Millionth Circle



"The millionth circle" refers to the circle whose formation tips the scales and shifts planetary consciousness. The phrase comes from Jean Shinoda Bolen's book The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World, which in turn was inspired by "the hundredth monkey," the story that sustained anti-nuclear activists in the 1970-1980s to continue on when conventional wisdom said that nothing (certainly not ordinary people) could deter the nuclear arms race between the superpowers.


Circles encourage connection and cooperation among their members and inspire compassionate solutions to individual, community and world problems. We believe that circles support each member to find her or his own voice and to live more courageously, and intend:

Nurture Circles seed and nurture circles, wherever possible, in order to cultivate equality, sustainable livelihoods, preservation of the earth and peace for all.

United Nations bring the circle process into United Nations accredited non-governmental organizations and the 5th UN World Conference on Women in 2005.

Shift Consciousness connect circles so they may know themselves as a part of a larger movement to shift consciousness in the world.

Circle Guidelines

To participate in a circle, all you need is the desire, the willingness to attend the gatherings and to agree to follow circle principles. Each group determines their own guidelines. Following are some agreements that have helped circles to function more successfully for all participants.
Download Circle Guidelines
  • Create a circle.
  • Consider it a sacred space.
  • One person speaks at a time.
  • Speak and listen from the heart.
  • Encourage and welcome diverse points of view.
  • Listen with discernment instead of judgment.
  • Share leadership and resources.
  • Decide together how decisions will be made.
  • Work toward consensus when possible.
  • Offer experience instead of advice.
  • When in doubt or need, pause and silently ask for guidance.
  • Decide together what is to be held in confidence.
  • Speak from your own experience and beliefs rather than speaking for others.
  • Open and close the circle by hearing each voice. (Check-ins and check-outs.)


The following are some suggested guidelines for a circle:

Create sacred space. This includes physically preparing a space to accommodate the participants in a circle, usually with a centerpiece or altar.
Listen with compassion and for wisdom. This includes listening without an agenda, suspending judgment, being curious and finding the underlying meaning in others' statements. Also, it is listening for wisdom as it comes through each participant.
Speak from your heart and experience. Speak one at a time. This includes saying what is true for you and speaking to the center of the circle, not to another individual. We offer our experience and feelings to the circle, not our advice. Also, we speak one at a time and invoke a talking piece when needed, to ensure that all are heard.
Invite silence and reflection when needed, in you and in the circle. This includes listening to our own inner guidance before speaking. Also, we request silence and reflection in the circle when we feel it is needed.
Take responsibility for your experience and your impact on the circle. This includes demonstrating self-respect and self-restraint. We self-monitor to ensure that our needs and expectations are being met. We ensure our contribution adds to the positive experience of all in the circle.
Keep the confidence of the circle. This refers to our confidentiality agreements. What is spoken in the circle, stays in the circle to help ensure a safe environment for sharing our experiences and feelings.
Make decisions, when needed, by consensus. This refers to our decision making process. Should a circle need to make a decision, it is generally desirable tocome to a consensus. These guidelines can be used as a starting point for group agreements in any circle, knowing that each group will add or delete as they see fit.
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Millionth Circle