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Healing The Wounds of Our Ancestors

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

After working with thousand families, German psychologist, Dr. Bert Hellinger, discovered that emotional wounds suffered by the previous generation continue to influence the next generation, up to the 4th generation. Events involving unspoken secrete,   members shunned by their families, early deaths, death from child birth, and early adoption by other people—all these inflict emotional wounds that become undercurrents that impact future generations.

Dr. Hellinger’s work relies on observation and intuition. He found out that events that have happened three or four generations ago cannot be known through our day-to-day consciousness, but are best felt through the power of intuition. He normally uses a technique called family constellation. Within the group, he selects people to play the roles of different family members, and then he gets the protagonist to set up the constellation according to his/her relationship with these members. Under these circumstances, people who play the role of these members will have different feelings. Dr. Hellinger will observe their reactions and change their positions in the family to achieve the best solution to their problems.

In setting up these roles within the family constellation, Dr. Hellinger pays particular attention to members who died early, as they have a significant impact on the family. As an illustration, a woman had chronic illnesses since young. After she had a kidney transplant, she continued to have life-threatening infections. During the family constellation session, this woman included a younger sister, who had passed away after three days, as part of the family. When observing this family’s position, Dr. Hellinger discovered that when the younger sister died, the woman’s mother was so traumatized that she wanted to die. At that time, the lady was very young, and when she saw this happening, she made a child-like vow: “Mummy, please don’t die. I will die on you behalf.”  After that, she had ailments that were serious and life threatening. During the family constellation session, Dr. Hellinger suggested a “cure” for this woman, and asked that she turn to the person playing the role of her mother and say: “ Mummy, I stay.” The woman said this from the bottom of her heart, and after that, she cried loudly. Interestingly, she did not have any more infections after this.

Dr. Hellinger believes that many serious ailments like cancer arise because the patient subconsciously wants to die on behalf of another family member, or wants to follow after a dead person. These can come from childhood vows that are etched deep into the person’s consciousness.

From his work, Dr. Hellinger observed that family members that had been rejected pose a great disturbance to the family, and later generations are also affected. Reasons for their rejection can be due to ethical or other reasons. Family members that were forgotten have similar effects on the family and later generations. According to Dr. Hellinger, everyone has a need to belong to a family, and the right to do so.  The only exception is when a person commits murder, in which case the person loses the right to belong to a family.

Great harm also results when a child is sent away or sold to someone else, and therefore separated from his/her family. From the perspective of modern research on prenatal and postnatal psychology, the fetus and the infant both have clear consciousness. Furthermore, experiences during this period have a profound influence on the child later on in life. Children naturally love their parents, and parents also naturally love their children. However, once this natural tendency is interrupted, the body and mind will be disturbed. In a Chinese culture, families that have too many children and have newborn baby girls sometimes give the babies away to relatives and friends. Poor families may also sell their children in order to survive.

What are the reactions in the consciousness of these children? Sadness? Abandonment? Anger? Self-pity? Lack of confidence? Hunger for love? If it is a baby girl, she will grow up to be a grandmother, passing these feelings on to many generations. For example, a person who goes through a famine will be particularly conscious of food and eating. The Chinese customary conversational-opener “Have you taken a full meal?” maybe an after-effect of the Chinese having endured many famines.

Undischarged emotions from an earlier generation can surface in later generations. In counseling a lady who carries a lot of anger inside her, Dr. Hellinger commented: “This is not a child’s anger, but an ancient rage.” He then asked: “Whose anger is this?” The lady replied: “It feels like it is from my great grandmother.” Children who carry these suppressed emotions tend to vent their anger on their spouses; it is just that the person getting angry and the target of this anger has changed. Dr. Hellinger calls this a “double shift”.

How does one recover from the wounds carried over many generations? Only by the power of one’s spirit, and the power of love. Is there any family member who died early? Who was abandoned? Rejected? When you think of them, accept them, and be caring and loving toward them, love them. When you think of “family”, include them with your warm and loving thoughts.

Using visualizations, we can change the memories of our births, and send love to all family members. The founder of San Diego’s Health Centre, Rachel Solomon, shares her experience in changing her memories. As a student, on a few occasions, she obtained an “A” grade for an essay that she had written. When she happily dashed home to show her father these essays, she did not get any encouraging words from him, but received this comment instead: “Where did you copy this from?” These words severely inhibited her inspiration for writing. Whenever she took a pen to write, she thought about her father’s words. Later, when she learned how to change her memories, she imprinted another memory into herself—when she showed her essay to her father, he was very happy and encouraged her. Her inspiration for writing returned after that.

Below, I describe a method for healing one’s memories based on research from prenatal, neonatal and family psychology.

  1. Using your breathing, enter into the state of alpha brain waves. Breathe into the abdomen. Breathe in to the count of eight, stop for eight counts; breathe out to count of eight, stop four counts. Repeat another two times, for a total of three repetitions.
  2. Select memory starting from any period of your youth. For example begin at age 20, were there any vivid memories of people or events? Observe your body’s reactions. Is it cold, warm, numb, painful? Is there any reaction? Let these feelings discharge by themselves. If the reactions are too strong, move your eyeballs left and right.
  3. Then recall memories from age 19, 18, 17, and so on, year by year, till the time of birth.
  4. Recall your reactions during the time when you are in your mother’s womb, and the one year while you are waiting in the womb.
  5. Re-create the memories: Think how your parents are looking forward to your arrival. You are also looking forward to meeting them. You are bringing with you gifts from the spiritual world, aspirations, and missions-to-be-accomplished. You are placed on your mother’s abdomen before your umbilical cord is cut. After some rest, you raise your head to watch your mother’s loving, kind face and eyes. Both you and mother connect, and smile at each other. You see your father’s warm, loving face welcoming your arrival. You crawl by yourself to your mother’s breast to suckle your needed nutrients. You look at your parents.  You receive their love, good wishes, and blessings, and you reciprocate them back.
  6. Through your parents, you receive the love, good wishes, and blessings for your paternal and maternal grandparents, and you reciprocate them back.
  7. Through your parents, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandparents, you receive the love, good wishes, and blessings for your paternal and maternal great-grandparents, and you reciprocate them back.
  8. Through your parents, you receive the love, good wishes, and blessings of all your ancestors, and you reciprocate them back. Heal whatever needs to be healed, and the energy of love flows smoothly and unimpeded throughout the family tree.
  9. Return to the present, bringing with you the love, good wishes, and blessings of the entire family tree.

The above steps can be recorded, and followed the steps while listening to the tape. Those who have practiced this visualization will feel a great sense of lightness, joy, and bliss, and may even look younger. You can heal the wounds of your ancestors.

Hellinger, Bert. “Love’s own truth.” Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, Inc. Arizona, 2001.
Hellinger, Bert. “Love’s Hidden Symmetry.” 1998.

Originally published in Lapis Lazuli Light Magazine (Nov 2002)

Translated by Lapis Lazuli Light Singapore