Two weeks ago, I attended an intensive for Constellations in New Mexico in which I got to spend four and half days with fellow Constellators in a breathtaking desert landscape. We dove deep into our own personal work and spent time learning from seasoned teachers. Powerful yet subtle benefits continue to waft through my system as I integrate what I experienced.
One of my "aha" moments was in relating Constellations to another system of work that I do, Structural Integration (SI). SI is a form of bodywork that puts the segments of the body back in order after they've been knocked out of place. Human beings tend to continue wearing our old injuries and emotional distress in our structures, and fortunately, the work of SI re-relates the parts of the body that fell out of sync.
"Where you think it is, it ain't" is a phrase that has served my community of bodyworkers for as long as the work has been around. Often enough, the presenting issue from the client's perspective differs from where the epicenter of the problem lives in the body's structure. An old ankle sprain coming back into place coincidentally resolves an acute pain in the shoulder. Bringing balance to the pelvis surprisingly unwinds chronic clenching in the jaw. Opening the diaphragm results in an unstable knee becoming trustworthy again. "Where you think it is, it ain't," is a phrase for the client and the practitioner. After the work begins, we both discover what parts of the system had been wanting to come together again.
The process of Constellations works in a similar manner; parts of our family system want to find each other in us. Missing parts of mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, long since forgotten, lurk in our fears and restlessness. Through the Constellation lens, events that have shifted the trajectory of the lives of our ancestors, also shift the receptivity and perceptions in the following generations. These hidden dynamics from before our time have us in their midst, and moving through them requires us to look where we might not expect the origin of our issue to be.
The Great Depression that my grandparents grew up in affects how I value money today. It's in my blood to carefully handle aluminum foil so that I can reuse it for as long as it lasts. Other events such as immigration at any point in a lineage has consequences that keep turning up for descendents. Hopelessness from an unknown origin, or an ever-present feeling of not belonging, pervades relationships for those that were born on this soil yet absorb the energy of immigration from the line of men and women behind them. Tragic and early deaths leave family members grappling with chronic anxiety. It's more than the loss and reconstruction of life afterwards. Despair in a lineage carries through in seemingly unrelated ways. For some, it's like life itself becomes a slippery notion to hold because those deeper currents of a tragedy linger on without a place.
In a Constellation, the facilitator and client work together to connect the current challenge into a context that came before. Representatives in the group show us aspects that reflect hidden patterns at work. The facilitator, the client, and the group discover that where we think it is, it ain't. Together, we see that a challenge we face today has been nested all along in a deeper resonance from our family's past. The process gives the necessary space to interpret the challenge differently, creating an inner opportunity to lean into something more, perhaps a brighter horizon ahead. SI and Constellations are two bodies of work that allow us to move more freely into the future with a felt sense of support from underneath us. I'm so grateful that I found both systems of endlessly creative work, and I get to weave them together with others by my side.