People in today’s world have a longing to be connected. Connected to a part of something greater, to our families, to each other, and to ourselves. We long to feel love even if we don’t know it consciously or are resistant because of past traumas or experiences. But how do we connect and feel love with so much going on to distract and harden us? How do we heal our own pain of disconnection in a deep, safe and sacred way especially when we are hurting so badly? This is exactly what I set out to do about eight years ago and then again with my research about two years after that.
A tragedy occurred in my very early childhood when I was 18 months old that changed my family’s course forever. My five-week-old brother, Jeffrey, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I only remember glimpses of that time, but I knew something very dear to me was gone.
Yes, it was tragic, but even more tragic was never talking about or honoring him – the disconnection of a dear, brief family member who I would come to find out had more of an impact than I could imagine. He wasn’t ever spoken about and I had no idea how much this impacted my ability to connect to others or myself until I found Family and Systemic Constellations (FSC) through The Constellation Approach.
With the aid of this modality, I was able to heal the disconnection, heal my ability to be in relationship with my family and myself, and begin to heal the trauma energy throughout my life and lineage.
These experiences with FSC not only helped to heal but also charged me with the responsibility that everyone should know of this modality. As I researched, I noticed there wasn’t much literature specifically about the clients’ points of view and so the birth of my dissertation research, “The Clients Experiences of Family Constellations in Psychological Healing,” occurred.
The themes that were throughout the research included increased awareness of connection with Self, relationships with others, and the world – the collective conscious through the following: (1) experiences of healing; (2) somatic experiences; (3) experience of emotion; (4) experiences of connection; (5) changes in perception and understanding; and (6) impact on relationships and self.
Connection with Self
Many people reported feeling a connection with the Self that they had never felt before, which to them was fueled by personal honesty and the courage to acknowledge existing emotional and behavior patterns within their families and themselves. “I’ve had the opportunity to look at patterns within me that I have used in my life,” bringing “me to a whole new level of integrity to follow my heart and soul….”
They were able to see the patterns in their lives and their families as something tangible, living and observable, which helped in healing them.
Looking with Love to Connect
Bert Hellinger states that love plays a large role in bonding and connecting; that when looking at others, one must “look with love.” Reports of acknowledgment and acceptance to see and connect to what couldn’t be seen before were found over and over.
“I started to see his [father] wounds and his family story and how some of the events in his life had helped create some of the family story. And that was just so healing for me…. I was able to take him into my heart much more… and for me, that was the most profound thing about Family Constellations.”
Everyone has a Right to Belong
Connection is also about that feeling of belonging. Family Constellations not only give us the opportunity to connect to Self and our families but those out in the world. It is a way to create intimate bonds and lifelong friendships that they may not have been able to create anywhere else.
The acceptance and support of the group allowed for a look at resistances and at the place where one might feel like closing up or shrinking, but instead using every moment as an opportunity to open one’s heart and explore one’s soul. Thus allowing the participant to begin to accept and connect to his or her wholeness physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
The sense of belonging and the right to create our own fate are needed to build acceptance, safety, intimacy and connection in the group. This aided in the participants’ healing by increasing their courage and commitment to do personal psychological work.
The Collective Consciousness
Family Constellations also allow us to connect to the collective consciousness and there is what seems to be a welcoming. One participant spoke about how the welcoming in gave him the courage “to feel so comfortable in the circle of people that I could go places and talk about things I didn’t talk about to anyone else.” She was able to take her own responsibility for the situation and see how she contributed to it. She then said, “I no longer felt like the victim.”
This feeling of connection and community, witnessing and feeling the collective consciousness of the constellations group, motivated many participants to make a commitment to support others in their lives in their emotional healing whether family, friends, or clients.
Bringing Healing out into the World
For some participants, there was a sense of responsibility to bring Family Constellations out into the world after their own healing experiences: “If I ever get to be a facilitator and use it to help somebody in their life, that … would be my life’s purpose and I would feel like I was complete.”
Another example of connection and community was the willingness on the part of the group members to participate in my study. Even though feeling vulnerable, many participants were willing to share their experiences in the light that others may benefit or gain insight from their experiences.
“If it happened in my life and my dad’s life, my family’s life and can help to heal other people, then it’s important to put it out there – so it’s bigger than just my own story….”
Therefore, participating in Family Constellations had the potential to cultivate a deeper presence and awareness of other people with family members in order to be in service to them by being witnesses to their processes. Through this process, participants reported being able to see and feel a sense of community with ancestors, families of origin, current families, and as one participant explained, “… a greater human family, an earth family.”
So you see, these experiences as well as the ones you all have had with family constellations have validated this work. It was important when doing my research to show others the validity of this modality without forgetting about the personal, human essence of the experience because it is those things that will touch the heart of and inspire others to take the journey. It is those things that will truly bring constellations out into the world the way it is meant. And it is those things that will truly make the world a better place.