Visarjana tells us about his journey with and through Family Constellation to gain a different perspective on pain and suffering.
Family Constellations is an experiential group process that aims to release and resolve profound tensions within and between the members of a given family, or any other system formed by closely associated people.
I had been aware for some time of this highly effective method, which finds more and more resonance amongst people engaged in the field of personal growth, but never got directly involved with it. However, in spite of my inattention, the concept kept coming to me.
The first time it knocked at my door was during a session of the Counselor Training in Pune, which I attended at the time when Osho left his body. We were sitting together with Waduda and I can’t remember exactly how it came about that I shared in front of everybody the story of my son who had been hit by a car at the age of five, remaining partly paralysed and incapable of speech since then. Except to my then new partner Chinta I had never talked to anyone about it before, but in this group, where we all had become very close in the month we spent together, it suddenly poured out of me and I exposed the deep wound I carried and was not able to cope with.
To my great surprise, the group did not at all respond to my story the way I would have expected! The reaction was quite cool and distant and nobody seemed to be interested to go into the subject. This was the first time it dawned on me that merely talking about it was not leading me anywhere and that something much more profound and existential had to be done about it. But Family Constellations were still somewhere far away from me at that moment.
Reiki Initiation Leads to Family Constellations
When I was initiated into Reiki another insight came up, which later did lead me to Family Constellations. In the second degree of Reiki one learns to channel universal life energy on the psychical plane and at distance. This interested me greatly, because I thought it would be a way to communicate beyond words and space with my son, who was living in another part of the country in a specialised home for physically impaired children.
It is imperative to first mentally ask the permission of the other person when one wishes to contact him/her with distant Reiki. To my shock I felt a clear “No” coming from my son and I had to stop approaching him in this way. I was confused by that and had to look seriously at my own implications and face my part of responsibility in the separation from his mother that occurred some time after his accident. I had to understand that my own needs and those of my son weren’t necessarily one and the same thing. Where I had fears, maybe he had none, and where I felt guilty, maybe he felt okay. Maybe there were different needs and a deeper purpose behind all this.
Whenever I went to visit my son at the special care home where he is staying, I had to face a variety of mixed emotions, like helplessness, uncertainty, bewilderment, sorrow and grief. But each visit also increased my feeling of awe in front of the deep mystery of life, which – as Osho says – cannot be solved, but has to be lived. One time, when I arrived at the common room, I discovered my son sitting in a circle with other disabled patients. They were all very silent, my son was beaming like a little Buddha und everybody seemed to be looking at him. The whole scene was bathed in a soft, golden light. At this moment I realised that much more and much deeper things are happening between the souls of human beings on the essential level of energy and pure consciousness than we can ever access on the mental level of language and thought. I understood that on this deeper level, the life of my son is as significant and valuable as our so-called normal life, and that on this level he didn’t need any of the things that we think are indispensable to a meaningful life.
The next nudge to alert me was some years later, again in Pune. Chinta and I shared a room at the Sunderban Hotel, enjoying the sounds of music drifting in from the nearby meditation space, where Buddha Hall once stood. I was in the third week of Mystic Rose and Chinta in the Family Constellations training.
One evening, Chinta returned to our room in a somewhat tense and upset state. She told me that she had been working on her constellation in the group and felt that the process was not yet complete, with some loose ends still hanging in the air. “You have to help me to integrate all this and bring it into balance,” she insisted. At the time I had never participated in a constellation, not to speak of facilitating one. But the situation allowed no delay and so we simply put cushions on the floor to represent family members and I gathered every bit and piece of therapeutic skills I had acquired through the years by practising Voice Dialogue, NLP and other methods. After two hours of intense exchange we finished by falling into each other’s arms with the wonderful feeling of having accomplished a highly important step in our life as a couple and as therapists.
After this, it was abundantly clear to me that Family Constellations had become a must for me. The next day in Magdalena cafeteria I was sitting at a table with a German couple and intuitively I asked the woman whether she knew somebody offering Family Constellation workshops in Europe. “Yes, I for example,” she said, and two weeks later I found myself in snow-covered Munich as a participant of Jaya’s constellation seminar.
This workshop was a great revelation to me. To my surprise, participating as a representative in a number of constellations was at least as enriching and insightful, if not more, than my own constellation. I was particularly impressed when I represented the father of a woman from Thailand – a country I had never visited – and suddenly heard myself, or rather the old man whom I was representing, say something like “in our family this is not done.” Later, the Thai woman confirmed to me that this was exactly the attitude of her father. How was it possible that I somehow “knew” these things?
My own constellation and an individual session with Jaya made me see my parents, my brother, my ex-wife and my children with entirely new eyes. Seeing how everybody is entangled in the story of their family and doing the best that they can to cope with their situation, searching for happiness and love, my old feelings of bitterness, accusation and guilt were beginning to dissolve and to be replaced by a very simple, natural and heart-warming sense of accepting life as it is. And I knew for sure that I had to know more and everything there is about Family Constellations. So I began looking for training opportunities in French, as we are living in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
During the following spring I met Arjava Petter, a well-known Reiki master and author of Reiki books. He told me of his inspiring experience with Bert Hellinger, the founder of Family Constellations, whom he had invited to lead a constellation workshop in Japan. Shortly after that I heard that Sophie Hellinger, Bert’s wife and an outstanding therapist herself, was starting an ongoing training in Paris. This was perfect for my situation and during the next two years I participated regularly in this very intense group. It helped me a great deal with understanding families and other systems as energy fields in which all the members are connected among each other through a subtle energy network, forming a kind of collective soul, which is constantly in search of balance and wholeness.
The Family Soul
Common wisdom has it that we are separate individuals and each one of us carries an individual soul. In reality it seems to be exactly the other way around. We do not contain our soul, but the soul is larger than us and we are contained by it. Moreover, this soul is big enough to contain not only one individual, but many; for example, all the members of a family who belong to the same family soul. This soul is a living being; it is a unified whole and is part of an even greater soul, the universal stream of Life.
In a Family Constellation setup, this collective soul comes to life through the interaction of group participants who represent the members of the questioner’s family. As the representatives tune into the energy field of this specific family, they begin to manifest feelings, reactions and behaviours that are remarkably similar to those of the real persons they represent. I could not believe my eyes when I experienced this for the first time and even today it still feels like a miracle and a great gift to me.
By participating in numerous constellations as a representative, I slowly learned to witness the subtle energy flow that connects the members of a family and to identify the holes in the energy, for example when a member of the family is excluded or not in his rightful place. As if they were my own, I lived and shared the pains, joys, conflicts, needs, hopes and fears of people unknown to me. In those special moments they were so closely connected to me that I could feel their emotions and thoughts resonate inside. It is a deeply moving experience, which brings to our consciousness that we are really all one great family and that we all share the same gift of life, love and light.
Without Love There Is No Therapy
For me, love and light are the key words that characterise the process of Family Constellations. It brings to the light of consciousness our entanglements with the conflicts and wounds of the past and helps to resolve, heal and reconcile them by reconnecting here and now with the essence of life, which is love. Without love there is no therapy, says Osho, and this has proven absolutely true about Family Constellations.
I understood this fully in supervision with Bert Hellinger, when I shared with him the difficulties I had encountered in a session with a woman who had been abused by a family member when she was a young girl. I shall never forget his answer: “This also is love, and is divine.” This is a lucid and profoundly human statement, which puts compassion in the first place, before any other consideration. Of course it was not meant to justify the person responsible for the abuse; he remains responsible for his act and has to face and assume its consequences. But if the wound he had inflicted to his victim, to his family and ultimately to himself should have a chance to heal at all, it is essential that he is not denied his human dignity; his place in the family needs to be acknowledged, whatever he might have done. It is this unconditional lucid compassion which respects each human being in his frailty and recognises his value in spite of all his faults, that gives to the process of Family Constellations its great liberating and healing potential.
A Broader Perspective
Participating in many constellations and later facilitating them for others helped me see my own story in a completely new and broader perspective. I’m no more looking at my son through the narrow tunnel vision of my own pain and projecting my feelings of helplessness on him. He was absolutely right to say no to that. And my friends in Pune were right in refusing to buy my self-pity; that is the last thing my son or anyone else would need, including myself. When I go to visit my son today, he accepts to receive Reiki, peacefully resting in my arms and silently sharing his inner light with me.
Anand Visarjana is of Swiss-German origin, and has been living for many years in the French speaking part of the country. He has been working as Creative Director in advertising, before being involved in the fields of meditation and therapy. He runs a small meditation center in Grandvaux, Switzerland, together with Veet Chinta. They offer meditations, Reiki, Hawaiian shamanism and other workshops; Visarjana is also a writer and translator. They can be contacted on www.keola.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chinta and Visarjana will be leading constellation workshops in Corfu Buddha Hall on June 15th (one day) and October 14-15th 2012 (two days).