Systemic Family Solutions - Bert Hellinger Family Constellation Work

Bert's Current Observations

Nov. 2003 - Santa Barbara: Day 1

Bert: "In his book, The Sense of Being Stared At, Rupert Sheldrake shows that the mind is extended, not confined to the brain. It reaches beyond. We are all within an "extended mind" (soul). This mind is extended in space and time and we move within this field (morphic field). Within this field we can perceive a gestalt. An image comes in to our mind and we perceive it and the 2 become a gestalt. The right waves reach the brain at the same time and we move outside of ourself and perceive the gestalt. Within this field, anything that has been at any time still is, and it is in resonance with us and we are in resonance with it. Many members of our family from former generations still affect us now because this resonance is going both ways. Not always for the better; often for the worse. How can we interfere in the extended mind to where the problem began; the solution is achieved far back and no longer affects us in the present. When there is schizophrenia, there was a murder (victim and perpetrator were both in the family), and those 2 affect the system and a person in it. Schizophrenia is not personal - it affects the whole family. You need only work with a member of the family, not the schizophrenic person. The main influence comes from those who were excluded. No one is more often excluded than a murderer and also their victim."

[Throughout this 3-day workshop, unless otherwise stated, Bert uses the client as themselves in their own constellations.]

1. A woman

Bert: "I wait till I get in tune with a person, and the person gets in tune with me, and we get in tune with the whole system."

Woman: "My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic and she committed suicide. My grandmother was institutionalized fro 22 years and my great-grandmother hung herself."

Bert sets up 7 generations of women, each is the next mother and represents her whole generation as well. An ancestor 3 generations behind the Woman reacted to a man laid on the floor. She lies down as well. Bert has the 2nd generation ancestor put a hand on each of their heads and hold a place in her heart for them both. Then the 1st generation ancestor and the Woman sit close to them also. Bert turns the head of the 3rd generation ancestor towards the man to see him, and they eventually hold hands. Bert says, "This is the decisive moment." Bert lets the Woman, the 1st ancestor and the 2nd ancestor stand and turns the 2nd ancestor away. The 1st ancestor looks at her mother and cries and hugs her. Bert tells the Woman to join them. She does so and cries.

Bert: "How do you feel?"

Woman: "Angry, actually… I very much want my own life now."

Bert (to the audience): "Poor girl. She is schizophrenic".

Bert brings back the 4th generation ancestor who was lying on the floor, to face the Woman. He brings up the man who was on the ground to stand at the Woman's left side. The 4th generation ancestor and the Woman hug eventually.

Bert [to the 4th generation ancestor], "Now you look at him. Tell him 'I killed you.' Bert stands the Woman next to the man to his left side. The Woman eventually hugs them both, but still seems "big".

Bert (to the Woman): "Now look at them both and say 'Thank you'".

Woman: "Thank you very much."

Bert: "Say 'bless me'."

Woman: "Bless me."

Bert: "How are you feeling now?"

Woman: "Good, thank you. I feel very full."

Bert: "The representatives were in tune. I could rely on them and the important things came to light. Why do a family constellation for this? What would it achieve? [to the Woman], You said you want to lead your own life. Your own life is miserable. You are not in contact with the greater forces. Those who lead their own life are very poor. See yourself as just one of many. Then you are connected with the real forces, full of depth and strength. Close your eyes and look at your mother and say in your heart, "Thank you. Bless me." And you look at your grandmother and say, "Thank you. Bless me." [to audience] What she said about her mother who hung herself and her grandmother, who was disturbed, shows something further back. So I set up the generations and watched what happens. The 4th generation ancestor looked to the floor and then away. Wait till you can see the person on the ground. The grandmother had perpetrator energy but softened eventually and went down to the victim. The great-grandmother went down too but didn't make contact. If a murderer hangs herself, does she look at the victim? No, it is another murderous act, the same energy, and it serves the purpose of getting rid of guilt by suffering in some way, atoning to feel better oneself. It is selfish and egocentric, and does not look at the victim. I had the grandmother touch both, so in her soul she could unite the 2. Then the great-grandmother and the victim held hands. It was a reconciling move. Then there was a beautiful movement between the mother and the grandmother, and the client joined but didn't reach the depth. Then the client says she's angry - she's still identified with the murderer. I had to continue. The great-grandmother lost sight of the victim again and had to look at him. They both embraced the client but she didn't hug them, and then she hugged them both and that was the decisive moment. The process goes on even when the constellation is finished. It is a complete therapy for her."

Bert continues: "We don't need to know who the victim was, it wouldn't add anything. We don't need to know. Healing movement takes place without knowing exact information. This method goes against those who need to know. In the soul, there is a certain economy. The soul doesn't show or do more than is necessary. Some want to improve on the soul. Behind this kind or work, it's important that you grasp connections in a philosophical kind of way.. There are far-reaching implications with schizophrenic patients and personal fates that seem very heavy to you and you feel sorry or have pity on them - what are we actually doing? We deny that everybody has his own destiny and that this destiny is, for him, the right one. If we have pity, we accuse the forces that act behind. In a way, we behave in a superior way, as if we could know what is right and good. We impose our judgments regarding their fate on them. Perhaps their heavy fate has more weight than our happy, cheap one. We must bow to each individual person and to whatever their fate or destiny might be. Then we become humble, when we ourselves are in real agreement with the fate of the other person. Not because we think right and wrong but because we follow the movement of these other forces and wait to be shown the next step. I stay constantly in tune with something I trust that will guide me in the right direction."

2. A couple: "We have 2 autistic children and a handicapped child, all boys. The 1st and 3rd are autistic, and the 2nd is severely learning disabled."

Bert: "We start with only one. This has more strength than all 3." [He sets up the first child and then gathers some history: Both maternal great-grandfathers committed suicide using a gas oven and the other drove in front of a truck. Both were disowned, the first at 13 years old and the other at 22 years old. Both were from England. On the father's side, his paternal grandfather was "adopted"- the mother had this child illegitimately when she was young and her mother took him in as her own; so the mother was raised as her son's sister.]

Bert sets up the paternal grandfather - his mother - and her parents (that raised him). There is a suspicion that the mother was made pregnant by her father. The grandfather's "father" appears crazy. The grandfather's mother leans on her mother and reaches for her father. Bert brings up the first autistic child. He inserts himself in the group. Bert makes repeated attempts to get him to yell, to cry out and he finally does. Eventually Bert turns him to face his parents and say "Please". The child rocks, hyperventilates and finally moves to them and says "Please." Bert tells him to say "Mom." The child hugs both, and then hugs his mother alone. Then the great-grandfather comes around and hugs them all. The child stands between his parents, then hugs his father. Bert tells him to say "Dad." Bert has the grandfather turn to the great-grandfather and say "Dad."

Bert [to the audience]: "Let's close our eyes and see the mother, father and 3 kids with love. And look back at their ancestors with love, and at the forces that affect them, with love. [to the couple] Look at your children each in turn and say 'Yes.' [to wife] Imagine looking at your husband and say 'Yes.' [to husband] Imagine looking at your wife and say 'Yes.' [to audience] The representative for an autistic child, if they shout out, may shout through the autism. [to the couple] What we did here, we did for all of your children at the same time. What showed up is that they have to say first 'mom' and then 'dad.'"

Bert continues: "One important thing - we can no longer pass judgment on anyone or anything. Moral judgment regarding good and bad doesn't help on a deeper level and will prevent contact with deeper forces, will keep us out of tune with deeper forces. About helping: sometimes a client reports about his or her parents and what happened and accuses in a certain way the parents and their situation and then they tempt us - they lead us into temptation (group laughs) and lead us to the same judgment. When caught up in judgment, we can't proceed well. Whatever the client accuses or calls bad, you love it and hold a place in your heart for it. With abuse or incest, a person immediately takes sides. They become murderers in their soul, they want to kill somebody, destroy him or her. When you do not join them, they turn on you with a murderous impulse. Now what to do with them. We love them too. They too get a place in my heart. If we are ready to enter on that path, this is a deep purification of the soul. And we become truly human. That's a prerequisite for this work - each subjected to their own forces. Each just human in their own way."

3. A man. Bert has talked with him previously about his 7 year old daughter that has night terrors. There was a stillborn child before her.

Bert: " If we set up the 3 (mother, father, child) we establish a focus and might be mislead. We take just the girl and see where we go from there." [Bert lays down a man in front of her.] " When you watch her face, you see that she is an old woman. {Bert brings in the mother, who covers her face. Child breathes a bit and then sits. [Bert brings up another woman and puts her where mother is reaching to. The child's face is different, like a child's. She is quiet.]

Bert: "The child is now relieved of that. The problem is here [with mother]." [The mother goes down to the floor.] Bert asks the other woman "Do you feel better or worse since she is down?" The woman says "Better." Bert moves the mother to the child and says, "It has nothing to do with the mother." [The child then identifies with the other woman. Bert has her turn to her mother. The mother looks like the child and the child like the mother. The man on the floor turns his head away from them. Mother is shaking again.] Bert tells the other woman "Just lie next to him." [to the audience] "Mother is still in the movement 'I do it in your place.' So as a helper, I don't allow it. I intervene." Bert tells the mother to stand up and look at her daughter. The other woman moves her head closer to the man. Bert tells the client to stand next to his wife. [The child does not look at them.] Bert has the child lie next to the man. Bert tells the child "That's her fate." Bert has the child say "I'm strong enough to save you. God works his miracles through me." Bert says to the child, "But he doesn't look at you. He looks for someone older." [The child shakes her head.] Bert says [to the audience] "See? That's how children think." Bert takes a man for the stillborn child that came before and has the mother say to him, "You're number one, she's number 2." Bert says, "The daughter was a substitute for him. Bert has the brother kneel down and face his sister and tell her, "You're number 2." Bert then has him go back to his parents and has the woman stand up and look at the man on the ground and say, "Thank you, you helped me a lot. Now I feel free. I can live."

Bert [to the audience], "I must expose such things in a dramatic way at times." Bert ends the constellation here. Bert then does one more piece. He places the client and his daughter opposite each other, and places a man for "Fate" behind the child. Bert tells the client to look at his daughter's fate. [The child twists around to look at her fate. She steps back and the client reaches out to her and she falls against him and he holds her up and she sighs some and then looks at her fate from within her father's arms, with a small smile.] Bert tells the client, "There's something else there that became apparent."

Bert: "Fate. When we don't try and change it, it shines upon us and enables us to do something with it. Many therapists act as though they could go against a person's fate - like assuming powers they don't have. Have a philosophical attitude. Look beyond the obvious and be in agreement with it. Then you can no longer judge. I go beyond the limits of my conscience, beyond morality, and get free of the urge to change anything. In the face of real powers, everything is in order. The creative powers behind everything want conflict. Conflict is the expression of creativity. Eternal truths don't last. A perfect therapist can't grow, is not creative, is fixed. When I don't try to do anything, something happens. Empathy is good sometimes, but when you are called upon to help, empathy gets in the way."

Bert continues: "I open up new vistas when I start with one person. With family constellations, you get focused in a direction and you can miss the point. Allow the client 3 sentences and you can get what's essential - a few more sentences may get confused, a long story. You'll get lost. Ask, "What did you come here for?" If the client answers quickly or with a long story, nothing is wrong. Let the client sit close, you don't need to ask, you can perceive. If you ask, he may lead you astray. Family constellations can just be a mechanical thing, no perception needed. But perception grew out of family constellations. I use one person and then add people. I work where the most energy is. I don't try to heal the system. Otherwise I dissipate my strength. Someone eager is off their soul. You will fail with them. I try not to fail so often."

4. A man. Bert tells him to close his eyes. "Say one word in your heart - 'No.'" [The man says it.] "Again, 'no.'" [The man repeats it.] "Now look at me and say 'no.' [The man says it.] "Never." [The man says it.] "Now close your eyes again and say in your heart 'I'd rather die.' And say it as a 4 year old child. And then you look for your father… And you say to him 'Please.' And now you bow your head slightly and breathe deeply with open mouth. Deeply. Take full breaths, faster."…

Bert [to the man]: "What do you want from me?"

Man: "To take away the pain."

Bert holds him for some time as the man cries ("interrupted movement.")

Man: "I've been waiting my whole life for that, from my father."

Bert: "All that pain is just love. [to the audience] The art of helping - you find the way from 'no' to 'yes'. How did I perceive that he was saying 'no'? This is 'no.' [Bert holds his head and chin up.] This is 'yes."'[Bert bows his head.] When I had him say 'no' to me, I could see it was a small child."

5. A woman.

Bert: "What's with you?"

Woman: "I had a difficult mother."

Bert: "There are only difficult children. [The group laughs]. I can't work with you. [to audience] Is she relieved? Yes, she is relieved. I helped her, in a way. Nobody can be helped who rejects the mother. The reason doesn't matter. The fact that they reject the mother has far-reaching consequences. What is the main therapy? You lead a person to their mother and you start by loving their mother. Is that difficult? Not for those who think philosophically. Is there anything greater than their mother? It doesn't matter how they were, once they have been mothers. It was a great help to others if not to her. But it helped her too, but she must not show it. Only privately." [Bert smiles at her. She returns to her seat.]

6. A young man raises his hand. Bert recognizes him as someone he has worked with in the past.

Bert: "I don't work with someone a second time. [to audience] If they come back it means they were lazy. Look how he's sitting [one hand holding the other arm across his chest.] He prevents himself from killing. [to the man] Now what shall I do with you? [The man shrugs.] I wait. I showed you something important. Now I wait."

Bert pauses: …"To start with the next person, I had to finish what began before. How? By giving them a place in my heart."

7. A woman: "I'm not living my full life. I'm stuck in the area of work."

Bert: "I have the same experience… Now we look at the serious issue, after I dispose of the frivolous one lightly. What is the serious issue? Death. [She nods. Bert stands her up. She closes her eyes then looks down to the floor. Bert lies a man on the floor. The Woman is drawn to him, but the dead person is not touched in any way.] Bert says to the Woman, "You are unimportant for that person." [to the audience] "He was at peace. She could withdraw." [to the woman] "Now the easy way is blocked for you and you can go on the difficult path to life." [The Woman sits down next to Bert again. He reads the following story [from his book Insights, pp. 36-37]:

A long time ago in the land of Aram - what is now Syria - there lived a field marshal who was dear and precious to the kind, and famous for his strength and courage. However, in the course of time he fell ill. His illness was such that he could not be in contact with anyone, not even his wife. He was afflicted by leprosy.

In this predicament he heard from one of his slaves that in her village there was a man who was able to cure his illness. And so he gathered about him an entourage, took ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, ten ceremonial robes, and also obtained a recommendation from his king. Then he went on his way.

After a long journey, involving many wrong turnings, he reached the house of the healer and called out to be let in. He stood and waited with all his people around him, all his treasures ready, and the King's recommendation in his hand. But no one took any notice of him. He was becoming somewhat impatient and irritated when a door opened and a servant appeared. The servant approached him and said, "May master inform you, 'Wash yourself in the river Jordan, then you will be well again.'" The filed marshal felt humiliated and believed that he was being made to look a fool. He objected vehemently: "What? This is supposed to be a hearer? He might at least have come himself, called on his God, conducted a lengthy ritual and been compelled to touch every sore on my body with his bare hands. That might have possibly done some good! And now I'm supposed to simply go and bathe in the Jordan!" In high umbrage he turned everyone around and set off back home again.

That should really be the end of the story. However, as this is a fairy tale, everything must turn out well.

The field marshal had already traveled for the whole day on his homeward journey. That evening his servants approached him and prevailed upon him to listen. "If this healer had asked you to do something extraordinary, to board a ship for instance, to travel to distant lands, worship strange gods, and for years to listen only to your own thoughts and lose all you wealth in the process, you would doubtless have done it. But all he asked of you was something quite ordinary." In this way, the field marshal allowed himself to be talked round.

Begrudgingly, and in bad humor, he made his way to the Jordan and resentfully washed himself in the water. And behold a miracle occurred.

As he arrived home, his wife was anxious to learn how things had turned out from him. "Oh…," he said, "I am restored to health again. Apart from that, there's nothing worth mentioning."

Bert: "The main object - there is no aftercare. It would be like running after a person who washed in the Jordan and giving them advice. Like asking a person how it was for them."

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