Hellinger’s Family Constellations or Soul Healing
It is often difficult to describe in words the work of Bert Hellinger and his Family Constellations which we have called ‘Soul Healing’ as ultimately this is what this work boils down to. It is a powerful tool that bypasses the mind and goes right into the Soul. Family Constellations is the brainchild of German psychologist Bert Hellinger, and the outgrowth of years of pioneering work integrating systems theory, psychotherapy, family and group therapy, and phenomenology.
What is it?
At a deep level we are connected with everything, especially our family legacy including our ancestors, whether we recognise it or not. Constellation work is based on a simple but profound idea: our well-being is tied to the well-being of our family system, or “family soul,” which includes the living, the dead, and generations that preceded us. It invokes an ancient practice (honouring the ancestors) with a post-modern spin (temporarily re-creating our “tribe”). Constellation work approaches individual pain or wounding in the larger context of the family soul, to which we are entangled without even being aware of it. Moreover, we are often loyal to these family members, whether they be alive or dead, irrelevant of the consequences on our own lives.
The biologist Rupert Sheldrake, found in his research that related people, places, and animals exist in a “morphic field” of energy which has both influence and memory. This invisible morphic field of energy links all family members much like it does a flock of birds and any painful event within this family system will ultimately affect every single family member and will stretch across generations. As a result, people often carry these painful events of their ancestors through the generations which often affect their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.
Hellinger called these wounds systemic entanglements – these are traumatic or unresolved issues that had been hidden by the family such as a murder, an abortion or miscarriage, an infidelity, the premature death of a parent or child, incest, a secret related to inheritance issues was some other injustice. Hellinger says these entanglements disturb our lives and manifest in the form of sudden illness or accidents, depression or feelings of isolation, physical and mental illness, and persistent relationship conflicts and dysfunction.
As all systems seek wholeness and balance then often we unwittingly identify with an ancestor’s pain or issue and take it on as our own, all we may recreate this ancestor’s trauma in our own lives in order to try and heal it. However, the family system can only reach a balance if every person, dead or alive, has a respected place within it. This is what underlines the premise of systemic entanglements where our fate or destiny can become entangled in the fate of the destiny of an ancestor simply because they are part of our family system on a soul level. Anything that blocks the flow of love through the generations such as someone in the family system being ignored, rejected, exiled, forgotten, or if the order of the family is disturbed and the child does not take their place in this hierarchy and becomes a parent or the eldest child becomes the youngest, then again this will block the flow of love through the generations.
Opening to Love
By honouring the role and the fate of every family member we can reconnect with our own path and can reclaim our own destiny. This Soul healing work enables us to clear these blockages and systemic entanglements so that love flows freely again. There is nothing that is more powerful as a healer of our wounds than free love. Many indigenous cultures understand on a deep level that in healing the ancestral family soul we ultimately heal ourselves. The Bible talks about the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons. Many earth-people cultures have a ritual of feeding the dead ancestors and honouring them so that they do not feed on us.
These systemic entanglements from our ancestors can cause serious problems and behaviours in us that inevitably we feel are our own, even though they do not originate within us.This makes it very difficult to heal these problems when they transcend us and go beyond our conscious awareness. In the many Soul healing workshops that I have attended in my own training as a facilitator it never ceases to amaze me the relief in people when they realise that they’re not locked into their own individual traumas that are a results of their own doing. After a personal constellation we tend to perceive family members differently and accept them with compassion knowing full well that their wrongdoings are also entanglements of their previous ancestry. Understanding better the roots of their pain and struggle it is much easier to lovingly connect with them.
The Constellation Process
The constellation process takes place in the ‘field’ which is a safe and confidential circle where the people present have invited their personal divine beings whether they be saints, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, a holy Mountain, a sacred place, a power animal or any other divine spirit they elicit a deeper meaning from. People usually sit in a circle with the women on one side and the men on the other side in the chronological order of their birth – this ‘taking one’s place’ in the hierarchy of life creates a gentle flow of energy that is soothing and powerful.When someone is ready to set their constellation by checking with their heart, then they sit next to the facilitator and express what is on their heart. Then the person chooses people from around the group to represent their family members, including themselves, or other entities that may be an important part of their constellation. The client then places these representatives in the field and returns and sits next to the facilitator.
What is truly amazing is that each representative takes on the role of those that they represent – information begins to come through the representatives in a way that affects their feelings, their thoughts and their actions, often to the surprise of the representatives themselves. If we switch off our brains and our intellect and allow our bodies to tap into the emotional intelligence, then it truly is amazing how rich our perceptual capacities become to the point of being able to be the transpersonal organ for another person. It takes no effort other than breathing through our heart, as opposed to our lungs.
Personally, I have been chosen to represent many different family members and have played many different roles. Often, the feelings that you have are so strong that you truly cannot understand where they are coming from. I have often felt strong feelings of love and compassion for people in the field that I knew nothing about only to find out when the consolation was over that the person I was representing really did have a deep affection and loving relationship for this person, who may have been outside the marriage vows. There have been a number of occasions when I have had a deep feeling of wanting to preserve the secret that the family was carrying which eventually comes to light in the constellation. I have learnt to trust these feelings and let them guide me in the field, even though sometimes my intellect tells me that there is no sense in these feelings. I have proven my intellect wrong and my heart and perceptual capacities correct on many occasions.
Sometimes, what begins with a simple constellation involving two or three people evolves into a complex labyrinth which may include representatives of the soil of your birth, fate, disease, death or war. As these ‘knowing fields’ inform the ‘knowing representatives’ surprising new perspectives on ourselves and our family history begin to emerge. The facilitator merely guides by asking the representatives how they feel and interpreting the movements to help understand the underlying family dynamics. The facilitator must also be guided by the fields and not by their intellect. In constellations there is no time and space and often logic is not the logic of the soul that is being represented in the field. It is highly recommended that these constellations not be analysed, as when you begin defining something as meaningful as this you often confine it as well. There is a time when we must completely trust in this timeless dimension called the ‘mystery’ and let the Soul heal on the deepest level. Constellation Work addresses a variety of issues including:·
- Unexplained sadness
- Grief, anger, and shame
- Addictions and other destructive behaviours
- Relationship failures and confusion (with parents, siblings, partners, or children)
- Depression and unhappiness
- Business failures and money problems
- Illnesses and chronic health problems
- Organizational confusion
- Adoption issues
- Loss of direction and purpose
- Repeating “accidents”
Human consciousness, and all institutions on the planet, are in the midst of unprecedented evolutionary change. Our first task is to shift our individual focus, attention, emotions, feelings and thinking from perceived problems to the love and joy that is always simultaneously present, yet, often unperceived or unacknowledged.
Our second task is to leave the impetus and momentum of individual, cultural, societal and civilization’s prejudices, preferences, and understandings. We leave our personal and collective narrative, our story, whether inherited, an adopted compilation, or entirely self composed. The story is to be honored and retired. Its service as a conveyance through an individual life is insufficient for this transitional epoch.
Leaving the unwitting limits of the local story, one opens heart and mind to larger fields of Wisdom, our third task, and moves in consort with Wisdom’s grand choreography, which is itself, Grace. Our fourth task.
Moving with Wisdom’s grand choreography is becoming and being Wisdom’s consort. This involves aligning of one’s local will with the fields of Wisdom – the world of living energies in which we exist, subsist and live. In this movement we, in the present, embody love and compassion and open to joy. We begin living a spiritual life rather than acting the spiritual dilettante where one dabbles in intellectual abstractions believed to be spiritual.As Wisdom’s consort, our fifth task is to open to the guidance given one in the natural fields of intelligence. In so doing, each person forms a true Wisdom Collaborative and co-creates a life affirming now and future.
Dr Georgiou is a qualified Hellinger practitioner having trained with Stephen Victor, facilitator.
Videos to watch:
Family Constellation Workshop – Part 1
Family Constellaton Workshop – Part 2