Presence in Circle

Based on the work of Mark Umbriet, PhD Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking .  Three SCVRJP volunteers and myself have had the opportunity to complete the 6 day training offered by the Center, this has been very valuable in understanding severe trauma and aspects of victim offender dialogue.  This website is full of excellent articles, pdf’s, trainings and links.

What I wanted to focus on in this post is the “art” of being fully present in Circle.  I cover this in my training and want to elaborate on my interpretation of these four concepts.

-Being Centered – For me this means I’ve gotten my spiritual connection in place.  I can be a hot air balloon, going where the breeze takes me.  Some might say a steam roller with no driver!  Anyway, when I am centered that means I am able to be where I am.  I am connected to my heart space and able to fully “be” with another or a Circle of people.

-Being Connected to Values & Highest Purpose – We all live on a continuum of connectedness to our values.  When I am providing my daughter a listening space and we are chatting in the dark, I feel connected to my value of nurturing.  I have a value of respect and when I speak harshly about a person or situation, I’m disconnected to that value.  One I have to know my values and two I have experience what it is like to be connected, firmly connected to that value.  That is what makes each of us unique, how we connect and demonstrate our values.

     Highest Purpose – – purpose and potential, let’s just always be on task to reaching that in each of us and aspiring to let others know when they are demonstrating connections to their own.  Finding your highest purpose means believing in something greater than us all.  Again, my interpretation of Dr. Umbriet’s list.

-Connected to humanity of clients – When training or talking about Restorative Justice, I use a picture of my Dad, with the caption “We all Walk on Common Ground”.  Sorry I can’t remember where I heard that.  Basically I explain my fathers demographics and then I talk about some of Donald Trumps demographics.  Then I explain both men know how it feels to worry about their children, or fight with their wife.  We all walk on common ground, we are all connected by this experience of being human.  That is connecting to the humanity of another person (victim or offender).

-Being Congruent – This could simply be stated “walk the talk”.  Seeing incongruities is easy, I’ll never forget seeing a large group of smokers outside of a national PREVENTION conference.  The example I use in training is from an experience I had almost 16 years ago.  I volunteered at a woman’s shelter.  Our director at the time invited me to go out drinking with her.  I thought that was a boundary issue.  The next red flag came when she was in a fight at a gas station!  Apparently someone had cut her off pulling up to a gas pump, then the middle finger, followed by verbal and physical aggression!  From our shelter director!?  That was a lesson to my in living with integrity.  I might appear judgement, but I think if you are working for a cause then you should role model that.

Take time to read some of Mark Umbriets work and do some interpreting of your own, post a comment if you have something to add.