This past weekend I travelled to Seattle to join other presenters and Constellation enthusiasts to participate in Constellate US 2013, the 4th Northern American Constellation conference.
I took with me a thirty minute keynote presentation explaining the benefits of Horse Constellations. As of now, I'm perhaps the only facilitator in America combining Systemic Constellations with Horses. There is an ocean of equine therapy offering similar work yet no-one is referring to the 'field' or allowing the horses to participate on their own terms and making their own decisions.
The conference was held in Bellevue, WA, in a 5 star hotel. Four days inside a controlled environment, (very few windows which did not open), was challenging, nonetheless I was determined to make the most of it. I actually found this an advantage when I presenting because the majority of the photo's shown were of horses, animals and people in a nature setting, highlighting the contrast of experiencing therapy indoors versus outdoors.
Early Friday morning, a few hours before my presentation, while driving from Seattle to Bellevue, I I was hit by another car who came into my lane. The best outcome was nobody was injured. Needless to say it was somewhat of a shock and was the last thing I expected to deal with right before making my debut at the conference. My nervous system was saturated with adrenaline which ironically drowned out any nervousness I held around public speaking.
The audience at the conference was a tough crowd. The conference was structured in such a way that six presenters were scheduled simultaneously and people chose who they wanted to see. In other facilitators presentations I witnessed numerous people coming and going, everyone wanted to make sure they were at the best presentation.
During the first five minutes of my presentation, the room suddenly became swollen with people. Someone suggested I start again, so I did. After ten more minutes I noticed someone crying. I thought at first they may have been hurt but a couple of days later they approached me and shared with me their experience of being deeply moved. They wanted to quit their job and live a life with horses, like me. Wow!
One great aspect of this conference was I met new people. With so many animals to take care of, it's not often I get out of Topanga. I very much enjoyed experiencing other facilitators approach to constellation work and healing. I was impressed by Sunday's keynote speaker, author Belvie Brooks. She shared how her and her newly wed husband went to visit a slave dungeon in Africa on their honeymoon. I found her story extremely moving, there was not a dry eye in my peripheral vision. The conclusion in her talk was about recognizing the integration of African and Scottish/ irish descendants and accepting the fates of both.
I too enjoyed Dan Booth Cohen's speech on Sunday afternoon about the history of the hotel we were staying in and how the land it was built on had actually been stolen from Japanese American strawberry farmers. He spoke about enjoying the luxury of the hotel's comfortable bed and the bathroom's large square shower head. He described how he was at peace with enjoying the hotel's luxurious services even after knowing the truth about the origins of the hotel. Dan said that every aspect of the existence of the hotel had been taken into his heart, including the founders and owners of the hotel and the Japanese farmers who had been robbed of their land. This is a great example of a Constellation principle, seeing and honoring everyones place in the situation and accepting what is.
I think my favorite workshop was Michelle McKinney's Power Animal Constellations. Michelle had us journey to find our power animal in the lower world. She told us to recognize four actions that our power animal displayed. After this journey she had us pair up and take turns in being in the role of the other person's animal without knowing who it was. I was dumbfounded when my partner proceeded to move into each action that my cougar had shown me in my journey. Michelle told us to call in our animal for protection. Last night at my improv' class I was told by the teacher, when in the role of a lion, I reminded him much more of a cougar than a lion. Hmmmmm.