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Clean Constellations


This post was first published in Insights in Space, by James Lawley and Marian Way.

A particularly good example of making use of Clean Space questions and directions within another format is Lynne Burney’s 'Clean Constellations'. It is based on Family Constellations developed by Bert Hellinger and a similar process used in organisations: Systemic Constellations.

Lynne ran a conference workshop showing how she had adapted the Constellations process to include Clean Space principles and features.

My Clean Constellation Session

I (Marian) joined the session and volunteered to be the seeker (explorer) for a demonstration. I chose as my topic, “I don’t want to be too big for my boots.” Instead of finding spaces for different aspects of the topic as I would have done in Clean Space, I was instructed to choose people from the group who could represent the various aspects and to move them (by gently guiding them from behind) to appropriate places.

I chose people to stand in as: ‘myself’, ‘too big’ and ‘boots’. Everyone was silent while they attuned themselves to my constellation.

I observed while Lynne used Clean Space questions to ask each of the representatives what they knew from where they were, and what they knew about the other two spaces. They were to report whatever intuitive impressions, feelings and sensations they were experiencing as a representative. Obviously, they didn’t have much information to go on: my statement of the topic, a short explanation I had given in the beginning and the spatial relationships I had set up. Nevertheless, the representatives seemed to know things that were pertinent to my topic. Unlike traditional Family Constellations, Lynne made no observations, interpretations or suggestions throughout the process.

Lynne asked me if I wanted to move the people and add further representatives into the constellation. I realised I hadn’t created a desired outcome for the session and when I couldn’t think of one, I simply chose a man to represent ‘desired outcome’. Lynne invited each representative to say what they now knew, ending with Desired Outcome.

I was very surprised when he said his impression was like being a strong oak tree; in a previous piece of work some years before I'd had a similar experience – not knowing a desired outcome and choosing a tree to represent it.

'Love' is missing

After another iteration, during which more representatives were added to the scene, Lynne invited the audience to sit in small groups and reflect on what was happening (while the representatives and I stayed where we were). Amidst the general hubbub in the room, I overheard a colleague, Michael Mallows, say that he thought ‘love’ was missing from the scene.

When the session recommenced I asked Michael to represent ‘love’. The representatives were then invited to move to where they intuited they should now be. As you might expect, the presence of love transformed the whole scene.

Lynne then invited me to take the place of the person who had been representing ‘myself’ in the constellation.

I said that I felt that somehow the constellation contained my information, even though most of the people taking part were previously unknown to me. I found it a deeply moving experience.

Afterwards, several audience members said that their feet were tingling – which seemed significant given my topic!

Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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