Saturday, December 13, 2008

Honoring the Ones Who Come Before Us - As We Go Our Own Way

Lately I've been thinking about Systemic Constellation Work. My good friend Lisa, who introduced us to the work in Cornwall back in 2001, is visiting from Germany. This has brought to mind all the things I owe to this work. Perhaps most obviously, Patricia and I would not be expecting a child in late May, if not for the years of good healing work done with Heinz Stark during the two year training program and beyond. I have been able to see and accept my mother - certainly for the first time as an adult. This seems to have changed . . . everything!

However, while I have found the work to be of immense help in my own growth and healing, it is difficult to express this in a way that most people find meaningful, and so we find ourselves unable to fill even a single day workshop this last year. We have theories as to why this is: Poor economy; not so much appreciation of family in the USA; or, simply the fact that no one knows what we are talking about. 

In the process of re-evaluating how to go forward with our Soul Solutions practice, in the face of low turn-out, I find myself coming to some other belated realizations. This has been coming for awhile now. The keynote speaker at the last North American Systemic Constellation conference over a year ago was a very nice man whose son had been killed as part of a gang initiation. His response was to forgive the boy who killed his son. Ultimately the boy wound up coming around and helping build a foundation to support non-violence. This was all well and good, but it felt "wrong" for a constellation conference. For one thing, constellations show us that offering forgiveness attempts to place us in a higher moral ground - to make us bigger than those we forgive. We observe that it is not up to us to forgive those who harm our families. And so I was confused by how avidly people responded to the speaker and his perspective. Other than Patricia and Heinz, everyone seemed to be okay with that. Then there was the movement to use constellation work in order to decide where to hold the next conference. This felt "wrong" as well. It seemed inappropriate and disrespectful to use such a powerful and connected tool to avoid responsibility for making a choice. 

On top of these experiences of the last conference I have the attempt to bring Heinz Stark back to Ohio to offer his comprehensive professional training in Systemic Constellation Work. First I ran into a wall trying to get CEUs for the program, in spite of the fact that the very same training had been accredited by this same board only a few years before. Perhaps partially because of that, we were not able to find enough people to fill the training and had to cancel it. So not only did we miss out on having more of this quality of training offered here in the states, but on having more well trained facilitators of the work available to this marketplace. 

So - I'm not sure how to proceed. I know that this country NEEDS what Constellation Work has to offer. I know that there are few people who are well trained in the work and can offer it in an effective and meaningful way to meet these needs. But I don't feel that I am a part of the "community" of constellators in the USA. Perhaps I exclude myself, but I feel that the work is too important and too powerful to approach with less training than most people get before receiving their first driving license. On the other hand, I too rebel against the idea of putting Constellation Work under the oversight of yet another professional bureaucracy. As far as I can see, there IS no clear answer - and we will need to come up with a new approach if it is to be both effective and fair to all involved. 

All I have to offer at this point are these thoughts. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Writing the flow. . .

Often, when I come out of Stillness from my morning sitting, I am left with a flow of creative energy and think "what a great time to go update my blog!" However, as soon as I sit down in front of the computer, I find that the creative flow has not yet resolved into a word-like substance. And so the updates keep getting put off until I actually drag myself into putting something onto the page. I use this self reflection to preface this entry, because I am still in that flow of creativity - and this is what is emerging. I am going to trust that it will take us all somewhere before I'm done. 

There are many ideas that occur to me during the day - and just as quickly disappear. I'm quite sure that at least some of them are brilliant - and just as sure that most are not. But whatever I may come up with while I'm NOT at liberty to write doesn't matter so much as what comes to me as I sit here now - or anytime I take keyboard in hand and grind something out. Now - just to be clear - I am not complaining. I actually rather enjoy the whole process. . . which leads me to this: While driving across town the other day, I watched a cloud of birds wheeling in the sky and felt a rush of joy rising with them inside me. I thought, "I'm so happy! My life is good. I am blessed with a wonderful partner, right livelihood, a safe and comfortable home. . .." And then I began thinking about how much of my happiness is based outside myself. Some much of it comes from my relationship with my wife, Patricia (aka "the Lovely and Talented") and I started questioning if there was something "wrong" with my happiness because it seems to be so based in externals. 

I took this question home and sat with it; put it on the back burner and let it simmer; and what I've come up with is this: Our happiness in the things around us is based on the choices we make, which in turn is based upon our inner dynamic. When my inner dynamic was clouded and wounded by past karma, I could not make the decisions in my life that led to happiness. Instead, I often chose things (relationships, jobs, experiences) that simply continued the state that I was in already. It took many years of concerted effort at self healing to be able to make healthier choices, less burdened by the experiences of my past. As I was able to make these choices from a more conscious place (due to many years of meditation, etc) I found that I was happier. Was that happiness based simply in the rewards of the choices I made? Or was the happiness the inner root of my outer experience? I suspect the later. 

When I am enjoying a beautiful vista and I feel my heart swell with appreciation, I realize that it is not just the beauty of the view that is involved, but also my capacity to appreciate it. The same is true with anything or anyone who I respond to with appreciation, love, gratitude or joy. When I make offerings to my ancestors in the morning and notice how much more strongly I feel them, it's not because they are any more present than before, but rather that I am now more open to them. 

Has it been mere fortune that allowed Patricia and I to find each other and to be so happy together? I suspect that it is much more than that. It seems to me that, as we grow and develop, we find those things in the world that most clearly reflect our own nature - and in doing so, we reflect the nature of those we find as well.

What I have discovered in this reflection is that the root of our happiness and appreciation of the external is still internal. It is our own inner Self that looks upon the world and sees itself reflected there. As we become more aware of the nature of that reflection, we grow in love and compassion, not only for ourselves, but for all others as well. Truly - to know yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.