We see heart-centered friendships and relationships among men who love men as the cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant queer men’s community. In a world where it is still difficult to be queer men, we offer one another the best parts of ourselves. We create spaces where we can be ourselves, express our feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgement.
The Polyvagal Theory provides the neurophysiological foundations for understanding how we come into community in a way that facilitates friendship and heals trauma.
Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. He is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton, 2011), The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, (Norton, 2017) and co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton, 2018).
Practice ideas for heart circles and gatherings.
Practice: We use Heart Circles to share our journey with one another. Your truth is welcome here. We create a safe and accepting space as a group so each of us can speak openly and honestly, be heard without judgment and enjoy the support of our community. The key to a Heart Circle is found in the intention we bring to it. Here is a place far removed from the demands of our daily lives where we can meet, share our true feelings and witness others’ stories without being judged, interrupted or offered advice. There are few places like it, and from this it draws its power.
Guidelines for Heart Circles:
- Be present. Relax. Breathe. Have no distractions. Turn all technology off.
- Speak from your heart about what you are feeling right now. Own your feelings (“I feel…” is a good way to begin). You can choose not to speak if you have nothing to say.
- Listen to others. Witness what they are sharing.
- Respect others. Be accepting and nonjudgmental. Honor confidentiality.
- One person speaks, others listen. No crosstalk or fixing. Show agreement by “hissing.” Put your hand to your ear if you can’t hear.
- Take care of yourself. Come and go quietly in between sharings.
- Whoever begins the circle, ends the circle and ensures the spirit and safety of the circle are maintained throughout.
Practice: We use hugging meditation to connect and know that we’re not separate beings. To practice, we first bow and recognize the presence of the faerie we will hug. After taking three deeply conscious breaths to bring ourselves fully into the present, we then open our arms and begin hugging. We hold one another for three in-and-out breaths.
- With the first breath, we are aware that we are present in this very moment and we are happy.
- With the second breath, we are aware that the other is present in this moment and we are happy as well.
- With the third breath, we are aware that we are here together, right now on this earth, and we feel deep gratitude and happiness for our togetherness.
We then release the faerie we’re hugging and bow to one another to show our thanks. This can be repeated several times with new partners.
Practice: We use our faerie names when in community with one another. Once you have selected your faerie name, bring it to Heart Circle, and we will call out your chosen name three times. We’ll use your chosen name when you’re in community with us. You’re always welcome to keep your given name but walk among us with a magical name if you wish.
- The Mystery of Holding via The Sounds True Blog
- The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Our Third Gender Responsibilities by Harry Hay
- Toward New Frontiers of Fairy Vision – subject-SUBJECT Consciousness by Harry Hay
- How to Practice Hugging Meditation by by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight World by Alan Downs, Ph.D.
- Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives by Walt Odets
- Neuroception: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety by Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.
- Trauma: Frozen Moments, Frozen Lives by Gaetano Vaccaro, Ph.D. and Joni Lavick, M.F.T
- Surviving Trauma and Anxiety As a Result of Events of Discrimination by Jackie Mascher
- Queers Read This