Workshop on Relational Cords

Martine Clausen

I arrived on the Saturday morning at the venue. Open-minded and excited to attend a workshop called Mindful Relating. I did not know what to expect, therefore I was curious, curious to find out about the workshop, but even more so to meet Jan.

The term presence, is a word which keeps popping up in my life lately. Recently I attended a lecture of Eckhart Tolle. In the huge venue the feeling of presence immediately arose the moment Tolle entered the stage. This same strong feeling of presence I would be experiencing during this weekend workshop with Jan.

The venue, Drakenburg, is quite ideally situated, right in the middle of a forest. The building in which we would be working was idyllically called the ‘sheep pen’ (‘schaapskooi’ in Dutch). Upon arrival I stood at the door and looked in. I noticed two men and two women in this big room with wooden beams at the ceiling. One wall was entirely made of windows and looked out on a lawn bordered by tall trees. Like filigree silhouettes they were drawn against the blue sky. The leaves had already fallen, announcing the upcoming season of turning in. Not a whiff of wind. Stately silence. I went in. Jan just happened to turn around. A smile, eye contact, a handshake, deeper eye contact. And the feeling of presence.

Even though I had seen a picture of Jan on his website, in real life he looked younger, more vulnerable. Such was my first impression. For some reason I had expected a very tall man, two meters tall. Probably an interesting projection on my part.

The participants arrived. The workshop started at ten. We were sitting in a circle under the beams. Dimmed lights, soft music playing in the background. Ten persons gathered together to share this time. Jan started off by welcoming us. He was soft spoken, looking around the circle with attentive eyes, modest, humble and full of respect. The language spoken was English, since the party was an international one.

I noticed how safe I felt in this group. Of course this was a group of people having a similar intention, and also mostly the same educational background. Most of the participants had studied at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing or were in the process of studying at the school. All were healers. As for me, I am an art therapist, somehow this did not bother me, since I had been working with Jan’s book intensely. In any case I had studied it analytically. So probably the combination of intention, background, Jan’s presence and maybe even the first snow of the season which was silently falling down in the background conspired to create this setting of silent intent. An intense presence could be felt in the room.

Jan started off with a round of presenting oneself, by telling us about his background in healing and Tibetan Buddhism, and his study of family constellations. He explained to us that all healing work starts off from one basic attitude: mindfulness.

The word mindfulness to Jan means fundamental attention. An open attitude, an attitude we adopt when we start learning something new, known as beginners mind. This attitude is one we usually loose fairly quickly once we start learning, however according to Jan we should try to adopt it over and over again. Each second of the day we can look at things with this beginners mind. All we perceive and everything that we experience can be looked at from this viewpoint of curiosity and intrigue. An attitude which is totally open. The exact opposite of the continuous search for affirmation of the known. Jan encouraged us to keep experiencing, to observe, to not judge, simply to feel, it was alright to put words to an experience but without judgment. The words coming to me while every member of the group took their turn introducing themselves were: silence, awareness, presence and safety.

Jan explained that when one is mindful, presence can manifest itself. Presence is omniscient however it can only be observed when one is practising mindfulness. According to Jan the quality of authentic presence alone is often sufficient to bring about healing. While Jan was speaking a deep feeling of awe welled up in me.

The weekend was going to be an organic flow in which Jan equally would be practising beginners mind. Exercises were being alternated by moments of reflection, sharing, theory and pauses. The very first exercise was meant to open up the chakras, energy channels, and awaken the subtle bodies. An exercise that was called Integral Presence. Jan guided us through the exercise which reminded me of a mindfulness meditation. However the goal was not to enter too deep into a meditative mood, but rather to stay alert and observe everything that was arising in our consciousness. Fully alert at every level: physical, mental, and energetic. Jan explained: ‘The chakras are not meant to store energy, rather they should transport the energy flow freely, even digest energy.’ We were being coached into an open, alert and present state of awareness.

For years I have been running meditation courses, reading extensively about spirituality, always keen on personal development. The silent awareness of presence as a direct experience had given my life a totally new direction. However since I do not have great expertise on the chakras, and on how to make the energy flow as I am not a healer, I had no point of reference for my experiences. The only thing that was left for me to do was living the experience and be curious.

As from the first exercise onwards, something occurred to me I had never experienced before. In spite of all the meditations and the times I had spent with magnetisers, I had never before felt the stream of energy so clearly as now whilst doing these exercises. During the first one, we were taught to keep our backs as straight as possible, in order for the spine to be able to carry our bodies without any difficulty. A stream of energy was flowing through my entire body. Especially when we arrived at the upper chakras, I felt suddenly very shaky and dizzy, even an upcoming rush of sickness went through my body. It felt as if my awareness was expanding, which was a very pleasant and light feeling, and even though this feeling was also very light and tingly in my body, this surge of nausea occurred at the same time. This made me start. But luckily we had just come to the end of the exercise.

Each time we finished an exercise we were encouraged to jot down our experiences. The writing down of an experience, according to Jan, helps us anchor the experience, whereas the sharing of it with the right recipient within the right context will give us a feeling of self-empowerment. The sharing and being mindfully received in a group will generate a feeling of group empowerment.

When it was my turn to share, I described the special experience of expansion I had felt, but also the fear on feeling this physical reaction. Jan advised me to move a little bit slower and to ground the first chakra more.

We did another exercise and after sharing it we took a break. The feeling of mutual trust had been strong right from the start in the group. Emotions had come up and it was ok to feel them. Jan asked: ‘Could you identify the emotion which surges in you, and can you allow it to be there, welcoming it?’ He pointed out that it was better to not jump to conclusions, since this would block the mindfulness. ‘Don’t ask yourself why. Why is often a form of self-defence. Not the need, but the haste to understand things and the impatience for insights often is a defence against the deeper feelings and confronting true reality. Compulsively asking why, as opposed to calm mindfulness, is nothing less than rationalising feelings away in order to repress them.’

Thus we got to the first part of theory. Since the theme of the workshop was Mindful Relating, it was time to disclose some of the mechanics of how interactions between people occur by way of chakra cords. According to Jan the chakras are made up out of four dimensions.

The centre of the chakra is the divine core, at this level of being there is no activity. This is the level of the absolute, it is total presence, the perfect template. It’s a state of non-doing. Around this core we find the second layer which is the level of spirit. This level contains activity. Both the first and the second levels are totally pure and perfect, cause of peace, harmony and utter fulfilment. The third layer is the layer of the soul. This level can open the doorway for our personality to the deeper experience of authentic love as embodied by the divine core and expressed through the spirit level. It can happen when at the soul level a desire for connection, and unity with the divine is expressed. Through the level of the soul we belong to a family, a group, an organisation, a nation, humanity or a species. This level is less ego-based than the fourth level, the outer layer. The soul is filled with loyalty towards groups, e.g. the school, the nanny, the professor that tutored us, the company we worked 20 years for, a religion we adopt, etc. When the soul feels a desire for unity with the divine core, a positive friction occurs between the soul and the core level of the chakra. This friction gives rise to the perfect activity, love, strength and wisdom at the spirit level of the chakra.

Then at the most superficial level we find the dimension of personality or ego. The word superficial does not imply at all that this dimension is negative or inferior by nature. Superficial means here literally ‘more to the surface’, more directed to the external and material reality. This layer is based on needs, one finds erotic attraction as well at this level. All of which is not negative. The attention and love we invest at this level usually are being inspired by needs. To the degree that the ego is inspired by true needs, the ego will be in service of fulfilment and an ever-deepening sense of peace and well-being. To the degree the personality is confused and disconnected from the deeper levels, it will pursue unreal needs, which is source of conflict, pain and exhaustion.

How could the personality level be inferior since the three deeper layers are totally dependant on this superficial layer as a vehicle of expression in the social and material world? The development of a healthy personality is not only essential for the survival of human beings; at best it becomes a portal to enter a deeper love and order, which we find at level of the soul.

There we may or may not experience the desire for a union with others and/or the divine. The soul[1] level is not free from afflictions, but it gravitates naturally towards the divine core. As explained earlier the friction between the soul’s longing and the divine core gives cause to the spirit activity that gradually will transform the soul and personality into a coherent and harmonious unity.

And in what way can we stimulate this development and enhance it? Through the practise of Integral Presence, beginning with mindfulness, curiosity, being open and practising beginners mind. The core and spirit levels of the chakra are always in the now. The other two levels are filled with memories and hopes. In the beginning the ego level will want to control the core level: ‘Life give me this, God give me that’, but as soon as we gain maturity and we can let go of this need for control, our ‘shopping list’ will transform and we will rather ask for things like: ‘Please inspire me, guide me, show me the way’. Then our quest for the divine will be an authentic one, which will lead us to the experience of the divine within.

The role of the mindful relating facilitator is that of a guide for the client towards their inner core, to the deepest level one of their chakras. In order to achieve this we will have to develop a thing called tough love. This means that we refuse to let our clients to root their relational cords into our own core level of our chakras, in stead of their owns. On the contrary, each person will have to discover their own with the full effort and price it requires. The facilitator is there for the client, supporting them, witnesses and stays present with their struggles and frustrations, but does not take over. This is the difficult line between empowerment and making someone dependant. You show them you are present, you show them your empathy, you show them that you trust the core and spirit of the client and that they can manage. Tough love is: “I am here for you, but I won’t do the work for you. I maintain a healthy boundary so my client will not become dependant on me.” However it is reasonable to expect that the client will do anything using all their defence mechanisms to manipulate the facilitator, ranging from intimidating anger to the sweetest seduction and anything in between. But the facilitator has to relentlessly refuse all these defence mechanisms while at the same time being available for the client, receiving them, supporting them to go deeper within.

This goes for all seven chakras with their own specific level of psychological functioning. It is of the utmost importance not to get too intimate with the client, so as to not become more important to them than their own partner, parents, children, and other most significant relationships, since this will disrupt or even destroy the possibility of improvement for those relationships. It is an extremely delicate skill to become close enough with your clients to have a deepening and improving effect, without taking over any of the clients relationships.

Jan then covers Bert Hellinger’s model. In family constellations he speaks of three laws regarding the order of love.

In this case the theory precedes the exercise. After this moment of teaching we are now switching to a physical moment of relaxation. We are spoiled by getting an introduction in Thai massage by Antonella. I am so lucky as to get a back massage and surrender to the experience. A lovely finish of this day filled with energy.

The next morning starts with a healing session regarding relational cords between parents and grand parents. This is the exercise which follows the introduction given to us the preceding late afternoon. What follows is an exercise which takes us to a deep energetic level. During the exercise I feel the subtle energies, gaining insights and feeling awe and a feeling of great responsibility, yet also of great joy. Telling me it’s now my time to live my live in the bloodline of my family without having to be apologetic about my being there. A very powerful insight. I feel joy bubbling up inside me, a beautiful moment.

At the end of the morning we get a healing session. Half of the group will receive a healing while the other half gives. In the afternoon we will switch turns. Since I will not be able to stay the afternoon, I am the one being given a healing. The experience I live during this healing session is totally new to me. Since I had never had a chakra healing session before, or at least not in this way, I had no idea what to expect. I just opened myself up to the experience and surrendered. I had no thoughts about it, no ideas. At first the healer was standing at my feet. She touched them. I did not feel anything in particular except that my feet were cold. She continued touching some points on my body. I think I understood the word for this part to be ‘calibration’, tuning in to the body I assumed. After this initial preparation, she lifted her hands and did not touch my body again. She started her work on the chakras. It was as if an enormous field of light around me was being zipped open. It’s quite hard to render into words while doing justice to the experience. The feeling was eerie, light, sparkling, but at some point I experienced oppression in my head, tension in my sixth chakra and also in the seventh. However this time I was able to prevent a feeling of nausea by breathing deeply. A couple of times I heard Jan coming over to the healer and whispering to her, but I could not make out what he said. After the healing was finished I carefully sat up and was quite dazed. As you may well suspect, as a professional writer, there is a thing that causes me no difficulty in life, namely describing things. Yet after this healing, I was left speechless. I looked the healer in the face and she was radiating with joy. Then she proceeded to thank me!! I was amazed since it was obviously down to me to thank her profusely for this beautiful gift.

Since I had to attend another meeting, I could not stay for lunch, nor to discuss the experience. However I suspect the universe meant it to be like this for me. I needed time to recover. This I could do whilst driving. My drive was nearly an hour. It was beneficial to me to spend that moment in silence. This prevented me as well from burying the experience in words and asking all kinds of questions about the why and how and what does all this mean.

It goes without saying that these questions popped up in my mind the next day, however by that time the experience had been anchored.

In conclusion I want to say that this weekend has brought me so much more than I had ever expected. Something was unleashed in me which made my meditation this morning so easy and again this expanded energy field was around me, feeling light and beautiful. The most beautiful thing however was when I was working with a client this morning. Since she was very restless I guided her through a relaxing visualisation. The wondrous thing was that the light I had experienced yesterday during the workshop seemed to arrive out of nowhere and breezed over and through us. It was easier for me to ground myself and I felt this subtle but very present energy running though my chakras. The presence was also there. The relational cords between us helped her relax and ground as well.

It is impossible to be exhaustive about the experiences of the past weekend workshop. The article would become too lengthy.

Just one thing remains to be said: a massive thank you to Jan Janssen!

Martine Clausen, 1st December 2010

[1] The meaning of the word ‘soul’ as it is used in the Mindful Relating context has more evolved from the Christian – Judaïca sense of the word, then as it is used in the English translations of Indian yoga scriptures, where the word ‘soul’ is sometimes used as a translation for ‘purusha’, ‘drasthuh’ or ‘ishvara’. These latter words would correspond more with the ‘divine core’ in the Mindful Relating model.

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