Sharing circles - what are they?
Sharing circles have been an important part of the human experience for as long as we have existed - long before history was written down and recorded. Looking at archaeological findings - paintings, religious relics - we can also see that, in these egalitarian times, people of all genders would sit round fires and celebrate the divine feminine.
In todays culture, sitting in circle can be a powerful act of connection. From ‘Circle Time’ in primary school to women’s ‘Moon Circles’ - there is no top to a circle, no hierarchy. When we sit in circle, we are all equal. We are all safe.
What does Circle involve?
This is a question which is difficult to answer, as all circles are different and are tailored to the needs of the people attending. There is usually a settling in activity, aimed to calm, to allow each of us to fully arrive and feel safe within the space. Often these activities are focused around connecting with our breath and our body and settling our mind.
Once we have all arrived, there is often time for some form of activity. Again, there are an endless number of things we can do here but some of my favourites involve journalling, free-writing and brain dumping. The activities can be shared experiences - loud and chatty - or they can be quiet and reflective. The activities are not about creating beautiful pages to share on social media - rather, it is about the active process, it is about connecting with yourself and with others in a way you are rarely able to manage in day to day life.
I love to use the activity as a way of opening up a discussion amongst the circle. Asking each other open ended questions and practicing active listening - listening without thinking of a response - gives circle a slow, soft feeling that leaves you feeling truly heard. Truly held. Lighter.
To finish the circle, there is often a reflective, meditative practice. We round up what we have covered and leave us feeling at peace - as if we have left our worries in the circle where we have shared them.
What are the benefits?
There is a wealth of evidence to show that the practices we bring to circle - journaling, breath-work, mindfulness etc. - all have huge benefits on mental well-being.
Journaling is used to navigate our problems and fears. We can use it as a way to identify negative self-talk and to promote a more positive mindset. Brain-dumping is the practice of writing down all the thoughts that enter your head in a particular time frame. This method of journaling can be particularly helpful to those who have a busy, anxious mind, and who struggle with more traditional mindfulness/ meditative practices. Breath-work has also been shown to have huge benefits - particularly with feelings of trauma and stress, something many of us experience after childbirth.
All in, there is just something super positive and beautiful about connecting with like-minded people and taking the time to truly see them.
Circles for motherhood and postpartum - what’s the deal?
Postnatal depression is a huge issue, with current numbers suggesting that 1 in 5 of us will suffer with ill mental-health at some point in the perinatal period. I truly believe that if we received better care - both in pregnancy and postnatally - this number would be much lower. New parents can often feel isolated and alone - particularly in light of the pandemic. There is also a lot of judgement around parenthood - there are so many different ways of parenting that it can often feel as if you are doing it all wrong. There is also no space for the negative - as if by not enjoying every second of caring for your children - or indeed finding it incredibly difficult at times - implies that you do not fully love them. When we sit in circle, there is no judgment, no unsolicted advice, no pressure - it is a safe space. You get to sit and speak your truth and know that there will be no negative outcome from doing so.
There are so many beautiful circles and spaces popping up online and in person. Circles vary widely in content with the facilitator also making a huge difference to the feel and flow of the circle. Seek out someone who you feel you connect with and is on your level - they are sure to hold beautiful circles that leave you feeling amazing, capable and strong.
Postpartum Matters - Circles & Retreats
I will also be holding regular circles online and in person - with my first four week block already fully booked! - please do sign up to the newsletter and keep on eye out on my shop for details of future events.
Whilst you're waiting...
My first, in-person retreat is on April 3rd and is sure to be a truly magical day full of the practices I have outlined above. If you feel lost in yourself, in motherhood, or you feel you are holding onto negative experiences from pregnancy or early postpartum and this is effecting your daily life - then this day is perfect for you. It’s also perfect for you if you just feel like you’d love some dedicated time to yourself, to relax and recharge around like-minded people!
We will connect in circle with mindful, restorative practices, open discussions and even a beautiful fire ceremony. There will be lots of refreshments available on the day - including lunch and cake provided by The Running Fox Bakery.
Early bird price for the retreat ends on March 3rd. Spaces to these events are also super limited - to keep the circle intimate and safe - so please do book up!
And, as always, if you have any questions or querys, please do email me at email@example.com or DM on Instagram @postpartum_matters
Lots of love,
To share your postpartum story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me @postpartum_matters.
I hope that by sharing our stories, we can change the conversation from ' bouncing back' to resting and recovering. And, as a society, we can start caring for and holding space for those who are postpartum.