How to form a Compassion Circle

A Compassion Circle is a space in any community where people can come together to cultivate their compassion as well as talk about any issues they may be facing in living a life that’s based on compassionate values.

Being able to do this as a group can be really powerful. Practicing with others helps create a feeling of support as well as offering the chance to troubleshoot and share concerns or struggles. By creating your own Circle, you’ll be helping to plant the seeds of compassionate living right in your community.

Step 1: Find people to start with

This is not essential, but it is helpful. If you can, seek out someone – a friend, neighbor, or just ask on a local forum – who can help you in setting up a group. This just helps to share the work out and means there is someone there to help you with any setbacks.

Step 2: Agree a time and place

Whether you do this with others or start on your own, work out how often you want to meet and where. We recommend once or twice a month to start with to avoid overcommitting – but of course, if you think you can meet every week or even more often then do go for it!

At this stage, you should also choose where you want to meet. You might choose to meet online for convenience (Zoom will let you host a meeting for 40 minutes for free) – though it can be nice to break this up with meetings in person. If you meet in person, remember to consider access requirements. You might use your home or the home of someone else as a venue but it’s quite possible that isn’t practical or desirable. If not, seek out a good place in the community. Town halls, religious buildings, places of leisure, and cafes often offer up rooms for small meetings. You can also ask local charities.

Step 3: Get the word out

Once you’ve chosen when you want to start, it’s time to advertise! There are lots of options here: community social media groups, local noticeboards, newspapers, and leaflets are all good options. You could also email other local groups to see if their members might be interested in attending.

Below is some suggested text you can use:

Compassion XXX [Put the name of your community in here] is being formed to offer a space for anyone who wants to cultivate more compassion for themselves and others. In our increasingly busy and chaotic lives, we can often find ourselves feeling anxious, worn out, and ground down. Practicing compassion is our antidote – helping to generate a sense of warmth, well-being, and joy. Join us for talks, practices, and mutual support.

Step 4: Plan your first event

Plan out the structure of your first event. You may simply use this to welcome everyone, explain a little bit about the purpose of the group, some background to compassion, and to get to know each other. If you want to kick-off with an introduction to compassion, here are some materials that may help:

Step 5: Where to get practices

We’re thinking you will probably want to structure your meetings roughly as follows:

  • Brief welcome and check-in
  • Practice
  • Discussion

We have a library of practices you can access for free here.

Step 6: Prompts for discussions

Below are a series of prompts you can use for your post-practice discussions:

  • How did you find that?
  • Did it prompt any particular thoughts?
  • What was helpful? What wasn’t so helpful?
  • How do you help yourself stay centered?
  • How do you try to bring more compassion to others?
  • How do you try to bring more compassion to yourself?
  • What’s been in your mind lately?
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