Listening Circles

The Mindful Researchers are hosting Listening Circles to support our inquiry and practice. The circle is rooted in ancient traditions of storytelling, and we experiment with bringing it into the context of our modern lives as human-researcher-practitioners.

The circle is an intentional space that we set together, based on mindful presence, deep listening, sharing stories, witnessing, and confidentiality. We invite stories that are centered on a given theme – while sometimes new and unexpected directions can emerge.

We are looking forward to being with you in circle!

Form and Structure

The circle has a virtual or real center, around which all participants are sitting in equal distance on eye level – including the facilitators, who are merely taking an additional responsibility to hold the form and facilitate the flow. This setup and the agreement of confidentiality can support the group for a “deep dive” together.

A talking piece is passed around the circle, indicating whose turn it is to speak while all others are listening. In a virtual setting, this can be supported by opening and muting the microphone.

You can imagine the structure of the circle as follows:

  1. We remember the principles of a circle.
  2. We do a grounding practice (breathing, silence, movement). 
  3. We open the circle for everyone to bring dedications, qualities, intentions to (in)form our “center” today.
  4. We offer a prompt for everyone to check in.
  5. We offer another prompt to share stories.
  6. We invite witnessing of what was shared and received.
  7. We close the circle with a gesture of movement or sound.

Preparing for the Circle

We recommend that you take these preparations for our online time together in circle:

  • Slow down. See if you can reduce the pace of your activities already before the circle begins. Even just a few minutes can help.
  • Arrive early. In our online gatherings, we “open doors” for your arrival within +/-5 minutes around the starting time, to create a safe container that can hold the energy of the circle.
  • Minimize distractions. See that you can have your private space, stay in one place if possible, and be undisturbed during our online time together. This also supports the energy of the group.
  • Talking piece. Optionally, you can choose a personal item that you can hold whenever it is your turn to speak.


Website: Ways of Council

Website: We Are Open Circle

Website: The Circle Way

Book: Jack Zimmermann and Virginia Coyle (2009). The Way of Council (2nd Edition). Bramble Books.

Book: Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin (2010). The Circle Way – A Leader in Every Chair. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Book: Heather Plett (2020). The Art of Holding Space – A Practice of Love, Liberation, and Leadership. Page Two.

Book: David Bohm (2004). On Dialogue (2nd Edition). Routledge.

Video: The Power of Listening – An Ancient Practice for Our Future. Leon Berg at TEDxRedondoBeach (2013).