One day and one month ago I attended a weekend training to learn how to facilitate the Practice of Council. Council is a community circle where strangers share their stories and truths. Every one is given equal space and equal time to speak and be heard. It is the intentions of those who listen to listen with their whole heart, not judge what they hear, but simply bare witness to another human being in a manner that seems lost or forgotten in this day and age.
This practice is rooted in many cultures around the world. There are many ways in which community circles are practiced, but the intentions of what I learned that weekend I feel separate this practice from similar circles that I have experienced throughout my life.
In a world where people are muted, filtered and polished and always trying to put their best foot forward, council aims at being more real and more authentic. Like yoga, council is a practice. We learn to settle into ourselves, speak from out hearts and speak about what comes to us in the very moment in which we speak.
I have only practiced council in this manner on three separate occasion, and each time I saw a circle of strangers become a true community of people who saw each other, if only for a moment. Council changes you and eventually spills into your daily life, just like yoga. You learn to speak more authentically and honesty not only in the circle, but outside it.
My life’s mission has simply been to help people understand each other. To bring unity to community, because I am not sure we have ever been truly united as we can be.
I was drawn to filmmaking to help people learn about people who are far different from themselves. While my career dream has changed, the mission has not. I still dream of a world where true community can exist among groups of people that have historically not gotten along.
The way is not hiding behind a camera as a filmmaker separate from the community. It’s being immersed within the community, while being seen through writing, speaking and being a presence to those who feel lost or alone.
I have been in these places and have felt theses fears and emotions. I have no problem being vulnerable and verbalizing “I understand. I’ve been there too.” As I continue to ask the universe to align me with my purpose, the purpose is known, it’s the means to get there that perplexes me. In this moment of patience, it’s been beautiful to see, hear and speak with a new voice, new eyes and new perspective.
For today, ask yourself the following:
- When was the last time you were truly seen or heard?
- When was the last time you truly saw or heard someone in your life?
- When was the last time you felt a part of a true community.
With deep love – Stephanie XOXO