Category: Fall 2015


Over the last few hours, days, months we have experienced the best and the worst of humanity. Violent acts fuelled by hatred and total disregard for human life juxtaposed with the vision of three Montreal men from different cultural backgrounds firmly holding hands and signs telling the world that “we are brothers” and our bond will not be broken. Love over fear is the choice these young men are so boldly making. All of this is unfolding in real time as the images and words flood our screens and airwaves as we collectively seek to find meaning in it all.

diverging pathsAs I absorb what is happening in the world I call home it becomes clear to me that we are at a fork in the road. This fork does not feel new but rather like a well-travelled path that we have experienced many times over our collective history.

As I contemplate my role in this unfolding story I realize that our power lies in our coming together, in our collective voices and our connected hearts. Just as these young men from Montreal are so beautifully showing us. When we come together we access our shared wisdom and story and tap into a power that is much greater than its individual parts. This coming together is echoed in the words of Wayne Muller, “we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing”.

The Dreamer part of me would like to invite the world to a Peace Circle. A safe place of true connection where we can speak our truth, experience our humanity and with the power of our collective wisdom and healing create a new story for our world.

As I contemplate my own journey, I know my answer lies in creating Peace Circle moments in my daily living and in offering Peace Circle to community. As in Circle, I seek to speak and listen from my heart and to live #loveoverfear.

In Peace,



Karen McCarthy is passionate about cultivating safe and creative spaces for people to share, explore and transform their lives in authentic and meaningful ways. Her wealth of knowledge and experiences as well as formal training in Peace Circle facilitation makes Karen the ideal partner along with Shirley Lynn in offering peace building experiences such as Peace Circle.

Karen and Shirley Lynn are co-facilitating an introductory evening to Peace Circle on December 16th in Waterloo. Additional Peace Circles are coming in January and February, with more to follow.

Peace Together: The Power of Vision in Community

Whenever I’m invited to be the celebrant of someone’s wedding, there are three key questions I ask them to answer prior to making plans for the wedding ceremony.

The first question asks them about their vision of their marriage, about their relationship together. I invite them to consider the dreams of who they see themselves becoming and how much room for becoming have they allowed for themselves.

Becoming is a state of being that invokes a vision of the future. It invokes the unfolding potential expression of who we can be. This is an important question because if couples haven’t considered the state of becoming as having a major influence in their lives and marriage, they will often find themselves feeling betrayed. “He wasn’t like this when we got married” … “I don’t know who she is anymore – that didn’t used to matter to her”. The values and ‘vows’ they make to each other now must have enough intention, awareness and commitment to the space of who they are yet to become. The language must include a level of openness, invitation and inclusivity in the shared sense of vision, of purpose and values that will take them into an unknown future when life brings them what they didn’t imagine.

The second question asks them about who they are now – with each other as well as on their own. I invite them to note the goals and shared values which support connection, intimacy and trust with each other in this journey they are choosing together here and now. It is both delightful and challenging to share one’s most innermost self with another. This state of being is here and now. It’s the fullness of the moment and all that one is right here, right now. I invite them to sink into, to truly become vulnerable to each other at the level of their truth and be together. If they can’t be together here and now, how will they survive the ‘becoming’ together in marriage?

And finally, the third question asks them to consider the community who supports and joins them in their being here and now and who holds a positive vision of their becoming together. We never get anywhere by ourselves. Business leaders affirm this wisdom, as do educators, politicians and spiritual leaders. We know that you need a ‘village to raise a child’ because the responsibilities, skills, challenges and blessings to raise a child require a whole community. It requires a community to bear witness, affirm and support this incredible life adventure. No less so for marriage success.

With thoughtful responses to these three questions, we then begin to discuss the ceremony, the rituals of joy, blessing and meaning. We talk about this ceremony as one that goes with them as an ongoing blessing, rather than a one-day event.

These same questions or variations thereof, share many of my conversations with people in soul coaching and whole life therapies sessions, in Reiki practice and meditation training, and now in Peace Circle.

When we share heart-felt stories in Peace Circle, we often weave between the worlds of being and becoming, between the presence of the moment and the vision of our best future. The power of circle is the compassionate, confidential, listening and truth-centred speaking qualities of being community together as we weave between these states of being and becoming.

On Friday, I attended the annual general meeting of my professional organization where the president spoke to the experience and value of ‘communitas’ in our organization. In her address, Christina Becker stated:

Communitas refers to the unstructured state in which all members of a community are equal allowing each member to share a common experience, usually through a rite of passage. This is different from the structure of community and its secular roles. Communitas reflects that element of a shared experienced which verges on the sacred.

We are standing at one of the most challenging crossroads in human history. Our past is unable to predict our future because there is so much change. I can’t help wonder where the ‘communitas’ is within the society and where we will find it moving forward.

It is this ‘communitas’ that couples require to be vibrant and supported in their marriages. It is this ‘communitas’ that I experience in our monthly Reiki gatherings. It is this ‘communitas’ I envision in our Peace Circle as visionaries gather to create new stories, transform old stories and express their best stories of who they are. It is also this ‘communitas’ that is necessary for visionaries who are committed to become leaders of ‘peace on earth’ in ourselves, in our world, with each other and with all sentient beings because life is changing so fast. The spirit of community in Peace Circle is not just a one time event.

This spirit of love, vision and peace weaves and moves like the Great Circle of Creation empowering and transforming our being and becoming as together we create and build peace on earth. Let’s start sharing our ‘being’ together so we can inspire the best ‘becoming’ together on our incredible planet.


Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: The Blessing of Stillness to Lead

I just finished teaching a 3-day Reiki Level II course during which I was reminded of the power of three major energy centres in our bodies, and how in ‘stillness’ we can access and utilize this power for our life purpose and vision for peace on earth. Quite simply, we have the head centre, the heart centre and the belly centre. When healthy and functioning, these centres interrelate with each other and provide an alchemy of vital clarity and empowerment which sustains our lives and being.

The Self operates through these three centres of consciousness which then operate through what is known as the chakra system. Various understandings of these centres exist, but today, I will keep it simple. The head centre is the centre of wisdom. The heart centre is one of compassion, love and sensitivity. The belly centre supports vitality, action and boundaries. Each centre is vital to the development of our personality and our soul.

“Listen to your heart, but lead with your head” as stated by leadership expert Jeanne Gulbranson. I have pondered this phrase alongside with the wisdom of mystics and spiritual leaders such as Lao Tzu and Dalai Lama who promote the path of compassion. Dalai Lama states “Compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and a sense of self-discipline are qualities that help us lead our daily lives with a calm mind.” Lao Tzu writes of the three treasures – compassion, moderation and the courage not to be first in the world – as foundations for true leaders. Nelson Mandela stated “lead from the back and let others believe they are in front.”

choosing your pathIn a world under significant transitions, extraordinary changes at mind-bending speed, it can be most challenging to lead our own lives. Making decisions in a world where there are as many opinions, theories and research results as there are communities, groups and institutes can become confusing, overwhelming and stressful. Which wisdom school do I access to help me in this critical moment? Who can best help me decide which path best supports my core sense of purpose? I know you have asked these questions because I have heard you ask them with me. And like you, I have asked them too as I seek to be a leader in my own life.

For me, a leader is someone who acts with wisdom, compassion and healthy (clarity of) boundaries on their vision and purpose. These qualities of wisdom, compassion and clarity of boundaries acted upon are nurtured in balancing and strengthening the three major energy centres and vice versa. At times, the body may lead. At another situation, the heart may lead, and in another moment, the head centre through wisdom may lead. Becoming aware of these power/energy centres and what keeps you balanced and whole as you lead your life is the gift and blessing that comes with stillness.

In my years of pondering, testing, failing, rising to my best, falling down and getting back up, I have realized that my Reiki meditation and self-healing practice have offered me spaces of stillness and quiet calm. In this place of spacious stillness, my energy system becomes balanced, my mind softens and my heart expands. My breath calms and goes deeper. My parasympathetic nervous system becomes activated and my sympathetic nervous systems relaxes. In this space, I feel safe, secure and loved. What I have noticed is that as my three centres balance and strengthen, my action, my compassion and my intellect align. I lead from my soul and I have the flexibility in these new times to lead with the guidance that comes from within the space of stillness.

I have also learned over the years as I have facilitated Reiki learning, community-building and meditation nights, that when I share this ‘spacious stillness’ in a sacred community, intimacy, connection, belonging and joy increase as added blessings to these leadership or visionary qualities.

If you are like me and you have a vision and inner calling of peace on earth that requires the attention, awareness, passion, courage and all the diverse qualities these leaders have shared with us, then you also may be looking for a sacred, safe and confidential space to share your vision and nurture the inner wisdom you have as a visionary of real and concrete peace on earth.

The great news is that we don’t have to do it alone. We aren’t meant to do it alone. So find those people who will hold the power of stillness, practise the path of inner stillness in body, mind and heart with you and claim your inner wisdom to manifest the peace you are called to create in our world.

If you are looking for an incredible and inspired opportunity to come into stillness and experience the blessing of your own truth and wisdom, then join us for Peace Circle. It will bless you with sacred qualities that become the way you engage and lead through your vision of peace on earth. The time is now. The Earth is calling the visionaries forward to lead. Let’s gather.

Peace Circle will be held on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 from 7:00-9:30 pm in Waterloo. Contact Shirley Lynn for more details.

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: Visioning a New Community

Over the past few years I have sat in Circle with various groups and teachers, being awed every time by the magic that happens within this incredible system of transformation and development of inner wisdom and community.

For the past 1½ years, I’ve been sitting in Peace Circle with Karen, my co-facilitator, listening to and speaking from our hearts. We spoke our dreams, our fears, our resistances to stepping out in new and different ways into the circle. We told stories of times we felt empowered and alive, stories where we felt incompetent and small. We explored the stories we carried that others told us about who we were rather than who we knew ourselves to be. We shared stories where we led with our heart and wisdom, positively impacting those who followed. We revealed stories of less stellar moments in our leading where we had failed to listen as deeply as we needed to for a larger understanding.

The power of such story-telling in the structure of Circle created an intimacy that was reliably confidential, inherently wise and honest, yet remaining compassionate and visionary. The intention of facilitating Peace Circles remained our touchstone. Our inner sense of mission kept pulling us toward our intention to serve with joy and peace in our hearts. And while our mission for Peace Circle began to find form and function, content and context in our ever-changing world, two other incredible dynamics began to manifest.

The first dynamic I began to notice in Peace Circle is that my sense of self (self-identity) expanded. I experienced the very technology of Peace Circle calling me to live beyond the way I had understood who I was and my belief in how I should engage in the world. As Tony Robbins writes: “Identity is the strongest force in human personality. We all have a deep and abiding need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves. Any transformation you make within yourself will depend on your ability to expand this identity. By building a new, empowering set of beliefs, you can create a lasting transformation within yourself and in your life.”

In sharing my heart-felt stories, I began to change my sense of self. As my sense of self transformed, so too did my choices and behaviours. It wasn’t without challenges, but the gift of Circle is that it contained me and my life. It contained the challenges and gave flow to the inner transformation. As I changed how I saw myself, I could take different action toward my higher vision, action that previously would have been outside my repertoire of choices.

As my sense of self began to expand, a second dynamic was unfolding for me. I began to expand my access to my inner wisdom and ways to articulate this wisdom. In Circle, when the circle member with the talking piece is speaking, everyone else listens – no comments, no responses. The talking piece reminds the speaker to share from the heart – leanly and honestly. Bells provide moments to pause, to reconnect to the centre which holds the intention and purpose of the circle.

As I would hold the talking piece, the circle guideline to speak honestly and leanly created the space for me to really speak what mattered. The very nature of Circle called me to de-clutter my ‘conditioned’ story and to listen for the wisdom that lay waiting for me to honour and express it. To speak compassionately about myself and to listen to my partner with compassion opened the flow to know my own wisdom. With the presence of a compassionate witness, my journey of bringing my wisdom into the light accelerated my spiritual maturity as well as the results of my business path.

A third gift came in this journey of Peace Circle when a moment of crisis arose. A safe and honest method to transform conflict is anchored within the ‘genetics’ and time-honoured process of circle. It can feel challenging in the moment and at times I just wanted to skip over the conflict or ‘elephant in the room’. However, by staying true to the Peace Circle system, the conflict was transformed into an even better version of the vision we had. And as visionaries and professionals, remaining open to what works better (not necessarily always the next new trend) is an important element in expanding our sense of self as well as developing our inner wisdom.

As you consider how you want to develop and expand your own wisdom, your sense of self, and perhaps even your spiritual path, I invite you to open yourself to a new and ancient technology. Peace Circle creates a space where the mind and heart meet and where the soul story of our lives is revealed. The guidelines and structure (or technology) of Circle accelerates the path to success. When committed and heart-centred people share real stories that change how we see ourselves and the wisdom we have access to within circle, a synergistic transformation effect is created for all members.

Over the past years, Peace Circle has opened and developed my inner wisdom and sense of self. It has also offered me sacred community—a place to be real, true and in soul connection.

I am excited to finally be ready to share this power and transformation in community with you on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015. Stay tuned for upcoming information on this new Peace Circle offering. I look forward to seeing you there.

The Gifts of Autumn: Let Go and Enjoy the Ride

by Lucy Martin

Autumn has definitely arrived – the leaves are slowly changing colour and dropping from the trees, the air is crisp, the earth smells of decaying organic matter, the daylight is more muted, the wind more insistent in sneaking under your clothes.

I love walking at this time of year. It is such a sensory experience – the snapping of twigs, the rustling leaves, birds singing and calling to each other, the hustle and bustle of countless creatures preparing for winter. I don’t think there is anything subtle about the fall.

uprootedChanges in the fall can be swift and dramatic from one day to the next. One day can be rainy and cool, the next is sunny and warm, and the next a biting wind. Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a walk in the woods with some friends. I was struck by how different the bush looked from two days earlier – Saturday’s wind had uprooted and broken numerous trees and branches, and had shaken loose a mass of leaves that now lay restfully on the ground.

I was reminded again of the all-ages book by Leo Buscaglia “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” – a story reflecting on the life and eventual death of Freddie and his other leaf friends. Even though the story has been used to explore dying and death, it is also about letting go of what no longer serves us.

red leaf on fernNature is a fine teacher about the act of letting go – every autumn she demonstrates how to shed what is old and used up thereby making space for what is vital and new. She makes it look so easy and effortless. But for me, it doesn’t feel that easy just to let go of things, even if they’re no longer necessary or useful in my life. Freddie expresses this fear of letting go, of preferring to hang on for dear life to the known, rather than opening himself up to the possibilities of the unknown.

What is the cost of hanging on to old and useless (or maybe even harmful) behaviours, beliefs, relationships, belongings, etc? If we never clear out the clutter of our lives, how can we open our hearts and souls to the peace and inspiration of the fresh and new? What are we denying ourselves by clinging to what no longer serves us?

Actions to inspire you this Autumn:

  1. Go through your closet, desk, garage – any cluttered storage area – and discard or give away what you no longer need.
  2. Examine your attitudes and beliefs – resolve any old resentments, issues and hurts and let them go.
  3. Take time each day to breath slowly and deeply. As you inhale the clean autumn air, feel yourself energized and purified. Feel the old negativity, impurity and pain leave your body and psyche. Then contemplate who you are without these identities.

soft landingNature has shown us the way but imitating Her simplicity can feel more complex within our own lives. Letting go of the branch we have been clinging to for a long time may feel overwhelming and frightening – I urge you to find the courage to contact Shirley Lynn to ‘be your Daniel’. She has the knowledge and resources to help you let go of the old and useless and reach for the new and inspired.

Take action today. And may you land gently and gracefully,