Legal Profession & Constellations with Zita Tulyahikayo  and James Pereira

Legal Profession & Constellations with Zita Tulyahikayo and James Pereira

Zita Tulyahikayo and James Pereira QC – Founders of the Libra Partnership, co-authors of “Loving Legal Life” for The Lawyer, and wellbeing columnists for Counsel Magazine.

In 2018, we founded the Libra Partnership to lead individual and systemic change within the legal profession. Our decision came after many years of work in our respective professions, and more recent work together writing, speaking and holding workshops to enhance sustainable professional performance in the legal profession. We now offer a range of coaching, workshops, writing and speaking services to the lawyers, law firms and barristers’ chambers for this purpose.

“Loving Legal Life” is a bi-monthly wellbeing column that appears in, an online publication for lawyers around the world. It is the first regular wellbeing column that offers support to members of the legal profession from a systemic perspective. Given our respective roles, James as a member of the system of law and Zita as a Systemic Coach, it was natural for us to present each article as seeking to raise and address issues particular to this profession enhanced by the depth that a systemic approach can often bring to understanding root causes and their effects. Following the ongoing success of “Loving Legal Life”, we were engaged to write a series of articles on professional performance and wellbeing for the Bar’s journal, Counsel Magazine. This in turn led to our appointment as regular columnists on these issues.

James had, like many other lawyers of his skill and talent, achieved great success early in his career but at a price, one that inspired him to make new life choices that would support him at a higher and more sustainable level of success. Fortunately, his transition coincided with a heightened awareness within the Bar that this was a systemic problem that not only threatened individual members of the profession but also the profession as a whole, which is made up of the sum of its many parts. In 2016, James gave his first talk to a packed audience in Middle Temple Hall, “Wellbeing at The Bar – How to Survive and Thrive”. How we now work and support members of the legal profession has evolved from that talk. James has since trained as an NLP Master Practitioner and completed the Essentials Certificate training in systemic coaching with constellations at the Whole Partnership. He continues to work in independent practice at the Bar, but with a deeper and more resourceful understanding of the issues in play within the profession.

The British Legal System, viewed indirectly as our client, is notoriously private and cautious. It is not part of the accepted code to appear as though one might need help. Through our work we have been able to gently push down doors and engage old systems of belief in new discourse. Two things have made this possible. First, there is a deep resonance between the law and systemic constellations: ritual, order, loyalty, belonging and atonement are all firmly established aspects of the legal system. Secondly, since James is a member of the tribe, we have been able to engage with the profession from within, a rarity given it is a system concealed by its authority and regalia.

Two recent examples of our work illustrate the systemic approach that we adopt. Our article “Making the Change to Being Well” (Counsel, June 2018), started by examining the rules of belonging and hidden loyalties within the legal profession – the rules of the barristerial tribe. Explaining long-standing and unquestioned patterns of behaviour in this way offered our readers an opportunity to understand, acknowledge and ultimately overcome perceived barriers to personal and hence systemic change. In our article “How to Solve Complex Problems More Easily” (The Lawyer, June 2018) introduced readers to mapping problems using table-top constellation maps, reinforcing the message that rational, conscious reasoning has limitations as the sole means of problem solving, whereas the use of a more intuitive, embodied and systemic approach can bring greater and more powerful resources to resolve a particular issue.

The power of the pen can be mighty, and its reach is far and wide in a world where digital is king. Writing a regular wellbeing column through the systemic lens has awakened an interest in wellbeing that stands in stark contrast to the current popular trend that centres around the nebulous impressions of “mindfulness” on one hand, and a military approach to resilience on the other. Bringing heart, and relationships to this heady mix has its merits through necessity.

In the last two years, the number of lawyers who have made contact with the legal mental health charity Law Care has increased: where once shame maintained the status quo of silence and the stiff upper lip, it is finally starting to be acceptable to ask for help, to accept that one does not know all the answers. Small though these movements are in the greater scheme of things, in context they are symptoms of change taking place amongst the deep folds of fabric that have intricately stitched themselves together over time.


Zita also offers personal coaching through her business Life Therapy with Zita – Systemic Coaching for Individuals and Organisations. This offers a combination of skills to attend to client’s request – Hypnotherapy, Systemic Coaching, EFT and NLP give high achieving women and men the support they need to perform more wholeheartedly and effectively.


In addition to his thriving legal practice, James offers tailored consultancy and advice to law firms and individuals who want to work in a healthier, more effective and sustainable way.


If you would like more information please feel free to get in touch on Twitter:  Zita (@LifeTherapyZita) or James (@JamesPereiraQC)

Astrology & Constellations with Michelle Duhamel

Astrology & Constellations with Michelle Duhamel

Chiron the wounded healer

In mythology Chiron is a good centaur who can bring healing to people who seek his help. The planet was discovered in 1977 by an astronomer Charles Kowal in Pasadena and since then astrologers have worked with this archetype.

In every birth chart Chiron is the archetypal image of the wounded healer. Chiron is a bridge between the past and the future. For example, if it is linked to the Moon it relates to issues on the mother’s side. And a link to Mercury shows issues with children either dying young or mothers dying in childbirth.

Nobody can be rejected from the family tree. There will always be Chiron to acknowledge their presence.

My work is based on Chiron in the birth chart of each participant and continues with groups where I work with conventional family constellations.


A birth chart


How it all started

Twenty years ago my daughter came home with a flyer about family constellations. She knew I was interested in genealogy, nevertheless I put the flyer under a pile of various documents. One day I decided to sort out what I had on top of my desk and I found the document I had put aside. It was the day of the lecture about family constellations, so I decided to go, follow the seminar. It was such an intense time that I decided to register for the training.

I had to deal with my ancestral issues which had brought a lot of pain and unhappiness into the family system. I knew I didn’t want to pass them on to my daughter and granddaughter.

I will remember all my life the time when the therapist dealt with my family issues over five generations. To me it was a quantum leap, I cried a lot and all my tears washed my sorrow.

In a workshop, the ancestral field is held by the participants and the facilitator in order to undo the entanglements: something happens.

Here are some quotations from my patients :
« The mother in the constellation talks like my own mother, my father doesn’t talk much and so on »
« I don’t seem to carry the burden I had »
« I feel relieved …… »
A lot of patients say: « There is a life before the constellations and a life after »


A few examples


Issues on the mother’s side

Once I had a participant who was working with homeless children. She was depressed and doctors couldn’t find why. So I looked at her birth chart and told her to investigate her mother’s family. The aspects were showing issues five generations before her. It meant looking at her grandmother’s grandmother which can be rather difficult but she had the help of genealogists and she discovered that her great-great grandmother had been sent to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 30 and that she died 30 years later in that hospital. Obviously her ancestor had to leave her children who were raised by a foster mother. All this was written on the death certificate. She understood that since then there had always been issues between mothers and their own children in her family.

With all those precious details we were able to have a family constellation and entangled family links.

I always tell participants that there is a lot of information on birth or death certificates although all the ancestors are dead and there is no one to tell.


Dealing with violence

Another participant had worries with her eyesight, her mother had become blind and so had her grandmother. She was complaining a lot about her grandmother. With the birth chart (Mars and Chiron), I could see it was linked to violence in the past. During the workshop, she said her son was a history teacher. I asked her to look for details five generations before for the next workshop.

She found out that at each generation women became mothers at the age of 40. So five generations meant 200 years. One day she opened the newspaper and saw that it was the 200th anniversary of a battle taking place in the village where she was born. The troops of Napoleon had burnt the village, killed most of the villagers and her grandmother’s grandmother was there, an eight-year-old girl.

It was something that was never known in her family, was passed through blindness over the generations and her son was trying to find the truth by becoming a history teacher.


Fifteen years ago I received a mail asking for help from the USA. A young lady had read my website and told me about her wounds and sufferings. She had been the scapegoat of her school and family. There had been rape and violence. She had just been out of surgery three times where she nearly died. So I read her birth chart and said: « If you want to come to France I lead a family constellations seminar next month. You’re most welcome ». Her father who came from Eastern Europe, had been involved in several wars.

She came to me, we did a conventional family constellation for her. She went home, had a child and continued her life.

When a person is ready something or someone comes along to help. It is like opening a door and entering a new room.


Dealing with children issues

When Mercury is involved in the chart we often find issues with children, either dying young or being hidden because they were born out of wedlock. Both were taboos five generations ago.

If a participant has endometriosis and can’t have children it is necessary to search what had happened five generations before.

I had a patient who couldn’t bear a baby and we looked at her genealogy but nothing seemed to indicate that an ancestor had died giving birth to a child.

After a meeting with family members she came back to me and said: « I met a cousin I didn’t know who told me that the great-great-grandfather had a first wife who died in childbirth and he married her sister »

She didn’t know about the first marriage and believe me or not but my patient had the same name as the forgotten wife.


I would like to end with a poem by Martin Lass, Australian astrologer who has been working with Chiron.

When all crying is done,
When all tears are spent,
When the Heart becomes Still,
In the Silence…
And know with every breath
That you are Loved.


Michelle Duhamel

Merging astrology and family constellations, I have been leading workshops and seminars for 20 years.

Living in Paris, I started astrology thirty five years ago with French astrologers. Then one day I decided to go to London to attend Liz Greene and Mélanie Reinhardt classes at the Centre for Psychological Astrology (CPA). I was really puzzled by Mélanie Reinhardt’s work about Chiron. I discovered through her lectures that in the birth chart you could see where your family entanglements are. They can go back as far as the fifth generation.

I passed a degree at Paris University on family therapy and systemic rituals. In addition I have also been working with Daan van Kampenhout for 10 years and I am attending his systemic ritual training. I live in Bordeaux and lead seminars in various towns in France. I also give private sessions.


Soul Retrieval & Constellations with Aleksandra Shymina

Soul Retrieval & Constellations with Aleksandra Shymina

I first experienced soul retrieval at Daan van Kampenhout’s training in Mexico City. As part of his teaching on Systemic Ritual he presented this concept to the group. I have met the concept before in my basic shamanic training but had a vague idea of how this could be practiced. We were to think of the times in our lives where some powerful, if not traumatising, events occurred and then use stones to represent the soul parts that were still there in those times and events. Being witnessed by a partner we were to set an intention to call those soul parts back and to use our voice to do it – singing, talking, humming. I have set up two soul parts that I believed were missing since I moved countries several times as a child, and breathing them back into my body brought quiet peace and a sense of completeness.

Soul retrieval is one of the core practices in traditional and modern shamanism. Description and details may vary depending on cultural context and background teaching but in its essence it is a belief that a person’s soul (or several souls in some cultures) could split into pieces and leave the body for various reasons. Most of the time, it will come back and reconnect but in times of great fear, threat, challenge and pain a part of the soul might choose to remain in dreamworld – the realm that we go to in our dreams, the other world, the other dimension – whatever you call it – the place deemed safer and more pleasant for the soul.

If soul loss occurs it may lead to physical and mental illness, a sense of dullness of life, as if something is missing and nothing is the same as it used to be. The colours are not as bright, the laughter is not as sincere and nothing seems to be able to change it – no matter what healing practices and therapy you do.

Traditionally, if I am to summarise this healing practice, when a practitioner senses soul loss, she would journey on behalf of the person to her guides and spirit helpers to get help in finding the missing part of the soul. Her guides would quickly locate it and bring her there. After some negotiation – mainly explaining what happened and that the threat/situation has shifted and the person is generally in a better state – a practitioner brings the missing soul part back to the person’s body.

My experience at Daan’s training, using stone representatives for the missing soul parts, and me doing my own work to call them back and integrate them, led me to using this practice in my constellation work. Two years later there is hardly a workshop without doing some soul retrieval.

A soul retrieval constellation has some ritualistic feel to it and often I am also using a drum to accompany the process, but we are still using representation and sentences to achieve resolution and bring the soul back. After we set up the soul part, the guide or spirit helper, sometimes the dreamworld or the initial event of separation, I usually ask the issue-holder to do the journey themselves and talk to their missing soul directly. This creates a sense of ownership and embodied experience of reconnecting with the soul part, of recognising how their current reality and situation improved since the soul went missing and also how they are incomplete without it. Making a promise to take care of the soul creates new sense of bonding with it, and responsibility to be more self-aware and caring.

On this journey I am always accompanying the issue holder, together with their guide, providing necessary sentences for resolution, asking them to sing their favourite childhood song or singing myself to emphasise the dreamworld state of the process. Sometimes, when I sense the tendency in an issue holder to drift off and disconnect, I introduce clear boundaries between our world and dream reality and only allow short periods for journeying in and out.

This work is highly symbolic, which I explain to the group or in a private session. What we do in soul retrieval constellation affects the psyche as much as it affects the spirit and it very much depends on one’s background and belief system, which one they would prefer to notice.

We all experience soul loss at some point in our lives. Probably many times. We might go on for years not noticing life becoming more and more dull, and attributing it to various factors in our environment. Mostly soul loss is not dangerous but is limiting, we don’t enjoy life the way we could be. But sometimes we might end up entrusting bits of our soul to loved ones who are gone, which then systemically shows up as a desire to follow the departed one into death. In fact, one is following their own soul part, that stayed with that person. In such constellations, doing soul retrieval is vital to one’s survival. It is very resourceful to us saying ‘yes’ to life and letting go of those who want to be let go of.

As a result of such work, often almost immediately, the person feels more alive and vibrant, sees everything around them in brighter colours, breathes deeper. Long term, their energy levels increase, they feel more themselves, life seems easier and more manageable and there is an overall sense of flow.


Aleksandra is a London based systemic constellations and systemic ritual practitioner. She has a life long curiosity about ways to improve life, find purpose, bring positive change, meaning and healing. This took her first into law, then into working with an international charity focused on social change starting with personal change. Following her heart and her path she trained with some world renowned teachers in systemic family constellations, systemic and shamanic rituals in Europe and Mexico.  Aleksandra is now holding regular groups and private sessions in London and internationally as well as offering tailored rituals and ceremonies for important life events and healing.


When ancestors go to the Oscars, they win!

When ancestors go to the Oscars, they win!

‘Coco’ is a new animated feature by Pixar and it has just won the Oscars!

Ancestors. Blessings. The relationship between the living and the dead. Hidden loyalties. Family secrets. Entanglements and resolutions. This wonderful, beautifully made animation is full of systemic wisdom about belonging, place and movement of families through the ever flowing river of time. A delightful magical watch for constellators and children alike!


What makes a family strong?

What makes a family strong?

Keeping a family strongly linked from one generation to the next gives all members a sense of history, belonging and connection to one’s roots. Some families are particularly good at doing this. Brought together by shared history, values and goals, they practice inclusion, transparency and sharing as some of the ways to stay rooted, connected and strong.

‘Keeping the Family Tree Alive’ is an article from the New York Times that looks at such families, describing traditions and practices that can be of use and inspiration to us all.


Reconciling Systemic Discord with Gaye Donaldson & Nick Mayhew (Harmony Conference 2017)

Reconciling Systemic Discord with Gaye Donaldson & Nick Mayhew (Harmony Conference 2017)


The Harmony Conference, hosted by the Sustainable Food Trust in July, was a wonderful event inspired by the Prince of Wales’ book “Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World”.

The conference discussed how Harmony principles manifest in food, agriculture, education, health and music. Films were made of the many fascinating sessions – including Gaye Donaldson’s presentation with Nick Mayhew entitled “Reconciling Systemic Discord”.

The full list of all recorded sessions can be found here


Thomas Hübl on the Nature of Trauma

Thomas Hübl on the Nature of Trauma

A brilliant concise introduction to the nature of trauma by Thomas Hübl.




You can learn more about trauma and how to work with it using the systemic constellation approach at our forthcoming conference in June.


Trauma Through the Systemic Lens

This three-day symposium will provide a wide-ranging exploration of the effects of trauma in personal, social and environmental systems. We will learn about the neurobiology of trauma and how constellation work can heal our brains; we will explore personal trauma and examine how, as practitioners, we can work safely with unresolved traumatic issues in a variety of settings and situations; we will look at resilience and resourcing of both client and facilitator; we will learn about social traumatology and symptomatic pattern repetitions, which manifest trans-generationally, and we include addiction and the relationship with early and intergenerational trauma.

On Nature as resource when humans remember their right place, belonging and size

On Nature as resource when humans remember their right place, belonging and size

When we remember that Nature came first. When we acknowledge that we are not the first ones to solve anything and that Nature has already got all the answers that we are looking for. When we stand in our right place in a long line of organisms and get in touch with the Elders of Nature that have been here on this planet far longer than we have. When we begin to see Life as a source from which everything comes and open up to receive. When order is restored in this way, Nature begins to pass on its wisdom to us in ways that support Life.

Biomimicry is a new discipline that seeks to take design advice from Nature, asking a simple question “How does Nature solve this?’ while attuning to solutions where Life Creates Conditions Conducive to Life. Listen to Janine Benyus talk about Biomimicry in action and check out and to find out more.




Self-organising systems through the latest scientific lens

Self-organising systems through the latest scientific lens

Here is the latest science exploring the unseen source of self-organising systems, resonance and the continuously emerging reality of a deeply connected universe. In systemic constellation work this phenomenon is frequently referred to as the Field. This documentary offers new scientific insights into how the Field seems to operate, offering a glimpse into the invisible backdrop of a constellation.

“What if you were connected to everyone in the world.
How would your life change?
What if you could see the patterns.
See the beauty.
New ideas in science deepen your connection to nature, to the stars and to each other.
Learn to see the world differently.”



You can watch the full documentary via Vimeo on demand here

How children benefit from knowing their roots

How children benefit from knowing their roots

Research is increasingly demonstrating that children benefit greatly from being deeply embedded in knowledge about their family roots. The more children are familiar with their family history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more confident and successful they are likely to become.

Rebecca Hardy ‘Why children need to know their family history’ (The Guardian)

Frozen Embryos and the Price of Life in Modern World

Frozen Embryos and the Price of Life in Modern World

As technological advances offer more and more options for families on how to bring a child into the world, a new area of challenges is emerging for couples and families. What does one do with frozen embryos once they are no longer medically needed? What options are there? What do people struggle with and choose to do? How does one make peace with a decision to let a frozen embryo thaw? What inspires parents to agree to their frozen embryo being adopted or to donate it to scientific research? Laura Bell discusses the fate of frozen embryos and the evolution of medical, legal, financial and emotional implications of assisted conception fertility practices.

Laura Bell “The Fate of Frozen Embryos” (Parenting: Modern Families + Fresh Ideas)

“My Motherless Mother”

“My Motherless Mother”

“I need to talk to you,” my 90-year-old mother announced in a stern tone usually reserved for reprimanding a child.

Visiting her in Florida, I noticed increasing balance problems and short-term memory lapses, early signs of Lewy body dementia. She perched on the bench of the organ my father had learned to play in retirement.

And she began to recite, like someone eager to have her past documented by an oral historian:

“I grew up in an orphanage. My mother didn’t want me.”

I froze — eager to listen, afraid of what she’d reveal.

“My father had tuberculosis and went to a sanitarium,” she continued. “After he died, my mother couldn’t afford to keep me at home. I went into the orphanage when I was 18 months old. I stayed until I was 15. Then I moved back home, where I lived until I married Daddy. I resented my mother.”

I was incredulous. At 53, I was hearing details of her past for the first time. She was a widow, recently surviving a heart attack. I was married with a teenage daughter. Mom had always been private, lapsing into Yiddish whenever she didn’t want me to understand. She’d dribbled out a few facts over the years: My grandmother left Russia after a broken love affair, fleeing to Ellis Island at the age of 17 — alone and penniless. My mother was raised in poverty in Jersey City. Occasionally I overheard the word “orphanage” in hushed tones. I didn’t dare to pry. She didn’t invite questions. Until now.

“When I was 7 they brought me into a room in the orphanage and said, ‘These are your older brothers.’ I didn’t even know I had brothers.”

Mother swallowed, took a breath. “My mother was supposed to visit once a month. But months would pass and she wouldn’t show up.” Her lips quivered. “I never had a mother. Never even had a doll.”

Suddenly I realized why she criticized me for buying my daughter too many toys. “Did your mother work?” I asked.

“She was so poor, she made and sold gin during Prohibition.”

No wonder Mother never drank. I started to tremble. As anxious as I felt diving deeper into her past, I knew this might be the only opportunity to discover why she’d been so distant, running away from friendships and intimacy. Her failing health compelled her to share memories of institutionalization with someone who’d remember.

“I’m stronger than you are,” she had often boasted when I was growing up, proud that she never even took a Tylenol. I was a sensitive child. She called my outbursts “crocodile tears.”

Now I watched real tears stream down the cheeks of the stoic stranger who’d never invited me to sit in her lap. Suddenly she hugged me. I could feel her shoulder blades in her diminutive frame. I fell into a back-and-forth rocking rhythm. I’d cradled my daughter — but never the woman who’d given birth to me.

Together we cried, for ourselves and for each other. Our embrace ended awkwardly, as if we’d been caught misbehaving.

“I once told my mother she didn’t love me,” Mother blurted. “She was shocked.”

Avoiding her gaze, I didn’t admit I’d wanted to accuse her of the same thing. As a child I’d often felt neglected, left alone at the age of 8, not understanding why Mom ran off to art classes rather than spend time with me. Chiseling sculptures eased her anxieties. My father called it “nervous energy,” but she was trying to keep the trauma she held inside from exploding. If I disagreed with her, she washed my mouth out with soap. Once she hit my face so hard for speaking back to her, my gums bled. When I wanted to major in journalism, she said, “You don’t have any talent.”

We spent our lives disappointing each other. I yearned for someone to praise and inspire me, but so did she. We both needed a good mother. She was always protecting herself from the scars of her early abandonment.

Now she confessed, “When I put my mother in a home, it was on the same grounds as my orphanage. Imagine how I felt each time I visited.”

I couldn’t. All I remembered was taking my grandmother out for ice cream on Sundays. How could my mother have kept such an anguished secret from me all those years? Not a word during the car ride from Brooklyn to Jersey City and back. As if we were any mother and daughter visiting an octogenarian in any nursing home. My mother had kept her secret from me all these years — until she suspected that soon it might be too late.

“Don’t ever put me in a home,” she said, sounding desperate.

“I won’t,” I promised, suggesting that she might live with me someday. Even though my city apartment couldn’t house all of us.

“My mother said two women should never share the same kitchen,” Mom insisted.

My secret: I was relieved. But now that I knew who she really was, I hoped my anger would become tempered with compassion.

Her outpouring was over as quickly as it began. Neither of us brought it up again. As she became frailer, I flew to Florida more often. I escorted her to the movies, where she’d fall asleep, mouth agape, waking up during the credits, remarking, “What a great film!” In a dressing room in Bloomingdale’s, I helped her find a brassiere, trying to fasten the hooks with the finesse of a lingerie saleswoman. Hiding her embarrassment, she stared at us in the mirror and said, “You’ve become my mother.”

One night as I made her favorite dinner of salmon, broccoli and sweet potatoes, she asked, “Did I ever hit you?”

“You never hit me,” I lied. What was the point of rehashing that now?

“Was I a bad mother? No one taught me how.”

“You weren’t a bad mother.”

I did my best to appear strong in front of her. I’d soak a package of tissues with tears in the airport every time I left.

She grew to depend on me, becoming less harsh and critical the more I consulted with her doctors and monitored her medications. I was her caretaker. My older brother was unavailable, and my other brother had died at the age of 46 from lung cancer. Fortunately, Mom had a long-term insurance policy to cover the cost of having round-the-clock aides. I borrowed money to make up for my lost income as a freelancer. I brushed her hair. Played Go Fish with oversize cards designed for a child. Sang “Happy Birthday” when she no longer knew me.

For the last two years of her life, she was bedridden with advanced Lewy body dementia and a broken hip. Her eyes were closed most of the time, her body shuddering from jerky, involuntary movements. At least she wasn’t aware that her hands were sheathed in gloves to calm her, or how she was sedated to allow caretakers to bathe her and change her diapers.

She never even knew I kept my promise and didn’t put her in a nursing home. But I knew. It had been a challenge, yet her death left me with few regrets and no guilt. I hadn’t abandoned her as she’d feared, the way her mother had so long ago. The decision to move a parent into a nursing home is always excruciatingly difficult, but it was out of the question for me. I understood how essential it was for my mother to die at home. In her house. On her terms.

Condolence cards from friends kept emphasizing that after the initial grief subsides, memories of a dying parent become softened with earlier, less painful images. After the funeral, I kept reliving the conversation my mother had initiated six years before.

At the time I feared that my promise not to put her in a home would be a burden full of old resentments. Yet if she hadn’t revealed who she was and why, I would have missed the unexpected pleasure of getting closer to her.

A month after she died, I faced the emotional task of cleaning out her apartment. In an envelope titled “to be opened only after my death,” I found a tape she’d recorded.

“I grew up in an orphanage,” my mother’s voice began, and once again I listened.

I made copies of the tape to distribute to her eight grandchildren, grateful that they could finally hear her story in her own words. Just as Mom had chosen how to die, she had determined how to share her legacy.”


Candy Schulman


Original post: The Opinion Pages of The New York Times

Inherited Family Trauma

Inherited Family Trauma

“Emerging trends in psychotherapy are now beginning to point beyond the traumas of the individual to include traumatic events in the family and social history as a part of the whole picture. Tragedies varying in type and intensity—such as abandonment, suicide and war, or the early death of a child, parent, or sibling—can send shock waves of distress cascading from one generation to the next. Recent developments in the fields of cellular biology, neurobiology, epigenetics, and developmental psychology underscore the importance of exploring at least three generations of family history in order to understand the mechanism behind patterns of trauma and suffering that repeat.”

Mark Wollyn ‘It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are’ (Science & Nonduality)



The Endurance of Sisterhood: 40 Portraits in 40 Years

The Endurance of Sisterhood: 40 Portraits in 40 Years

The Brown Sisters: 1975-2014

“Throughout this series, we watch these women age, undergoing life’s most humbling experience… With each passing year, the sisters seem to present more of a united front. Earlier assertions of their individuality — the arms folded across the chest, the standing apart — give way to a literal leaning on one another, as if independence is no longer such a concern…”

Full article and all 40 portraits here: Susan Minot ‘Forty Portraits in Forty Years’ The New York Times Magazine

Photograph by

Have a lovely weekend…

Have a lovely weekend…

““HOW IS YOUR SHADOW your honorable shadow?”

This was a customary greeting between friends in Japan, a recognition that what we reject is as important as what we embrace. I walk with my shadow behind me, sometimes ahead, and often to the side. It is my capricious companion: visible, then hidden, amorphous. A shadow is never created in darkness. It is born of light. We can be blind to it and blinded by it. Our shadow asks us to look at what we don’t want to see. If we refuse to face our shadow, it will project itself on someone else so we have no choice but to engage.”

Terry Tempest Williams

Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“The seeds from our parents and ancestors…” by Thich Nhat Hanh

“The seeds from our parents and ancestors…” by Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we’re still young, many of us are determined to be different from our parents. We say we’ll never make our children suffer. But when we grow up we tend to behave just like our parents, and we make others suffer because, like our ancestors, we don’t know how to handle the energies we’ve inherited. We’ve received many positive and negative seeds from our parents and ancestors. They transmitted their habit to us because they didn’t know how to transform it.”


Thich Nhat Hanh

Have a wonderful weekend…

Have a wonderful weekend…

“I trust so much in the power of the heart and the soul.

I know that the answer to what we need to do next is in our own hearts.

All we have to do is listen, then take that one step further and trust what we hear.

We will be taught what we need to learn.”


Melody Beattie

The Whitney Plantation: Why America Needs a Slavery Museum

The Whitney Plantation: Why America Needs a Slavery Museum

In this moving video, John Cummings, talks about his journey of creating the first memorial museum in the United States dedicated entirely to slavery –

“The Whitney Plantation near Wallace, Louisiana, is the first and only U.S. museum and memorial to slavery. While other museums may include slavery in their exhibits, the Whitney Plantation is the first of its kind to focus primarily on the institution. John Cummings, a 78-year-old white southerner, has spent 16 years and more than $8 million of his own fortune to build the project, which opened in December of last year.

Cummings, a successful trial attorney, developed the museum with the help of his full-time director of research, Ibrahima Seck. The duo hope to educate people on the realities of slavery in its time and its impact in the United States today. “The history of this country is rooted in slavery,” says Seck. “If you don’t understand the source of the problem, how can you solve it?”




Have a beautiful weekend…

Have a beautiful weekend…


to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think: “How can a body withstand this?”
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say: “Yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”

Ellen Bass


Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Have a great weekend…

Have a great weekend…

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie


“My body tells the story… of women who made me…”

“My body tells the story… of women who made me…”

“This is not my body in the mirror.

These aren’t my hips, breasts, calves, skin, or hair. The curves swallowing me whole, the sagging, the structure, and the shape, don’t belong only to me. They don’t tell my story.

My body tells the story of all the pieces of women who made me; an amalgamation of my ancestry. I am a patchwork quilt of evolution built from the genetics of women who lived remarkably unremarkable lives.

These hips, that can hold two hands between them, and do not fit into this modern world, come from two families full of twins. The jutting swell of my hips were designed to seat a child on each, carry baskets full of food, and swing with purpose to denote the seriousness of my intent. My hips were worn by the peasants in the Highlands of Scotland and valleys of Ireland all the way through my great-grandmother carrying and caring for her six daughters. These hips have purpose.

From peasant hips come sturdy legs, thighs that touch, and thick ankles that only in the last century have been seen in daylight. They look out-of-place in a world of shorts and small skirts, but never doubt their strength. Heels may be challenging, but they can wrap around a horse and ride for days. Never underestimate their sturdiness, children can cling to these legs and animals can run between without losing balance; their stoutness is but a small price to pay. On these legs my grandmother donned her sneakers with her suit, and commuted to the Pentagon every day, tucked them out of sight behind her desk, and typed up top defence secrets. They may not be pretty, but they did their job.

The skin so fair that my friends once described it as “the other other white meat,” has never once agreed with the sunshine. It hails from cloudy temperate climates where the sun rarely shines but the grass is always green. It flushes scarlet in anger, happiness, tears, shyness, and calm. The blood vessels which burst and scatter flecks of red across deathly white skin, and the rosacea which ruddies my cheeks and sends me floundering for lotions and potions is an inheritance straight from the British Isles from which we came. For centuries this skin has fallen victim to the sun; it’s been freckled and aged with liver spots, weathered and leathered, and succumbed to disease. I suppose no one ever told the little girls who came before me, while they read them stories about fair maidens, that their lily-white skin would kill them in the end.

These aren’t my breasts in the mirror, that fall out of tops and break my back. Instead I see them filling out shapeless rough-spun dresses as they feed the sheep and cows or wrapped tight with too-thin cloaks sailing over the Atlantic to a new world. They’re sitting higher than gravity allows, bustled tight with hints of lace as they heave, anxiously awaiting news from the front; or covered in tweed and cardigans on their way to be the first woman in the family to have a college degree. These were the breasts that have sweat over the stove each morning making breakfast, pillowed the heads of crying children, and enamoured and offended men in equal parts. They’ve been weighing down my ancestors for centuries during times when it was already hard enough to stand up straight as a woman.

This body, with its piecemeal parts torn from history may not be beautiful. It may never walk runways, win races, or be the idealized version of womanliness. It is the body of the women who came before me, who used it day in and day out, who needed its strength and curves, and fell to its frailties. It lived through and made histories and brought forth the next generation even when it felt like it couldn’t go on.

Looking into the mirror, I see those women, how they survived, thrived, and died.

This body is not my own. It is ours.”


Katie Racin


Original post on ‘Literally, Darling’

Enjoy your weekend!

Enjoy your weekend!



A mighty wind blew night and day,
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away.
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.


But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke:
“How can you still be standing Oak?”


The oak tree said: “I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.


But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth.
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.


Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

Johnny Ray Ryder Jr
The Fallen of World War II

The Fallen of World War II

The Fallen of World War II is an interactive documentary that illustrates the human cost of World War II. Created by Neil Halloran, this 15-minute data visualization uses cinematic storytelling techniques to show viewers the staggering numbers of people who perished during WWII. Categorised by country and type of death, a clear picture emerges of all the missing ones. 


For an interactive version of this video please go to






Have a blessed weekend…

Have a blessed weekend…

blessing the boats
(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Lucille Clifton
“When my mother died…” by Thich Nhat Hanh

“When my mother died…” by Thich Nhat Hanh

“The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.”


Thich Nhat Hanh


Have a beautiful weekend…

Have a beautiful weekend…



Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue. 

Martha Postlewaite

Have a beautiful weekend…

Have a beautiful weekend…


“You must have a room,

or a certain hour or so a day,

where you don’t know

what was in the newspapers that morning,

you don’t know who your friends are,

you don’t know what you owe anybody,

you don’t know what anybody owes to you.

This is a place where you can simply experience

and bring forth what you are

and what you might be.

This is the place of creative incubation.

At first you may find that nothing happens there.

But if you have a sacred place and use it,

something eventually will happen.”


Jeseph Campbell

Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…

To hear with your
heart and not
your ears.
To feel with your
heart and not
your hands.
To see with your
heart and not
your eyes.
To speak with your
heart and not
your mouth.
To think with your
heart and not
your mind.
To be one with
all in the heart.
Running Elk Woman
Enjoy your weekend

Enjoy your weekend

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.
Joy Harjo
Have a wonderful weekend…

Have a wonderful weekend…


May the sun bring you new energy by day.
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being.
May you walk gently through the world and
know it’s beauty all the days of your life.

Apache Blessing

Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry 
Have a great weekend

Have a great weekend



Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.

Joy Harjo

Have a wonderful weekend…

Have a wonderful weekend…


Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.


John O’Donohue

Wishing you a wonderful weekend…

Wishing you a wonderful weekend…



How can you know, as we interact today
What I can handle? What I need?
I’m right here – here with you
Aware of myself, what’s happening inside.

If you feel moved, to react in a certain way
Stop first, to ask yourself, what it is you need
Are you feeling uneasy? Afraid of my pain?
Who is it you want to comfort? Yourself or me?
. . . .
What I need
Is for you to just be
With me if you can
Without doing a thing
. . . .
Let me feel what’s inside
Give me space to cry and grieve
Waves of sadness wash over me
It feels overwhelming, even to me

Spent by the forces of emotion within
The seas begin to calm
Smaller sets swell, then too subside

Quiet inside
Feeling at peace
. . . .
I know who I am
I know what I need
Be with what is
Allow what is to be
. . . .
Don’t try to distract, fix or heal me
When you do those things I don’t feel seen
If you want me to feel loved, if you really care for me
Please ask me what I need

Don’t decide for me


Carla de Cervantes

Bert Hellinger on reaching deep insights in systemic work

Bert Hellinger on reaching deep insights in systemic work

In this short video Bert Hellinger talks about the art of phenomenological observation and how it can be used to reach deep insights in systemic work.

For those of you who prefer reading, we include a transcript of the video. Please see below.



‘The deep insight cannot be acquired. Not by learning. The deep insight is given to us. It shows. You can’t grasp it. It suddenly shows. There is a certain procedure by which we reach the deeper insight. The essential insight. What is essential can never be observed. The essential things are beyond the things that can be observed. It’s beyond observation.  The basic procedure for acquiring this special knowledge is what I call the phenomenological approach. But forget this word. It means you gain knowledge by a certain giving up. So instead of grasping, you take a step back and you expose yourself to a situation. For instance, you expose yourself to a client. Coming up, you don’t look at the client. Only a little bit. You expose yourself, exactly as that person is. Or you expose yourself to a situation as it is. Or you expose yourself to a certain truth. Something that is called a truth. For instance, you expose yourself to what is said about God. Just expose yourself. And you have no intention and no fear. And you wait. And suddenly an insight is given to you. It shows. Outside. Not inside. Outside. Suddenly you grasp a connection. An essential connection. And that is the kind of knowledge that supports this kind of work.’  Bert Hellinger

Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry
For generations to come

For generations to come

Sometimes a small action amidst immensely difficult circumstances creates a huge impact for generations to come.  In a concentration camp in Nazi Germany an act of kindness could save a life.

Watch Francine Christophe, a holocaust survivor, share her remarkable story of courage, strength and compassion in one of history’s darkest moments. It is bound to touch your heart.





Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”


Rachel Carson

Bert Hellinger on gratitude

Bert Hellinger on gratitude

In ‘Gratitude’ Bert Hellinger works with dynamics of giving and taking in a couple relationship, showing masterfully the kind of exchange that supports love. 





We hope you are having a wonderful weekend…

We hope you are having a wonderful weekend…


“In the desert there is everything and there is nothing. Stay curious. Know where you are — your biological address. Get to know your neighbours — plants, creatures, who lives there, who died there, who is blessed, cursed, what is absent or in danger or in need of your help. Pay attention to the weather, to what breaks your heart, to what lifts your heart. Write it down.”


Ellen Meloy

Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…


“All through autumn we hear a double voice: one says everything is ripe; the other says everything is dying. The paradox is exquisite. We feel what the Japanese call ‘aware’ – an almost untranslatable word meaning something like ‘beauty tinged with sadness.’ “


Gretel Erlich


Have a good weekend…

Have a good weekend…


Much has been said about the eternal and untouchable nature of love, its tidal ungovernable forces and its emergence from beyond the ordinary, but love may find its fullest, most imagined and most courageous form when it leaves the abstractions and safety of the timeless, the eternal and the untouchable to make its promises amidst the fears, vulnerabilities and disappearances of our difficult, touchable and time bound world. To love and to witness love in the face of possible loss and to find the mystery of love’s promise in the shadow of that loss, in the shadow of the ordinary and in the shadow of our own inevitable disappearance may be where the eternal source of all of our origins stands most fully in awe of the consequences of everything it has set in motion.


David Whyte

Have a gentle weekend…

Have a gentle weekend…


Dear friend, when you see
A look of anguish on my face
Eyes gazing intently
Brusqueness in my pace
Jaw firmly clenched
Shoulders held tight
Tears of sadness or frustration
Words of anger, malice, spite.
Please find the words to tell me
What it is you see
And remind me, once again
To be gentle with me


Carla de Cervantes

Have a wonderful weekend…

Have a wonderful weekend…



Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.


Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.


Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something


To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes an intimate
private ear that
can really listen
to another.


Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.


Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.


David Whyte

Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in action

Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in action


This video documents new research findings on ways that genes of children of Holocaust survivors mirror the epigenetic stress imprints of their parents, despite the fact that they had no direct experience of the stress. This brings to light further scientific evidence of epigenetic mechanisms of trauma transmission from one generation to the next.




Source article: ‘Study finds trauma effects may linger in body chemistry of next generation’




Enjoy your weekend…

Enjoy your weekend…

‘Whatever you resist you become.

If you resist anger, you are always angry.

If you resist sadness, you are always sad.

If you resist suffering, you are always suffering.

If you resist confusion, you are always confused.

We think that we resist certain states because they are there,

but actually they are there because we resist them.’




On paradoxes of human life

On paradoxes of human life

‘The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.’

Parker J. Palmer



Bert Hellinger on Man and Woman

Bert Hellinger on Man and Woman


1. How can our couple relationship be realised?

To realise a couple relationship, three things are needed. Each of them is important and not one may take the place of the other.

2. The sexual relationship

The first thing is the sexual relationship. It´s achievement is an essential condition for the couple relationship to be ordered towards the sexual relationship. Everything actually depends on it, for life cannot continue but through the sexual relationship.

In the sexual relationship, love and life come to their most. It is the ultimate stage of our development. In the sexual relationship, the love that is expressed is instinctual by nature and has the most powerful strength we know.

Life is oriented toward this transmission and it is consummated when it is realised.

For this reason, this strength that is behind the authentic life force is, of course, the most spiritual force, the most elevated -I say it to you like this, like an image-, it is the most like God.

In it is revealed, in the most perceptible manner, the greatest there is in the world: the Divine.

Precisely, the fact that we give ourselves to this force through instinct, shows it expressed as if coming from outside of us, surpassing us.

Therefore it is necessary in a couple relationship that sexual love is realised first of all.

3. The love of the heart

Then another element is added.

It is the love of the heart.

Sexual love is better realised if it comes from the love of the heart, if the sexual love means also the realisation of the love of the heart.

The love of the heart implies personal work.

Sexuality may exist without love, and this form of love may exist without sexuality.

Both, sexual love and the love of the heart, are personal realizations.

4. Life in common.

Now one other element is added: life in common. Life in common may exist without sexuality. Sometimes, it may exist without love. We see, for instance, couples that remain together when in truth they do not love each other anymore in the depth of their hearts. But life together is precious. It is also necessary to learn how is this life in common accomplished.

When these three elements, sexual love, the love of the heart, and life in common, come together, with all they entail (give-and-take, mutual help and support), the couple relationship succeeds, and we can grow with this relationship.

5. Love that lasts

The love that can be achieved is a human love, close to the ordinary. This love acknowledges that we need other people, that without others, we wither. When we acknowledge this mutually, we give something to the other and we take something from him. We are happy to receive and we are happy to be able to give, continuing this exchange of “giving” and “taking” in mutual respect, with a benevolence that wishes that the other, like ourselves, is well. It is then when we have understood what it means to love humanly.

This love starts with the Man-Woman relationship.

The rest of relationships will be born out of this love. It is the base of all human relationships and we are pushed toward it irresistibly. Because the man, to be whole, needs the woman, and the woman, to be whole, needs the man. This strong desire is what brings them together. This strong desire, that some call “instinct” with despise, is the most powerful movement of life. It is the one that prolongs life.

For this reason, this attraction and this longing are deeply linked to the Source of Life. When we acknowledge this and when we are in this love, we become One with this Source of Life.

This love and this attraction bring us together with the fullness of life. The person who lets this love guide her, feels exhilarated. From this longing, from this love, emerges the greatest happiness, and also the deepest pain. With it, we grow. He who abandons himself to this love, overflows with it after a while. This love goes beyond the couple relationship, for instance, when children are born out of it.

This love is an extension of the love parents have for their children. And this love children receive turns back to the parents. It is in this way how children grow, until they themselves look for a man or a woman, and the stream of life continues flowing through them. Where love starts, it increasingly encompasses more. It also reaches others, but only if we have experimented it in ourselves in a human manner and we have acknowledged it.

In this sense, the great love is ordinary. This love is strong and lasts.

6. Perfection

When a man and a woman meet for the first time, they often feel attracted to each other irresistibly. They see each other as individuals: you and me.

But behind the man there is also his mother, his father, his grandparents and his brothers and sisters, and everything that has taken place in his family -all a system.

I have an image: the whole system that is behind the man waits for the woman, not only him. The same is true for the woman. When he looks at the woman he must know that, behind her, there is her father, her mother, her grandparents and brothers and sisters, a complete system. This system waits for the man.

Both systems expect to be able perhaps to conclude something that was left unresolved in the past. For this reason, the man’s system does not only look at the woman. It looks also at her family system.

Both systems enter a community of fate and want to solve perhaps something specific in this community, to solve it at last.

Therefore, there is no relationship between two people as we often imagine it. A relationship between two is a dream. We are all attached to a field, to a greater family. If someone in the family of the man or the woman has been excluded, such as former partners or a disabled child, or there is someone the family has felt ashamed of, the excluded member of the family is present in the new relationship and in the new family. Because of this, both the man and the woman shall include again the excluded member of the family in the new family. Only then will they feel free in their relationship.

7. Love and order in a couple.

From love and order, which is the most valuable, the most important? Which comes first? Many belief that if they love enough, everything will find its place. Many parents, for example, think that if they love their children enough, the children will develop as they imagine. However, they are often disappointed despite their love. Apparently, love alone is not enough.

Love needs to be integrated in an order. Order precedes love. This is what we see in nature: a tree grows as per an order in it contained. It is not possible to change that. Only within that order can the tree grow. The same happens with love and human relationships: love can only flourish within an order. This order is a precondition, a prerequisite to love. When we know something of the orders of love, our relationships and our love have greater chances of expanding fully.

The first order of love in a couple needs that the man and the woman consider each other equal, even if they are different. When they acknowledge this, their love has greater chances of succeeding.

The second order consists of the balance between give and take. When one of the two has to give more, the relationship is altered. It needs of this balance. When the condition of this harmonization between giving and taking happens with love, one in the couple, when receiving from the other, gives back a little more than the equivalent. This is how exchange grows between them, and happiness for both of them, at the same time.

This need for compensation is also true for the negative. When one in a couple hurts the other, the need to return the hurt also emerges in the other. She feels hurt. From there emerges her belief of having a right to hurt him in return. This need is irresistible. Many of those who have suffered an injustice feel the right to cause the same.

Something more is added to the need for compensation: the feeling that having been hurt gives me special rights. Then one gives himself authority not only to return the hurt, but to increase it. Whoever receives it, in the same way, will return it with some more. This is how an exchange of hurt grows in a relationship. In this kind of relationship, instead of happiness, unhappiness increases. We may know the quality of a relationship by whether the exchange of giving and taking is located in the negative or the positive.

The question is: What would be the solution here? The solution would be to move from exchange in the negative to exchange in the positive again. But how can this be achieved? There is a secret: one takes revenge on the other with love. This means that one hurts the other, but a little less than what one has received. Then the exchange in the negative stops and a give and take on the good mode may start again.

This is an important element of the orders of love. If we know it, and then we apply it, many things in families may change for the good.

One other order of love needs attention, since forgetting it has far reaching consequences. A woman who feels superior to her mother cannot appreciate men. She cannot understand them either, nor does she need them in the end. Generally, when she feels superior to her mother, this means “I am the best wife for my father”. She already has her man, and does not need any other. How does a little girl come to be a woman, to be able to have esteem for a man and take him? By placing herself beside her mother, as the small one of the two.

Obviously, this is also valid for men: a man who does not have esteem for his father and thinks that he is better for his mother, cannot appreciate a woman. He already has his and does not need another one. How does a male come to be a man, to have esteem for a woman and take her? By placing himself beside his father, as the small one of the two. This is how a man learns with his father to have consideration for the woman, and a woman learns with her mother to have consideration for the man.

What happens when a man, “mummy’s boy”, marries a woman who is a “daddy’s girl”? The mummy’s boy is not available for his wife and the daddy’s girl is not available for her husband. They have little esteem for each other. It is for this reason that the order in their family of origin has to be achieved first, until the man is able to take his father and the woman, her mother.

Bert Hellinger

Original post:

Being vulnerable allows our soul to transform

Being vulnerable allows our soul to transform


The wonderful thing is that vulnerability becomes the door to intimacy, to being ourselves, to being real, to being where we are. But for that to happen, we have to be willing to be vulnerable to what is. Being vulnerable means that our soul is open for things to arise in it. It is not defended. If it has walls, it is preventing things from arising; it is not allowing the dynamism of our Being to transform our condition. This means that it will only transform in ways that don’t feel threatening—in other words, ways that are familiar to us. But being vulnerable allows our soul to transform into something new and unfamiliar, and that at first is scary—which means we will feel undefended.

A.H. Almaas

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

In his brilliant TED Talk Johann Hari explains eloquently why he believes the mainstream thinking about addiction to be wrong. Rooted in disconnection and lack of solid bonding, addiction, viewed in this light, becomes an adaptation to the environment reflecting sharply the addict’s struggle to be present in their often difficult life. And so the healing for an addict lies in reconnection, in rebuilding a safe supportive environment for a person to thrive in, to live a meaningful, purposeful and connected life.

Systemic constellation work offers a beautiful methodology to do exactly this: to reconnect an individual back to the full context of their origins, history and life, so as to create and reinforce a deeply connected way of being, supported by the various human systems to which they belong.

The art of working from the heart

The art of working from the heart

Practice helps us develop mastery and skill. Yet it is the heart element of our practice that makes our work meaningful and alive.

‘The Potter’ is a short animation by Josh Burton about the art of working from the heart. It also shows a beautiful relationship between a teacher and his apprentice, an essential connection through which knowledge is passed on.


A lasting bond of love

A lasting bond of love

Systemic constellation work consistently demonstrates how a bond of love between two people can have a lasting impact on family systems to which they belong.

This video is a beautiful example of a lasting human bond. It captures an unexpected meeting between former lovers who haven’t seen each other for many years. When their eyes meet it becomes clear how deeply they remain bonded through everything they once shared.

Marina Abramovic and Ulay. MoMA 2010.









Bert Hellinger on the ‘Art of Helping’

Bert Hellinger on the ‘Art of Helping’

In this video Bert Hellinger talks about the ‘Art of Helping’ and the ways of seeing the difference between taking the wrong place and taking the place of greatest strength in our intention to help.

The video is in English with Spanish translation. For those who prefer to read, there is a full transcript below.




Video Transcript:
“Good morning. Now we can start with the work. And in the beginning I would like to say something about the orders of helping. Or perhaps better, the art of helping. Now all people actually are eager to help other people. We can see that if you ask somebody when you have lost your way ‘Where is the right street?’ people just rush to tell you. They like to help you.  And whenever somebody is in a real need and then asks for help, we like to help as far as we can. Now, the greatest helpers of all are of course our parents. Parents want to help their children and children, as a rule, can rely completely on their parents for help. When we help others we feel good. If nobody needs our help, we feel lonely. Mutual helping connects us. Now, this is everyday helping.
Now, when we want to help in a professional way, we have to behave differently and even those who are not professionals can learn much if they know something about good professional help. Good helping presupposes that you respect the person you want to help. And very often if you have some need and you express it and people rush to help you, you feel uneasy very often. Because they are not just helping, they are intruding. The main purpose is not that they help you. They help themselves. They enjoy helping. And make use of you for their satisfaction. There was a famous Saint in France. His name was Vincent… He was founding many institutions to help poor people and one day he told a friend ‘If they want to help you, be careful.’ See, you can observe this. If a person is very ill and close to death, people worry about that person. And that dying person has to worry about those who worry about him. They help because they cannot face his illness and his close death. Then they cover up their fear by helping.

Now, many professional helpers help too much. In a way some helpers behave as if they could change the destiny of a person. And in this way they behave actually like children. Children, small children especially, want to do everything to save their mother and their father. We can see that in family constellations. They want to take over from their mother and their father a destiny. And sometimes they say ‘It’s better that I am ill than you, my dear mother.’ Or they even say ‘It’s better that I die than you, my dear mother.’ But their attempts to help to save their parents always fail. And that is an experience that is very painful but they do not give up. When they have grown up they want to help other people, just as they wanted to help their parents as a child. So they are on the look out for people who would need their help and then they rush in like children. And then develops a very strange relationship between the helper and the person he wants to help. Now, if we look at this, who of the two, the client and the helper, is in charge? Who behaves like a child and who must behave like a mother or a father? The helper behaves like a child and this relationship, therapeutic relationship, must fail. How ineffective this kind of helping can be, you can just see when you check how long does a therapy take. Some people go to therapy for 30 years. And what is the result? They have wasted their life. Helping in such a way is irresponsible. Therefore when we want to have the strength to help, we must first give up to help our parents. We look at our father and our mother and say ‘You are great and I am small’ ‘I honour you as great and I remain the child.’ In this way the child can separate from the parents and when it grows up and has to help other people, it no longer has to behave like a child. And the helper says to the client ‘You are big and I am small.’ He can say this, if he does not only look at the client but looks beyond the client to his or her parents and respects them.

Now when we are talking about the orders of love, we can see that there is a certain hierarchy in a system. In a system, in a family system, the parents come first and the child comes second, because the parents were there first and the children came later. That is the hierarchy according to the time of entering a system. Now if a client comes to us and asks for help, we enter this system. The therapist and helper becomes part of this system. Now, if we look at the system according to the orders of love. Who comes first? The parents, of course. And who comes second? The client. And who comes last? The helper. Now, many helpers behave quite in the opposite way. They think they are great and they behave in a superior way and then the order for them is ‘First come I, as a therapist. Then you, as a client. And in the last place, the parents.’ So the whole system is turned upside down and this helping must fail.  Now, much of the learning we do here consists of perceiving when we take up the wrong place when we help and to find the place where we have the greatest strength to help.”

Chinese Daughters

Chinese Daughters

‘Chinese Daughters’ is a touching documentary about little Chinese girls who, due to China’s one-child policy, ended up in orphanages in their home country and were later adopted into American families. With support of their adoptive families, the girls begin to face the harsh reality of their difficult beginnings from a very young age. Their lives, equally made up of blessings and unimaginable losses, unfold differently for each one. Yet at the heart of each life is a longing for the birth family, the lost heritage and the missing Chinese roots.  


My Enemy, My Brother

My Enemy, My Brother

This short New York Times Documentary shows a story of two soldiers from opposing sides who in the heart of war saw the human essence in each other beneath the label of enemies that greater circumstances required them to be. A touching story of one man saving another, the lasting bond of mutual belonging resulting from this act and mysterious movements of the Field reuniting the men across space and time so that the debt of a saved life could be repaid.


Love costs all we are

Love costs all we are


We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity.
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave.
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou

Orders of Love

Orders of Love

‘Orders of Love’ is an award winning short film by Jes Benstock about his family constellation. A touching story of one man’s journey back to his roots. 




Inside my heart

Inside my heart


Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Antonio Machado

The intricate connections in nature

The intricate connections in nature

Here is a story of how wolves can change rivers. It illustrates beautifully how one input into a living ecosystem can alter all other elements involved. This is very similar to how systemic constellations work, where a fresh input into a human system can create a renewed balance for all members who belong.

Your true inheritance

Your true inheritance


In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

David Whyte

You have roots that go all the way back to zero

You have roots that go all the way back to zero


You have roots that go all the way back to zero.

Feel the ebb and flow of your breath in your body.

In your belly.

As you begin to move in the spirit of stillness.

Each movement rising from the ocean of your being.

Move as if you were moving through honey.

Gathering your energy inward, sinking into the emptiness.

Disappearing in the dance.

As you shift into the poetry of shape, let your arms float like clouds around your body.

Shift your weight from one foot to the other, in slow motion.

Rising and sinking, full of emptiness.

Be aware of the edge of your shape, and its connection to the core of your being.

Just relax your face, and sense the energy vibrating within you.

And let your breath, the spirit, move freely through your body.

Move past the light, into the void.

To the space between breaths.

It’s all a prayer.

Slowly come to rest.

Close your eyes.

Focus your attention on the inner dance,

the rhythm of your breath,

the beat of your heart,

the pulse of your self.

In this womb of stillness,

in this song of silence,

embrace the mystery

that is you!

Gabrielle Roth

The Hero’s Journey through systemic lens

The Hero’s Journey through systemic lens

Joseph Campbell is famous for his work on ancient mythology, particularly the myth of the Hero’s Journey, which this short Ted-Ed video animates.

This journey, when viewed as a cycle, can somewhat be also applied to the journey followed in a constellation. With the help of a constellator, an issue holder (hero) goes on an adventure into a ‘special world’ of his inner images. He faces his deepest truths (monsters), goes through trials, receives new insights and resolutions, with which he then returns to the ‘ordinary world’, transformed.



Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?

Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?


You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
 you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
You are in this world to bring me joy.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Nobody can make it out here alone

Nobody can make it out here alone


Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan, ‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Maya Angelou


The Missing Ones

The Missing Ones

Gustavo Germano captures on camera the painful landscape of absent family members in Argentina and Brazil following political dictatorships in both countries in the second half of the 20th century. In this photography project Ausencias (Absences), Germano revisits each family’s history by recreating photographs from the past without those that disappeared.

Here is a powerful visual record of the missing ones in a family field.

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You can read an interview with Gustavo Germano about this project here.

Official website –





Working with Trauma

Working with Trauma

In this short video Judith Hemming talks about the importance of understanding how to recognise trauma and how to best work with it in the context of a constellation.


When you are in doubt, be still, and wait

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait

Go Forward With Courage

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

When doubt no longer exists for you then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;

Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists

-as it surely will.

Then act with courage.

Ponca Chief White Eagle

The past is buried in you

The past is buried in you

Here is a fascinating article from the New York Times on what Edward Ball calls ‘Slavery’s Enduring Resonance.’  Ball demonstrates how the echo of slavery still seems to be alarmingly loud in America’s present. Transgenerational whispers from the presenting past.


The world is wrong.

You can’t put the past behind you.

It’s buried in you;

it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard.

Not everything remembered is useful,

but it all comes from the world

to be stored in you.

Claudia Rankine

On one family’s ancient identity and the high price they all pay to belong

On one family’s ancient identity and the high price they all pay to belong

Houshi Ryokan is the oldest still running family business in the world. With 1300 years of history, it has been going since 718. Following a sudden death of its 47th owner, the family finds itself in a difficult situation trying to decide who the next owner should be.


HOUSHI is a short film by Fritz Schumann. More information about it can be found here.





Do what You came here to Do. Be who You came here to Be.

Do what You came here to Do. Be who You came here to Be.


It says, You must learn to hide
in nothing; behind nothing.
This is what It says whenever I
attempt to imagine

there is even that kind of place.

It says, You are no longer a small child
with the luxury of staying hidden
in Books and in Trees—

You must learn to live
out in the open.

This is what It says
whenever I keep trying to remember

if there was ever that kind of place.

It says to me, You will lose many luxuries:
a mother to cling to,
a father who believes in you,
siblings who still call you by your name.

It says, Now, before it’s too late, and
this temporary life is over—even before

all of your Elders have gone Home:

Do what You came here to Do.
Be what You came here to Be.

Em Claire

Original post can be found here.

Granddaughter of a Nazi war criminal accidentally discovers her hidden family past

Granddaughter of a Nazi war criminal accidentally discovers her hidden family past

Jennifer Teege is the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the notorious Nazi commandant of Plaszow concentration camp depicted in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’. Yet it was entirely by chance that she discovered this truth. In the interview, that follows, Jennifer talks about her journey of discovering her family history full of secrets and echoes of a difficult past. Hers is an excellent illustration of the invisible mysterious workings of an intelligent and dynamic family field.

You can read more on this story here: When a black German woman discovered her grandfather was the Nazi villain of ‘Schindler’s List’

Trust yourself

Trust yourself

‘Trust yourself and your instincts; even if you go wrong in your judgement, the natural growth of your inner life will gradually, over time, lead you to other insights. Allow your verdicts their own quiet untroubled development which like all progress must come from deep within and cannot be forced or accelerated. Everything must be carried to term before it is born. To let every impression and the germ of every feeling come to completion inside, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, in what is unattainable to one’s own intellect, and to wait with deep humility and patience for the hour when a new clarity is delivered: that alone is to live as an artist, in the understanding and in one’s creative work.

These things cannot be measured by time, a year has no meaning, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquillity, as if eternity lay before them. It is a lesson I learn every day amid hardships I am thankful for: patience is all!”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Autonomy, mastery & purpose: keys to improving motivation and creativity in organisations

Autonomy, mastery & purpose: keys to improving motivation and creativity in organisations

Here is an RSA Animate video of Dan Pink talking about the surprising science of what truly motivates us.  Through his research Dan discovered that once people get paid enough to be able to think about work there are three motivating factors that improve performance: AUTONOMY, MASTERY and PURPOSE. Companies that flourish tend to be animated by the Purpose Model. While companies whose profit motivation gets disconnected from purpose tend not to do such great things.

In essence Dan seems to bring it down to this. Treat people like people. Pay them well. Supply them with purpose, autonomy and plenty of opportunities to practice mastery and contribution. Get out of their way and you will have an organisation that makes people financially better off as well as making the world a better place.

Gabor Mate on the wisdom of addiction

Gabor Mate on the wisdom of addiction

In this TED talk ‘The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power’ Gabor Mate discusses addiction challenging the typical thinking around this issue. He searches deeply for the roots and the wisdom of any addiction, arguing that we shouldn’t be asking ‘Why the addiction?’ – we should be asking ‘Why the pain?’


So full of knowing

So full of knowing


I was sad one day and went for a walk;

I sat in a field.

A rabbit noticed my condition and

came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times –

to just be close to creatures who

are so full of knowing,

so full of love

that they don’t

– chat,

they just gaze with


marvellous understanding.

St. John of the Cross

Thich Nhat Hanh: how to love and understand your ancestors

Thich Nhat Hanh: how to love and understand your ancestors


In this video Thich Nhat Hanh explains how we always have access to our ancestors through the practice of meditation and mindfulness in the present moment. Despite his insights being rooted in Buddhism, his vision is deeply resonant to systemic view on children’s connection to parents.



Intention and commitment pave the way

Intention and commitment pave the way

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

William Hutchison Murray