Transcript of a Conscious Conversation with Sara Fancy and Alsha Chapin
A. Tell us where your ranch is.
S. My ranch is in Ranchita, San Diego County
A. Can you tell us about your ranch and your set up.
S. It’s called Silver Horse Retreat, I live there, my horses live there, I have two dogs and a cat and I have people stay there as well as coming for the day. It’s kind of like a centre.
A. How many horses do you have at your retreat center?
S. I have eight.
A. Can you tell us a broad overview of what Family Constellation is.
S. Well it was introduced by Bert Hellinger, who is still alive and still teaching, he just turned ninty one years old. He came up with this way of looking at the trauma behind us. And his motivation was to help the descendants of the holocaust. He had experience in Africa, he was a missionary there for quite a while and when he came back he synthesized the therapies he knew with what he learned in Africa. He came up with this practice which has principles, and since he introduced it to the world, it went off in different directions with people slightly changing it a little ….. so now you have Nature Constellations which essentially is done outside. So I fit into that category as I work outside. I love to work outside. And that’s the foundation of my place. It’s set up to do the work with horses, so you have privacy …. and there are no noise boundaries., you can make a lot of noise if you want….. and there’s no concrete …..no traffic.
A. So can you tell us what a typical session looks like?
S. How I work with the horses?
A. Yes Constellation work with the horses.
S. I either work one on one or with a group. The way that I do it now …. as I keep progressively changing, since I started doing horse constellations intwo thousand and eight, ….. the way my set up is now, I have three areas where the horses are. And I take the client or group into one of those three areas. In one area there might be five horses, or in another area they might be one horse or three. I know instinctively what area to work in, I don’t think too much about it.
If it’s in a group, we start with the person who’s going to have the constellation who has an intention. Then I ask them (the client) to pick people in the group to represent family members or places … emotions or animals….. or things that we don’t even know what they are ….. and then they (the client) place them somewhere in that space. And then we start the work which is basically looking at the proximity and the positions that the people are in …. the relationship, can that person look at that person …… what do you feel right now … these are the questions I ask, …. what do you feel and what do you notice. Then the horses may or may not come over, or they may make sounds or nudge someone, or stand by someone or stand behind someone. You might have three horses come in at once if we’re in the area with the five ….. does this give you and idea?
A. It does. So your client would come in with an intention and would share that with the group or with one on one , share it with you.
S. Yes and in some cases if someone doesn’t feel comfortable sharing their intention with the group, it can be done blind.That usually doesn’t come up in my practice as people feel pretty safe. But if there is definite perpetrator energy ….. he did this, …. or she did that …… then I would set up the constellation blind as everyone might have formulated an idea of the perpetrator being bad or something. We’re really not looking at good or bad. You don’t look at that,…. its what is….. the truth in the situation.
A. How does looking at the situation as it is, how does that help someone heal?
S. Well it changes the perception …. shifts energy… not only for the client, but for the representatives.
A. Tell me about the representatives and how are they’re involved and how do they participate?
S. Typically, not always, the client chooses people in the group to represent, themselves, their mother and their father. Then they place them. The representatives are not acting, it’s not improv, it’s not trying to be anything…… as in trying to be what they think the mother would be like or the father would be like. In a way, it’s like forget who you are, just feel into your feet, take a few breaths and then suddenly or slowly they feel something that they weren't feeling before they were in the role…. or they have a sensation that is undeniable.
A. And then is that when you as the facilitator help them to explore what they are feeling?
S. Yes …. or there is a movement …. cause they can be placed but feel this is totally the wrong place for me to be in and I need to go like this (turns). Or turn away from someone, or turn towards someone.
A. And then what response does someone have if it’s your constellation and your watching those relations play out?
S. It’s kind of indescribable … I mean ….. when you ask me that I went back to one of my experiences …. and I was watching my father with me … and it just hit me ….. it’s hard to describe in words what that’s like. It’s extremely moving.
A. It’s almost a place beyond language right? Watching something take place in front of you, that even though the characters, the people in front of you participating, don’t know the role their in, they are showing up in a way that’s so real, you can’t help but be moved?
A. It feels like it’s happening on a somatic level, a body level …
S. It’s physiological yes.
A.Two minute meditation break. Directed to audience. As you come back now is the time to think about if you have a question to ask or you want to share something about how you feel or if your body is having a reaction.
Guest. You mentioned the movement of the horses, specifically three coming in at once. I’m wondering, if you, as the facilitator, is interpreting the movement of the horses. If it has specific significance?
S. You mean am I interpreting the movement of the horses as I go?
Guest. Yes I mean if three horses come in, does that mean something specifically? Or is it different each time?
S. I understand. When I said that earlier about three horses going in, I had an image in my mind of when that happened, and when it did happen, I was more conscious of the people representing to see how they were going to react to that. One of my horse is enormous …. two thousand pounds. If you’re not really used to horses and one comes up (laughs) and is breathing down your neck and is nuzzling on your neck or your hair, how is that for someone, you know, who’s never really had contact with a horse that size. I tend to stay out of the analytics, I don’t want to be analyzing as I’m doing the work, cause then I’m not really present with the work, you understand?
S. It’s more about, how is it for the reps… how is it for the client. I could have my own idea about it, but that’s mine. It’s really for the client, it’s the clients constellation, and it’s the representatives experience. A question I might ask, is ‘How is it for you to have that big horse nuzzle your neck?’ That’s the kind of questions I ask. But I notice, I notice everything and it’s not just the horses, it’s the birds, the wind, an airplane ….I see it as an orchestra, everything is part of it and sometimes it can be really chaotic and crazy … and typically but not always things will really drop down by the end. If the horses are going nuts, squabbling, or there’s some kind of tension in the environment, at the end of the constellation, everything is just beautiful you know, harmonious, you can feel it. Is that OK I went a bit off topic.
Guest. No that’s good. Thank you.
Guest 2. I have a question I’m struggling to formulate it. I’ve never been able to describe your work, when I tried to explain it to other individuals and I still feel confused as to how to describe it, (laughs) I guess that’s why we’re having this conversation (laughs). I know horses are highly intuitive, I guess I don’t fully know … the horses are there to represent what the person wants the horse to represent? I don’t really remember how it all worked.
S. OK. I don’t remember our session, it must’ve been over four years ago …..
Guest 2. (laughs) I’m not asking you to remember …. I’m asking about a person who comes in for an individual session, and what you do and the role of the horses … I’m still curious how to describe that.
S. The reason I brought that up, about our session is thatI may have done it slightly different back then to the way I do it now. The way I do it now is that I don’t have the horses represent, I don’t give the horses roles. I allow the horses to enter or interact on their terms. I much prefer this way of working. And also it can be blatantly obvious if the horse comes in and we’re at a certain place in the work, even if we are in a group or one on one, it can be very obvious who the horse is representing. A lot of times the horse is just supporting or mirroring …. or holding space ….. or diffusing negative energy, which they tend to do alot.
The only difference in how I work in a one on one private compared to the group is that in a private I will go into the roles. Sometimes I might do four or five roles in a session. And the horses may come and go, or what happens a lot is that across the fence they’ll be doing stuff, …. stuff happening across the fence…. in the other coral thats totally present with what we are doing.
A. I think in therapy you invite the mystery, I feel in this work it’s done more consciously that’s what I thought whenI was reading about your work. I was taken by the idea of the field of knowing, but would youspeak about that a little bit? In regular therapy you come in with an intention or a symptom or something that needs to be resolved, I think the same would be of your work…. there’s an imbalance…. something to let go of….. something that no longer works or a pattern or a feeling of being blocked by something. In your therapy, you have other people and the horses and all of this work happening with Sara is in a field of knowing I think if you can speak on this we can clarify how these two works are different. (regular therapy and horse constellation therapy).
S. When people talk about Family Constellations or Systemic Constellations or the work of Bert Hellinger they mention the knowing field, the morphogenic field or the field. .Peers of mine will say ‘the field will know’ or ‘lets let the field decide’. The field in my experience and how I’ understand itis it’s an energy fieldwhich holds information. Simple. And it comes off of the intention of the client. ‘I want to have a better life’ there’s a field of energy around that I want a better life. So when the client finds out about me or they see me online and find my number I’m already in their field! I’m already in their field ‘cause they had a reason why they contacted me. Why they want to come, that creates a field. Again that field is information. Then when we have a container for the field, i.e. the coral, the coral has a fence around it so the horses won’t run everywhere. It’s pretty big. Or if you are in a room the walls are the container for the field. So when you enter the container of the field, you start getting information through your bodies and your feelings. That’s how it comes through. When I talked earlier about your not acting your not ‘role playing’ your just being present with your body. What do I notice and how do I feel? Agitated! or I’m really sad. It’s obvious when you tune in how you feel. That’s information, that’s about the client. Something that’s showing itself, revealing itself Do you get it?
A yeah yeah the clients experience is now embodied with the different participants
S. Yes and it’s not just the participants, like I said it’s in the environment. If you were in a room
there could be a painting on the wall and you suddenly turn around and that painting becomes really significant or there’s words, or someones phonegoes off with a funny message that’s totally relevant. The field is all encompassing it’s what we notice. That’s why it’s so beautiful. They call it phenomenological work you know, phenomena. You’re not supposed to understand it or figure it out, if you do you kind of lose it, …. you lose the medicine.
A. As a guide what kind of directives do you give to bring people into the moment?
S. Kind of what you did, ask people to feel their weight on the earth or where they are standing. Feel the weight of your bones, feel the weight of the water in your body. And for people who have trouble feeling sensations in their body I might do a guided meditation where I name all the body parts. That usually works.
A. We have a body scan meditation that’s similar.
S. I’ve also used this technique when I put people on top of horses. Someones sitting on a horse bareback I do an exercise I call ‘drop the head’ where the horses’ head and neck drops parallel to the ground, which makes the horse feel really relaxed. You can actually promote this movement from your breathing and state of being. The way I start this is asking, do you notice any tensions in your toes, ankles, …. usually people are tense in their hips, toes, eyeballs, while they’re sitting on the horse. When all of this becomes noticed, it doesn’t necessarily have to change, the head of the horse drops. It’s because you become present and that feels really safe to the horse. When you're present it’s safe ‘cause you're not hiding anything, you're transparent.
A. Can we talk about the idea of authenticity?
S. The reason that horses are used in therapy is because they make great mirrors for people, what’s happening is, the horse has you all figured out ( laughs), and when you become congruent, when your feelings on the inside match your expressions on the outside, or what you say or your posture that way of being is very attractive to the horse. Because your energy is harmonized, it’s safe. Horses are prey animals, they get eaten, by humans, humans kill horses they eat horses ….we are predators…horses know this. They want to know is itsafe do i want to go over there, is it safe for me to herd up with those people, because horses will herd with people too, as they have a herding instinct. But they won’t do it if it’s not transparent or if there is an incongruity. So there you have the in-authenticity. When someones not copping up to how they feel on the inside or their in denial or they don’t even knowWhen there’s the moment ofrealizing this is it, this is how I feel or wow ….then zuump the horse is right there …. right there … instantly. The horse could be fifty, hundred feet away, but when something shifts in the the person, they realize something about themselves or they realize there is something they have been holding which wasn’t really correct in some way, bam the horse is right there. That’s what’s so powerful about the work. You cannot deny that, it happens again and again and again. Sometimes in a session we may never get there. But thats OK, then you need to come back.
A.That reminds me in this type of work it seems to cut through layers of stories you’ve made for example if you were in talk therapy you may be rehearsing a tape you’ve had in your head for years. But because this is more somatic and the congruence is more an internal shift of energy and authenticity is an internal shift … that it feels like you cut through language, cut through the words and the barriers that live there and insteadhave an evocative or emotive experience of losing yourself to the moment…. because of some shift beyond words. Feels like your horses really get that and respond?
S. I did a session very recently which had to do with connecting the person I was working with to her ancestors. I did it in an area that didn’t have any horses in the immediate vicinity, but there was one horses who was standing across the fence who my client absolutely adores. They’ve had an on and off relationship for about ten years, they have history. I didn’t know he was there until we got into the space. He was standing adjacent to me and my client was standing alone in an area in front of me. I took her through a guided meditation about accepting where your from. And there was a moment where her heart opened and he moved forward until he was standing adjacent to her. It was subtle, but his movement was definitive, and it was right at that moment. It was beautiful, powerful. It wasn’t set up, she didn’t call him over, nothing dramatic happened, it was an internal; shift of her heart opening to her ancestors. And there he is, and he stayed with her for the rest of the session. It was beautiful.
A.What I love about that is something so subtle on the inside. promotes a two thousand pound animal to move.
S. Exactly you can’t deny it.
A.It is beautiful.
Guest 2. I want to follow up on my earlier question around not being able to describe the work as it is beyond words, but as there is a dialogue happening, it opens up an awareness of what the work is, versus an intellectual understanding in description….. because it is phenomenological.
A. That feels right to me (nodding) All my chills are up when you say that. To me that resonates. And it is a beautiful and maybe ironic thing that we are talking about it and it is a conscious conversation, and we’re putting together words and trying to understand something that is beyond words. But it’s always like that right? Poetry does that too, all the deep juicy concepts are just outside our ability to talk about them but its still worth the adventure to build a little bit of dialogue and a little bit of heat and light pointing at what seems true and how it’s put together. I’m glad we’re all here tonight.
End of Part One
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