Council is not just a storytelling practice but rather a way to connect to each person's story so deeply that a sense of the group as whole becomes present. The group mind is one way to describe it. Council can be used to deepen a sense of community and for brainstorming solutions to problems. Council can also be used for resolving conflicts. It's important to add that Council is not a form of counseling.
I'll describe some elements of Council in this article but to really get the flavor of it, I recommend participating in a Council. During a Council session there are four intentions. To speak from the heart, to listen from the heart, to be lean in your speaking and to be spontaneous in deciding what to say.
The concept of thresholds is important in a Council practice. We mark the time we enter into a Council by making dedications. For example, "I dedicate this Council to my sister in law who is really struggling at work right now." Others can make a dedication or not. No one has to speak and everyone can always pass. We close a session in a variety of ways. The facilitator will pick a simple activity that feels appropriate to what participants have said previously. It can be simple and profound or light and fun. One example is simply holding hands and then sending a pulse around the circle of participants by squeezing your neighbor's hand.
I was introduced to council through an organization called the Center for Council which came out of its parent organization, The Ojai Foundation. The practice of council as it was developed by The Ojai Foundation took many elements from the Lakota Sioux indigenous culture. I immediately saw its potential for connecting people to their deeper and more profound places. These connections make for more meaning, for a better quality of life and a stronger community. Like the unexamined life is not worth living. I decided I wanted to pursue a certification in training people to facilitate Council.
To be a part of human industrial civilization means lots of doing. But lots of our doing is divorced from who we are being. When you are being present in your body, life is much more fulfilling, rewarding and just downright feels better. I am more effective at whatever I am doing when I feel fully present. Council is one practice that helps create more of a sense of being. Oh.... and the awareness that Council generates might even hold answers to our society's predicament.
Transition Pasadena is now offering an ongoing monthly council at no cost to anyone interested in this practice. Please contact TransitionPasadena at gmail.com for more information.