Recently, while I was prepping my guidebook, “Healing Our Bloodlines: The 8 Realizations of Generational Liberation”, for its May 1st, 2019 debut on Amazon, I found a photo of the core staff who developed a unique form of inter-generational healing called Bloodline Healing. I smiled as remembered this retreat at Brandeis-Bardin where we took the photo. It was one of those heartfelt encounters that inspired me to write “Healing Our Bloodlines“.
Nestled inside a lush corner of Simi Valley, at the end of the aromatic Peppertree Lane, resides the Brandeis-Bardin retreat center where we would have one of our most memorable Bloodline Healing workshops. Across from the convention center part of the campus was a small schoolhouse annex. Our team was busy modifying the schoolhouse into a sacred space for the weekend intensive retreat. Jessica Gelson MFT was gathering up the tiny kiddie chairs and stacking them to the side. Anna Molitor, a group facilitator that specializes in women’s empowerment, put out the grown-up folding chairs into a large circle. Aviva Shira Bernat MD placed a Hawaiian style table cloth over a baby grand piano to begin it’s transformation into an ancestors’ table. Dina Bernat-Kunin LCSW filled a large, glass bowl with water and sea salt. This bowl would go on top of the ancestor table to serve as a universal symbol for emotional cleansing.
The workshop participants were a mosaic of people from different cultural backgrounds and faiths. But they all had one thing in common; all of them have ancestors. After family tree sharing with the group, we gathered around the ancestor table to take turns doing an Ancestral Dialogue. This technique was an opportunity for them to speak aloud to their ancestors in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Yes, people actually talked directly to their deceased ancestors in this unconventional approach to inter-generational healing. For some people, it is a cathartic theater, a place for them to talk with their lineage in a personified way. For others, they believe that they can still feel their deceased grandmother with them in spirit. Because our workshops always have a mix of people from different backgrounds, it’s essential to maintain an open minded atmosphere that allows for every person to share their personal beliefs.
While our team was developing Bloodline Healing over the past 15 years, we’ve discovered that the purpose of doing an Ancestral Dialogue is multifaceted. Some people have done an ancestral dialogue because they never got a chance to say goodbye to their grandparents who perished in the Holocaust. They didn’t have an opportunity to let the grief come out of their hearts because their was no formal funeral. Some of the participants came because they always felt alone in their birth family, so they wanted to find a connection to an ancestor that would make them feel a sense of belonging. For others, they were stepping into a new role in their family as a matriarch or patriarch, so their ancestral dialogue became a rite of passage from one phase of life into another.
The Ancestral Dialogue has become a multi-use technique that has helped many people to address the unresolved struggles in their families. It’s the great clarifier that helps people understand why their family behave the way they do. It helps participants identify the cyclic patterns of abuse that have been repeating themselves for generations. The facilitators make every effort to creates a safe place for the emotional catharsis to happen. In the secure bubble of the workshop space, the participants can finally slow down enough to release the invisible burdens that they’ve been carrying for years.
After the workshop was complete, the group walked across Peppertree Lane to the cafeteria for dinner. As we walked through the herbal scented air, participants exchanged smiles. They shared about their relief, how the tension had left their bodies and how they could breathe more deeply as they giggled like school kids. I guess that little schoolhouse was the perfect venue for the workshop, because so many people had released the heaviness from their childhood to reclaim a personal sense of joy.
My Book, “Healing Our Bloodlines: The 8 Realizations of Generational Liberation” will be published as a paperback and eBook on Amazon on May 1st, 2019. It’s a self-help book that details the 8 Realizations discovered by clients and workshop participants while they were doing intensive inter-generational healing work. Each Realization comes with a real client success story and techniques that can be practiced at home to greatly accelerate the healing process. Join the group of Catalysts who are breaking free from their cyclic family pain to claim their most authentic lives.