The nature of spiritual circles

“When you step into a spiritual circle, you access a sacred space and receive gifts from the natural world, all that lives, breathes, loves, sings—the unending harmony of being.” (p. 151, The Buddha’s Wife)

In The Buddha’s Wife, for Princess Yasodhara and her community of women, the circle is a space created amongst the pine trees and forest, rocks, animals, and open air. It is a circle at one with the energy of the natural elements and the energy generated by its participants—a spiritual energy that is awakened and sustained within the circle, and then radiates outward into their everyday lives and relationships.

The history of people gathering in a circle is perhaps as long as 35,000 years old, when people, whether a tribe or family, would sit around a fire together. These circles were a time for storytelling, celebration, and ritual—a place of belonging. The Hindu and Tibetan mandala is Sanskrit for circle, which are sacred paintings that illustrate the cosmic human life story. Native Americans have medicine circles led by a healer or shaman that gather the natural and spiritual energies that heal. There have been quilting circles of women from the days of the American Revolution to circles of protest during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Today in the 21st century, there are contemporary circles that foster healing, wellness, and community, such as AA and the 12-step program, facing-cancer groups, and grief circles in hospitals and hospice centers. Parents, single mothers or fathers create their own circles of friendship and help, so that a community’s combined strength can serve as another caregiver to the child.

Circles have an unending energy that can transform and unite; the circle can be a conduit of the extra-ordinary when spirit of communion and compassion are at the heart of it. The spiritual circle is symbolic of our natural life cycle and the harmony of our interconnectedness.

Here are three qualities of a healing circle from The Buddha’s Wife that you can practice with your own circle, family, or group:

  • Each person in the circle can be seen by all others—on the same equal level
  • The circle can always enlarge and be more inclusive
  • Each person contributes to the circle and helps magnify the strength of the whole