Buffalo skull
Giving Spirit Form is based on the model of a Tiospaye, the Lakota word for extended family. Within that extended family, there are several circles that meet in Sebastopol. There are two circles that meet every other week on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:00, and one circle that meets once a month on Saturdays from 10:30-4:30.
All circles start in January and end in December.

As a mirror of life, the circles are comprised of people from a broad range of ages and professional backgrounds. Some members have been doing this work for years and some are just beginning. The common denominator is each person's desire to be awake, and their commitment to their spiritual journey. A year's commitment is required of each member of the circle in order to co-create a field of depth and safety.

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Each meeting is a blend of checking in, giving and receiving feedback, teaching and experiential work. The focus is on developing each person's capacity to make contact with their own True Nature and Great Spirit. This involves assisting and empowering each person's ability to develop their capacity to soften and relax their habitual defenses, and to experience direct intimate contact with themselves in the loving presence of others. Each person learns how to deepen their capacity for presence. As one begins to recognize oneself as a Sacred being, the sense of separation dissolves and the essential truth that we are all related emerges. Because we are mirrors for one another, each person's work contributes to the evolution of the entire circle.


Creativity is a doorway through which we have the opportunity to recognize ourselves more fully. It is an opening to the Spirit world. Several times throughout the year we focus on a sacred art project, such as soul collage.
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These retreats provide the opportunity for each person to have time alone in nature for reflection and prayer. It is a time when we let go of the typical luxuries of life in order to contact our spirit more directly. This is also an opportunity for members of different circles to come together and meet each other. Each of these retreats will begin and end with an inipi ceremony (sweat lodge). These inipis are also offered to the tiospaye every other week throughout the year.
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In support of community, we have one or two work weekends during the year. Members from the different circles come together on the land to cut and stack wood for the lodge, to rebuild the lodge, to tend the lodge site, and prepare retreat sites. This is an opportunity to deepen one's connection to other members of the Tiospaye, as well as to develop a relationship to the land herself.


To enter Giving Spirit Form, you must arrange a personal interview with Ellen sometime between August and December prior to the beginning of the new year, which starts in January. If accepted, you would be placed in the circle that is most appropriate for your personal journey.

Pema Chodron

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