St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP) has delivered 1,000’s of Circles and trained 100’s of people in Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle process. Circles in kindergarten classrooms, museums, prisons, college campus, fire departments, churches and many at the Restorative Justice Center.
As our program demands grown, the need to teach people the art of Circle keeping has grown. As a non-profit working alongside criminal justice systems, the need to be “evidence-based” is crucial. Having great outcomes, it is important to maintain the success. These means teaching others how to do powerful, meaningful, effective Circle keeping. I have focused on this for years. The increased demand in training requests, partnered with the requests to do a two-day training in half-a-day has caused me to be analytical in the delivery of quality training, effective skills and targeted strategies for Circle keeping.
At a recent training I shared the technique of contracting or expanding my explanation of Restorative Justice and Circle. In the very beginning before the opening reading, when starting I suggest doing this. A training participant asked me more about what I meant. I explained speaking longer or shorter, and monitoring the emotional climate. I was asked again what I meant. I realized I had developed my “feeling” for it. My intuition had developed from doing Circles so often. The second nature of Circle keeping is living and expresing the values of Restorative Justice.
Right then in the training session, I started explaining what that meant. I talked about body posture of others, eye contact, how I was feeling. What are the clues to “knowing” when we are ready to start Circle. I used words like: trust, calm, connection. Today I found what it is by brain science!
A HUGE ah-ha! In reading Words Can Change your Brain, by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, I noted the 12 Strategies of Compassionate Communication and powerful and making a TON of sense in the context of Restorative Justice. I had to see if I could find a handout for this afternoons training. It led me to learning the neural resonance also called neural coupling is a speaker-listener brain based connection! THAT is the element to use when monitoring your Circle for emotional climate!