Category Archives: Group Inner Constellations

Presencing Our Human Conditioning

Keira Madsen at vaedder.com

There is tremendous pressure on the separate self these days as we learn that we are not separate: from ourselves, from the earth, and from the movement of life. While we can know this as a mental concept, if it is not an embodied knowing it too easily remains a confused ideal or abstraction that actually further separates us. Here we can become frustrated with lots of good ideas that don’t really alter feelings of separation.

What does seem to initiate powerful change is doing exactly the opposite of what most of us would like to do: develop an engaged and authentic relationship with human conditioning. I have no doubt that our separated/traumatized human conditioning will continue to run the planet until it is seen, energetically met, and integrated into our nervous systems. It may be surprising to read, but we are designed to do exactly this. While our nervous system is conditioned by hundreds of thousands of years of human conditioning, it is — first and foremost — an untapped spiritual vehicle with unlimited potential.

Slowing down to be with — and to feel — life just as it is actually cultivates awareness of the spiritual consciousness running through our nervous system. Our nervous system is designed for this level of connection to life. From here, we begin to learn what life is. This is life on its terms, not as we would like it to be or imagine it to be. These two ways of relating to life reflect different levels of awareness within us: the conditioned fear-based contraction that pulls away from life and the wholehearted trusting connection that engages in life. The former is limited and contracted, and the other liberated and life-infused.

I can assure you that we all have both within us. I believe that we learn to trust in, and live from, the more liberated version most effectively with other people. Practicing within a group that actually has us energetically “wear” the consciousness of connection — especially to the conditioned aspects of participants — grounds us in ways that a solo practice simply cannot do. Conditioned aspects are accustomed to hiding in the shadows, not showing up and being validated as it is, without fixing or shaming. Herein lies the most promising aspect of the Group Inner Constellation work: we heal through presence and attunement, not through fixing or “trying” to change. Of course, learning to presence that which we have designed our life around avoiding, also makes ICM work challenging at times!

ICM challenges our habits of resistance and/or making ourselves, life, or others wrong. Our deeper/higher connections to life manifest through the considerable pressure and discomfort of meeting this challenge, not in spite of it! Meeting life “as it is” grounds the innate spiritual nature within each of our nervous systems. Learning to stay with life “as it is” is a form of surrender or bowing down. This humble gesture changes everything about our relationship to life. It cultivates the ability to listen deeply beneath concepts and words. Surrender is not a collapsed state, but an available wholehearted state of being present with what is (the only way we can be present). We become available for an inner-guidance that allows us to “under-stand” (stand-under) life’s conditioning in new and creative ways.

With practice and time, we become vehicles for change in ways that we never thought possible. These changes seem to occur quite naturally, without effort. They can even feel miraculous. As we become more available for life, it’s natural vitality begins to flow through our nervous system more abundantly and change simply happens. Several years of Silence Practice facilitation has given me a deep respect for the timeless human gesture of surrender. The ICM way of working is a change I did not see coming and it continues to emerge and develop in seemingly limitless forms of expression in the nine-month Universal Heart Series.

What does it take to develop and sustain inner-stillness while living in the world? It takes everything we have and more. Short cuts are not an option because they rob us of the fiery inner-struggle that gives birth to presence! Connecting with the spaciousness of inner-stillness is an important beginning as I have discovered in the years facilitating Silence Practice groups. However, if meditation remains only an individual practice, we eventually miss out on the awkward toddler stage of discovering how to relate from inner-stillness in the world around us. This is where life becomes challenging and exciting! It is in our relationship to the world that our conditioned trauma (or patterns of contraction) show up. I recall the Buddhist story of a monk who meditated for twenty years in a cave in perfect peace. However, as he was making his descent down the mountain, the first person he came across did something to offend him and he flew into an uncontrollable rage!

An embodied spiritual practice is about living in the world with an alive and engaged spiritual intelligence. As this intelligence manifests in our nervous system, we naturally connect to the world differently. We are no longer using our energy to try to get away from difficulties because our body’s nervous system has learned to operate from a more spacious awareness. Through the engaged transparency of a group of available nervous systems, the trauma of our human conditioning loosens as it is seen and felt within others. Within this responsive container, we also begin to hear the higher-whispers of our soul’s emergence.

Lastly, it takes courage and willingness to engage in the world in ways we have not seen before. The immense pressures of our time are calling us beyond the conditioned habit of our separate self-identities. However, seeing and acknowledging our habits of separation and resistance from life are where we must begin. If we don’t begin where we are, we build our spiritual house on shifting sands that will not stand up in the storms of life that inevitably arrive. We are on a steep learning trajectory at this time in human history. Our habits of separation are reliably relentless teachers, neither wrong nor bad. Let’s gather and meet the challenge of past conditioning in creative new ways as we enter this pivotal decade. Investing energy in the myth of separation has been the default consciousness on the planet, but it is surely not the end of our collective human story.

The Universal Heart Within

The Universal Heart is experienced in the nervous system as a fluid movement of profound connection. It is grounded in an energy of abundance that transcends the known of our personal conditioning, while simultaneously including it. This influence can feel like a miracle as our nervous system experiences a more coherent (higher) intelligence flowing through it so naturally and easily.

A place of inner-stillness and increased clarity opens up within us. We find ourselves mysteriously held in an effortless state of transcendence in a seemingly ordinary and inclusive way. Our body feels alive and charged with the ineffable qualities of the Soul’s aliveness in God/Source.

From within the depths of the Universal Heart, our conditioned inner structures are held within an Inner Constellation of Spaciousness. No longer held in the prison of resistance and denial, our conditioned habits are simply held within awareness. We see them more clearly and more compassionately because resistance softens when we are connecting to these conditioned (wounded) Inner Constellations. Patterns of aversion, numbness, and judgement naturally soften as the Inner Constellations of our human conditioning are consciously received within our nervous system. 

Even as you read this, you may begin to feel a relaxing in the nervous system and a warm energy beginning to move in the heart centre. It is as though the resonance of spaciousness is contagious and—given the opportunity—can awaken within us. This is the transpersonal inclusivity of the Universal Heart’s energy. It belongs to everyone and to no-one. As it “lands” within us and between us, it becomes a transmission. When one or two people in a group are grounded and attuned to the Universal Heart, it becomes a perfume everyone can share in—although not everyone may be able to feel it. 

As the non-dual consciousness of the Universal Heart begins to infuse our relationship with this moment, we discover that there is nothing within or without that needs to be fixed or changed. This is the “resting nature” or faith-state of the Universal Heart. As we choose to attune to it, we may (suddenly or gradually) experience an inner-spaciousness that responds to life in a more fluid and engaged manner. This is the “responsive nature” or compassionate response of the Universal Heart: and there is nothing in life that it cannot connect with.

What is the connection between Silence Practice and the Inner Constellations? The core of both practices lies in the heart centre. In the stillness of our heart we know ourselves in God—whatever name we give to this life-changing relationship with the higher resonances within. Discovering again and again that the Universal Heart resides within and that we can choose to align with it—even in the midst of the noise of our personal and collective conditioning. (Please see http://lauramadsen.ca/inner-constellations/ for more information on the transition from Silence Practice to the Inner Constellation Mobile.)

Why is Sound Healing included in the Inner Constellation Mobile?  When we experience the Universal Heart within, we engage in life through a different consciousness or resonant field. We literally sense, feel, and perceive a grounded open potential that is always available within us. Specific vocal sounds help us to “hear” or “align with” the uplifting (faster) frequencies of the Universal Heart. Vocal sound resonance can also be directed towards contracted energy patterns and help them to relax. Their gently supportive frequency is a way of connecting to pain-patterns in the nervous system that may be unconscious. Connecting through the resonance of Sound is gentle and respectful and fosters an inner-spaciousness that is self-regulating and healing. (Please see http://lauramadsen.ca/sound-energy-healing/ for more information.)

From Silence Practice to Inner Constellations & Sound

(This Chart may only be used with prior permission from Laura Madsen)

Silence Practice classes have increasingly focused on refining our capacity for inner-awareness through deep listening and attunement. As this function stabilizes in the group dynamic, subtle energy-movements in our nervous system become palpable and increasingly conscious. The Inner Constellation Mobile (ICM) below emerged in the most recent Silence Practice series as a map of the sacred territory of our inner life. The ICM is a simple map of the movement of two basic energy-systems within our nervous system. With a willing awareness, these movements are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually perceptible.

There are two basic nervous systems in the body that constantly inform us: the conditioned nervous system (through Inner-Constellations of culture, family, and human history); and the unconditioned potential  of the Soul’s movement through the Inner-Constellations of spaciousness and listening.

Both of these movements are experiential when we learn to slow down thinking and become energetically-attuned through deep listening. Both experiences “feel real.” When the conditioned nervous system is experienced as energy rather than an unconscious impulse, our nervous system experiences increased spaciousness.  This movement opens us to the uncondtioned potential as new insights, generous/uplifting emotions, and/or trusting/open sensations in the body.

Many of our life-experiences are grounded in the conditioned nervous system, and are therefore habitual. Initially, slowing down to actually feel these can be disarming and uncomfortable. As a culture we are habituated to turn away from inner-discomfort, however subtle. This makes it difficult to sustain the unconditioned potential of the “Soul’s” movement within culture. Our success in this regard depends upon our ability to consciously “be with” conditioned aspects, and to listen (pray, open) to the higher dimensions of our Soul. In order to facilitate the integration of these energy-upgrades, indiviual and group Sound vibrations are an implicit part of the PhD research thesis.

The traditional word for the coherent movement of the ICM is Grace. It is where we experience “problems” as no longer being in the way because we experience them in relationship to a larger whole (of the Soul’s movement in God/Source). It is this movement that allows us to move beyond conditioning in a compassionate and spacious way.  When we no longer reject the pain of our human conditioning (in self or other), we become increasingly available for the movement of our Soul.

The ICM Map emerged at the end of the Spring 2018 Silence Practice series. I have experienced this Group Constellation practice as deceptively simple and powerfully transformative. As with all the previous Silence Practice series, I look forward to exploring this recent emergence with you. See lauramadsen.ca for the upcoming Class description.
with love,
Laura
For contact: Please leave a comment below or call 1(604) 222-4111

Entanglement & Spaciousness: The Delicate Dance of Embodiment

Painting by Keira Madsen

Much has percolated both personally and as a facilitator following the recent Fall Silence Practice series, “Restoring Structures in Consciousness.”

Firstly, I am grateful for the structure of exploration that each Silence Practice series seems to provide for myself and for other willing “pioneers.” The most sacred gift we can give each other lies in our courage and willingness to explore together “beyond habits of the known.”

What makes this gift sacred? Because it lies within the Mystery of our innate (known/ experienced) belonging in God/Source. Why are courage and willingness required? Because this gift also comes with the most rigorous challenge of all – the challenge of “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are.

What is challenging about “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are you might ask? After all, I am a nice person, my relationships are good, and I am happy most of the time. I rather like myself the way I am and others seem to as well … except, maybe sometimes … something deep within me surfaces that … mmmm … ????

That questioning is the entry-point for the timeless spiritual question: “Who Am I”?Indian saint Ramana Maharshi offered this inquiry to his disciples as a foundational practice.

Within this wholehearted spiritual question lies the opening to the spaciousness of an authentic inner Journey. This is where our willingness and courage emerge from a previously unknown source within us, and begins to grow. As Jesus said, it only takes a “mustard seed” (a small opening/beginning) to grow Faith (and Faith exists beyond the known).

Silence Practice is always a movement towards an already-present spaciousness within. If this spacious experience is one we wish to live our life through, then we begin to engage in an “embodied spiritual practice.” Only within the rigour of an embodied spiritual practice do we begin “meeting ourselves” exactly where we are. Here we experience the inevitable entanglements of the “conditioned” or “identified” self, and how much they are at play in our life. This is the land of “shadow” (Carl Young), the unconscious, the unseen aspects of the conditioned self, all the places where we have become entangled.

In a deeper spaciousness where embodiment is also a priority, we begin to see and experience patterns of energetic entanglement that we have been participating in unconsciously. Compounding our ability to see this level of unconscious participation, is our determined identification with these entanglements as us. So the letting-go nature of Silence Practice can feel like a death-practice, depending upon where our identification is focused.

This delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness is the razor’s edge of an embodied practice. It requires a willingness to practice in the face of fear and resistance. If we do not face this, we are likely to choose a less embodied form of practice where we do not “meet ourselves,” but rather “escape ourselves.” It has been my experience that many people who speak about spiritual practice are referring to the latter.

If I do not understand and experience that the foundation of my entangled-self is a young place of self-preservation-at-all-cost, than I may also be unaware of its endless antics of camouflage and obfuscation when faced with the naked vulnerability of inner-spaciousness.

In order to restore these entangled structures, we must first meet them and touch them exactly where they are. This becomes possible with the natural relaxation of the nervous system and increased consciousness that spaciousness provides. Only within the generosity of inner-spaciousness does the delicate and beautiful dance of embodiment begin to unfold. It can feel miraculous.

I have learned again and again, in the past 7+ years of facilitation, that this is the reason that an embodied (grounded in and through the body) spiritual practice — by its very nature — is one of deep humility and surrender. These two fundamental gate-posts of embodied spiritual practice, draw from us a willingness and courage that we didn’t know we had.

The delicate dance between entanglement and spaciousness has only one certitude: it will surprise, challenge, and delight you again and again — in increasingly new and subtle ways. In a very real sense, I am most own best student of Silence Practice. To use Richard Bach’s quote, “we teach best what we most need to learn.”

This fills my heart with gratitude. Namaste.

Please comment in the section below if you feel drawn to do so. An embodied practice is strengthened by engaging with others who share the same interest.

with love, Laura

Restoring Structures in Consciousness

Art by Keira Madsen

As we choose again and again to re-align ourselves with the depth and spaciousness of Inner Silence, “structures in consciousness” naturally begin to reveal themselves. These structures within which we co-habit could be described as “constellations,” “unconscious energy-agreements,” or “morphogenic fields.”

However we choose to name them, our awareness of these structures is key to their restoration. Learning to simply “be with” the emotional, mental, and physical flavours inherent within these constellations can be a challenging practice. Intentional group practice is an ideal place for this Awareness to surface within us. It broadens our capacity for relational wholeness and depth. Conversely, lacking an of awareness of these influences tends to create fractured relationships and distance.

Our most influential constellations are established in childhood as “family constellations” and “cultural constellations.” As a result they can “feel” quite “normal” to us. (i.e., That is what life is and who I am.) We wear them naturally until we begin to realize that these constellations have a momentum of their own within which we have unconsciously participated.

Witnessing — sans judgement or reactivity — the powerful influence these patterns carry within ourselves and the collective fields we share, is a pivotal experience for both our spiritual and human development. While we respect their influence as part of our human history, and therefore our connection to our ancestors and the human condition, we begin to recognize that they are not the only story. To our surprise and delight, we discover that our increased ability to witness and presence these “structures in consciousness” is, in fact, a gateway to a Whole New Story.

The inspiration for birthing any new story throughout human history has never arisen from recipes of the “already known.” They often emerge from a spacious willingness to be influenced by something (yet) “unknown.” As we engage more regularly in the spaciousness of Silence Practice, a natural relaxing of these habitual structures occurs. Sitting still with these habits is similar to a detoxification that also activates deeper structures in Consciousness. I tend to feel this in the body as an increased sense of “place” in this moment, or an “easeful sense of belonging,” or “a flow sensation” in my body. When I work with private clients in “staying with” and “touching into” these structures, they also experience contact with them in a similar fashion. Practice like this within a group is especially powerful.

The spacious Awareness of Inner Silence grows an “experiential Perception” that emerges as a willingness to “make contact” with “what is.” The Beauty of a non-reactive “Witnessing Presence” begins to emerge in our awareness. The influence of this contact  is profound. It grows a particular capacity for Intimacy within our Heart. We notice from time to time, that we are “hearing and seeing” (responding) differently — no longer from patterns of separation, denial, or fear. or  The serene clarity of the Witnessing Presence allows deeper contact with “structures in consciousness” within ourselves first, and eventually with the world around us.

With the willingness to practice, habitual “structures in consciousness” appear less finite and real when they are witnessed within a spacious consciousness. Experiencing that these “structures in consciousness” are a conditioned or learned response and not the only reality often evokes a sense of lightness. We can have the distinct feeling that we have somehow broken through — or at least glimpsed — a different reality. Fairy tales and myths compare the limitations of these “structures in consciousness” to casting a spell.” Seeing the “spell” or habit with increased clarity allows us to move within a more spacious awareness.

As the Constellation or Structure in Consciousness becomes less fixed or solid, we find that we have more energy for exploring new territory. This is the energy of Restoration. It is a natural consequence of the “letting go” action of Silence Practice, and the discovering of the Witnessing Presence within.

The 10-week Fall Practice Series will focus on the relationship between the Spaciousness of Silence and the Restoration of Structures in Consciousness. For more detail and to register, please go to the Group Sessions menu or lauramadsen.ca. Early registration with 20% discount ends on August 29.

Namaste, Laura