Overview of Inner Arts Institute from the Boston Voyager

Thanks to the Boston Voyager for the recent article about our work. Read it below or click the link at the end to see it on their website.

THE BOSTON VOYAGER:  Today we’d like to introduce you to Samvedam Randles. Samvedam, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

I came to the USA in 1983 after graduating from my German University with an MA in psychology.

What drew me here was my continued involvement with a spiritual teacher from India, Shree Rajneesh, with whom I had been studying in India for the last few years.

At first I lived on the West coast where I studied Postural Integration and managed the Institute for Release and Integration in Mill Valley.

THE BOSTON VOYAGER:  Has it been a smooth road?

Are there any smooth roads?

Following my own heart and spirit has brought me many unexpected joys and adventures and has also not been an easy ride.

THE BOSTON VOYAGER:  What was hard?

Leaving my home country and my family of origin.

Stepping out with new methods such as Breathwork or Family constellations that were not yet valued, and even described as “weird” or “unreal.”

Standing in the face of popular believes and asking people to open their minds and hearts to something new, asking to expand into something unknown, does often not go over that well.

When I began guiding spirit journeys, I learned that the week before people step into the unknown, fears and doubts rise in a large wave and I had to learn to hold ground and faith in the midst of these fears.

Our desert wisdom journey probably topped this experience. Knowing that we would be in the Sahara Desert with no shops available, no hospitals nearby, brought up waves of fears for most participants. And yet, it was one of the best transformational journeys I ever guided.

Click here for more info about the Desert Wisdom journey. 

Continue reading Overview of Inner Arts Institute from the Boston Voyager

Constellations and “Collective Trauma”

Towards Healing the Shadows in our Culture

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

silver lining, a metaphor for trauma therapyThomas Huebl, who has done significant healing work around Holocaust trauma in Europe and Israel, recently sent out an invitation to mental health professionals, scientists and other professionals to explore what can be done to understand and heal collective trauma.

Last month, 150 practitioners answered that call and made the journey from all over the planet (39 countries) to his Pocket Project training in Israel. They brought their knowledge, skills and resources, as well as the traumas that have impacted (and are still impacting) their countries. I was one of them. I’m now back home, and before daily routines claim all of my attention again I want to share a little of the amazing journey that I was immersed in. I feel a new level of peace within, and my understanding has been upgraded a few notches.

What is collective trauma, and why is it critical that we learn to address it?

In The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk explains trauma in simple language. He says that our ability to “stay present” gets hijacked by survival-related emotions and sensations when an incident overwhelms us in ways that we cannot cope with. When the event is more than we can process, we dissociate or go numb. Then, the traumatic charge lands in our physical body, where it can be reawakened by something like a smell, a sound or an image that is associated with the traumatic event, sending us back with a flashback to the traumatic experience.

What happens when trauma gets internalized on a larger scale? Collective trauma, sometimes called cultural trauma, occurs as a result of large-scale events like war, genocide, colonialism or terror attacks. The violence and shock is so overwhelming that the entire culture goes numb, disassociates, or finds other ways to create distance from the truth of it. People may survive and move on with their lives, but the actual feelings associated with the event stay frozen, unintegrated, in the cultural body.

This frozen emotion forms an underlying energy around the culture. Unconsciously, its members then see reality through a lens that is fogged up by this unresolved past. And everyone who is born into the culture thereafter simply assumes that this fogged-up picture is reality.

broken windows, a metaphor for a traumatized psyche

Most Family Constellation facilitators have experienced that moment when a Family Constellation suddenly shifts into a Cultural Constellation. The cultural trauma that impacted the client’s family at some point in history becomes so dominant in the field that it cannot be ignored. It demands to be seen, felt and integrated.

How can this be accomplished?

Who can “host,” or open to such intensity, when the emotion is so overwhelming?

Constellation Work & Collective Trauma – The Boston Marathon Bombing

These questions arose in my own practice as a Constellation facilitator after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. The Saturday after the bombing, our Boston-area Constellation Learning Group met as usual, but nothing else happened in the usual manner. Continue reading Constellations and “Collective Trauma”

Family Constellation Case Study: The Concussion

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

Blue butterfly emerging from cocoon, a metaphor for family constellation for physical illness.Our bodies are wise, and they are also deeply connected to our soul as well as the field that we move in and through. When we receive sudden or unwelcome messages from our bodies in the form of illnesses or accidents, we usually react with shock and annoyance. Most of us just want to get rid of painful symptoms as quickly as possible.

But these events tend to come with teachings and purpose. Constellations are a great tool to understand the learning that might be brought through physical symptoms.

Here is a recent example of listening to physical symptoms in Constellation Work.

One of the senior students in our Constellation Learning Circle, Chloe, suffered a fall on the ice in January and ended up with a concussion that left her quite incapacitated for some time. She had been a busy practitioner with a full private practice, and had to take a break from seeing people after her fall. She simply could not handle any stimulation.

Chloe had been on her own journey of personal growth and change through the constellation work and had been amazed at all the positive changes in her life. As a result of so much change, however, she felt unsure of her identity now. She seemed to be reconsidering much of what she liked (or did not like), even down to the simplest things, like foods she had once dismissed but now found appealing.

In the midst of this unfolding process of re-discovery, Chloe had the accident.

When she still could not fully re-engage in her life three months later, she became nervous and asked if we could do a constellation about this concussion.

I don’t like to disturb movements that are in process, so I felt cautious about setting up a constellation in this case, but I also attuned to Chloe’s anxiety and wanted to be helpful. We talked about what might be the right framework and checked in to see if we had permission to explore.

As I listened deeper, the field opened to a yes, and informed me, as it so often does, about how the constellation needed to be set up. I chose to keep it blind.

In blind constellations, the representatives are not informed about whom they are representing. They receive a piece of paper with the name of their representation, which they then put it in their pockets. They do not get to see what is on the paper. This removes from the constellation dynamic the possibility of interference from mental interpretations, allowing the representatives to completely immerse themselves into the felt sense of the relationships we are exploring.

So I wrote four papers and handed them out to representatives, whom Chloe then placed into our circle:

Continue reading Family Constellation Case Study: The Concussion

A Sneak Peak at our Retreat Location & Special Guests

Would you like to join us for Council Time ~ April 7-9, 2017?

More accommodations have opened up, so there is now space in our previously-filled retreat!

In last month's newsletter I posted a link to this video to introduce you to my friends Abraham and Halima Sussman, who will join us Saturday evening for Dances of Universal Peace. That link did not work, so I offer it again here!

Below you can see a panoramic view of the beach at the retreat center, which my dog Bodhi approved when we visited a few weekends ago 🙂 . Grounding into nature helps us to integrate the deep work we'll do with Family Constellations and the breath. The weather forecast for the weekend is clear with highs between 52 and 55 degrees!

Of Blessings and Farewells

Teepees in DC, honoring the ancestors as a lesson for Family Constellation Work
Washington DC, March 10, 2017.

I recently travelled to Washington DC to support my Lakota friends as they marched to protest fracking and the building of a pipeline on their tribal land.

Several years ago, in my study of indigenous ways of healing, I had the fortune to be invited by a Lakota elder to attend their sun dance in South Dakota. Watching the enormous offering of strength, the willingness to shoulder pain, and the incredible generosity of spirit that week really impacted my life.

I had stayed in touch with my Lakota friend after spending the week with his people. Standing by their side for this day of protest felt like a small way of giving back to them. In spite of the snowy coldness of that day, I found my heart being warmed by the ways in which people treated each other at the rally that followed the march.

I am not talking about what was spoken, but rather the attitude underlying the interactions. In tribal societies, the rhythms and stages of life are honored and respected for what they each offer. I felt the beauty of each generation’s contributions to the event.

Honoring All Generations

The enthusiasm and passion of youth was honored, as well as the thoughtful leadership of the tribal councils, culminating in a reading of the tribal declaration. We heard angry voices as well as hopeful ones.

Elders proudly affirmed the youth, who ran the rally. Young ones fondly acknowledged their elders as they focused on keeping our earth cared for so that she, in turn, will care for the next generations. Broad smiles welcomed one of the grandmothers who had traveled all night to bring her warmth and blessings to her people, and the respect for her spread palpably throughout the crowd. She poured her heart into supporting the next generation, passing on the torch with love.

And then, right in front of the White House, all became still when a prayer song called on the Creator to protect our earth, and to bless our people and our planet.

Having been immersed in constellation work for many years, I recognized the right order of things in relationships, and I appreciated that blessings were offered as well as received with such ease. Continue reading Of Blessings and Farewells

Family Constellation Case Study ~ Perfect Loyalty

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

Children of divorce often feel torn between their parents. Unconsciously, they look for ways to be loyal to both. But sometimes, these unconscious expressions of loyalty come at a high price.

Susan, 28 years old, was in the final stages of her second advanced degree program when she came looking for help. In her first program, she could not finish her dissertation and abandoned her studies, feeling like a failure.

Now, she found found herself nearing the end of her second graduate degree, once again seemingly unable to complete it.

In frustration, she talks about self-sabotage. She wants to understand why this happens and how she can change it. She has explored the issue in traditional psychotherapy, but has not been able to change her behavior. Now she has heard of family constellation work and has decided to give it a try.

As we discovered in her family constellation, Susan’s question was a perfect example of a child’s loyalty to both parents, enacted completely unconsciously, and at the high cost of hindering the success of the now-grown child.

Background

Susan’s father worked as a bricklayer all his life. Susan describes him lovingly as warm and funny, and it is obvious that she loves her father. Her mother is well educated, with two degrees, and was Susan’s main caregiver after the couple divorced when Susan was four years old. Neither parent ever remarried.

While Susan had much more contact with her mother, whom she loves, she never forgot her father either.

“Just Like You!”

We proceed to set up a constellation with three representatives standing in for Susan, her mother and her father; then we wait to see how they position themselves. As we often see in divorces, the child representative stands between the parents, attempting to find a way to belong to this now-broken system.

Susan’s representative then proudly turns to the mother and says with great feeling, “Dear Mom, I am just like you!  I, too, worked through two degree programs!”

Both smile.

Then she turns to her father and happily says, “Dear Dad! I am just like you too! I don’t have any degrees!”

While the daughter feels good being loyal to both parents, there is both love and un-ease in the representatives for her parents.

It is difficult to describe the feeling-tone within a family constellation, wherein complete strangers (the representatives) are expressing emotions that don’t belong to them, but to the family members they are representing. Working with these representatives in the constellation, healing and balance can be restored so that it reverberates into the living family system. This is where family constellation work impacts differently than traditional talk therapy.

At this point in the constellation, I invite the representatives to speak the words that the child, Susan, needs to hear from her parents.

Healing Words and a Felt-Sense of Acceptance

Using healing sentences, each parent gives Susan permission and blessings to love the other parent. Additionally, Susan’s father gives her his heartfelt permission to be as smart as her mother . . .  and collect her degree.

The father’s love and blessings move both Susan and her representative to tears. A healing movement begins as Susan takes in her father’s love. It is this kinesthetic experience of receiving what she has missed, this “corrective experience” felt in her body, that becomes the seed for possible change.

Susan left with these blessings in her heart; and proceeded to finish her degree.

Family Constellation Case Study: A Mother-Daughter Healing

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

Introductory comments:  What we find in each Family Constellation is unique and belongs to only one family system. That said, our family may be playing out its own version of a pattern we observe in another’s family system. I offer these case studies to give you a small taste of the issues that can arise in this work.

As you will see, some of these patterns originate in the current generation. Others originated several generations back.

Please keep in mind that constellation work functions in a rather kinesthetic, felt-sense, so the written examples will not convey the impact of a constellation; but I hope they give you a better understanding of how the work is done.

THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RIFT

Angela presented this issue: “I was always very close to my daughter until she turned 15. Then, she began hating me.”

My first reaction was that maybe this was more of a developmental movement rather than a Family Constellation issue. But when I voiced this, Angela replied, “The same thing happened to me. I loved my mom until I turned 15, and we still barely speak.”

This clarified the generational component. And so we began.

First we put up 3 representatives: for mother, daughter and grandmother. With the representatives installed, the constellation indeed displayed a similar disconnect between mother and daughter in both generations.

I decided to add another representative: the great-grandmother. Interestingly, the same stony coldness was felt between the representatives for mother and daughter in this generation, too.

Wondering what might be going on, I asked if there was any further information about this great-grandmother. Continue reading Family Constellation Case Study: A Mother-Daughter Healing

A Lesson from the Hummingbird

by Samvedam Randles, LMHC, Dipl. Psych.

A Lesson from the Hummingbird, counseling services in Boston, MA.This month brought the pendulum of our collective psyche into full swing!

Intensity of emotional reactions to the presidential election flew high. As I endeavored to meet each person in my office with calm centeredness, I found myself challenged by the wild array of personal shadows being flushed out of their hiding places. It felt as though we were experiencing a collective immersion of shadow reactions to the seismic political shifts taking place: fear, grief, dismay, anger or despair flooded my office.

Having just re-centered from one version of reaction, I would then sit with someone who felt quietly hopeful and wished to celebrate the change, but did not feel safe expressing this publicly. My work was to be present with each person no matter where on the pendulum swing we started.  

As the waves kept moving in and out, I found myself remembering the tiniest of creatures, the hummingbird. When I traveled to Peru last spring, I enjoyed watching these lovely beings, so wondrous in their deftness and precision. A hummingbird’s wings move faster than our eyes can perceive, yet it remains calm in its center so it can enjoy each flower and drink deeply from its nectar. The gift of this image seems like a good teaching this month. Stillness in rapid action became my mantra as I practiced staying present with each person I met.  When presence holds us in each moment, it becomes more than a mantra; it becomes effortless.

Healing in Community

In the midst of this election month, our Constellation Learning Group, which meets one weekend each month, launched beautifully. Grounding into the felt-sense within our bodies evoked calm and allowed us to support each other. The teachings of the Family Constellation work expanded our horizons as we were reminded that it is the nature of the pendulum to swing; and that none of what we experience is either actually new or unique to us.

Breathwork, another powerful practice, assisted quite a few folks with releasing pent up emotion and coming back to their center. Gathering in the safety of community to learn new tools that help us understand and grow from challenges feels timely and important.

What helps you find inner stillness when the pendulum swings wildly?

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