What to do after your constellation (after-care)

Often we seem to have accurate insights into the causes of the problems that exist in our lives and with our families, while still remaining completely stuck. 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 our relationship with our family in a way that seems effortless. It has a profound impact that can give our lives new direction. Thoughts are quick. This kind of nourishing process moves slowly but surely through ourselves and our family system.

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 analyzing 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 colors 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 analyze our own constellation. Rather it is better to replay it in our mind and especially to remember the healing movements and images, and the feelings that go with them. We can satisfy our intellectual mind by thinking about other peoples’ constellations. With our own, it is better to encourage the experience to go as deep as possible. Immediately after your own 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 our healing image. This might include focusing on one particular element of the constellation such as feeling our parents physically supporting us from behind. It may also include acts to help us reincorporate a forgotten family member,such as displaying their photo in our 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.

As a result of our constellation we come closer to holding 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 at least 40 days+ before trying to talk.

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 different ways, than has been our usual past patterns. 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 feel a greater sense of relaxation and connection. We may even feel more alive.

(Re-printed with permission from Chris Walsh’s website Mindfulness Based Systemic Constellations)

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