HOW TO START A MOONBEAMS GROUP
CIRCLE UP for Community Support: a Book Clip from Chapter 7
My vision was to lead a ritual and celebration when Lily started her monthly cycle. But when she was about nine, I began to realize that I couldn’t just spring it on her; she and her friends needed to be eased into this celebration with a monthly group, a group of mothers and daughters who would enjoy coming together and creating sacred space and being--simply being--together. That idea tapped me on the shoulder, but I wasn’t convinced it was time to begin, and in fact I wasn’t even sure just what it was we’d be doing, since my intention was to just be! Of course I wanted to have a clear idea of what it looked like before inviting people to a monthly circle. I put that idea on my back burner, and the shoulder-tapping became downright pressure. More than once, I wondered, “What if another mother had this idea and invited me to her group?” but I knew I wanted to be the one to do the inviting and plan the evening. It was welling up in me. Overriding my uncertainties, I sent out an email to my list of yoga students and friends, inviting mothers with ten-year-old daughters to join me in a circle to honor our daughters. I had cast the net, and ten mothers immediately responded, so I set a date and opened up to whatever the curriculum was going to be. I trusted it would emerge, just like the curriculum for my yoga workshops always had.
Lily was slightly uncomfortable with this prospect--the prospect of her mom potentially looking foolish in front of all her friends and their moms. I agreed: how horrifying if Lily were to be embarrassed by my antics—though I am one of the most composed, low-key, unembarrassing people I know. Nevertheless that was Lily’s number one fear, and I had sympathy. So we made a deal: I committed to run the mother-daughter evenings by her in advance, and she would have the right to reject anything that seemed dumb, embarrassing, or not fun.
For our first evening, we packed roses, a cloth for our altar, water and cups, cd’s (!), tissues. Lily helped me set up the room. Her friends giddily showed up, sat beside their moms, and looked at me expectantly. I felt their trust. Taking in the gazes of the daughters, I felt alive with a heightened sense of adventure, tuned in and open to whatever might happen.
First we played what eventually we called the blindfold game, which wasn’t a game at all—more than just an icebreaker, a chance for girls to tune into each other with their hands, as an extension of their hearts, and then we talked about it. Moms were supportive and offered comments that helped the girls open up to share. I assured the moms that girls’ inevitable giggles were ok with me. We placed meaningful items on our “sacred space,” or altar, as symbols for each of us, individuals creating beauty when arranged together in a sacred space.
The following two evenings, over the next two months, went equally and fulfillingly well. On the fourth evening, I began to run the agenda past Lily. “Mom?” she interrupted, “Can you not tell me what we’re going to do? I want to be surprised, like the other girls.” Here was my green light; I had won over my daughter.
She trusted that this wouldn’t be a group about me embarrassing her. Each month we went a bit deeper, from honoring our daughters externally with rose petals to allowing a special word, describing a quality that they wished to embody, to be revealed to them—from their own hearts. The girls learned that they deserved to be honored—in fact they loved it, they soaked it up! And they learned how to grow, how to create themselves, consciously, from the inside, out.
A couple days before each circle, that circle would be revealed to me. The lack of effort was amazing and humbling…I felt that I was “doing” practically nothing; the level of reward for simply opening up to these ideas was disconcerting…but I got used to it. There were plenty of wonderful ideas in the world for rituals and exercises that the girls and mothers could do, that would allow them to see each other, and honor what they saw.
Four months after we began, we decided that everyone who was going to join had joined. So we formally, and symbolically, closed the circle by taking a ball of yarn, passing it around, wrapping our own wrist three times and handing it to the person on our left until we were all tied together in a circle. Then we each cut the strings that bound us together and declared that symbolically, we were still connected, then passed the scissors to our left. We tied each other’s loose ends, and were each left with a yarn bracelet to remind us of our connection to ourselves and to our supportive group. It was beautiful and deeply felt. I was doing what I most wanted to do. I was manifesting my dream: our mother-daughter circle was real, and had a life of its own.
MoonBeams groups create new and fertile terrain and provide an opportunity to check in on a deep level. They give each girl a chance to practice being seen by her mom and her friends at the same time, which challenges her to be true to herself. They give us a chance to practice noticing if we feel judged, as mothers, and to let that go. If you are motivated, rally your friends from high school and college, the soccer moms, your facebook friends, and ask for a commitment. Our original group has lasted six years and is still intact. Ask your daughter whom she’d most want to invite, and whom she’d least like to invite, and see if some of the girls she is not friends with have mothers who are open to the possibility of creating one magical evening a month that will transcend cliques and old rifts.
The most difficult aspect of starting a group is agreeing on a time to meet. Our first group met one Wednesday evening a month for three years, then one Tuesday evening a month for a year. When the girls reached high school, we switched to Friday nights, when there was less homework pressure and the girls could stay up later. But Friday night brought new conflicts: dances and dates. Although everyone was fully committed to our MoonBeams group, sometimes there was a conflict that took precedence. An occasional play rehearsal, a religious holiday, a school performance…but we stayed flexible. We were fully committed to showing up and being, once a month, and we are still thrilled when we can make it happen.
Reserving a couple hours once a month, in a supportive group, to tap in on a deep level is a great vaccination against depression, alienation, and acting out. It is also a good vaccination against eating disorders and self-medication, against losing ourselves in someone else, against tuning out who we truly are. Hearing and honoring the inner voice: THAT for girls is what defines an individual—not piercings or eyeliner or a boy’s attention. When we insist on not hearing our inner voice, it sometimes needs to roar to get our attention—a monthly check-in helps prevent that roar. Let’s allow that voice to exist as it is meant to be, as the “still, small voice,” rather than it having to morph into something much less pleasant, like anger or pain.
Although it is easier to schedule on the same evening every month, it is an unusual and exciting option to schedule monthly around the moon—I prefer the new moon, because that’s when the farmers sow seeds, as opposed to the full moon, when we are “out there,” and less internal; the full moon is when farmers harvest.
So make a monthly appointment with your daughter and her friends to do…nothing. Together. To get absolutely nothing done. Together. To let your spirits play. Together. That’s what today’s girls are calling out for—they want to be with their moms, unplugged.
When we create a place where our daughters can be seen and celebrated for the voice of their heart, that is the place from which they will conduct their lives. When they are able to hear and follow their inner voice, they will live in happiness, health, and harmony. When we take time out to honor them, they will learn to surround themselves with others who honor them.