Healing our ancestors
Transgenerational healing is an effective way to heal karmic complications that travels from one generation to another, negatively affecting our lives, says Jamuna Rangachari
According to genetics our life experiences get passed onto our children and our children’s children through our genes. Studies on survivors of traumatic events suggest that exposure to stress, trauma and shock may have a lasting impact on people and their subsequent generations. To a great extent most of our habits, tendencies, and diseases can be blamed on the genes of our ancestors. But it cannot be denied that believing in it incapacitates us and renders us almost incapable of changing our reality.
The question is, is it possible to make a difference? Can healing our own traumas prevent them from being passed onto our children and subsequently our grandchildren?
In a new development, scientists have discovered how this genetic inheritance can be regulated. A new Tel Aviv University study led by Dr Oded Rechavi, pinpoints the precise mechanism that turns the inheritance of environmental influences ‘on’ and ‘off.’
The good news is that healing personal trauma can make a huge difference to this process.
The modality of transgenerational healing helps in resolving those energetic blockages in our bodies as well as our consciousness, that may be coming to us from our ancestors.
How wounds travel
“Attending to the wounds of the past can connect us with ‘The collective wound.’” Says Joan Halifax, an American Zen Buddhist teacher and author.
What is overwhelming and unnameable is passed on to those we are closest to. Our loved ones carry what we cannot. And all this happens at a deep subconscious level.
This is the subject of the book, Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations, written by M Gerard Fromm in 2012. This collection of essays on traumatic transmission is built on the idea that, “What human beings cannot contain of their experience—what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable—falls out of social discourse, but very often goes onto and into the next generation as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency.”
The transmission of trauma may be particular to a given family suffering a loss, such as the death of an infant, or it can be a shared response to societal trauma.
For instance, Maurice De Witt, a sidewalk Santa on Fifth Avenue noticed a marked change in the behaviour of people in the holiday season following 9/11. “Parents would not let the hands of their children go. The kids sense that. It’s like water seeping down, and the kids can feel it… There is an anxiety, but the kids can’t make the connections,” he observed.
“This astute man was noticing a powerful double message in the parent’s action,” Fromm says, “Consciously and verbally, the message was, ‘Here’s Santa. Love him.’ Whereas unconsciously and physically, it was ‘Here’s Santa. Fear him.’ The unnamed trauma of 9/11 was communicated to the next generation by the squeeze of a hand.”
Psychic legacies are often passed on through unconscious cues or messages that flow between the child and the adult. Sometimes anxiety gets transferred from one generation to the next through stories told.
Psycho-historian Peter Loewenberg recalls the oral tradition of his parents who lived through the hunger years in Germany during the First World War. Because of the scourge, the physical health and stature of a generation was stunted due to prolonged malnutrition. According to the stories, a once-a-year indulgence was an orange, segmented and apportioned among the entire family. Loewenberg further identifies a cause chain between physical privations of the German people during WWI, which culminated into the Great Depression of 1929. Did this lead to concentration camps? We can only speculate, but surely, the hurt of starvation seems to have remained.
Author Harold Kushner raises a pertinent question in his book, When Bad Things happen to Good People, “The question we should be asking is not, why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? That is really an unanswerable, pointless question. A better question would be, ‘Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?’”
This is what healing processes are all about. We must remember that we are born to learn lessons and healing is a part of it. Whether or not we chose the family we are born into – as some people say – we do need to heal the wounds that are a part of it to become whole and complete in ourselves.
In her book, The Fruitful Darkness, Joan Halifax writes, “We cannot eliminate the so-called negative forces of afflictive emotions. The only way to work with them is to encounter them directly, enter their world, and transform them. They then become manifestations of wisdom. Our weaknesses become our strengths, the source of our compassion for others, and the basis of our awakened nature.”
There are many routes to healing transgenerational trauma. Profound changes can occur during individual therapy, group processes, ceremonies, or in personal meditations. One model for healing comes from Bert Hellinger, a German psychologist, philosopher, and author, who developed a model for healing transgenerational wounds through a technique called Family Constellations. As a Catholic missionary in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, his work was influenced by the Zulu People who called upon their ancestors through indigenous healing traditions to heal family wounds. Traditionally carried out in a group format, Family Constellations are a form of psychodrama and somatic psychology; a process of allowing the wisdom of your associations, sensations, and emotions to guide the healing journey.
Many traditional cultures offer ceremonies to honour their ancestors, recognising the fact that illness or disease can arise from unresolved patterns in the family lineage. Rituals attending to the past are observed to free the new generation from the fate of its ancestors. No matter what approach we take to healing, releasing the burden of traumas, either our own or that of our ancestors, increases our chances of scripting a new reality for ourselves.
Though the above is mainly about communities, the same is applicable to families and family structures as well. Communities are after all made of families. From family structures, one goes into individual healing.
An inevitable energy transfer happens down the generations of a family. This energy manifests in different ways in our lives. While some of it is easily recognisable such as hereditary features, characteristics and traits, sometimes the propensity for certain types of physical, emotional and mental ailments in a family too is because of this energy transfer. Since ancient times rituals and practices have been performed to ‘heal’ this kind of transference that limits the quality of life. In modern times, the method of transgenerational healing is used to address family issues.
Transgenerational healing is a blend of psychotherapeutic process, energy-work and soul-work that is known to alleviate many difficulties and challenges. In the Indian context, transgenerational healing is an ancient process that addresses the karmic baggage or ‘Pitru-dosh’ that we inherit from our ancestors. This particular modality involves reflecting upon one’s own family lineage while mindfully attending to one’s body, mind, and emotions.
How it works
A large part of the emotionally-disruptive life patterns we could be dealing with, originates from our family system rather than from direct personal experiences. For example, a heavy burden of guilt, pain and trauma carried by the entire family-soul gets passed down from one generation to another when unresolved issues have not been dealt with and healed by the people concerned. Furthermore, complex issues of hidden loyalties to the person wronged by our ancestors can cause us to hold on to experiences of pain and trauma which infact do not belong to us in the first place.
Through the healing process, we are able to identify and resolve those issues. This as a consequence releases blockage to the stream of life-force that enters our life through our family lineage to help us create health, wealth and joy.
In other words, we are connected with each other through karma and it is karma that frees us when we forgive and love everyone in our lives. This is what we learn in transgenerational healing too.
Hitesh Vashishth, a seasoned and much sought-after coach from Gurgaon along with his wife, Shubhangi, learnt this therapy from Dr Newton and Dr Lakshmi Kondaveti a few years ago.
He says, “Family constellation therapy has helped me clear my transgenerational patterns with love and awareness. It has strengthened my faith in the Universal Field of Intelligence and anchored me fully in my life with the support of my ancestors behind me. If I was wise before, the transgenerational healing has made me wiser. It is the most liberating, pragmatic and powerful work I have come across till today in my decade of working with various healing modalities.”
He cured his asthma after understanding why his father was not overtly loving towards him. Once he understood, he only had love to give and blessing to seek from his father. After this his asthma left him for good.
He has helped others too in this area. Sandhya, a 48 years old woman shared an unpleasant relationship with her daughter. In the constellation, the client and her daughter’s representative were brought to the energy field. The daughter didn’t want to face her mother and stood with her back towards her. She also looked angrily at her mother. Based on the facts shared by the client, Sandhya’s mother’s energy was also brought to the field with the help of a representative. Sandhya shared an unpleasant relationship with her mother and showed the same anger which her daughter carried. Sometime was spent in bringing resolution between Sandhya and her mother. A healing statement completely melted the hearts, the effect of which was seen on the daughter as well. Now, the daughter looked towards Sandhya with comfort and love.
It has been observed that if one shares an unpleasant relationship with one’s parents, there is a great possibility that one may have a difficult relationship with one’s child as well, as there is a blockage in the sacred order of love. When one heals one’s relationship with one’s parents, one also steps towards healing it with one’s children, automatically.
Shoheli Biswas, a healer from Delhi, who also learnt it from Dr Newton in Bangalore, says, “The first time I witnessed a transgenerational healing process I was very fascinated and wanted to experience it myself. I was fortunate to have been selected for a role at a later time in the session. I was chosen as a mother-in-law, and interestingly it was the same situation I was confronted with in my personal life. Thereafter my relationship with my mother-in-law was completely healed.
She is now a trained therapist and does sessions in healing family-karma–the karmic baggage that might have been passed on to us by the virtue of being born into our family. Through the healing process, she is able to create health, wealth and joy for the participants.
Healing family wounds with love
Mallika, a 46 year old healer from Hyderabad was born with a twin sister. A twin who was not liked by both her parents as they considered her unlucky due to some tantrik rituals followed by her mother.
She went through a highly traumatic childhood and even tried to commit suicide four times. The fourth time her suicide was unsuccessful, she pulled herself together, after a bout of depression, and worked on making a life for herself. It was clear to her that the higher consciousness wanted her to live, love and heal.
Now a mother, she is even more clear about the power of love and has healed many people asking them to love themselves at all levels, whether they have been loved by their family or not.
“Remember that you were hated because your parent carried a baggage of hatred and love alone can heal you,” she says. She believes that healing is a lifelong process.
A trained psychologist, she follows the scientific process of psychological counselling and healing, and has successfully put many on the path of true realisation and emotional wellness.
Hyderabad based Anuradha Ramesh, who learnt this technique in 2005, swears by this methodology.
She offered her first trans-generational healing session to a private group of students who were willing to offer themselves as guinea pigs and found this experiment to be very beneficial to all. Today, she offers this work in several countries all over the world.
She found, the interconnectedness of consciousness and the power of intention as the most important learnings from this process. One of the participants Anita Bali attended the programme in Hyderabad and came out with huge shifts. For a long time, she had felt that she was playing a mother to her mother, especially after her father passed away. She says, “What I like about the TGH process is that it allows us to step into the role of another person (unknown, alive or dead) and speak on their behalf at the energetic level (not at the rational/intellectual level, where we often block out the truth). And through the exchange of energies, healing happens.”
Anita has reclaimed being a daughter to her mother, and no longer mothers her. She feels enveloped by the presence of a larger intelligence and consciousness after the TGH process.
“They wronged me. I can never forgive them”, is something we often say. They often becomes, ‘My father/mother/grandfather’ and so on. In this context as in all healing journeys, we must learn to accept what is and then forgive and love them. After all, they are part of our identity and to become whole, we need to forgive, heal and love completely.
It’s a lifelong conscious effort of putting the hurt behind you and going forward with the knowledge that you’re now ok.
You sometimes acknowledge your feelings of wretchedness and unworthiness. You sometimes remember who put it there too.
You accept that you are an accident, a causality in someone else’s life, You also forgive the loss of an opportunity to love and be loved by someone.
You refuse to scar your soul with unexpressed grief and unvoiced regrets. You speak of it as long as it takes and as painful as it seems.
• Transform our relationship with our family members, especially parents.
• Break the chain of distorted patterns of ill health, be it physical, mental or emotional.
• Develop reverence and compassion by understanding the story of our ancestors.
• Heal recurring family patterns in the area of health, relationships or prosperity.
• Accept life gracefully as a gift of our ancestors.
• Stand grounded in our place of belonging.
• Accept that nothing needs to be excluded, everything needs to included and acknowledged as is. What is excluded or denied will ultimately make its way to be included in our system.
• Imagine yourself among your entire family, all ancestors from both sides.
• Thank them and hug them. Feel them bless you.
• Visualise your entire family, including ancestors, meeting in soul space.
• Affirm that our family is together and strong and visualise all others also doing this.
– Mallika Chandrasekhar
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