“What are Family Constellations useful for?” Every time someone asks me this question, I have a different answer. I know I am not alone in this… I like the question because it always sparks a creative process, not knowing what I will answer, almost surprising myself every time that I come up with a new explanation. I try to approach the concept from various angles, tentatively trying to take hold of something which is reluctant to be grasped. To me, Family Constellations are much more than a simple modality or therapy, they are a way of life. A beautiful expression of everything that is, without filters, without separateness, a glimpse of truth, a privileged moment of revelation. When we experience a constellation, we know that we are witnessing something sacred, something that was previously hidden to our consciousness. It is a magic moment of true connection in which we see ourselves being part of something bigger: our family, our country, our planet, life. It brings meaning to our existence. It gives us a place in the larger context of LIFE.
Before the existence of humankind, animals only had a collective conscience. They lived in herds, they belonged to the group. The group looked after the survival of the system, sometimes sacrificing one of its members for the sake of the whole. They knew they had a place in the group, but they were not aware of their own existence.
As human beings we have acquired an individual conscience that is specific to our species. We are aware that we are alive, and that we are separate from others. We are conscious that we belong to a group (family, rugby team, professional association) as long as we abide by its rules. I belong more to my family if, like them, I am catholic and attend church. I belong less to my friends’ group if I don’t drink and never join them when they all go to the pub. This conscience serves my survival in the group and is conscious.
Still, as animals, we have not lost our collective conscience. We have inherited the archaic mind from the herd, from the tribe, from the group. This second level of conscience guarantees the survival of the group. When a young child in the family dies, sometimes one of the younger siblings will “try to fill the void” losing his own energy or following the destiny of his older sibling. This can translate into learning difficulties or a serious illness. The system makes sure that it feels complete, at the cost of the individual. This mechanism is usually unconscious and is at the root of much unexplained suffering.
So, we are individuals, conscious of our own existence and at the same time strongly connected to our tribe. We are also part of something larger. The greater forces of Life. The very source of our existence. This is the third level of conscience, the creative forces that enable evolution: financial crisis and prosperity, war and peace, bush fires and regeneration, migration and new beginnings.
Then what happens when we sit in a constellation circle?
Sitting in the circle we create a field where we become aware of these three levels of conscience:
Rituals help us to agree with what we cannot change: the bush fire crises, a terminal illness, a deeply wounded mother. When we are open to change, and surrender to the ‘what is”, we can reconcile ourselves with Life and live more aligned with its purpose. We are more conscious of the bigger forces that lead our existence and we are confronted with the futility of our resistance. If we are open to change, we will start a movement of letting go and feel freer.
In a constellation circle we also get in touch with the collective conscience. It shows us how we are connected to others and how the hidden entanglements with other members of our family and the loyalties to our system shape the way we live our life. When we are aware of these systemic laws, we can change the way we relate to others. Seeing the way family bonds work brings a sense of meaning to my life. When I can see how, through my unhappiness, I was trying to follow my deceased sibling, I can choose to reconnect to him through love and joy. So, I am less submitted to the systemic forces of my family group and can become more myself.
Constellation is the art of seeing with our heart. What our mind has separated (me from my ancestors, me from nature, mind from body and spirit) becomes one again. I can see myself for the first time as part of a whole. Me in the field of my family, in the field of LIFE.
Photo: Pep Gasol, SAGRADA FAMILIA