This modification of open conversation in a small group (2-30 people) can help it have some of the benefits of a formal Talking Circle without the constraints. It is best done with the group sitting in a circle.
You will need a chime (or a gong) and a stone (or other Talking Circle object) placed where all participants can easily reach them, usually in the center of the circle. If needed, explain their purpose to the participants.
THE CHIME: If at any time one of the participants feels the group needs to slow down, center itself or move to a "heart space," they reach into the middle of the circle and strike the chime or gong. All talking stops immediately until the sound fades. Often the silence extends for a minute or more. When conversation begins again, it usually has a more centered, reflective quality.
THE STONE: When someone picks it up, they get the next turn after whoever is currently talking. When they are done, the stone is returned to the center, and the conversation continues as it did before (usually without the use of the stone by most participants).
- The purpose of the stone ritual is to enable participation by less dominant, more reflective people who aren't inclined to compete for turns in fast-moving, often competitive conversations.
- The stone ritual has a more profound effect in groups that have experience with Talking Circle, due to the quality of attention they tend to give to the person holding the object, but it can still be useful in other groups, as well.