Council Circles and Training – Speaking and Listening from the Heart


“Jeannie and Mark are amazing facilitators who are able to gently guide participants in a loving and productive manner. They listen from the heart and respect where each individual is at in their journey. I highly recommend their individual and group work.”

-Kenny, A., Ventura, CA

I love sitting in Council with Jeannie. I always feel like the container is held so beautifully and how Council practice works is clearly explained. My favorite part is the heartfelt invitation to share what is most alive in me in a place where I can be heard and witnessed and to offer the same gift to others! I always leave feeling clearer, more connected to those in the circle, and gifted by the sacred space to share my truth.

– Jen S. Boulder, CO

Council brings Heart to Communication

Council is a circle-based communication process and consciousness-raising tool where the members of the circle agree to guidelines to create a safe container for self-expression. The 4 basic Council agreements are: speaking from the heart, listening from the heart, being brief and being spontaneous. These agreements are held like an intention in meditation practice. We come back to them over and over again – like the breath in meditation.

When we speak and listen in this way, we can have a profound individual sense of healing, since most of us experienced wounding around not being heard and seen in our families of origin. When practiced consistently in a group, the group wisdom can be revealed that helps the group hear all members in a deep way and move forward with visioning and decision-making.

The practice of Council has roots in indigenous ways of knowing from around the world, as well as being inspired from the Quaker meeting tradition. Council in this format was “re-founded” by Jack Zimmerman, Gigi Coyle and the community at The Ojai Foundation, where Council is still taught and practiced as the main community-building tool.

Council is currently used in schools, prisons, businesses, churches, communities, families and with couples around the world. It is a practice that is simple to understand, but just like meditation, takes a lot of practice. Jeannie lived and worked in community at The Ojai Foundation for three years and stayed on for three more years as adjunct faculty teaching Council and working with the youth rites of passage program. She is a certified Council Trainer through the Ojai Foundation. Mark has sat in Council for 15 years in men’s circles, and we also sit in Council as part of our relationship practice. We also hold space for couples’ weekends that focus on Council practice.

We occasionally hold open community Council circles. If you are interested, please sign up for our mailing list. Also, we are available to facilitate Council circles for your family, business or organization. If you would like your group to be trained in Council, please contact us.