Coming Together in Uncertain Times

Healing Circles Global Launches Free Online Circles for All

by Diana Lindsay, Co-Director, Healing Circles Global

In February of this year of global suffering, I had a deep personal lossI lost my husband of 45 years, Kelly Lindsay. Like many widows before me, I ran to the shelter of family and friends and counted on them to keep me upright. But on March 6, the lockdown started and I was home alone for the first time in my life. I didn’t have the energy for bread making, closet cleaning, or many of the activities that helped so many make it through those first days. To support me and each other, my family started a daily meditation practice across the country—eventually 20 of us for 20 minutes. Surrounded by this remote, loving, healing energy one Sunday in late March, my heart let go and I spent the day in tears. 

When I woke up on Monday with energy I hadn’t felt since he died, I realized that as much I was suffering, the world was suffering, too, and it was mine to respond—even if I was struggling, even if I didn’t yet have my full energy, even if my skills were obscured by all the symptoms of grief. That is just the way of it during a pandemic.

When I heard that one of our 75-year old circle hosts had made it onto Zoom, I realized that Healing Circles Langley could go completely online and continue to be of service to our community. With Susanne Fest’s and Jeanne Strong’s help and the intrepid willingness of our hosts to learn new skills, we brought Healing Circles Langley online in 4 days, launching March 20 with 14 circles. The circles have gone well, carrying all of us through the daily waves of grief, anxiety, joy, despair, and resilience during this pandemic. Most circles are bigger than they would have been in person as people from elsewhere found us and joined in. Although we miss the physical connection, tea, and hugs, we have had profound experiences with each other online.

Next, it was Healing Circles Global’s turn. During our first call together on March 26, Oren Slozberg immediately recognized the size of the need and the potential of Healing Circles Global to respond and put the full accelerator strengths of Commonweal behind it. 

We called a Leadership Circle of the centers, followed by a Circle of Hosts in early April, and began building a global online platform, with Petra Martin’s help, capable of providing social and emotional support by hosting circles for anyone, anywhere. 

Susanne and I, along with David Spaw and Susan Cooley from Healing Circles Houston, adapted our host training curriculum for the online environment. Since our first training in May, we have trained 350 people in the host and guardian roles. People with a tremendous amount of personal and professional experience in serving others have joined us from 32 states in the U.S., six Canadian provinces, and 13 other countries from north and south America, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Their feedback has been very positive:

I was blown away by the well thought out, moving, rich, accessible, gently building and well-structured training—online! Just want more. Though I also appreciated the conciseness of this first training as a first step. I would like to learn more about the different healing circles offered at Healing Circles Global.

Since June we have also offered customized training and healing circles to organizations, including Houston Methodist Hospital, Fractrackers, Brilliant Detroit, BAPI Solidarity Network, and the Retreat Center Collaborative.

We encourage trainees to offer circles wherever they can best be of service but invite them to host with us through Healing Circles Global, Currently 78 hosts have attended our monthly Circle of Hosts. 

It was natural, given the urgency of the many factors in the world’s crises, to rush our response. Janie Brown from Callanish, using Christina Baldwin’s adage of Move at the pace of guidance, encouraged us to take the time during the summer to deepen our circle practice and bond more closely as teams. To date, we have created five working teams of hosts and guardians to offer Healing Circles to all who find us. We also have a European team, training team, mentoring team, operations team, and steering council. This is a labor of love and service. Although we volunteer our time, we gain back a sense of belonging to community and meaning along with the health benefits of being a volunteer.

We launched our first circles for the public in early September:

  • Coming Together: Facing uncertainty—a circle for all us during the pandemic and time of global upheaval
  • Grieving Together: Losing a loved one—a six-week series for anyone who has lost a loved one either before or during the pandemic
  • Living with Cancer: Healing together—for anyone who has ever faced a cancer diagnosis and is now challenged to find care during COVID
  • Supporting Healthcare: Caring for professionals—for all of our heroic healthcare workers.

In October, we will launch:

Caregivers Together: Supporting loved ones—for family and friend caregivers who are facing a particularly challenging time to get the support they need during a pandemic.

Our hope is to continue to offer circles as they are needed and as hosts and guardians step forward to lead them. As an example, we are adapting our Coming Together for a time on fire circles in response to the west coast fires.

In a world that’s hurting, many of us are looking for ways we can help. There are many paths forward. At Healing Circles Global, our service is to help all of us grieve our losses, cope with uncertainty, increase our resilience, and continue to envision and create the world ahead of us. We invite you to join a circle or come host a circle. You are needed.

Find out more and register to attend public circles on their website.