In this article, I would like to dive into a great passion of mine, systemic constellations.
I’ve been fascinated by them for years and went to study them with different teachers, primarily in Germany. What I found, is that there are highly differing approaches, which makes them all the more fascinating.
The style that was taught in Berlin, tended to be rather theatrical and would take on epic dimensions at times (think Wagnerian performances that last 2-3h, with more than 15 people involved, lots of ancestors that had to be put to peace, going back to times of war and peace…), probably reflecting the wild nature of the teacher, as well as the dramatic history of this torn and resuscitated city…
In the last years, I’ve been studying with teachers from the South of Germany (Baden Württemberg), an area of Germany that is known for its more sober, hardworking and thrifty population. It makes me wonder to what extent the local collective consciousness impacts the constellation styles.
In any case here is a down-to-earth and straight-to-the-point approach, that I absolutely love and am practicing, because it’s structured, calm and effective.
But let me start at the beginning and for those who don’t know this peculiar healing approach, give you an insight into how it works.
There are two ways of practicing constellations- either with a group of people, or individually. Working individually, you simply use items, such as Playmobil figures, or place-mats to represent different parts of your system (which means you can also work online!).
By system I mean the group of people, or emotions and aspects in your life (e.g. work/ living situation/ emotions) you would like to address.
When you work in a group, the person who wishes to constellate picks participants as representatives for people or aspects they wish to constellate. They then position them in the room, where they “feel” is the right place. This is done in an intuitive way, there is no right or wrong.
To give you an example, imagine you have difficulties with your partner and feel a certain heaviness in the relationship, you could then pick someone to represent you, your partner and possibly the heaviness.
Once positioned, with the guidance of the facilitator, this is when the observation begins- where do the participants stand, where do they look, how do they feel? Does the heaviness (in the example mentioned above) for instance look at you or your partner? Who feels connected to it?
What is the energy in the room like? What do the participants feel when they start talking to one another? How do the spoken words land?
Seeing your inner conflict or struggle from the outside can be a real advantage.
First of all, it offers some distance and overview. In addition, you can gain important insights, informing your understanding of the situation, as well as help you notice previously unexpected or even hidden dynamics operating within the system. Many things can be observed, once you see the conflict or difficulty you’re currently dealing with “depicted”, or “enacted” in front of you.
Just the first image of a constellation tends to speak volumes. This is due to the fact that there is a given structure, a certain suggested order, for a system to work.
For instance, members of the older generations should stand behind the younger ones, passing on the life force from one generation to the next. When this “flow” or movement has been interrupted by a conflict, by rejection, an accident or separation (etc.) the members of the following generation can be impacted by this break. This “disorder” is easily visible in a constellation. In terms of impact, when a family is fractured, or disintegrated, it can explain the confusion all family members feel.
A broken and difficult relationship for instance to your mother or father, can impact the way in which you engage with your relationship, or the place you take in the world, the strength you have in your profession.
Healing sentences are then spoken and representatives move to a different place, changing the relationship. And this is where the magic happens-
tension is released, insights are gained, the past is honoured- offering a space for greater peace and repairing that which has been broken.
You can do this, without ever needing to actually speak with the other person in real life, because you’re working on your inner system.
“To forgive, you don’t ever need to speak to the person you are forgiving.”
Dynamics are thereby addressed in a way, that aims to find a healthy and respectful place for all members of the system in question. There is no shaming or blaming ever, in fact anger and rejection get translated into the language of pain and loss (for those who know Non Violent Communication, this is where this language really comes into play!).
People often ask me- “what if I can’t feel anything?” or “how can I feel things in someone else’s system?”
The answer is- you will and you can.
Constellations are a bit like love, until you have felt it, it’s difficult to describe. It’s a feeling (and a verb- to love!) that connects, that is a catalyst, that opens doors, that reconciles. So are constellations.
And both, love and constellations, are just as inexplicable.
(I have never met a person who couldn’t feel anything in a constellation, but maybe I one day I will.)
Perhaps this is why I love constellations so much, because they are a vehicle out of our limiting minds. They create a space for connection, in which we are lead into the realm of the heart and gut instincts, engage a different kind of knowing. Our two powerful additional brains connect us to our intuition.
What we find in these gatherings, is that we are so much more connected than we think we are and constellations are one of these rare moments in everyday life in which we can notice just that.
With constellations you can work on all sort of issues.
You can let go of a past partner to make space for a new one, or work on improving your current relationship with your partner.
You can improve or loosen your ties to a family member, with a brother or sister, create order in the sequence of your brothers and sisters.
You might want to integrate a lost twin, or use a constellation to help you get ready to have a child.
You can work on improving your relationship with a colleague, to aspects of your work, your motivation and finding your right place in the professional world. It can help you to make important decisions.
You can also work in a more abstract way- overcome obstacles to pursuing a dream, remove blockages to a goal you might have, let go of sadness, anger or tension, as well as physical discomforts.
It appears like abstract work, but in fact is very down to earth- you discover the place in which something has been broken and find ways to heal, to reconcile, to reconnect and to restore.
The idea is to strengthen the balance of the system so that it works for you, helping you to feel stronger, have more self confidence and feel more confident in (your) life.