WHAT ARE CONSTELLATIONS?
“Constellations” are a type of healing modality. They are often called “family constellations” or “systemic constellations” because the healing process recognizes that our woundings are often tied into family or other systemic woundings (even without our knowledge).
Constellations cannot be described succinctly, nor understood through description. They must be experienced and felt to be understood. (Like spirituality or awe.) The process and its effects cannot be understood through words, on a cognitive level. The practice draws from systems theory, family and group therapy, existential phenomenology, and indigenous spiritual mysticism. See what we mean that it can't be easily described?!
Many healing practices focus on the physical level: physical therapy, seeing a doctor, taking medicines & herbs, etc.
Some healing practices take a cognitive/mental angle: talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, etc.
Other healing modalities engage the physical level and also facilitate healing on a spiritual level: yoga, tai chi, etc.
Constellations engage all four dimensions of healing: at mental, physical, emotional, & spiritual levels.
This section describes the process of a constellation, or what you might expect if you participate in a constellation guided by Michaelene.
In a group workshop the session begins with greetings, welcomes, and pleasantries. Many people are nervous about what to expect, so everyone gets settled in and adjusts to the energy of the space and to each other. Participants introduce themselves and are invited to share a bit about why they chose to attend, or what their intentions are in attending. (Do you just want to observe? Is there a particular issue you are hoping to explore and find healing around?)
Michaelene then explains a little bit about constellations and what to expect and how to participate.
There are few instructions, and she always reminds people when it's their turn.
When the group feels ready to begin, Michaelene will lead a brief meditation (guided visualization).
Then participants are invited: Is there anyone who would like to have a constellation?
A “seeker” (someone who is seeking healing) decides they are ready to explore something that they would like to find healing around. For example, an estranged relationship with a family member. The seeker sits next to Michaelene and describes the issue they would like to explore. (This engages the seeker at the mental level as they describe what’s going on for them.)
The seeker and Michaelene together agree on who should be represented in the constellation. For example, they may agree that several family members should be in the constellation.
In a group workshop, people serve as representatives. In a private session, wooden figurines or footprints may be used. When participating in a group session, people may be asked to serve as representatives, or they may voluntarily self-select to represent if they feel called to do so. Participants may always decline if asked to represent, no explanation needed. Once all representatives are selected, the seeker physically places the representatives in the constellation field however they feel is right. Representatives simply stand silently where they are placed.
Then the seeker observes. Insights often come to the seeker simply upon observing the positions of the representatives and their relationships to each other. In a group workshop, the representatives will be asked to describe how they feel in the constellation, especially with relation to the other representatives. Representatives may then move, slowly, within the constellation to a position they feel is right. This often reveals hidden dynamics within the constellation. Then at some point the seeker is placed into the constellation. (This engages the seeker at the physical level.)
Carefully and compassionately guided by Michaelene, movements and phrases are invited as representatives and the seeker engage with each other. Significant healing at the emotional level usually ensues.
When people step into a constellation field, whether seekers or representatives, they experience the energy of the field. Psychoanalyst Albrecht Mahr, M.D., coined this “the knowing field.” Healing happens in the field that cannot be understood cognitively. Much of the healing happens in silence, for example as the seeker and a representative look into each other’s eyes. For most people, this healing happens at the soul level, as people move beyond the level of personalities and move into the level of the soul. In these ways - that again, cannot be described or understood merely through words - healing is typically accessed at a spiritual or energetic level.
Constellations can be extremely powerful. People have experienced transformation in one 30 minute constellation that they could not achieve after years of talk therapy. This is because of the enormous power of the process, and the way it accesses all four dimensions of healing: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels of healing. It is truly a mind~body~spirit practice.
Constellation sessions end with a brief time for processing (verbally and otherwise). At the conclusion of each constellation, the seeker is given time and space to process what they experienced verbally if they would like. However, the seeker is never asked to describe or explain the healing they received. In fact, the "rule" is that seekers should keep their experiences private for at least 72 hours before sharing their experience with anyone. This is to protect the sacredness of what was experienced, and to not allow outside opinions or perspectives influence the truth of what the seeker experienced and the meaning made of it.
At the end of a group constellation workshop, group participants are invited to ask questions or share a bit about their experiences (either as representatives or as seekers) if they would like.
Constellation sessions conclude with a closing meditation (guided visualization).