Norms & Guidelines For Circles

In Jonathan’s Circle we seek within a group of men sharing our values to explore own our sexual and spiritual nature and expressions. Each Jonathan’s circle, both brotherhood circles and meet-ups, is established by one or more persons who are in contact with Frank Dunn to ensure that ethical standards and best organizational practices are followed. Safety and confidentiality of participants in Jonathan’s Circle are paramount.


Norms for all circles and events

Norms are established in each brotherhood circle. Agreement by consensus is the usual way a brotherhood circle establishes its norms, discussing and agreeing on common values to guide and behaviors to ensure a safe container where openness and growth occur.  Generally, some norms include          

·      confidentiality: it is essential that everything said and shared in Jonathan’s circle be kept strictly confidential

·      punctuality: meetings should begin and end on time, and participants commit themselves to be present from start to finish, unless prevented for good cause

·      attention: full attention and participation is expected, with no phone calls, texting, or other interruptions, except in cases of emergency;

·      listening: listen to understand, not to argue or to agree;

·      respect: exercise respect for others’ boundaries, values, opinions, positions, experiences, tastes, and relationships

·      honesty: be willing to express one’s own feelings, opinions, positions, limitations, boundaries, questions, doubts, and affirmations by making “I statements,” fully claiming one’s own voice

·      openness: be ready to experiment with new behaviors; to be challenged by others;  to question one’s own limitations; to challenge others to examine their positions and limitations; to voice one’s reservations about others’ speech or behavior, or about group dynamics, and to allow others to do the same 

·      responsibility: take one’s turn in arranging for logistical matters, such as set-up and clean-up; lead portions of meetings when it is appropriate, expected, and agreed upon; communicate one’s own issues, needs, and circumstances when, for example, absences from the group are necessary

Norms also apply to all events, retreat, meet-ups, and the online circle. Norms are posted, publicized, reviewed, and discussed as appropriate.

Guidelines for Brotherhood Circles

·             Men register for brotherhood circles, retreats, and events by completing a registration form, which includes a “hold harmless” agreement releasing Jonathan’s Circle from certain legal liabilities. The registration form includes a declaration of any medical issues, including psychological issues, that might impinge upon one’s involvement in Jonathan’s Circle activities. Participants are asked to disclose any physical and emotional issues that may inhibit or prevent full participation in the circle.

·      Men commit to a brotherhood circle for a specific period of time. Brotherhood circles normally run for six months, that being a reasonable length of time for establishing a viable community. Circles may extend their life by consensus for up to a year.  After a year, circles declare themselves open for members to leave and for a circle to re-form, accepting new members—in effect, beginning as a new circle

·      Brotherhood circles meet weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly.  By consensus and design, they may meet more frequently, but normally not less than twice a month, and in no case less than once a month.

·      Brotherhood circles are led by one or two facilitators, who agree to meet established standards of group facilitation and ethical practices.  It is highly desirable for a circle to be led by two co-facilitators.

·      Facilitators agree to abide by best practices of group leadership and also to subscribe to the code of ethics established by Jonathan’s Circle (see separate document).

·      Jonathan’s Circle furnishes facilitators with suggested topics, guidelines, resources, norms, and personal or online coaching.

·     Brotherhood circles, like meet-ups and other events, operate on an experiential learning model. This means that the group engages in experiences, e.g., meditation, massage, movement, chanting, viewing a movie or video, exercise, breath work, etc., and then reflects on that experience. At times, discussion precedes experience, but almost always debriefing an experience is essential. It is essential that Jonathan’s Circle not be simply a discussion group in which opinions are shared divorced from bodily involvement, even on a simple level.

·      Because body involvement, touch, and physical contact are encouraged in Jonathan’s Circles, facilitators and group members take care to see that men are not pressured into receiving unwanted touch, and likewise that men do not give touch without ascertaining that it is welcome. Group norms should be clear as to how men ask for, accept, and decline touch.

·      Jonathan’s Circle recognizes that frank discussion of emotional, spiritual, and sexual practices may place participants in vulnerable situations.  Jonathan’s Circle respects its corporate responsibility to be a safe context in which men may experience deep intimacy through embracing honest sexual and spiritual expression sharing personal experiences, thoughts, feelings, fantasies, memories, hopes, and aspirations. No group activity should take place without the opportunity for individual members to decline to participate.

·      Jonathan’s Circle does not seek consensus on religious, social, sexual, or political matters. Rather, Jonathan’s Circle seeks to be a place where men can freely and openly explore the connection of sexual practice and spiritual life, without being shamed or ostracized. That does not mean that men cannot or should not ask questions of each other, or challenge each other to examine more closely individual positions, opinions, and practices. Such questions should be framed with both respect and candor.

·      Facilitators may decide that, in the best interest of the group or of a participant, a man be asked to discontinue participation. Facilitators have the right and responsibility to ask such a participant to discontinue participation in Jonathan’s Circle, and in such cases, a facilitator’s decision is final. If such an unlikely event occurs, the facilitator asks to meet with the individual for the purpose of helping that person understand why such a decision has been made.


Code of Ethics  

Participants in Jonathan’s Circle, both facilitators and others, commit to ethical practices in our life, work, and play. We acknowledge that our relationships in Jonathan’s Circle will be most effective and growth-producing by our honoring these values:

·      Trust.  Trust is a gift whereby men can speak, explore, and claim their truths.  Any violation of trust, especially for the purpose of personal financial, physical, sexual, or psychological gain, is a serious infraction of the principles of Jonathan’s Circle that deserves to be addressed, ended, and appropriate amends made to offended persons.

·     Respect.  We commit ourselves to honor and respect each other’s bodies, spirits, commitments, relationships, personal boundaries, beliefs, and traditions.

·     Humility.  We agree to admit to our circle brothers when we believe that our actions might be or have been exploitative, asking for challenge, support, and counsel, as appropriate.

·     Growth and Accountability.  Jonathan’s Circle supports men in fully claiming the sacredness of their sexual nature. We agree to hold each other accountable, and to challenge persons when we believe that they have exploited another’s vulnerability.

·      Safety.  Each circle will hold safe emotional and physical space so that every participant may be fully present to explore, claim and celebrate his sexual and spiritual uniqueness. Leaders of Jonathan’s Circle, specifically facilitators and any others who from time to time exercise leadership and authority, commit not to participate in any financial, commercial, therapeutic, personal, or professional relationship that exploits a man’s vulnerability, or results in personal gain for such leaders.

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  informat  © Frank Dunn 2014