Music I make myself is a large part of what keeps me alive and well. Hear some of my performance songs on YouTube here. But participatory music, as opposed to consumption of it, is a human birthright and a huge help to real health. Here's a blog about why this is true.
WHO Earns Twice the Pay?!
Imagine you are part of an expedition 200 years ago, venturing into the Canadian Northwest. As a voyageur, you strain from dawn to dusk to help paddle a 40-foot canoe. Where there’s no water, you hump a 90-pound pack, and later the canoe itself.
Up and down wind the portages, across treacherous, rock-strewn ridges. Hernias, or bone-breaking falls are common. Either, in this wilderness, can end a life.
Still you only get paid half as much as the little guy sitting next to you with the prodigious memory and loud voice.
Who’s he? the boss? the guide? No, actually he’s the chanteur, the expedition’s singer.
He leads the different songs sung many times a day by your entire company. It’s his contribution that is worth twice yours. Shared music brings rhythm to your strokes, and keeps a smile on your face. In some fundamental way, the songs keep hope alive in your struggling heart.
OK. So our low-tech our ancestors placed a high value on sing-alongs. That’s nice, but surely not relevant to us, struggling with climate change (and its denial), health care uncertainty, and dysfunctional governments in the time of Trump. After all, most people, we know, can’t even carry a tune.
And who needs to, with CD’s and smart phones that play our favorite music perfectly on demand. Who cares if ragged bunches of backwoods grunts sang there way across the continent? Had iTunes or Spotify been available, wouldn’t those voyageurs have all plugged in to enjoy their separate favorites?
In group constellation workshops, the intake interview is a short one. It homes in quickly on the problem, guesses at ancestral blocks, and moves directly into setting up representatives. It’s in the nature of a workshop that it has to be this way. Four to six constellations happen in a day.
But what happens in one-on-one constellations? Or rather, what should or could happen in private versions?
Do We Just Copy the Workshop Approach?
Many facilitators I know do something similar. The constellation, whether remote or in person, happens in one sitting. Some exploration of the issue and creation of a shared set-up of representatives is followed by the client and constellator both “feeling into” being parts of the family system.
A dynamic is observed, and a resolution is achieved, more or less—and the interaction is over. It is, in many many cases, an isolated, one-time event.
Early on, I stopped doing and teaching private constellations this way. Too many things, starting with sufficient rapport with the client, and moving on all the way to subsequent follow-up—were left out in this approach.
So an initial private constellation with me, whether remote or in person, evolved quickly into three sessions. Here’s what happens in them.
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Let’s begin by suggesting that there are two sources of trauma: the threatening overwhelms that affect your nervous system personally, and those that affected a parent or ancestor’s but were never dealt with.
After-effects of the second kind do show up in you or your clients, even though they never actually happened to you. What are we coming to understand about these? How are they similar or different?
Consider five foundational facts about them. The whole trauma response, often referred to as “fight/flight/freeze,” actually has not just three, but five stages. Think of them as “friends, fight-or-flight, freeze, and forget.” Easy to remember as the “5 F’s.”
Remember also—trauma is highly individual. One person’s experience of overwhelm is another person’s “so what”--or even triumph.
Fight? or Flight?
The limbic midbrain, triggered by what Bessel van der Kolk calls the “smoke detector” amygdala, sets in motion an array of autonomic responses. They prepare, more or less as needed, our whole organism for possibly extreme efforts to recreate safety.
All processes not immediately relevant to that are slowed down or completely stopped. These include digestion, the immune system, more rationally oriented presence of mind, and more.
Threat level detection in the brain, blood and hormone flow to muscles, everything important to choosing and carrying out actions that will recreate safety--all these become primed and super coordinated for possibly lightning fast response.
In modern life, we most often experience “fight-or-flight” more as “resist-or-evade”. It’s slower, but just as real. And we can stay in milder forms of this stage for hours, days, or years. Too bad for digestion and the immune system.
But what if the “friends/” stage comes even before “fight or flight”?
3 Steps to Safety in Extreme Weather
Power up Your Affirmations with Breath
Personality Layers--Why Some Wounds Need More Than One Healing
Seed Time--or Grow a Good Future
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Can Empathy Win at Armageddon?
Earth, Families, and Personal Transformation
Good Health as a Sacred Fire
Your Safety as Earth-Changes Accelerate
Karen and the Alien Hand--Why I Do Inner Family Constellations
Music, Migrations, and Health--In Tough Times
Better Private Family Constellations: The Three Session Package
Five Facts About Personal and Ancestral Trauma