• Ben Leppier

The unbelievable power of family council

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

We have started to receive lots of questions about our family circles and this blog is intended to bring together information and resources to help equip you to bring about effective and deeper connection with your family through this method.

We really encourage you to take this amazing world of council seriously and give it a chance to bring more connection, understanding, space and love for you and your family. If you are anything like us the first year was clunky and with a 2 year old, a 6 year old and an 8 year old, you can imagine how 'effective' it was - laughing out loud. But the truth is that despite the ages of the children, they just 'GET IT' and even the 2 year old had some very profound sharing and contributions. Regardless of what we begin or what is discussed or everyones mood, our circles routinely without fail deliver the connection to each other and a connection to something much larger than all of us. As we begin every council we don't realise how much we are in need of these things, but at the end it is outrageously obvious!

Our story and the power of council: It was 2am and Kerry was rushed to hospital in an ambulance deep into her fight with coronavirus. The kids had watched her deteriorate all week and she had nothing left. The kids knew she was going to hospital, but they couldn't stay awake and were asleep by 10. So when they woke up, we were all uncertain, afraid and had no idea what was to come next. I hugged each one of them after 2 hrs sleep, I was exhausted and told them that Mummy had gone to hospital, but I didn't lie about Mummy being OK, because I didn't know if she was going to be. To be honest it was so overwhelming that all I could do was put one foot in front of the other. In amongst that huge emotional battle ground, I had to admit that I alone wasn't enough to hold it all together - I knew we all needed to be held because I didn't want to just break down, I had to hold enough of it together.

Florence, Eden Willow and I had the most amazing council that morning, the prompts were:

How do we feel about Mummy being gone to hospital - we all said we were scared and sad - we cried, together, me too.

What can we focus on whilst she is away? - I wont repeat their answers but they were amazing, brave and courageous

When we finished council, I felt like something bigger than me (and all of us) had relieved the burden of what we were carrying, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

1) Who is way of council for?

  • Couples

  • Families

  • Parent child 1:2:1

  • Individuals

  • Businesses

More specifically:

  • Families that have become disconnected

  • Parents who would like to approach difficult sensitive subjects with their children

  • Couples who we like deeper understanding/connection especially when things are going awry

  • Businesses that have sensitive and challenging issues to deal with/resolve and everyman woman and their dog has a strong opinion - how can we move forward and make progress in those situations

  • Groups of men or women or both who would like to journey into their inner world and discover so much more about who they are, the people around them and the world around them

2) What is way of council or circle?

Taken directly from the lineage of our training:

"The underlying intention of Council moves us towards a partnership model for action, rather than one based on the hierarchy of dominance. It helps a group to build a state of interactive meditation in which sensitivity, patience and spontaneous compassion are encouraged.

In Council we learn how to release the personal sense of having to “do it all,” without abdicating our individual responsibility or power to initiate.

Through time and practice, we develop a felt sense of interbeing and an awareness of our interconnectedness.

Direct quote from Ojai foundation website:

What council is NOT:

Not a place to fix people

Not a place to tell people what to do

Not a place to correct peoples opinions or in some way manipulate p[eople for information

3) How do we form a circle/council?

Council/circle is an environment that can be created between 2 or more people, its very simple in nature, but can have miraculous depth.

The picture shows how simple it really is.

a) There is always a 'stoker', this is the name given to someone who would like to 'hold the space' for everyone, someone who stokes the real or imaginary fire to keep it hot. The stoker would offer prompts or suggestions of subjects for each member to respond to, they would keep time, they would open the meeting and bring the meeting to a close. The stoker can be anybody who would like to have a go and they can of course share in the same way everybody else does.

N.B. The role of stoker is much deeper than we have described here, but 'the best way to learn about council is to be in council'.

b) There is a talking piece that is critically important, this can be an agreed talking stick or piece or as we do invite each child to bring their own or nominate one child to bring a selected piece for each council. Whoever has the talking piece IS the speaker and nobody can interrupt, until the speaker is finished and then either passes the talking piece along or places the talking piece back in the centre of the circle.

c) From our own experience we find 15-20 minutes is plenty of time and about the max that the kids attention can endure, this has increased from 10 minutes in 12 months laughing out loud again.

We highly recommend this book to accompany your learning and families development

Our preference is of course for UK based education - we recommend Dave Bingham from True Circles - connect with him here:

Please feel absolutely free to ask us any questions, there are likely many questions, we would be delighted to help or point you in the right direction.

Have a great day and good luck - we are all having hoping that you get as much from this practice as we have and will continue to have.

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