by Gary Caganoff
It’s been just over a year now since the first screening of The Garden at the End of the World, and in all the screenings I have attended since there is one main thing that is common with all of them. At the end of the film the audience is literally moved to silence and introspection. The film succeeds in removing, a little or a lot, their world views, for a moment or for days or more. The film cuts through dogmas and stereo-types shaking people towards their core. Watching the film is an emotional experience.After the credits have finished rollingI have found it useful to leave plenty of space for introspection, using the silence to invite people to share what they are feeling – not wanting to bring them into their head too quickly – to support them in their immersion of whatever it is they are feeling . This, for most people, is a very scary thing.
What I wish to say here is that allowing ourselves to feel these deeper darker emotions is good. In fact, very good. Simply because it is the pathway to peace. I can say this with confidence having directly experienced this for myself many times, particularly after returning from Afghanistan – a trip which affected me to the core of my being. Feeling our emotions is almost as important as breathing, and it should be just as easy. Usually we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to ignore and suppress our feelings, simply because they seem too scary to experience. We then carry on with our lives not knowing how it negatively affects our own functioning in the world of relationships.
Burying our feelings in the unconscious throws the psyche out of balance. This inner conflict of the psyche is then projected out into the world, becoming outer conflict: unconscious dislike leads to hate, which leads to rage, which leads to war, killing, genocide, etc.
If we don’t become conscious of, and face our inner conflict, then forgiveness is impossible. (For more on this please read my 2004 essay on shadow and projection.)
From this then, it cannot be stressed how important it is to feel, and be aware of that feeling, so we may take responsibility for our own actions, and begin to forgive one another – and ourselves.
I encourage everyone to feel these emotions as deeply as you will allow yourself. To do this, use the following method to take yourself deeper. It is highly recommended you find a nice safe private space for this, and perhaps seek some empathic support from a friend or therapist if your emotion seems deeper than usual.
- Take a DEEEEP breath in, then on the OUT breath Relaaxxxx.
Do this a few times if you like.
- At the end of each out-breath relax even further. This deeper relaxing leads to letting go, surrendering the mind to the feelings in the body.
- When the feeling of vulnerability arises allow yourself to sit safely in this feeling. With awareness of your vulnerability, know that you are safe.
- If the mind keeps coming in with its fears, simply put it aside for the moment. Know that you are safe.
- Keep breathing, consciously surrendering the body on each out-breath. Whilst doing so move your attention to your torso, and with each out-breath sink into the feeling that is somewhere there – in your stomach, in the middle of your chest or somewhere else in the torso. Simply focus on this one point for some time.
- Use the breath to take yourself deeper.
- Use the breath to keep your mind in the present moment.
- If there is grief, stay with it and express it (i.e.. weep as deeply as you can). If there is anger or frustration or some other feeling or emotion, feel the pain that lies underneath it. Within the pain is the grief. When you are at this level there is always grief, guaranteed. The grief is good. Keep going.
- Use the witness part of your mind, the part that simply watches without judgement, to help you experience the grief. The witness is not involved in the ‘drama’, it just watches with interest. Some call this the observer, or the equanimous mind. The breath is your anchor that holds you in witness.
- When you have experienced the grief as fully as possible and have let the session take its course (i.e. the session wasn’t broken by fear or outside intrusion) then rest in the calm that has been uncovered. Fully experience the stillness and peace that has now replaced the grief.
- Move slowly back into the world from this new place you feel inside.
This whole process can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. Don’t put a time limit on it though. If it is unfinished, which you won’t know if it is or not, the feeling will arise again sometime soon. When it does, simply repeat the process.
If in doubt, seek support from a therapist experienced in energetic processing and deep emotional work.
Besides being a filmmaker I am a Transpersonal Psychotherapist and will soon offer workshops in dealing with the hopelessness and the grief that a lot of people are feeling, whether it be from war, or the state of the environment, or a personal crisis. If you desire please email me your expression of interest.