Many acknowledge that there are forces which exist outside our conscious understanding, forces that affect and influence our experience. In that vein, there is a new type of therapy taking hold that entails delving into one’s ancestral trauma to bring about change in their own life. Constellation work, a method founded by Bert Hellinger, explores the relationship between one’s mental health and the experience of their ancestors. Carol Shure is leading this therapeutic approach locally.
Shure, like many Carbondale inductees, moved to the area to attend Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS). “It was life-changing for me … the connection to the land and the people … I think that was the first time in my teenage years that I belonged somewhere,” she recalled.
After that rewarding experience at CRMS, Shure moved back to Illinois and began a rigorous regimen of introspective therapy — a search for internal peace.
Eventually, however, she found herself back in Carbondale, raising a family and embracing the local community. In fact, Shure started the Artist Collective on Main Street.
“I had this business that was doing well. I had my children and this beautiful home and partner, and I was miserable,” she recounted. “I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I had everything that people said would make me happy.” Fundamentally, however, “I was really, really miserable. I was at a place in my life where I just felt like I was being called all the time to something,” but she didn’t know what that was exactly.
She likened this condition with Joseph Campbell’s teachings in “The Hero’s Journey,” stating, “If you’re being called … you’ll continually be called until you answer it.”
In 2002, Shure followed the call to Eugene, Oregon, selling her store and home in Carbondale. Within a year, she met her Systemic Family Constellation teacher.
“All of our families have been impacted by the World Wars, pandemics,” etcetera, Shure explained. That trauma our ancestors endured, she said, can affect our own physical and mental being.
There are three levels of trauma, according to Shure. “There’s our own personal trauma … ancestral — which is transgenerational — and then there’s the collective level.”
She continued, “If we don’t address the unhealed wounds of our ancestors — or our own unhealed wounds — then we pass it on.”
Through constellation work, that trauma can be brought to the surface of consciousness and then worked through. “If we don’t make those things conscious, then they’re still alive in us,” she stated.
“If we can tend to that trauma within ourselves and our lineage, then it doesn’t have to be an unconscious process anymore … because unconscious energy is destiny, but conscious energy has a choice,” she explained.
However, bringing about that awareness entails an awakening. Shure uses a guided systemic constellation process to that end. Each constellation workshop addresses one person’s trauma; however, several others participate to bring that individual’s and their ancestors’ baggage to the surface. The outside participants are arranged into “morphogenetic fields,” a concept and term coined by biologist Rupert Sheldrake. The person in the “hot seat” then connects with elements or figures from their ancestral lineage.
“It’s kind of a full body experience,” Shure began to explain. “You have to use all of your senses and you get better and better at it.” The process is an emotional one and the generational trauma can manifest in many tears and sometimes laughter.
What excites Shure is that the endeavor has the power to shift embedded, inherited trauma.
“I never imagined myself working with ancestors,” Shure told The Sopris Sun. However, “The realm of the ancestors in every indigenous culture is very real — just as real as the physical reality we are in,” she noted.
While Shure recognizes that the work is only beginning to take hold in the United States, for instance, there is a new Netflix series called “Sex, Love and Goop” that highlights the practice, she explained that the form of therapy is widely accepted in Europe.
“I think there is so much hope in this work and our ability to create a life of peace and contentment,” she concluded.
Shure is grateful to Rita Marsh and the Center for Human Flourishing for supporting her work. The next constellation workshop takes place at the Third Street Center on May 21, starting at 10 a.m. For more information or to register, visit www.carolshure.com