
to develop more individual connections within the circle. We give each woman 1 or
2 minutes to share and then switch. Our secret sauce during the paired shares is to
alternate a share with a massage. The healthy touch also creates more bonding by
increasing the oxytocin.

Movement
Instead of taking a “break” and disrupting the flow of energy during the circle, we
maintain the energy by standing up and doing guided movement after the group
share about midway through the 2 hour circle. At this time, women can one by one
go to the bathroom. If the facilitator doesn’t feel comfortable leading movement, we
do “follow the leader.” We put on a song and the facilitator calls on a woman. She
leads a few simple movements and the rest of the group copies her. She then selects
the next woman and so on.

Logistics
Before we wrap up, we always have 5 minutes for any logistics or announcements.

Closing ritual
In closing, we do the same closing ritual that mirrors our opening “stitch” to tie the
beginning and end. This involves touch so the group feels physically connected at the
end and has everyone leave on a high.

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Power of RITUAL

Rituals are used in circle as part of the structure to make it sacred.

A ritual„ is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed


in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.“

In my book, Open Your Heart, I start the book talking about rituals and to give context
to The Four Directions:

Every tribe has its rituals. If you look at rituals like football tailgating,
Sunday brunch and Thanksgiving dinner, you can see a common theme:
bonding. Rituals create culture. They create connection. They become
sacred.

However, there is something missing in some of the modern day rituals.


We are, as a whole, a modern tribe who has lost our connection with
the earth. We forgot who Mother Earth is for us. We forgot where home
is. We forgot how to draw on the medicines of the land and live in
harmony with nature.

We are in a unique time right now where we have access to wisdom


from ancient cultures and traditions and can integrate them into our
modern day experience. It is not too late. We simply need to remember
who we ARE. We start this book with a ritual from the Native Americans,
“Calling in the Four Directions.”

In Sistership Circle, our rituals includes: lighting candles and setting an intention, our
Invocation, Stitching, Calling in the Four Directions, and our Closing Circle.

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The problem with rituals is when they become Rituals need to
unconscious and routine. It is your job as the facilitator
to continue to generate the ritual in a way that brings a be generated to
goosebump energy into the space. Rituals need to be have power. Don’t
generated to have power. Don’t run through the motions
otherwise the rituals will become meaningless. run through the
motions otherwise
Feel the ritual from every cell of your body. If reading
something, put yourself in each word: be present to their the rituals
power. Tap into your body when speaking to become
will become
alive and magnetic. Feel your passion and power.
meaningless
Are you speaking from passion, purpose and knowing?

Are you embodying your words?

Are your words connected? Or are you cut off


from the neck up?

Claim your power: no more apologies or worrying


about what others think.

Embody the High Priestess when performing ritual


...
ŠŠ Allow yourself to be a clear channel for
spirit to come through
ŠŠ Keep the space clear
ŠŠ Keep your heart open and bursting
ŠŠ Every word that comes out of your mouth
is coming from the heart (LOVE)

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Emptying Out

One of the best books written on creating community is A Different Drum by M.


Scott Peck. In it, he describes the group process of emptying out as the pathway to
creating real and authentic community. Circle is about women stripping off the masks
to reveal their true selves so this process is extremely helpful to understand when
leading your circle. Here are the five things a group must clear, empty out or let go of
in circle:

When the members of a group finally ask me to explain what I mean by


emptiness, I tell them simply that they need to empty themselves of barriers
to communication. And I am able to use their behavior during chaos to point
out to them specific things— feelings, assumptions, ideas, and motives— that
have so filled their minds as to make them impervious as billiard balls. The
process of emptying themselves of these barriers is the key to the transition
from “rugged” to “soft” individualism. The most common (and interrelated)
barriers to communication that people need to empty themselves of before
they can enter genuine community are:

Expectations and Preconceptions.


Community-building is an adventure, a going into the unknown. People are
routinely terrified of the emptiness of the unknown. Consequently they fill their
minds with generally false expectations of what the experience will be like.
In fact, we humans seldom go into any situation without preconceptions. We
then try to make the experience conform to our expectations.

Prejudices.
One is the judgments we make about people without any experience of them
whatsoever the other is judgments we make about people on the basis of very
brief, limited experience.

Ideology, Theology, and Solutions. Obviously we cannot move very far


toward community with our fellow human beings when we are thinking
and feeling, She clearly has no appreciation of Christian doctrine; she has a
long way to go before she will be saved like me. Or else, Well, it’s clear he’s a

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Republican businessman hawk. I hope there’ll be someone here worth relating
to. It is not only such ideological and theological rigidities that we need to
discard, it is any idea that assumes the status of “the one and only right way.”

The Need to Heal, Convert, Fix, or Solve. During the stage of chaos, when
the members of a group attempt to heal or convert each other, they believe
they are being loving. And they are truly surprised by the chaos that results.
After all, isn’t it the loving thing to do to relieve your neighbor of her suffering
or help him to see the light? Actually, however, almost all these attempts to
convert and heal are not only naïve and ineffective but quite self-centered and
self-serving. It hurts me when my friend is in pain. If I can do something to get
rid of this pain I will feel better. My most basic motive when I strive to heal is to
feel good myself.

The Need to Control. This barrier to community is my own prime bugaboo.


As the designated leader of a workshop I am supposed to see to it that the
group does not get out of control— that it comes to no harm. Furthermore,
even though I have told the group that each member is no more and no less
responsible than any other member for the success of the group, I don’t really
feel that way in my heart. If the workshop fails, I feel, I’m the one who is going
to look bad.

Peck, M. Scott (2010-05-11). The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (pp. 95-103).
Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

Which of the barriers is most difficult for you to empty out?

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Principle 3:
Lead by example
to Create Safe, Sacred
Space and Go Deep
I was in a workshop once where the leader asked all the women in the room to raise
their hand if they felt their safety was in jeopardy during the past 24 hours. Most of
the hands went up. She asked the men in the room the same question and only a few
raised their hand.

This makes sense if you think about our history. Even


going back to being cavewomen, we didn’t leave the cave You must be
in fear of being eaten by the saber tooth tiger. Men, on
the other hand, were big and strong and could defend willing to lead the
themselves (and us). group to the deep
It takes more reassurance for us to feel safe and to trust. end of the pool
We wait for our cue before we open up. It’s too risky to and be the first to
put ourselves out there first.
dive in, showing
This is why, as a facilitator, if you want your circle to the others that it
go deeper and have the women be authentic and
vulnerable, you have to go first and lead by example. You is safe to jump in
must be willing to lead the group to the deep end of the with you
pool and be the first to dive in, showing the others that it
is safe to jump in with you.

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For women to feel safe, they need to feel connected. For women to feel connected,
they need to share and listen. For women to share and listen, they need to have
permission. They get permission from guidelines and agreements and by following
your lead.

Agreements

It is important that you create agreements for your circle Keeping with the
so that everyone has a reference point of how to relate
to one another. time shows each
woman that her
Being on time is a very important agreement. It comes
from mutual respect for one another’s time. If you start time is valuable
late, you may end late. Keeping with the time shows each
woman that her time is valuable.

Another important agreement is around feedback.


Your agreements
For the first 6 weeks of Sistership Circle, there is no
are there to feedback; only beaming. This helps create a safe space
for women to open up and share without worrying about
support the
what anyone may think.
connection
Your agreements are there to support the connection
amongst the
amongst the women in the circle.
women in the
You are not exempt from the agreements. In fact, it is up
circle
to you to model what it looks like to be in integrity with
the agreements. Every meeting, go through the agreements and see if there are any
that you are personally not adhering to. Then see if anyone in the group is stepping
over the agreements. Presencing those agreements at the beginning of circle is a
great way to start the clearing process.

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Being the example

When I lead circle, I always start the shares. Whoever shares first sets the tone. If the
first share is deep and vulnerable, the rest will follow.

If you show up for circle in a bad mood, be authentic about it. Clear it.

For example: “I want to clear that I’ve had a bad day today and I’m feeling sad and
disconnected. I’m nervous about leading circle from this place because I don’t want to
let all of you down. So I am letting you know where I am at in case I start to cry for no
reason.”

You don’t have to go into the story. They don’t need to know the details because they
are not relevant; what matters is how you are feeling and what fears you have that
you want to clear. The fears are not real. Only love is real. Speak the fears and allow
yourself to get back to love.

To lead the circle to the deep end of the pool:


ŠŠ I have to be authentic
ŠŠ My access to authenticity is through vulnerability
ŠŠ The more vulnerable I am, the deeper I can personally go, and I am creating a
deeper space for women to play in with me

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Vulnerability has a different edge for everyone. To push your edge and become more
vulnerable:
ŠŠ Be aware of your own mind and ego
ŠŠ The better you get at clearing, the more you can push your edge of
vulnerability
ŠŠ Constantly take responsibility of how you are impacting both the individuals
and the group
ŠŠ Put yourself out there by calling yourself out
ŠŠ Share the part of yourself that you are ashamed of. Shame cannot live in the
light.

What’s your edge?

How to share vulnerably without dumping while holding


Holding space
space: means when
ŠŠ Own it as yours with no blame or projection
ŠŠ Process through without needing support; it’s just
someone is
a share not a coaching session going through
ŠŠ Come from the heart
ŠŠ Share how you FEEL with acceptance of those
something, you
feelings hold down the
ŠŠ Don’t apologize for tears or expressed emotions
ground for them
What is holding space? to have their
Holding space means when someone is going through
own time and
something, you hold down the ground for them to have space to work out
their own time and space to work out whatever they’re
going through.
whatever they’re
going through.

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Also holding space for what’s in the highest good for the GROUP.

You provide stable, solid ground for them to be completely where they’re at, without
judgment, criticism or blame. A neutral territory for the other to just... be. You have
faith in their intelligence to figure it out on their own.

The main components are:

1. Letting go of judgment
2. Opening your heart
3. Allowing another to have whatever experience she’s having; giving her “space”
to talk about her pain without trying to fix it
4. Giving your complete undivided attention to the situation/other person and
being fully present.
5. Dropping down from your mind space into your heart space.
6. Emptying yourself and becoming a vessel for something larger than you
7. Allowing a situation to unfold; allowing circle to do its magic
8. Trusting that everyone can heal themselves
9. Less is more

To hold space, you must have constant awareness of what you are saying in your head
and emptying it.

Hold space for the intentions for the program (deepening into who you are as a
woman, relationship with other women, and your feminine leadership) and each
meeting to be realized without forcing them.

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Commitment vs. Attachment - committed to an outcome without forcing it

Have an agenda for each meeting and yet be open and receptive to what might be
needed that is off the agenda but in alignment with the intentions.

** Be mindful of how you “bend” the structure and maintain integrity of agreements.
For example, if you are running over time, never keep going without stopping at the
end time, asking the group permission for more time and giving people the option to
leave if they have another obligation.

What are you committed to in leading your circle?

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Principle 4:
Invite Women Into
Co-Creative Leadership
As a facilitator, it is your job to enroll the women in the circle to take full ownership of
the circle. It’s not your circle but our circle.

Power is organized effort. For your circle to be powerful where women walk away
transformed into feminine leaders and connected with one another in a way that
expands beyond the scope of the circle itself, the group has to work together as a
whole.

Co-creative leadership is the concept that each woman


is a spoke on the wheel. The spokes are all equally
We don’t have
important. Each woman has her unique gifts and talents to do it all; we
to bring to the group. Each woman is a contribution. We
don’t have to do it all; we can focus on our strengths and
can focus on our
allow others to bring their strengths so together we are strengths and
stronger and more powerful.
allow others
I burned out as a leader when I tried to do it all. I didn’t to bring their
trust anyone could do it as well as I could. I became
resentful that I was giving my all and wasn’t being
strengths so
appreciated or valued. The truth was, I wasn’t allowing together we are
anyone to contribute to me. So I got stuck in the pattern
of doing everything before anyone else could even have
stronger and more
a chance to contribute. powerful

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When we introduced co-creative leadership, I struggled to let go of control. Like M.
Scott Peck said, this was the biggest thing I had to empty out.

The more I let go, the more the women stepped into their power and received more
value from the circle.

First, identify your core strengths so you can focus on those aspects of yourself
instead of trying to be everything to everyone all the time.

Exercise from the Open Your Heart Playbook

It is required that humanity makes a transition from ME


to WE. In a culture dominated by independence and
This is an
individuality, we are rarely taught how to have healthy, opportunity to
functional relationships within tribe. We default to
competition instead of collaboration.
open your heart
and mind to a
This is an opportunity to open your heart and mind to a
new paradigm of co-creative leadership, collaboration,
new paradigm
and cooperation. of co-creative
Remember, each woman makes up the circle and it is
leadership,
important for everyone to own their value and worth in collaboration, and
the circle. You matter. They matter. Your gifts matter.
Their gifts matter. Get present to what you have to
cooperation
contribute to the wheel of co-creative leadership and be
the example for the women to follow your lead.

What are your innate gifts and abilities?

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What are your natural and developed talents?

What are you passionate about?

What are your strengths?

What does it look like to have women take ownership?

Set the intention


Get clear from the beginning when you are starting your circle that the women will
co-create the circle with you and everyone will embody their own leadership.

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Get agreement
Let the women know what it looks like to co-create the circle with you and step into
their leadership. Ask for their ideas and input.

Let them be responsible for their participation


Sometimes as leaders, we think we are responsible for everyone. We become martyrs
and want to save others. Ask the women in your circle to take 100% responsibility
for their participation. If they want value, it’s up to them. You are simply holding the
space; you don’t need to do anything for anyone.

Create a buddy system


I started doing this after leading a few circles and it’s amazing how it bonded the
group even more than before. Now the women are aware of other woman as unique
individuals in the circle instead of just connecting to the large group. This is also why I
do paired shares; so the women are related to the individuals and the group.

Don’t step over anything and also have them hold each other accountable
My favorite story is about a woman who texted our circle telling us that she couldn’t
make it. I asked her to come to the circle anyway. She said she was on the floor of her
kitchen crying. I asked her what she needed. She said she didn’t have enough money
to get gas in her car. I offered to pay. Suddenly the entire circle was texting that they
would pay or go 30 minutes out of their way to pick her up. She showed up in her
pajamas. We put her in the middle and hugged her. She said it was a breakthrough
moment for her having us stand for her.

The easy way out would be to say “Oh, we’ll miss you!” and step over what was really
going on. It’s up to you to set the tone that we don’t listen to someone’s stories or
excuses or resistance; we listen to their greatness and how the power of our circle
will heal and give them exactly what they need.

Assign accountabilities
Ask someone to be the time keeper. Assign everyone to bring potluck dishes. Make
someone admin of your Facebook Group. Whenever there is some request or action,
ask who’d like to be in charge of it.

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Give women the opportunity to lead or co-lead
In Sistership Circle, women get to co-lead some of our meetings together. Ask women
to step up and lead the movement or the opening meditation. Ask women to find a
partner and create an exercise for the group.

Ask for support


Just because you are the leader, doesn’t mean you have to set up or clean up. Ask the
women to help you. If you are having a breakdown, be vulnerable and ask the circle
to support you. Remember, you are facilitating by being the example.

Get feedback
What worked? What didn’t work? Ask the circle to review your performance as a
leader. We have feedback forms for week 3, 9 and 12.

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Principle 5:
Listen For Their
Brilliance
Listening is the most important distinction for facilitating
circle. How we listen. What we listen for. When to speak
You can lead
and when to listen. effectively by just
To lead you don’t need to talk all the time. You can lead
listening for the
effectively by just listening for the intention to be realized. intention to be
Your presence is more important than what you say.
realized
Less is more. You don’t need to put a bunch of
questions on the table. Pick one. Allow for women to go deeper. And allow for fluidity
in the space.

One reason you may want to talk more than you should is that you may be afraid of
silence and dead space so you fill it. It’s actually in these moments that truth arises.
Give the women space to come alive to their truth and to take ownership of their
circle. I’ve found that the more I let them talk, the better the circle becomes.

The best way to listen is to have PRESENCE like a buddha. This may sound very
challenging: try not to move! Sit in a meditative crossed legged position with your
back straight. Place your hands in your lap. The more still you are, the more present
you can be to your body sensations and be able to read whoever is speaking. You can
also pick up on the energy in the room in your stillness.

Put away distractions. Try not to fidget or play with anything. If this is difficult, try
breathing slowing and focus on taking deep breaths.

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When someone is speaking, maintain eye contact with her. This will show her that
what she has to say matters to you. It will encourage her to open up because she has
a captive, attentive audience. You may be the only one in the circle to give her eye
contact and that’s fine. At least someone is modeling what it looks like to truly have
someone feel heard.

Don’t disrupt the flow of someone speaking. Try not to even nod your head in
agreement. Don’t validate what they are saying through your facial reactions. Just sit
quietly and patiently for her to finish.

Tone down your commentary. It’s unnecessary and will encourage cross talk, which
you don’t want because it prevents the group from going deeper into themselves.

Are you present? Which areas do you need to work on to become more present
as a facilitator?

Here are two listening tools that I have developed within myself over time and have
served me well as a facilitator:

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Listening Tool: Recreation

Recreation is when you parrot back to someone exactly what they said so they feel
understood.

Here are the steps:

1. Someone completes their thought.


2. Your response: “This is what I heard you say …”
3. Give them a word for word account without paraphrasing, interpretations,
assumptions, judgments, filters, additions and subtractions.
4. Check in to make sure you properly recreated what they said. “Is that correct?
Anything I left out?”

This can be helpful when someone looks like they are struggling for words or the
group looks confused.

1. Not articulating clearly.


2. Recreate what she said and ask if you can support her in clarifying what she
really wants to communicate.
3. Help her be more concrete than vague so group isn’t wondering what she
means.

Listening Tool: Listen to their body language

80% of what someone says comes from their tone and body language; only 20% is
the words they use. Watch someone and notice if her arms are crossed, her eyes are
darting, or anything else that looks “off.”

Also, pay attention to the body language of the entire group. Are they yawning? Do
they look like they are checking out? Does anyone look upset?

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One thing I listen for is SUPPORT. What I mean by that is that many women have a
hard time asking for what they need. They hint at it but don’t make direct requests. If I
can pick up on someone’s desire for support and she’s not making a direct request to
the group for what she wants/needs, I teach the circle about SMART requests:

Make it SMART
Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Realistic
Time

For example: I need a babysitter on Saturday from 10-11am. Is anyone available to help
me?

What else am I listening for?

Listening is not just hearing what someone is saying. This is a very valuable skill and
also there is another aspect of listening that is very important for facilitating circle and
that is WHAT you are listening FOR.

When we are listening for something, we are using the power of intention. There are
5 things I listen for when I’m facilitating circle:

Her Greatness and Brilliance

Listen for the intention that everyone in the circle is


getting exactly what she needs, she’s got all the power Listen from an
within her and she can heal herself. Listen from an
empowered place instead of judgment. She’s whole,
empowered
complete and perfect. You are not listening from “she’s place instead of
broken so I need to fix her, help her or save her.”
judgment

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When I’m listening for her greatness,
I’m trusting the universe; everyone
is in the perfect place in her journey
in the perfect circle. It’s all divinely
orchestrated. She’s got this. Don’t
rush her.

Intentions of circle to be realized

I set an intention and it is always in


my mind’s eye. When I am listening
for the intention to be realized, I let
go of forcing my agenda of how I
think they should get there.

Transformation

Sometimes, we get frustrated when we think someone “can’t get it.” We lose
confidence in her. When listening for someone’s transformation, I let go and empty
out my judgments and doubts about her capability to have a breakthrough. Instead, I
listen for the breakthrough to happen for her in her perfect divine timing.

If I get attached to her transformation, then the saying goes, “What you resist persists”
so I have to let go and just be committed.

Connection

Circle is about connection. Getting that we are all connected. I listen for love and
affinity being present in the group.

I create the space through my listening for women to share triggers and pain that
allows for deeper connection instead of disconnection.

I ask myself: Where am I feeling disconnected? Where am I triggered? How can I let
that go?

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I also keep reminding myself that there is no separation between you and me and
challenge myself to own that part of myself that I’m judging as a part of you.

What is needed in the space right NOW?

I’m constantly listening for what the group needs. I use my senses, watch and
observe, monitor myself, trust intuition, and tap into the energy of the room.

I ask:
Is something off that I feel in my body?
Is there an elephant in the room?

Listening for something takes practice. I play a game with myself to develop this
skill by holding myself back from saying something that I feel needs to be said and
listening for someone else to say it. It’s amazing how every time, someone speaks
exactly what I wanted to say. I’ve learned to trust the power of listening and the magic
of circle from this game.

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Principle 6:
Lead From Your Intuition
(You Know What To Do)
If you have been called to lead circle, chances are, it’s a soul calling. Perhaps you were
a high priestess in a past life. It is in our DNA. It is part of who we are as women.

You already know how to lead circle. Trust your intuition. You already know
Trust your gut. Listen to your higher self’s voice as it
guides you. Check in with your body. how to lead
circle. Trust your
Sometimes, you need to stop thinking about what you
are going to do and what you are going to say and allow intuition
yourself to be in the present moment and respond to
what comes up. If you are present in your body, you can tune into what your own
desires and needs are in the moment and see if the group is also having that same
feeling arising in them. You’ll start to hear this and see how things are resonating
when you trust your feelings and intuition in the circle.

There is little planning needed except your intention, your theme, and your consistent
structural elements. The rest should just naturally flow.

* Breathe. Relax. The women know you and love you. You are safe and supported
to lead in this circle. There are no mistakes, no right or wrong way to lead. Whatever
happens is perfect.

* Pay attention to the energy in the room. Does anyone look like they are
checking out? Does anyone need anything? You are free to check in with the group if
you feel something is off.

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* Feel the sensations in your body. Trust that the tension in your body is telling
you something. Constriction of the throat. Stomachache. Headache.

How to deal with the physical sensations in your body:

1. Breathe and relax instead of react


2. Ask yourself:
a. What is this feeling coming up?
b. Is there judgment I need to let go of?
c. How can I allow myself to come back to an expanded state in my body?
3. Is this physical sensation an alert for integrity?
4. What is the group feeling right now?

Responsibility = Ability to Respond (vs. React)

Questions to ask yourself:

What is my intuition telling me that would be a response instead of a reaction?


What’s best going to serve the group’s intention?
What’s the best way to hold space?
What will support the group process?
What is the impact of each side of the decision I have to make?
Is the individual sucking energy or supporting the energy?

* Set boundaries upfront. Women have a tendency to talk a lot. Tell the group they
have limited time for their shares and use a timer. Most of the time, we can say what
we want to say in less time when we get to the point. Use your intuition when cutting
someone off. Will it serve the group for her to keep going? Or is it draining the group?

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Principle 7:
Give AND Receive
The last thing you want to do as a facilitator is leave circle feeling burned out. This is
a sign that you are overgiving and defeats the purpose of circle. When you lead, you
want to get filled up and leave more energized than when you came in.

As a facilitator, it is important that you also come into the circle as an equal
participant. You have an intention for your own growth and expansion in the circle.
You are coming for a reason and that is to receive love, support and contribution
from your sisters. You are in the circle to receive as well as to give.

There is a distinction I want to make here: there is a


difference between receiving and taking. Taking is coming
There is a
from scarcity, lack, fear, and “I’m not enough.” It is asking difference
“What am I going to get?” It can have a heavy, draining
energy on others. When you take, you deplete the
between receiving
energy of the group and deplete your own energy. and taking
When you are taking, you are trying to assert yourself in getting what you want from
the circle as opposed to when you are receiving, you are in trust and surrender that
you will get what you need from the circle because the universe is always giving you
exactly what you need and you are always taken care of.

Receiving is a flow; it is the same thing as giving. When I ask for support and someone
shows up for me, they are giving their time and energy. In return, they are receiving
something for their contribution when they are willing and excited.

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To hold space is to be of selfless service;
serving the intentions of the group in
trust that you will get what you need
from this place of giving.

The sacrificing martyr is not in service!


You are not serving yourself, and since
we are all connected, not serving
yourself is not serving the whole.

This is not something that comes


easy. It is a practice. You are always
learning how to embody receptivity as a
STUDENT. So breathe, relax and be easy
on yourself.

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Putting it all together
We’ve gone over the masculine and feminine aspects of circle. Now it’s time to
integrate everything.

If you are currently leading your own circle, you can implement the principles into
what you are already doing. Remember, this is coming from my own experience so
take what resonates and will add to what you are already doing.

If you are not currently leading a circle and you are reading this because you’ve felt
called to start one, it may be easier for you to apply to become a Sistership Circle
Facilitator, using our proven curriculum and structure.

If you are ready to create your own, here’s a checklist to bring it all together.

What is the name of your circle? 

What is your intention?

When does your circle meet? Weekly, Every other week, Monthly

How long are your circle meetings? 

What’s the duration of your circle? 

How many women can be in your circle? 

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Do you have a curriculum?

What are your topics?

What are your rituals?

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What are your agreements?

How can the women be in co-creation with you?

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Filling Your Circle
I believe that you already know how to lead circle. It’s just a matter of learning how
to trust your intuition as I shared earlier. And so your rite of passage to becoming a
facilitator is to fill it.

There is something magical that happens when you make a commitment to start the
circle. There is a moment during the process of gathering the women when you really
get that you are 100% responsible and you will make this happen; the circle will start
because you said so. And in that moment, you embody your leadership and you are
ready to lead the circle.

Being a successful facilitator takes experience. Your wisdom does not come from
this workbook, it comes when you are in the circle leading the women and you
start to distinguish the little things that you’ll need to do the next time to make the
experience that much richer and deeper for the women.

Anyone can sit in the facilitator seat in the circle with a script and lead. It’s the true
leader who can fill it. She’s the one who continually does the work on herself, has
demonstrated her courage and strength to keep going no matter what, to honor her
commitment to herself to make this happen, and to conspire with the universe in a
co-creative dance to fulfill her desire to lead circle.

To lead a circle is a sacred act. It is not something


To lead a circle is a we should take lightly. It is something we earn in our
sacred act devotion to the process and our gaining of respect from
the women who have said yes.

You will get everything you need to lead the circle in your process of filling it. You will
get your power, your strength, your patience, your listening, your connection and
your wisdom. You will call in the soul sisters who you are meant to lead. And you will
have a relationship with the divine that will empower you during the ebbs and flows
of the life of the circle.

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The truth is, when you are leading a circle experience for an extended period, you
will get women who check out, get triggered and may even want to leave. When
you are in the process of filling the circle, you are getting the medicine you need to
support the women in the circle to stay engaged and complete the time together.
This is the juice. This is what you are here for. In the process of filling the circle, you’ll
receive no’s, you’ll be tested, you’ll want to give up yourself, and overcoming all of this
adversity will make you the strong oak tree in circle that will hold the container and
prevent it from collapsing.

The energetics of filling a circle

We rarely hear about the energetics of sales and marketing, or what I call enrollment
and registration in the process of filling a circle. We get step by step guides and
scripts and templates to attract potential buyers and build a funnel of people who
may be interested.

In the Mastery of Circle Leadership program, we’ll be talking about some of


those marketing secrets as well as how to have effective enrollment and registration
conversations.

But none of that matters when you don’t understand the energetics of this process.
This is the heart of our program.

And because I believe circle is a very sacred experience, where women are being
drawn in on a soul level, the energetics are even more important.

Your energy is everything when it comes to the process of filling the circle. How you
clear your energy and channel your energy will make or break the circle.

You must continue to monitor your energy and make sure it is clean, clear and light.
Your energy must attract, not repel, your soul sisters. Your energy must be magnetic.
It must be authentic. As soon as someone feels something is off, they will say no. Your
job, above anything else, is to keep clearing out all of your concerns, limited beliefs

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and projections so you are constantly being authentic and in alignment with the
intentions of circle. This is the part where you are doing your own work. It’s what calls
in the right people and creates the glue for the circle.

The true leader has done her work and will continue to do her work. She is constantly
looking within herself to find where she is responsible, accountable and in integrity.
She is constantly looking at her inner judgments, concerns and limited beliefs.
She is constantly reminding herself that she is the creator of her world, she is the
creator of the circle and everything around her is a reflection of herself. This is true
responsibility. You get that you are responsible for ALL of it. No blame, no excuses,
no projections. This is your power. You are one with the source. You are the source.
The divine is within you. This is co-creative leadership.

The Mastery of Circle Leadership program focuses on the energetics of filling


a circle and its subtleties. You will become skilled at “emptying out” all of your
judgments, concerns, limited beliefs and need to control. You will also become skilled
at taking inspired action despite the fear that comes up. You will become more visible
in your community and gain credibility as a leader.

One of the best things about this program is that you get to be in a circle of leaders
who are also building their circles in other parts of the world. You get to be part of
something bigger and help lead a movement.

If this is calling to you, you can apply here.

I close this eBook blessing you and the work you are doing. Thank you for following
your heart and taking a stand for women’s leadership in the world.

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About
the author
Tanya Lynn is an internationally
renowned leader in the women’s
empowerment movement. She is the
CEO of Sistership Circle International,
an organization that provides training
programs and support for women to
facilitate women’s circles.

In her own lifelong search for truth and


freedom from China to New York City,
Tanya has learned how to walk her talk
and teaches the power of vulnerability
and authenticity. She is known for being
a community builder and empowering
leadership in others. In her best-selling
book Open Your Heart: How to be a
New Generation Feminine Leader,
she gives women permission to be real
and rise up to their full potential.

Tanya has been facilitating, coaching and


leading groups of people since 2006.
She loves training women to step into
their feminine leadership. She also brings
women on pilgrimages to sacred places
around the world such as Peru, Sedona
and next on the list, Bali. Her most recent
passion is in raising her own little new
generation feminine leader, Kali, and
teaching other mompreneurs how to
balance motherhood and business. You
can learn more at http://sistershipcircle.
com and http://tanyapaluso.com.

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