My Love Affair with Family Constellations
When I discovered Family Constellations in the 90’s I was over-the-top excited that finally here was a way to experience ourselves, and even our nuclear families, in the larger context of our ancestors. Researchers in the field of genetics have since proven what I felt in my bones: what happened to our ancestors affects not only our soul, but also our DNA expression. Supporting an individual toward a more vibrant happy life must include this relationship with the larger family system – not simply with story, but experientially. Family Constellations provides experiences to help “restore the flow” of the lifeforce and love in family systems so that individuals within the systems can thrive.
When we face seemingly intractable issues in our life, Family Constellations broadens our view to see our lives, ourselves, and our challenges from the perspective of a larger context. We call this the “knowing field.” Constellations supports us to “complete” unfinished trauma, acknowledge and even heal wounds of our ancestors – and effect – in real time – the expression of our own DNA! We can literally positively change our lives and the lives of those who come after us.
How does this happen? Genetics is the actual DNA. Epigenetics is the information enveloping the DNA which affects how our DNA actually performs – or doesn’t perform. This process, called, epigenetics, can activate some genes while silencing others, affecting sleep cycles, heart health, stress levels, immune system, enzymes, and more. This is how we pass on (or inherit) information not carried in genes but rather gained through experience. We literally sculpt memories through the connections between neurons, pruning some and strengthening others. Formation of new memories (e.g.: experiences of war, trauma, starvation, plenty/excess, great love, loss, etc.) is accompanied by changes in gene expression.
Our families then not only pass on traits, but also unfinished trauma via this gene expression process, and via our family dynamics and culture. Our ancestors therefore pass down not only the information carried in their genes, but also information gained through their life experiences.
What is exciting to me about this relatively new science is that we are literally re-shaping how our DNA functions as we experience life. Destiny is not purely inherited biology. Through the modality of Family Constellations we can literally see and feel the web of life that includes our ancestors, and even particular historical influences from the time of family (or tribal) trauma – such as pogroms, famines, slavery, war, emigration, children who died young or people in the family who died “early” and more. We can see and feel how these difficulties from the past are affecting us right now, today. And we can make movements that start a new healing process, one that often was unavailable to our ancestors. And we too move toward healing ourselves and our loved ones.
What happens in a constellation?
Ideally we work in a circle of 8-50 people. A person who decides to “work” will bring forward a difficult issue that needs to be seen, to be healed, or even just viewed from a bigger perspective. The facilitator will ask questions about significant events that happened in their life, and in their family of origin. This might include only 1-2 generations or go back 4, 5 or more generations, depending on the issue. Often we don’t know the details, perhaps only a vague story about our great grandfather for example. Then the issue-holder will choose representatives for certain people and/or elements of their history and place them as an “inner reflection” of what is currently felt. Then they sit and observe and feel what comes next. The representatives settle in and pay attention to what they are sensing and feeling. Staying with the phenomenology of ‘what is’, letting go of stories and ideal images, we work only with the pure data before us. For example: who is standing where, who is looking at (or not looking at) whom, who is missing, and visceral experiences of the chosen representatives. A constellation unfolds from here from making clear what is true and its effects, and then moving toward a resolution where all parts of the system, all representatives, feel better, stronger, happier. This may be only the first few movements that starts the process of healing moving or this could be a deep release of a long-felt trauma in a system.
My heart is always deeply touched whenever I sit in a circle as witness to a Family Constellation unfolding. I feel deep compassion for everyone involved as they faced life’s difficulties and suffered and/or caused suffering. I treasure this experience of deep compassion that melts all judgment, something much harder to feel in everyday living. I feel as if I have spent a day in reverent witness to what it means to be human, and feel held in a divine presence.
Selected sources and FMI :
And video 8.5 min what is constellations and what does it look like in a session? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8WSNMKlXws