Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Making History

Starsoundings Journals

Making History

It was early January 2006.  Our house was empty, and without any furniture.  Friends said, "We need to bless your house.  When do you want to do it?"  I said, "The night of the full moon."  To prepare, I went to Walmart and bought eight folding chairs. On the full moon January 14th, eight friends, who would become close friends, sat on folding chairs around a cardboard box turned into a makeshift altar, burned incense and invoked blessings for the house.  It was the start of what became known as The Women's Meditation Circle.

They said, "Let's do it again on the February full moon."  We did. By March, the group of eight had doubled as word spread in the community.  Before the end of the year we were regularly seating forty women in the homes of members.  Soon, no home was large enough to hold the group.  It was time to find a permanent home.  In 2008, David Less, director of Rising Tide Spiritual Center heard about the work of our group and offered their center on Friday evenings for the Women's Meditations.  It became a mainstay at Rising Tide and has been our spiritual home
ever since.

What's so special about the Women's Meditation Circle?  Why has it survived for ten years when other groups haven't?  I believe this is why.  Every circle is a rimmed container, but this one is uncommon. At its start the Women's Meditation Circle set a vision of raising human consciousness by raising our own.  With respect and integrity it reflects that vision to others.  It opens wide to all the women who come in the door. It's a place where strangers become friends and friends become family.

In their own words, women said: "I find love and acceptance every time I attend a gathering."  "It's a place where I learned  how to meditate." "It broadened my understanding of spirituality." "No matter how wretched my week has been, when I walk into that space I'm grounded and feel peace and contentment." "This circle and these women are my spiritual home." "It's my north star, constantly guiding me back home." These testimonials were borne out when The Women's Meditation Circle won Natural Awakenings "Nattie Award" as favorite meditation group for six years in a row.  The magazine retired the category in 2015.

Women from different religious backgrounds or spiritual disciplines find a neutral home here. 
They, along with leaders of many spiritual centers in southwest Florida, are chosen to lead the twice-a- month meditations. Though their practices are varied they nourish the collective spirit. We've had Gong Meditations, Pipe Ceremonies and Balinese spirituality. The nights of Drumming, Connecting with Animal Totems,  and guided imagery meditations, pack the room as readily as those on Mindfulness or Honoring the Ancestors.

The work of The Women's Meditation Circle is not limited to just leading meditations.  Equinoxes and Solstices are celebrated on each seasonal change.  Children and men not only are invited to attend, but are active participants in the ceremonies with kids reading their messages of hope for a peaceful world.  We support charitable organizations through special collection efforts, like The Hope Project in India which helps the poor in Delhi and The Mayors Feed The Hungry Program of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Ten years have passed since our simple beginning.  From eight women we've grown to well over five hundred now. On January 8th we will celebrate our Tenth Anniversary on the New Moon.  It's fitting that we do this on the New Moon for it symbolizes new beginnings. It's a time when we review the past and then set new goals for the future. Our vision remains the same but our vitality is enhanced by the many new women who come each Friday to the meditations. We cherish those who have been with us for ten years and we continue to hold the circle sacred embracing all who enter. 

Jo Mooy - January 2016