By Suzi Tucker
So, there are lots of great teachers and courses in Family and Systemic Constellations being offered in the United States. Bert Hellinger’s early view of “let many flowers bloom” certainly has come to be.
But what happens when a beautiful circle of learning closes?
Often, the inspired student becomes the deflated entrepreneur. Suddenly on their own, some former students find that they feel isolated in their home territories or insulated in their psychotherapy, Reiki, medical, or other practices. The circle is no longer there to land in every month or two, a place where being with one another offers a sense of relief, the learning and also the invitation to be who you are full on. The circle is no longer a reliable shape with a seat for every member, no question. The circle is now an abstraction, and though some may try to keep it going informally, the challenges often overtake the momentum.
In these courses, there are the teachers and the teaching, and there is something else: the formation of what I think of as “accidental communities.”
What I mean by this is I come to every class looking forward to exploring in collaboration, to bringing what I have learned and exposing it to the light of what others know. I teach about what we call Family Constellations, which is a shorthand to me for “finding ways to live into the more of life, respectfully withdrawing from the parameters of our history (close to home and in the distance), and becoming well-prepared for the possibility of transforming what was into what can be.”
In this exploration, it seems that participants find within themselves a generosity toward parts of themselves that have been hidden and toward others because judgment is no longer so relevant. Thus, a community forms organically, not superimposed by me and not held together by a common belief, except perhaps that change is possible. In the beginning and at the close, we likely define terms differently but nothing has been sacrificed to a course requirement — and something has been added to each of our pools of wisdom.
Thus, “graduation” is a bittersweet moment. We celebrate in the context of leave-taking, but what does it mean in terms of arrival? Certification is a milestone but not the finish line. Family Constellations, like any art, requires life-long learning. Its teachers are, it can be assumed, continually informing and expanding their own art and practice.
It is a problem that the field sometimes loses very good people to professional isolation and financial challenge. The question of how we can all help each other step out from being “learners within a defined group” to “forgers of a fertile path in a larger world” is something to consider.
Those who have already made this transition can be of great service to those who are starting out, certificate in hand, in the profession and vocation of Family Constellations. Whether transitioning from other professions or embarking on a first endeavor, graduating students need to be in good company even as they step out of a class of good company.
After some 15 years of teaching, I have created a program called the Mentorship Space for this reason: to support the brilliance and caring of students who have completed my courses or other committed courses.
It has taken this long to begin to imagine what a bridge might look like. But I also see Mentorship in a wider sense, a responsibility to ourselves that is a gift to others. We can mentor one another, inviting regular dialogue with kindred and diverse natures to jumpstart and then galvanize creativity. Mentorship as a reciprocal adventure can protect one from the loneliness of financial struggle, insecurity, self-criticism, pessimism.
As I have seen time and again in my courses, it is especially the dissimilar connections that often hold the most potential. Would the women of my NYC Open Center course that just ended choose each other at a party? Even be at the same party? For the most part, no, and yet, their dissimilar gifts and challenges — areas of knowledge, rhythms of life, personal Family Constellations — made for a remarkably rich exchange.
We as teachers can look to building the scaffolding that is necessary for being able to successfully carry Family Constellation practice forward. It is the job of students to surpass us. Thus, it may be that we have to find new ways to really allow that. We can help ignite the possibility and then encourage the follow-through. We can continually encourage the connection among, between, and beyond ourselves that will serve them well in the future.
We as students can find each other, and find each other again. We can dedicate ourselves to gathering, to knowing ourselves not in opposition to others, but with growing confidence in the deep and open self, gatherers of more into more. We can find mentors in every corner of the intellectual, physical, and spiritual world. We can put together our own continued education, gathering from memory into vision.
I am writing this now, in part, as people begin to make plans to attend the North American Systemic Constellations Conference Oct. 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va. I am imagining that attendees will make a promise to themselves to embrace information and inspiration from every direction.
Even in the corners that are uncomfortable, perhaps there is a gem hidden under the rug or behind the curtain. My own critical self really bores me at this point. She has always been the least creative part and the one who ends up lonely in her instinct to separate. I am thinking that engagement across varied dimensions — as listeners, contributors, enthusiasts, gatherers — keeps us open to the “accidental communities” that can grow in the most unexpected places.
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