Self-help Process: Circle of Voices

This is a method I’ve evolved for integrating multiple viewpoints: see Chapter 4 for a fuller introduction. Before you do this process, read this briefing thoroughly, and get clear on basic decisions such as aim, location, and who’s involved.  Set aside more time than you estimate – this doesn’t work if you’re in a hurry!

Aim: it’s best to set this a couple of days beforehand, so your subconscious and intuition can prepare.  Listen receptively for the outcome you’d like: don’t push it or apply willpower. Your aim could be a broad, open question, such as “To understand my best response to situation X”, or it could be very specific.

Location: you need to do this process in a congenial setting where you won’t be disturbed.  Outside in Nature works best for me, but it can be distracting, so an evening with a campfire is a good option if possible. 

Who’s involved: I’ve written the process assuming you’re doing it alone.  If you have one or more people to do it with, this can deepen the process. Here are some ways you could adapt it to include others:

  • With one other person, ask them to give you general support, to offer any intuitions, name other voices that need hearing, and to speak for some of those voices if they feel a calling to do so.
  • With two or more people, pause occasionally during the process to get their insights and suggestions; you might ask them to represent some of the voices, or invite them to propose this.

If you’re working with others, tell them your aim for the session, give them a short briefing on the situation you’re exploring, but don’t make this too detailed.  When someone steps into a role or a voice, some kind of intuition often guides them, and you may get insights you could never have expected. If you’re guiding the process yourself, I’d only work with up to four other people. Beyond that, use a facilitator. 

Starting the session: dedicated space. I like to begin this process by creating a sense of focus and safety in the space we are using. The ways I do this include:

  • Visualising a sphere of golden light around the space we’re using and the people in it.
  • Lighting a candle, and stating my aim for the session as I do so, hence the candle embodies my intention.
  • Praying for guidance and support. For example, if I’m trying to make sense of a conflict in a project team, I’d call for support from the Angel of Reconciliation, the Angel of Understanding, and from the spirit or guiding essence of the project itself.

Recording: you need some way to capture what’s said in the session, as you’ll never remember all the detail. Ideally, make an audio recording, and go through it later to write up any notes. Or if you have someone supporting you, ask them to take notes during the session, and pause periodically to help them keep up. 

Starting the session: stating your intention: I find it makes quite a difference to state your aim for the session out loud, at least once. The way I’d explain this is that it helps to call in subtler sources of insight, so my intuition can identify less obvious voices which need to be heard. 

Picture the circle: this is where the session really begins. I’d advocate picturing a circle of seats, around a campfire or round table. What’s important is to create an atmosphere that is inclusive and equal, so picture your circle as a place where all voices are welcome, including surprise visitors, and where there is no hierarchy. See yourself as the host who hears all speakers with equal respect. 

Inviting the voices: you could start by naming the voices in the situation which you’re already aware of. It’s good to do this aloud, and then follow your intuition about the order they speak in. For example, if this is a conflict in a project team, there may be one or two people you feel at odds with. You might also name voices for a couple of aspects of the project itself, such as its vision or ideals, the operational reality, the finances, the clients.

You may want to name two or three voices to express aspects of yourself: for example, what you ought to do, what your fun-loving side would do, what your hurt feelings are saying. And you could call on voices for higher guidance, such as an Angel quality, or a spiritual guide like Jesus or Mother Meera. 

Speaking from the voices: when you’re ready to start talking as a particular voice, pause before you start. Take a few deep breaths, and try to empty your mind of thoughts as you do.  Close your eyes, and give yourself over to this voice. Let your body posture, and body language, align with it. Imagine you are this voice, let it take you over, notice what its emotions are, let your face express them. You may have to wait a little, but let words flow through you, don’t just try to imagine them. When you’ve finished speaking as that voice, it may help to stand up, shake your body, and say out loud  “I release my identification with the voice of…” And thank this voice for its help. 

Surprise guests: at any stage in the process, and certainly after you’ve gone through your initial list of voices, pause and observe if there are any other voices which need to be heard.  These may be the ones that are shy, angry, doubtful that you want to hear them. Accept that they may need coaxing or reassuring to be willing to speak, and their views might not be gracefully put or easy to hear. Thank them anyway. 

Confusion and synthesis: The Circle of Voices has parallels with the Diamond Process in Chapter 4. Don’t worry if partway through, you feel overwhelmed and confused by lots of voices which seem to contradict each other. When you believe all the voices have been heard, give space for a synthesis, a resolving insight, to emerge. Have a tea break, or a short walk, and stay open to intuitive responses bubbling up. You might need to go back and check with some voices to help you reach a robust conclusion.

Completion: it’s important to wrap up a session like this a bit formally, just as you began it.  Give thanks to all the voices who have spoken, release any qualities, Angels, guiding spirits that you called in at the start. Dissolve the protective sphere of light.  Blow the candle out as part of your completion.