Preparing for a Mindfulness Based Constellation Workshop with Dr Chris Walsh
It can be extremely frustration to have seemly accurate insights into the causes of the problems that exist in our lives while still remaining completely stuck. Constellations open up news ways of understanding that allow us to effectively move ahead.They give both new insights and ways of taking thse insights deeper into ourselves to a place where they can work effectively.
In a constellation we receive new insights and healing images in a non-verbal way. We absorb them directly through the senses. We see new images of our family. We even feel how these new dynamics feel in our bodies. This goes much deeper than ideas put into words. These experiences can affect the relationship with our families in ways that seems effortless. It has a profound impact that can give our lives new direction. Thoughts alone are quick, but often unhelpful. In contrast, his kind of nourishing process moves slowly but effectivley through ourselves and our family system.
Basic Expectations & Post Workshop Support
This is a self-exploration workshop. It is not a substitute for medical treatment or psychotherapy. Most people benefit greatly and experience no significant difficulties as a result of these workshops. However, if you have any trouble dealing with anything that arises out of the workshop, you can deal with it with your own therapist or Dr Chris Walsh
Preparing for a Constellation Workshop
- Try to be well rested, with a clear mind and body.
- Manage your expectations
You may do your own constellation but you don’t have to. You will still get a lot out of being a representative and sitting in the holding circle.
In fact when you are doing a workshop with a particular practitioner for the first time, it is often good to spend a significant amount of time observing that practitioner’s style so that you are sure that you feel comfortable enough with them for them to facilitate your own constellation. If you do your own constellation, be prepared to hold it quietly within yourself afterwards. It is usually better not to discuss it with others afterward. This allows the constellation to start its work within you uninterrupted.
Being A Representative
In a constellation people are asked to stand in the position of family members of the client. This is a powerful learning experience. However participants have the right to refuse a role if they so wish.
- Being a representative does not involve acting in any way. It is not playing a role but rather standing in a particular person’s position.
- As a representative you simply report the sensations feelings & impulses that spontaneously arise in you. It is a good idea to start with physical sensations.
- There is no right or wrong, just simply report your own experience.
- Resist the urge to invent happy endings. It is the facilitator’s job to work toward a resolution. The process is much more effective if representatives maintain their integrity. In any case, constellations are helpful more because of the movement towras health that they create rather than because of reaching good resolutions.
Preparing For your Own Constellation
Any question or concern that you bring to a constellation should be a serious matter for you. A constellation based on a trivial matter has very little energy and is unlikely to be helpful.
Clarify your issue in terms of yourself.
For example if you were to say “I want myself, my brothers and sisters to be more relaxed with each other”. Then it might be better to change the question to “I want to behave is such a way as it helps me and my brothers and sisters to be more relaxed with each other”. When you phrase an issue in this way, it means that you are taking more ownership of the situation. This usually leads to the constellation being more beneficial.
It is useful to know the basic facts about your family i.e. who had special fates such as dying young or having difficult chronic illnesses and to think about who belongs to your family system
Those included in the family system are:
- Biological Family
- Brothers and Sisters
- Parents and their Siblings
- Sometimes one of the great-grandparents and at times, ancestors even further back.
- The Excluded and Forgotten
- Those who have died early, including stillborn children.
- Those adopted into a family,
- Biological relatives of adopted children
- Those adopted out of a family
- Disgraced family members.
- Those Linked to the Family by Life Changing Circumstances
- Everybody – and this is most important – who made room to the advantage of the above members.
- In particular, former partners of parents or grandparents
- All those whose misfortune or death brought the family an advantage or gain.
- Victims of violence and murder by any members of the family.
- People who have saved the life of a family member.
This information can be useful if you decide to do a constellation. But don’t get frantic trying to find it all out. Often only part of this information is needed to do a constellation. So remember the first point:
Try to be well rested, with a clear mind and body.
After Doing Your Own Constellation
Don’t worry if your constellation has not reached a full resolution. Constellations are helpful more because of the movement they create rather than because of reaching good resolutions. This can create momentum for healing in real life.
Sometimes verbal processing can keep us stuck at the level of the problem, stopping us from embracing the solution. We can use analysis to distance ourselves from our direct sensory experience. Imagine enjoying a beautiful sunset. Then imagine analysing the scientific phenomena that produce such an optical event. While that may be quite useful to do in some ways, it removes us from the direct experience of the sunset. The thinking distracts us from our experience of the colours and shapes. Any experience that is not included in the intellectual discussion disappears from consciousness. For example, in this case, we may forget all about our emotional response to the sunset.
Similarly it is better not to try to analyse your own constellation. Rather it is better to replay it in your mind and especially to remember the healing movements and images, and the feelings that go with them. You can satisfy your intellectual mind by thinking about other peoples’ constellations. With your own constellation, it is better to encourage the experience to go as deep as possible. Immediately after the constellation, spend some quiet time by yourself to allow this process to begin while the experience is still fresh.
A skilled practitioner may make suggestions that amplify or focus the healing image. This might include focusing on one particular element of the constellation such as feeling your parents physically supporting you from behind. It may also include acts to help you reincorporate a forgotten family member, such as displaying their photo in your home, visiting their grave or doing some other ritual of acknowledgement.
Other than these acts of awareness, we don’t need to do anything specific with the constellation for it to have its effect. This work helps us to become more deeply connected with all the members of our family system, living and dead. The healing effects of the work unfold in their own time when we let go of the need to do something. We hold all those who belong to our family in conscious love. We respect their fates and their burdens as their own. We can then give up the childlike loyalties where love and belonging meant living out the consequences of another’s life, which have only served to entangle us. Unnecessary suffering is therefore replaced with acknowledging what actually is.
When we go home from the workshop we should be careful about telling others our experience. It is extremely difficult to explain constellations to those who have not experienced them. It is normal for many people to be skeptical about something that is so far outside of their normal experience and that is so challenging to our normal way of perceiving the world. Even if they are sympathetic, many people will try to engage you in an analytical conversation, which can disconnect you from the healing image of the constellation. So it is better to wait for a while before trying to talk. When you finally do talk about the constellation, it is a better idea to focus on what you got out of it, as it is so difficult to describe the process to those who haven’t exerienced it.
Finally whatever occurs in a constellation usually should not be used as a recipe for your behaviour around the people represented in the constellation. Rather than that, we simply let it work within us and we may find ourselves spontaneously acting in differently to before. We may find ourselves getting in contact with previously distanced family members. We may find ourselves being more assertive or more conciliatory than before. Whatever the change in behaviour, it is likely that we will observe a greater sense of relaxation and connection. We may even feel more alive.
It is expected that all participants in these workshops maintain the confidentiality of other participants. However we cannot guarantee that other participants will appropriately maintain confidentiality. Fortunately deep self-disclosure is usually not necessary in these workshops. If you are not sure about the relevance a particularly sensitive piece of information, you can consider mentioning it privately the facilitator before the workshop or during a break in the workshop. This will not risk your confidentiality in a wrkshop with Dr Walsh.