more on...Seven Surprises in Family Constellation Work



1) "Normal" for many of us really means "numbed-out." When traumas and tragedies are not mourned or confronted within a family, the loss echoes down through the generations and the children cannot imagine any other universe than the numbed-out one they've been born into. For most families in the U.S., this backdrop of "normal" includes several cataclysmic events in our national past. The first was the trauma of immigration, forced or chosen. Secondly , we were marked by the perpetration/ victimhood of genocide and slavery.


2) Family Constellations open us up to the great meta-emotions we have seldom been invited into in any authentic way and didn't even realize we long for: gratitude, awe, humility, forgiveness. Rather than just "feeling our feelings", or being pressured to set them aside to gain some moral higher ground, we are able to experience their full dignity and, when ready, move toward catharsis.

​3) When we represent members of one another's families in Family Constellations, we experience a kind of "knowing" that makes no sense in our western world view. We actually become aware of feelings that don't belong to us, but rather to the person we are representing. This is the hardest aspect of Family Constellations to grasp intellectually, but the experience is quite striking, and over all I have found it to be trustworthy. Perhaps as we all grow into the more expansive views of time and space revealed in modern physics, this will become less mysterious to us.

4) Family Constellations reveal to the us the numinous "other side" that we forget exists as we go about our daily lives. As Rumi writes, "We rarely hear the inward music/ but we're all dancing to it nevertheless." Participating in a workshop is a meditative experience, an encounter with the sacred dimension of life which inspires a powerful sense of Spirit at work. For some of us, constellation work has the quality of sacrament. Often it has felt more sacramental to me than some glibly administered sacraments I've experienced in mainstream churches.

5) Family Constellations give us a lively sense of not being alone, but being supported by ancestors we considered dead and gone, who are in fact strong, healed spiritual beings. Again, for Americans this feels quite foreign, even if we grew up believing vaguely in something called The Communion of Saints. We simply are not as aware of this dimension of life as indigenous peoples all over the world, who find it no surprise at all that our ancestors are actively blessing us.

​6) In a Constellation , we are represented by another workshop participant. This allows us to watch our own drama unfold quite differently from the story-line we have created for ourselves. We can watch ourself as a child who has pulled back from our mother out of deep hurt and abandonment. We can watch ourself gaining strength and shifting into an adult. We are able to feel deep self-love and compassion for our choices, products of a child's blind loyalty to those (s)he loves.

​7) Family Constellations open us up in ways we have perhaps not thought possible, allowing us to shed resentments and fears we thought we were just going to have to live with, bringing feeling back into our life-long numbness, loosening what has been bound up for decades, releasing us from old addictions, enhancing our intimacy with partners, and, most stunning of all, freeing our children.