• Clarifying what constitutes a Trillium Awakening mutuality circle, and the different functions of mutuality circles

  • Keeping a pulse on the activities and needs of Trillium Awakening mutuality circles in order to offer support and guidance when needed

  • Informing mutuality circles of any changes in TATC policies and activities that might affect them, including updates to our dharma

  • Liaising with the Community Network regarding Trillium Awakening mutuality circles

  • Supporting the virtual mutuality circle organizer as needed

  • Supporting the Peer Mutuality Circle Coordinator


  • April 16, 2015
    Mutuality Circle Definitions and Guidelines

    In Trillium Awakening (TA), a gathering of participants may be teacher-led or peer-based. A teacher-led group is generally referred to as a “Sitting.” Peer-based groups have called themselves “Mutuality Circles”, or “Peer Circles.” The primary distinction is the presence of a Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC) teacher. The guidelines may be slightly different when a TA teacher is present to guide the gathering.

    A Teacher Sitting or a Peer Circle gathering may meet in person, via telephone conference, or with the aid of video-based web platforms.

    Peer-based Trillium Awakening mutuality circles are formed of members of the TA community at large. There is frequently someone in each group who volunteers to organize the group and act as host, and/or moderator for the meetings. Some groups share these roles among individual members, even rotating the roles of host, organizer, moderator, etc. As these are gatherings of equals it can be useful (though not required) to include as many members as are willing and interested in taking responsibility with tasks that help the group function, and remain aligned with the spirit of Trillium Awakening.

    Peer group organizers agree to adhere to the published Trillium Awakening Mutuality Circle Host Guidelines. (see below)

    In order to qualify as a Trillium Awakening Peer Group in good standing, all members of the group must fulfill certain prerequisites. Membership prerequisites include:

    1) Regular sessions or sittings with a Trillium Awakening Teacher.
    2) Completion of a Trillium Awakening introductory course OR attendance at one or more Trillium Awakening teacher-led workshops.
    3) In addition, all members agree to familiarize themselves with, and follow, our Guidelines for Practicing Mutuality.
    It can be useful to reread these guidelines from time to time. You’ll find that depth of understanding increases as you grow in the work.

    In order for peer-based Trillium Awakening mutuality circle to be listed on the TrilliumAwakening.org website, and be announced via TA mailing lists, all members must fulfill the prerequisites, and agree to follow the guidelines.

    Teacher-led sittings are formed of members of the Trillium Awakening community under the guidance of an active Trillium Teachers Circle teacher. With a teacher in this role the prerequisites for membership and listing are more relaxed. All members are still encouraged to become familiar with and follow our Guidelines for Trillium Awakening Mutuality Groups, and to explore the many expressions of Trillium Awakening through reading, videos, and engagement in private sessions with teachers and mentors, when they are able.

  • Peer-Facilitated Virtual Mutuality Circle Coordinator
    2018, written by Sugandhi Barnes, Cielle Backstrom, Deborah Boyar

    The TrilliumAwakening.org site offers online registration for committed Trillium Awakening practitioners to join a virtual mutuality circle. These groups are facilitated by experienced practitioners and meet regularly via video or phone. Most groups are closed to support cohesion and safety, and do not allow drop-in attendance.

    The Peer-Facilitated Virtual Mutuality Circle Coordinator is a Trillium mentor, teacher or advanced practitioner who receives and tracks the online registration form, and then:
    places participants in small groups
    helps group members understand mutuality guidelines
    emails group members documents about mutuality
    supports groups as needed

    Collecting requests to be placed in a group
    Upon receiving a registration form, the person filling this task will let the person know s/he will be getting back in touch with information when enough people register to form a new group. Typically, the forms trickle in over time.

    Inviting participants to register for groups
    Once or twice a year, the person filling this task will remind students about these peer-facilitated virtual circles, and include a link to the online form, by posting to Facebook and/or sending an announcement to the international Trillium email list (via the Mailing List role). Registrations may then flood in for a short time.

    Forming circles
    When placing people in circles, identify:
    Best time and day for meetings;
    Each circle should have at least one experienced practitioners (preferably someone post-Whole-Being Realization) who is well versed in Trillium with adequate maturity and skills to lead the group
    Ideal group size is 4-6

    Principal tasks entail communicating with participants, including:
    Confirming with the most experienced participant that they will facilitate, and explaining the tasks and responsibilities of the facilitator.
    Sending participants CC Leigh's essay on mutuality.
    Informing participants how circles are typically run, and introducing their facilitator.

    It is very helpful to attend the first meeting to help get them oriented.

    Ongoing support for circles
    At times, you might need to support the group facilitator in troubleshooting problems that arise within the group.

    Check in with the person who has held this function before to become apprised of existing circles. Keep track of previously formed circles as well as ones you have started and when they meet. Email the facilitator and participants once or twice a year to see how the groups are doing. These check-ins can also elicit information about ongoing groups that may be willing to add new participants.

    By staying in touch, you can also find out if groups have stopped meeting, and harvest the learning about why groups ended, and what might have worked better.

    Time commitment
    The amount of time to be spent on the job varies. The most time-consuming task is creating new groups, and integrating participants’ time constraints. Then the main task is informing participants about how groups are generally run, and answering questions.

    After the circles are up and running, the time commitment slows down to the occasional troubleshooting email, placing new people in already-existing circles, and occasionally starting a new circle.

  • March 29, 2015
    Don Freas

    Peers in Circles
    organizing without teachers

    A primary goal of the Mutuality Circle Link is to encourage peer-based groups to form, to continue, and to remain aligned with the Trillium Awakening organizing principles.

    As Trillium Awakening is a teacher-guided, individual journey to awakening, there are many aspects of the very idea of a “peer circle” that might seem to be open invitations to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. And yet the many and varied expressions of Trillium Awakening peer circles have proven to be remarkably supportive, low-bar assets, and welcome gateways to the work. Peer circles generate participants that add dimension, and strengthen the work.

    These local organizations give participants and curious seekers a place to sample and grow in understanding and recognition of the remarkable power of this work, with minimal commitment and at low cost. Community members can try-out the practices, try on the understandings, and pool their resources to engage with teachers in a variety of ways—without the financial burden of full immersion in the practices, and engagement with distant retreats. These circles make it easy to put your toe in the water before diving in—and at their best they provide encouragement and living examples of the many compelling reasons to dive in.

    Which brings us back to those esoteric and multidimensional organizing principles around which the work is formed. This work can’t be codified, dogmatized or reduced to an easy list of instructions. It’s far too subtle and nuanced for that. When we honor the spirit of this ever-developing and always evolving transmission and understanding, we know it helps individuals come to awakening. We know as well that the understandings are accretive: deep introspection and self-inquiry over time are required for the reality of the work to soak-in and become available in the most universal ways possible.

    Teachers pass through a series of gates on their way to becoming teachers. In that annealing process they learn how to take their own humanity and their individual journeys and translate the essence of that for use by others. We need teachers because we can’t guide ourselves, teachers who know they don’t know what subtleties will guide us in our own unique unfolding—but who are willing to explore that with us in dynamic equilibrium. In the presence of a teacher we have a reliable rudder holding the individual, or group of individuals, generally on course.

    In a group of peers, with no teacher present, it’s difficult to predict what might happen. In the absence of depth of exposure to the transmission and understandings we have found to be effective, and with the possibility of strong personalities interpreting Trillium Awakening dharma for others, it’s possible that cultures of misunderstanding can propagate, diluting the power of the work. For these reasons we suggest that newcomers initiate study on their own, and to have regular sessions with teachers before beginning to gather with peers.

    As it turns out, Trillium Awakening is a practice that has a way of self-correcting—the work works that way. The curiosity that brings seekers in tends to draw those seekers to look for more. It’s not for everyone, but those who remain find that their curiosity remains piqued. They become devoted to the group but also look for more input from teachers and mentors when they can getting to workshops, retreats, and online events that assist them with this path. The transmission gets through. And as more members of a group find increasing contact with teachers, the work gets stronger and more dynamic for all.

    If you are in a peer circle now, or are considering a local peer-based circle, take a closer look. Get a sense for how many of the individuals involved are working with Trillium Teachers Circle teachers in some way. Consider opportunities to have deeper contact, through teacher-facilitated online groups, or by working directly with a teacher when that’s possible for you.

    Let a peer circle be reinforcement and encouragement, more than a guide. At its best a peer circle is a rich gathering of individuals looking for something very similar to what you are seeking. You add to the strength of the work by delving into the core of the mystery through whatever means you find.

  • The practice of some mutuality circles has been to begin each gathering with an opening statement, or invocation, that sets the tone and reminds them of their deeper purpose in gathering.

    As a sample, the Ashland, Oregon mutuality circle used the following opening statement for several years when they first began meeting. The statement was written by Bob Valine in 2009, and is offered here as a model, with his permission. Bob is also the author and editor of “The Second Birth: Stories of Awakening within the Heart of Community,” and “Dancing in the Fire”

    Welcome to our Trillium Awakening Peer Circle. Our purpose in coming together is to offer support for each other as we experience the stages of the awakening process and the integration, healing, self-exploration and growth that follow.

    Everything that is shared in this circle is confidential, including the names of those who come to Trillium Awakening.

    We are not here to "fix," change, offer advice or intellectualize. We are here in our hearts for each other, and for ourselves. We are here to greenlight what is rising in the moment, however painful or joyful, honoring the individual process of the mystery that we are.

    Feedback can be silence, a smile or a tear. A few words can say more than many syllables. We offer each other compassion, acknowledgment, holding. We honor where every individual is in their process. That is where they need to be. When giving feedback we don’t talk about ourselves, our experiences; we focus on the person sharing.

    If something is rising in you that needs to be spoken about yourself, speak. If not, your silence is also a gift. Please remember that we have a limited time, and there is no need for everyone to share.
    Before speaking be sure that whoever is sharing is finished. There may be a need for silence and a few moments for that person’s process to deepen.

    Be yourself. There is no right or wrong way. Sometimes when we don’t know what we’re doing, the unexpected blessings happen.

    We do mutual gazing at the beginning of our time together. It can also be done in our closing circle. Gazing is sharing ourselves with the other. It is also a way to see ourselves. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There may be times when you don’t want to gaze. That also is a sharing of yourself. In gazing there’s a transmission that can activate the awakening and deepening process.
    Be aware that Trillium Awakening is a powerful process that can take us into unchartered and challenging parts of ourselves. Working with teachers, mentors and, as appropriate, a therapist is highly recommended.


  • Definition: Someone who supports a local Trillium Awakening mutuality or peer circle, usually in an area that does not have a local teacher, by inviting people interested in TA to gather together for this purpose at a certain time and place.

    Who can be a TA Mutuality Circle Host: ideally someone who has some depth of experience with Trillium Awakening, who works well in mutuality with others, and who has a good working relationship with a teacher or teachers who can help support the circle as needed.

    In order to be a certified Trillium Awakening Peer Circle, and to be listed as such on the TrilliumAwakening.org website, hosts must talk to the Mutuality Circle Link regarding the required guidelines, and agree in writing to uphold those guidelines.

    Hosting Tasks:
    • Hosts Mutuality Circles on a regular schedule.
    • Shares the “Guidelines for Mutuality” handout with all participants, and keeps clear boundaries about not acting as a teacher or mentor for the group.
    • Maintains an email list to inform members of dates and times of the Circles and any other events the group may wish to create.
    • Keeps Trillium Awakening Web-Based Materials Manager, and area and regional coordinators informed about their mutuality groups, their schedules, and whether they are open or closed to new members.
    • Helps group members stay focused on Trillium Awakening dharma through recommended books, essays, videos, and other TA materials and courses available through the TrilliumAwakening.org website and individual teacher sites.
    • Strongly recommends that participants establish a support team that includes a personal teacher of Trillium Awakening, a mentor, and a therapist as needed.
    • Is familiar with the TrilliumAwakening.org website and the many essays, recordings, and videos available there for deepening personal exposure to Trillium Awakening teachers and Trillium Awakening organizing principles, or dharma.
    • Regularly invites teachers to participate with the group in some fashion, either in person or through a medium such as Skype, or telephone conference call.

    • As an organizer, coordinator, or mutuality circle host, please be willing to learn about and practice mutuality in new and deeper ways.
    • Expect issues to arise in all relationships and be willing to stay present, deeply listen to others, allow their feelings to impact you, and validate their reality.
    • Take responsibility for your limits and mistakes.
    • If you have difficulty working things out with anyone involved, seek assistance from Trillium Awakening teachers.
    • When you step into a position of leadership in this work (including all the roles mentioned above), you will tend to be viewed by other participants as a model of mutuality.
    • You can’t be perfect, but you can be willing to be vulnerable by opening yourself to feelings, feedback, and guidance.
    • When mutuality trainings are made available, please participate.
    • It takes time and willingness to learn how to live in mutuality, but it’s one of the greatest treasures—and a main draw—of this work, because it yields deeply fulfilling, trustable connections.
    • Leading others by example in this department will bring the most rewarding results in our outreach efforts.

    Organizers, coordinators, and hosts are not teachers or mentors (unless they are) and should avoid the temptation to fall into a counseling role with participants. They should also watch out for any tendency to interpret Trillium Awakening dharma for others.

    Please refer participants to their teachers and mentors for counseling, and assistance with interpretation, as participants find their unique way into Trillium Awakening.
    Being listed on the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC) resource list indicates being in good standing with the TATC.

Filled by

  • for Victor Antillon (Peer-Facilitated Virtual Mutuality Circle Coordinator)