Constellation workshops with Marcos Frangos at Hazel Hill Wood

So here we are, early Spring, and I’m writing this blog to set out my stall for the three forthcoming constellation workshops at Hazel Hill Wood 11-12 May, 21-22 September, 14-15 December

This blog is to give you a feel for these workshops. I want to also share a little about the name: “Wellspring of Wellbeing”, and how that relates to my constellation work and approach. I’m hoping to provide some useful background to constellations, especially if you’re new to this, and I’ll also share the broad format for the workshops so you’ll know what to expect when you come along.

Marcos HeadshotA mini biog for Marcos Frangos: At work I have two main roles: I manage a charity that owns a magical 70-acre educational woodland called Hazel Hill Wood with eco-buildings where we run a variety of workshops. I also run my own company called Wellspring Change that provides consultancy to individuals and organisations around wellbeing and organisational change. I frequently weave constellations as a tool into all my work.

Some personal information: I’m of Greek heritage, and I am a UK citizen. Both my parents are Greek, from the Aegean island of Chios. I was born and educated in the UK, and have lived in Winchester (South of England) for over 15 years. I started off my professional life as a trainee architect, I then studied and worked as a person-centred counsellor and subsequently enjoyed a career in inclusion of disabled people into buildings. I have a long-held interest in people and organisations and what makes them tick, how we make meaning out of the challenges and opportunities before us. A few years ago I did a formal two-year training course to become a facilitator of constellations in Oxford, with ‘Core Constellations, Theory & Practice’. This provided exposure to many different approaches to constellations. I have been privileged to learn from very experienced and gifted facilitators: Albrecht Marr, Vivian Broughton, Barbara Morgan, Jan Jacob Stam and many others. I continue to do my regular personal and professional supervision work with a constellations peer group in Oxford, and I am also in 1-1 psychotherapy.

So, why “Wellspring of Wellbeing?” The name “Wellspring of wellbeing” is what I use for my constellation workshops and is inspired by the Greek “Zoothoxou Pigi”. It literally means the Wellspring of Life. Interestingly this name is often synonymous with the Virgin Mary in the Greek Orthodox tradition. I resonate with this name because I believe each of us can access our own wellspring of wellbeing. It’s that part of us that deeply knows, that deeply understands what we seek, that recognises what we need to learn through our experience to become more fully present, more fully expressed and more vital as a human being. My personal image when I think of a wellspring of wellbeing is an ever-present flow of water that springs forth directly out of the earth – like a bubbling brook through our inner landscape – always in flux and flow.

_MG_1174The concept of ‘flow’ is central to me in life and in constellations. When you’re in flow, you probably recognise that experience of things falling into place with ease, of serendipity and meeting just the right person at the right time. In this state, we’re open to experience and to learning and life feels exciting, limitless and creative. Conversely when we’re out of flow, or feel stuck, there are often inner reasons why we’ve closed our connection to our inner wellspring – out of fear, self-limiting beliefs, past traumas etc.  All of these can lead us to create ‘stories’ that we tell ourselves. In one sense, these stories are helpful, they help us to survive, often through very challenging life circumstances – perhaps they even kept us alive. I tread with deepest respect for these stories – they have a purpose. But, they can limit us too. In a future blog I’ll share a story about how wild elephants are tamed that relates to this theme.

So what are family constellations and how can they help? This approach is borne out of the work of Bert Hellinger and is often referred to as “Family Constellations”. Bert developed this approach over 30 years ago working with families by looking ‘systemically’ at the whole family system to understand the challenges facing the individual. Within his work as a family therapist he also integrated many years of being a missionary priest in Africa working with indigenous tribes who taught him about shamanic traditions that consciously include working with the ancestors.

P1030014No person is an island. We are all part of multiple systems to which we belong, to our birth family, our national heritage, our ancestors, our organisational systems at work, the professions we belong to, our religion, our belief systems and so on. The systems that we belong to can be complex: consciously or at a sub-conscious level we are in a continual dance between ‘belonging’ to the system, which is a very fundamental need, and the impulse to ‘individuate’ and be a fully expressed human being. The tension arises because if we are fully ourselves, the chances are that we will at some point challenge the systems we belong to and their norms. Systems have a life and organising mind of their own, they too like individuals, are in continual flux trying to reach as balanced a position as possible given continually changing circumstances. Systems too will try and organise themselves to achieve as broad an integration of all the aspects within them, but they also exclude that which threatens their coherence.

Constellations are a wonderful tool to help reveal sometimes hidden dynamics and forces that are influencing the individual in the dance with the system(s) in which they’re operating.

How is a constellation set up in a workshop?

A constellation is usually focused around an individual that I normally call the ‘client’. Let’s imagine you’re the client. We’d start by sitting side by side in the initial part of the process and my role is to help you clarify your inner question. For example it might be a question about next steps in your career, or perhaps a more existential question like: ‘I want to feel more alive’ or ‘I don’t understand why I am so unhappy’. Through a process of deep listening and enquiry, I try and help you get as clear as you can about what you’re seeking, so you can formulate your inner question into a succinct sentence that resonates deeply for you. This is an important part of the exploration. Sometimes we find that your first presenting question actually has its roots in deeper sub-questions, which Bert Hellinger called ‘movement of the soul’.

Round House Hazel Hill WoodOnce your intention is clear, we establish who are the key players or the key aspects in your question. It’s not only people that are represented in a constellation, you can represent anything in a constellation, for example someone might represent a country or a nation. Imagine we’re co-creating a movie, and you’re the Director and it is you who decides which parts are needed to be represented in the first scene to place your inner question in the right context. Other parts or characters might of course come in as representatives in later scenes, but I like to start a constellation keeping things simple.

Representatives in constellations

Once we’ve agreed who needs to be in the constellation, I’ll invite you to choose fellow participants to ‘represent’ the different aspects of your inner question. One by one you choose and then physically place each individual representative somewhere in the room where we are working. We then stand back from the constellation and observe the movements that follow for the representatives. It’s like a 3 dimensional sculpture of your question, with human beings representing the different forces and dynamics. The role of each representative is to embody the representation as fully and authentically as they can.

As a representative you’re not following a script like you would as an actor. You’re invited to express and embody what shows up in you. I often say to representatives ‘use ALL your ways of knowing’ and follow your inner movements and promptings as honestly as you can – it’s not about winning the Oscars for best dramatic performance. There is no special training required to be a representative, I believe we all have the capacity to step into another person’s life situation and feel into what’s happening.

Tap into your own ‘Wellspring of Wellbeing’

wellbeing skyMarcos Frangos will be leading a constellation retreat at Hazel Hill Wood, Thursday 15 October 6pm – Friday 16 October 4.30pm

Both Spring and Autumn bring an amazing energy of renewal. These retreats will give you the time to explore the essence of your own wellbeing, and the habits and patterns that no longer serve you,  as well as what you can do to nourish the wisdom and strength in your personal ‘wellspring’.

Constellations provide a fascinating way of looking at an issue as a ‘whole-system’; participants in the group will physically represent aspects of your system or question and create a living 3-dimensional map. This can help reveal things as they truly are, not just as we’d like to see them!

Wellpring 1

Costs £95 per person includes food and basic sleeping accommodation, or single rooms available for an additional £20. For further information contact Marcos Frangos (m) 07881 425 804, e: marcosfrangos@rocketmail.com

Seeing the point of woodland conservation…

The speed of nature’s growth in Spring is astonishing: the beautiful carpet of wood anemones shown in the picture burst into flower between Easter Sunday and Easter Tuesday. And they are a great example of why we work so hard to encourage conservation work at Hazel Hill Wood.

One of the main projects for our autumn conservation weekend in 2014 was to create open space in the veranemonesges alongside the path connecting the buildings with the heart of the wood. Previously, this path was a tunnel between two tangled messes of small sycamores, brambles and young hornbeam, almost 2 metres high.

The result of the conservation work last year is not only that we now have a path which is a delight to walk along, and has open views into the wood, but also now has these beautiful flowers, which would otherwise have been shaded out. Almost everywhere at Hazel Hill, we find that when we clear the overgrowth and more light gets to the floor of the wood, flowers spring up where we never had them before.

People find that caring for the wood is also a way of caring for themselves. If you would like to join one of our conservation groups, we have two weekends coming up:

May 15-17 Woodland Conservation & Spring Cleaning

July 24-26 Family Fun Conservation Weekend

For more details and to book see our programme of events

‘Like One Big Family’

conservation weekendHazel Hill’s Conservation and Wellness Weekend

All 16 of us had a lovely time on this weekend, and did a lot for our own wellbeing and the wood’s. Many of the group were new to Hazel Hill, and made a really deep connection with the place and with other people.

We did some great conservation work, landscaping and planting the outdoor cooking area by the main buildings: this included planting a wide range of woodland shrubs, trees and flowers, and creating an amazing large wooden bench, masterminded by Roger Bingham.

Other highlights included large amounts of fantastic food, woodland games, and two great evenings around a campfire, with scary stories, and some lovely poems and songs.

These are some great quotes from the people on the weekend:

“I’m going to take away all the fun, and the love, and the family we’ve made.” (Joshua 6)

“I will take away the feeling of everyone chatting and chatting while they were working and spading. Five stars.” (Theo, 10)

“I had a lovely weekend and made some big life decisions. The community feeling and the mindfulness ideas all helped.” (Maggie, 20)

“I take away a sense of peace. I’ve reconnected with nature, and built a really nice bond. (Mandy)

 

50 Shades of Twilight: The Magic of a Wood in Spring

twilight in woodsTwilight is a special time for me in nature: and especially so at Hazel Hill Wood in Springtime.  Very recently, I sat on the deck of one of our buildings, facing west as the light very slowly faded.

Whilst the stages of the dawn chorus are well known, twilight too is a great time for birdsong: in different corners of the wood, I could hear a range of birdsong, with calls and responses.  The trees are not yet in leaf, so the bare outline of the branches provides exquisite sculpture against the last of the light.

The best bit of the whole experience was when the owls started calling, which was when night had almost fallen.  From where I sat, I could hear them calling as they flew in a huge circle around the wood: such a beautiful, evocative sound.  In traditional folklore, the owl is often seen as the gatekeeper between the worlds of the dark and the light, and this is certainly when their presence is strongest at Hazel Hill.

We go through several phases of spring flowers at Hazel Hill: from the snowdrops, through the primroses and wood anemones, with the climax being huge areas of bluebells, vibrant in colour, and sweetly intoxicating with their scent.  The bluebells are at their best in late April and early May: so if you would like to share this and many other woodland delights, join us for the Natural Roots of Resilience weekend, April 24-26.