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Finding Our Voice, Living Our Heart: Using Council Principles In Daily Life

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

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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 might we feel that really needs to be spoken?

One of the tools I have found 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 a council or 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.  Council is one of the tools I utilize as a foundation for my life, my recovery and my work and its principles are inherent in the structure of all of the Holistic Recovery Pathways programs.

Although Council is usually done in a group, the principles of Council are a powerful tool that can be used in creating a shift into the new paradigm and particularly in breaking the old pattern of “I’m fine, everything is okay”.  It is way to step out of the mind and into the space of the heart to access our deeper feelings and allow truth to emerge in a space of safety, respect and acceptance, both with ourselves and others.

Here are some of the basic principles of Council, which can be used to support a group process or as a foundation for living daily life in a more authentic and conscious way:

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 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 let go of agenda allows for playfulness, real-ness and our true voice to emerge.

4)   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.  This practice fosters clarity and understanding.

One thing I would like to 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.


Interested in a bringing a Council Process to your group, community or organization? I am available to come lead groups, develop programs or train others on using the Council Process as a pathway for recovery and a paradigm for building conscious, heart-centered community.  Contact me…

One Response so far.

  1. Sally says:

    Would love to learn more, then get training !

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