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The Way of Council

Revised Edition
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Paperback Book
March, 2009
$33.50 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

While presenting this book in “shamanism,” the empathetic listening and heart-centred truth-telling skills of council can just as well apply to family relationships, work and business teams, educational processes, government and law, support groups, counseling, and—really—anywhere that clear, real communication counts. This is a potent, evocative guidebook that seeds vital community-building skills.

Growing out of work at the Ojai Foundation in the mid-1980s, “the way of council now flourishes at the Foundation as an integral part of student retreats, adult programs, leadership trainings, and the community’s way of self-governance.”

Since 1980, I have sat in thousands of councils with primary and secondary school students, teachers, community members, business men, and women—and members of my own family. During this same period, Jaquelyn and I began using council as a primary process in our own relationship and in our counseling practices. “Dyadic council” turned out to be a major ally in developing better communication and realizing our shared vision of relationship as a spiritual path. Many couples who participate in our “Mysteries of Eros” workshops in Ojai, or with whom we work privately, have also found council to be an invaluable tool in building a more conscious and spirited life together.

Among the many skills and topics of council explored are setting the scene, size of the circle, connecting with place, creating a ceremonial environment, the talking piece, the four intentions of council (speaking from the heart, listening from the heart, being of “lean expression,” and spontaneity), confidentiality, “weather reports,” alternate forms, conflict resolution, decision making, the role of witness, visioning councils, leadership and keeping thematic councils on track, councils of children, family councils, councils in community and business, and much more.

The unique contribution of this book is to reflect—and recognize—our unique depths, difficulties and insights through a conscious, respectful way of sharing our living, working and loving together. It is the listening edge of deep learning, precious and important. Readers are skillfully invited, with many roadtested tips, guidelines and exercises, to, as Gigi Coyle says,

join in the spirit of council to which our lives are dedicated. If we continue to question and listen, to speak and be heard, we can together create an offering for the benefit of all beings.

“This is a revolutionary and inspiring book, a must for professionals and non-professionals alike! It provides us with a method for training individuals in basic communication skills that is equally applicable to large communities, to business environments, to therapeutic groups or to family systems. Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle are to be congratulated for this superb contribution to the consciousness of our time.” —Hal and Sidra Stone, authors of Embracing Your Inner Critic

“Virginia Coyle was born to guide council groups through the vital processes of expression, reflection, discovery, and consensus. Many times we have sat with her in wilderness councils and many times we have been blessed with the presence of unconditional love. She could organize a school of fish into wearing feathers if, indeed, that was their intent!” —Stephen Foster & Meredith Little, authors of The Book of the Vision Quest




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