The afternoon before I arrived to visit Rose Swan, a family constellations therapist in rural Maine, she called to ask if she might hold a workshop on the morning after I arrived, centered around the question ‘How will we live tomorrow?” How could I refuse?
A dozen people assembled for shared breakfast and the daylong event. Some had been part of the conversion the night before. Others had participated in a previous workshop led by Rose. I could only stay through noon, as I had cycling to do. Here are my observations of the workshop.
Rose began: “How will we live tomorrow? By telling the truth today.”
She led us through a meditation and explained, mostly for my benefit, that family constellation work involves identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and energy of your own family, then having fellow participants ‘stand-in’ for actual family members to lead to deeper understanding and move toward resolving internal or external conflict. Since last weekend’s workshop was beneficial but intense, the group wanted to come together again, and Rose chose to organize the follow-up around ‘How will we live tomorrow?’
Rose asked us to consider Mark Ryland’s concept that all anxiety can be alleviated by the simple statement, “You are enough.” Some struggle with “I am not enough.” Some struggle with “I am too much.” Many of us struggle with both of those statements in different sectors of our lives.
“My tomorrow vision is a nightmare, but I want to get to a place of hope.” Rose introduced a beautiful analogy. “Maine bedrock crumbles to create soil. We need the soil to live. We need the bedrock for stability. The crumbling is scary.” Rose believes that we all come to earth with a purpose, but during inception we “hug the tree of forgetfulness”. Then, we spend the rest of our days trying to find that purpose, that genesis.
We did a group check-in, an opportunity for introduction and expression. One of the participants, Luke, said something that resonated with me. “We teach children many skills, but we don’t teach them how to love.
Rose divided us into pairs, dyads, and directed us to find a quiet place, sit knee to knee, and take five minutes, one after the other, to state, “What lives in you?” Ours partner listened actively, but didn’t speak. Then, we reciprocated in kind.
When we came together again, Rose laid a small log on the floor and a soft pillow on one side. She asked us to stand on one side of the log, state where we are, recognize the log as an obstacle to getting where we want to be, and then step over it toward the pillow, where we want to be tomorrow.
I am wary of having my emotions manipulated, Yet, Rose’s solemn manner and deep composure allowed me to relax and accept the shared energy that pulsed through the group. At some point I rose and stood on the far side of the log. Since our conversation last night I had been thinking about community, but this morning’s workshop made me realize that I was inclined to observe, rather than participated in it. I acknowledged that my competent, independent nature allowed my to study community from a distance, then I crossed over the log and expressed hope that my journey would help me find and commit to a community in a more conscious way.
In that small way I moved towards Rose’s guidance: to live tomorrow by standing in truth today.