Calling the circle — redux

Having a gym membership doesn’t make you fit.
Going to a garage doesn’t make you a car.
Attending church doesn’t make you religious.

For many people, religion is a significant aspect of their identity, representing the group with which they feel kinship and the people with whom they spend time. Religion can provide a path that helps us remember our connection to Source, pointing at larger truths and our better selves. Religion connects us with fellow seekers, can be a catalyst for transformation, and help us break through the small self ego to serve as a gateway for the Great Spirit. Religion comprises aspects of action (body), knowledge (mind) and devotion (spirit), involving practices that help keep our souls recharged.

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My Namaste Spirituality Group has chosen an intentional path, focusing on fellowship, individual growth, and increased self-awareness. Our meetings start with socializing, but then shift beyond chatting or debate into receptiveness, attentiveness, and deep listening. Bringing the gifts of many together enhances the whole.

“A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” Tecumseh

In Smarter Faster Better, author Charles Duhigg suggests that an effective team or group requires only a few norms, with trust and commitment as essentials. A group must feel psychologically safe, confident that other members will provide support and not disparage divergent opinions or questioning attitudes. Members must be dependable and keep promises. A group needs safety for participants to expose vulnerabilities, as well as speak and hear the truth in love. Trust requires trustworthiness.

“I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.” -Rufus Jones

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Honoring commitments to the group is integral to forming bonds. Besides trust, a group needs commitment. Psychological safety emerges when everyone feels like they have equal air time, that their voice matters, and when group members show sensitivity to how others feel. “[Members] don’t have to be friends. They do, however, need to be socially sensitive and ensure everyone feels heard.” Social sensitivity is the ability to discern how others are feeling, ensuring everyone gets a chance to speak without having one person or a few dominate the conversation.

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Duhigg recommends “Manage the how, not the who of teams.” We get to dance with the ones who show up, learning from them and about ourselves. By setting conditions for commitment and trust, our spirituality group has become a safe place to grow in wisdom and grace.  

Namaste provides a sense of belonging and serves as a source of strength and comfort. We couldn’t ask for more.

A version was originally published on 26 Aug 2016. This post has been updated in honor of Namaste Spirituality Group’s 11 year anniversary (founding September 2010). 
Photos by Kris Casey

© Joan S Grey, 3 September 2021 ∞
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