Healing Circles Are A Rising Wellness Trend: Here's What You Need To Know
Last year, women’s spaces were part of our wellness trend report—little did we know just how important they’d become. With the challenging political climate, rife with too many #MeToo moments, we’re calling on our wellness practices to help in a big way. There’s a meme (thank you, Internet) that says self-care is a radical act in a society that profits from our unworthiness and it’s too true. But the healing wave that’s picking up extends far beyond the self and self-care. People are gathering to heal and be healed, now more than ever.
Why is healing together so powerful?
Coming together to commune in circles isn't a novel idea, it's primal. Communities of all kinds were an integral part of life until relatively recently, especially for the millennial generation. With the web of the Internet and social media knitted around every free, in-between moment of our lives, it's easy to feel connected without any real, substantial support. "We are mammals and we need each other. We need mirroring and closeness. We need touch, eye contact, familiarity, and safety. Science is showing us through polyvagal theory1 what most of us intuitively already knew—we need touch, eye contact, and safety," said Kimberly Johnson, whose mission is to facilitate community for women and new moms.
Polyvagal theory is the idea that our nervous system is wired to do three main tasks: social communication, fight or flight (anxiety), or total system shut down (e.g. a vasovagel response, like fainting). In order to avoid fight or flight and shut down responses, which can often be triggered by anxiety and intense emotional states, and engage in social connection, people need to feel safe first and foremost.
In addition to developing an idea of safety and trust2, one of the most therapeutic parts of healing circles being able to connect authentically with others, have a shared experience, and come together for a higher purpose. Circle work involves substantial sharing, listening to one another, requires high empathy, and shared catharsis.
Healing circles are a guiding light in dark times.
Jessie May, founder of the HeartRise movement, which hosts meditations and circles, has seen a correlation between the tragedies of 2017 and interest in her work. "The demand for HeartRise circles has been rapidly growing in these uncertain times. For every tragedy we face, I witness a deeper yearning for these sessions, which ultimately bring us home to our hearts and each other. In circle, we find solace. Rather than the traditional hierarchical way of learning or communicating, which separates us, circles foster deeper connection," May said.
Earlier this year, we investigated why soundbaths are still rising in popularity. Aside from the healing vibrations of soundwaves, they are an alternative but approachable event and encourage time away from tech—two powerful ingredients that are necessary to facilitate a healing experience. Yoga classes, meditations, and even some soundbaths bring people together, but the power of healing circles—when people talk, share, and release together—is truly something else.
"I think healing together can help foster the power of community by breaking down the barriers we've been conditioned to uphold, barriers that can be more isolating than they are helpful," said Jenn Tardif, founder of 3rd Ritual, certified aromatherpaist, and yoga and meditation teacher.
"Something really magical happens when you're creating a ritual with others: a realization that everyone has a suffering you know nothing about and a reminder that we're more likely to get what we want out of this life if we're willing to support and be supported by others," Tardif said. Amen, sister.
For guidance on how to host your own circle, check out these guidelines.
Lindsay Kellner is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist based out of Brooklyn, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology at New York University and earned a 200-hour yoga certification from Sky Ting. She is the co-author of “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self Care,” along with mbg’s Sustainability Editor, Emma Loewe.