Constellating World Peace, One Family At A Time
By Jamy & Peter Faust
There are many paths to peace. Together as a couple, we have been on an astonishing journey through our family lineages that has left us yearning for more. More peace for ourselves and those we love, and more peace for everyone on the planet.
To borrow the words of the Dalai Lama,
One person can influence their family, one family can influence another, then another, then ten, one hundred, one thousand more, and the whole of humanity will benefit.
Over the past decade, we have come to appreciate that humanity’s movement towards peace really begins one person at a time, one family at a time. Most of us desire peace for ourselves, our species, and our planet. But our collective progression towards peace has to begin with each of us — in our willingness to first embrace the spirits of our mothers and fathers to gain understanding and compassion.
Think of it this way: each of us is a continuation of our respective family lineage, of all that has occurred in the lives of our ancestors. Many of our internal conflicts were handed down to us in the form of unconscious beliefs. To begin a path that leads to peace, we need to look no further than the circumstances of our own birth for clues to those conflicts and even in choices made before birth. Of course, our struggles as adults also have roots in our developmental years.
As a wife-and-husband team who have facilitated Family Constellations for hundreds of people seeking to heal their familial relationships, we have noticed that most of those who come to us understand that lasting peace requires moving beyond talk, analysis, and rehashing family stories. They seem to know intuitively that real peace requires a more daring journey into their family lineage, to uncover what some call the Family Soul. Over time, we’ve come to understand that Family Constellations can offer more than emotional or psychological healing. They can also provide fresh insight into the unconscious (or Soul) agreements made with our parents, siblings, and ancestors. This awareness, once we integrate it, inevitably sheds new light on our attachment to pain and suffering of all kinds. Moreover, it allows us to see why particular events and experiences may have occurred in our lives.
You must be wondering, What are Family Constellations?
Family Constellation is not a new form of psychotherapy, a trendy “New Age” spiritual practice, or some other panacea for everything that ails you. It is an innovative method that helps to reveal hidden dynamics in family systems or other relationships, so that conflicts can be acknowledged truthfully and healed.
We first learned about Constellations through the teachings and philosophy of Bert Hellinger, a German-born psychotherapist, analyst, author, and former Catholic priest who, at age 90, continues to teach packed seminars worldwide. Others practitioners have also made significant contributions to the field of family systems theory, but Hellinger is widely regarded as one of its leading pioneers. Some have suggested that the original inspiration for his philosophy came from the eighteen years he spent working alongside the Zulu in South Africa, while he was still a priest. Central to his philosophy is the importance of honoring one’s ancestors.
Our own experiences and trainings with Bert Hellinger, both in the US and Europe, opened each of us to a new path in our personal healing, and ultimately, to helping and teaching others how to heal and find peace as well. Hellinger showed us ways to enter the Constellation process through the frame of the Family Soul, which enabled us, in turn, to expand our work into a larger collective field.
Imagine your family — extending through several generations — as a constellation. Each family member, alive and deceased, known and unknown, represents a star, so to speak. The relationships among these various stars in your lineage have created their own unique patterns and dynamics. You are who you are (and I am who I am), in part, as a consequence of these ancestral dynamics.
In your personal healing and movement towards peace, no amount of reading about Family Constellation theory or practice can serve as a substitute for your own first-hand experience of a “live” Constellation, led by a well-trained facilitator. The facilitator helps gently guide the process from beginning to end. In most instances, there are three additional roles in a Constellation: the client is the person who has chosen to work on a particular issue; the representative(s), as the name implies, represent family members or other important people in the client’s life; and meta-representatives sometimes stand in for phenomena such as an illness, one’s family religion or ancestral homeland, and even war or other forms of violence and trauma.
Exploring our family lineage in a Constellation provides the opportunity to uncover secrets and hidden truths, and to investigate aspects of our lineage that may be unexplained or even lost. These are some of the crucial ties that bind us together as a family. When we begin to look at these things with open eyes, hearts and minds, we’re able to let go of attachments that no longer serve our lives. Through a Constellation we can also experience the new strength that comes from a more conscious and meaningful connection to our family lineage.
Consider for a moment one of our personal stories. This one involves Peter and his father:
My father contracted polio when he was six months old. The shadow of his physical limitations — what was called a ‘handicap’ in the language of the time — hung over all aspects of our family life, like an ever-present companion in our household. As a boy I felt the loss of not having a father who could throw a ball or teach me how to ride a bicycle.
In a Constellation, standing across from representatives for my father and for his polio, I instantly became aware of the judgments I held for my father. Acknowledging that I had seen him as somehow less than a father brought waves of shame that made me drop to my knees. I saw before me the two-halved man: one side under-developed, skin loose, small muscles, bones visible, the effects of a body ravaged by polio; the other side a normal, strong man’s body. Half was not good enough to get a good-paying job in those days, or to throw a ball with his son. I had judged my father the way the world saw him, as less-than, not good enough, as not man enough.
The Constellation brought me into a space where I could see beyond his physical body. Acknowledging him for who he really was, not the way I wished he had been, led me into the realm of acceptance. It helped me to release the judgments and the shame, and allow me to finally see him for the teachings and love he had given me through his disease.
I remembered his extreme patience and his methodical way of explaining things that he could not physically do himself. I remembered how together we could accomplish what he couldn’t do alone. I saw how he passed on to me his love of reading, writing, and learning.
I instantly understood, by being in silence and looking deeply into the eyes of the representative for my father, that he had transformed his shame into dignity. My father had lived every day of his life since infancy with his handicap. Out of that life he had developed a pride and dignity that can only be learned through an aversion.
In that moment the internal image I held of my father was completely transformed. I no longer pitied or felt sorry for him. Instead I was overcome with feelings of pride and gratitude towards my father. I wept with appreciation for him.
This is but one example of how a Family Constellation can open up a completely different perception of our life situations and relationships. If we’re willing to simply travel into the depths of our consciousness, change and healing can begin at the level of personal consciousness, then ripple into our family consciousness, and eventually affect the collective consciousness of humanity.
Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher, said it best:
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
At the dawn of 2016, as growing numbers of us seek a path of becoming peacemakers and peacekeepers, may all our efforts work together to heal the consciousness of humankind everywhere on the planet.
Peace on Earth and Good Will to All!