After returning from Peru in the spring of last year I underwent an unusual form of healing. It was a long and guided process that was tailor made for me and involved one of my favourite activities: watching movies. Initially upon my return from Peru I participated in what is called ‘The Presence Process’ as I had been guided to do in one of my Ayhuasca sessions but after that, the guidance continued and I have been continuing on in this guided way ever since. While in Peru, experiencing group Ayahuasca ceremonies, like many others, I was witness to some outpouring of emotion by various members in the group as part of their healing process. I was surprised to find that only one night in the entire two weeks did I find myself becoming emotional and it was fairly mild. After returning home and finding that I was being guided to do specific things to continue my unique healing process, I soon came to understand that there would be many opportunities for me to pour out my emotions.
One of the most consistent ways that I engage in this emotional healing is through film. It’s hard to tell at this point what I find more surprising, the guidance or the fact that watching films has become an act of healing for me. I think this pronounced internal guidance I’m receiving tops the list of surprising things hands down but it has become so much a part of everyday life for me that I begin to put it down to the regular internal dialogue that I’ve always had and that most people have. The difference is that my internal dialogue was never so wise, instructive, healthy or supportive. Shortly after completing the ‘presence process’ which was a revelation in itself, I was guided to watch certain movies. The first such instruction came to me while at home going about some regular tasks and the movie title would not leave my head. It was reinforced over and over. It was a film I didn’t really want to watch which helped me to accept that this was more than just some kind of preoccupation I was having. I watched the movie and found that I was very emotional during certain parts of it. It was not a normal experience. Of course I had been emotional during movies before but not on this scale and not in this way. During this movie there were parts that struck me in such a profound way and my response was immediate. Through these certain parts of the story, I was made to understand the message that was being communicated to me. There were both messages and lessons that formed an important part of my healing.
This form of healing continued and I was guided to watch other movies. Sometimes through a certain part of a film or during an entire film I was made to see certain parts of my behaviour that was not impressive to say the least. This is a common phenomenon when working with plant medicines so it was apparent to me that this medicine was still having an effect. This has been known to happen but everyone’s experience of it is different. There were also many other kinds of insight I received through this form of healing. I was made to see certain events in my life in ways that changed my perspective and gave me a better understanding of what I had experienced and how it had affected me. Other times I was given greater lessons about humanity. Some of these lessons we all know theoretically: the tragedy of how we hurt one another and how this is perpetuated generation after generation. We do this because we’re unaware of things we carry inside of us that cause harmful behaviour which is difficult for us to see from our own standpoint – unless we make a concerted effort to do so that is.
This lesson is one of the most important ones because it’s so universal. We hear it and it makes sense but somehow these lessons for me took on a whole new depth when watching these movies. It was something I had agreed to do for the purpose of healing and this is what took it beyond the usual movie watching experience. The movies became a tool or a vehicle to reach me and they did with tremendous impact. It’s really quite startling the difference between just passively watching a movie (as I had done so many times before) and being guided to watch one for the purpose of healing. I could watch the same movie an hour, a day or a week later and have no reaction at all. The agreement I made each time pertained to a specific movie to be watched with an intention of healing at a particular time in my life. This combination was what seemed to bring about this extraordinary experience.
The messages I receive in this way rarely have anything to do with the subject matter of the film. Sometimes the subject is used to convey certain concepts but mostly it’s the mystifying power of stories themselves that have been traditionally used to convey ideas, concepts and lessons for centuries. Sometimes an actual sentence will stand out in a way that I know it’s meant for me. It’s very clear and the messages are always full of wisdom, compassion and insight. It’s been such a fascinating experience and the best part is that after I commit to watching the film that has come up for me, I feel so much better afterwards. There is a distinct difference between this and having a good cry at a movie. With every tear, something within me changes and afterwards the feeling of release is unmistakable. This change happens on a deep level and I feel lighter. Through this process I’m often relieved of something that had been dogging me for a very long time – an emotional or psychological weight has been lifted. This is often in stark contrast to the way I feel beforehand.
I’ve come to refer to this process as emotional detox. I do this because the build up to the healing itself is a feeling of emotional toxification. The things inside of me that need to be healed rise within me and it feels awful. Sometimes I need to live with these uncomfortable feelings for what seems like a long period of time before they are relieved through this form of healing. The word uncomfortable is really too mild a word to describe what happens. Sometimes it’s almost unbearable. It varies of course like illness often does from mild to more severe. When it’s severe I pity the people I’m around and try to minimize the casualties in my midst through containment. I try to manage my reactions to things. This is something I agree to as well and it can be quite the challenge. Given how long I’ve been at it, the severity of the build-up has reduced significantly. I still don’t like the feeling of each build-up but I’m reminded of earlier days and know that it’s well worth the progress I’ve made. It seems that this healing happens in stages related to layers of pain that have been lingering deep inside for years. The timing of these healings is still a mystery to me among so many mysteries I will probably never understand.
Some movies I was guided to watch were very hard to get a hold of. They were movies from my childhood – obscure ‘70s movies – but the response once I watched them was so powerful. Other times it was obnoxious ‘80s movies I had no interest in seeing and I really had to muster up some faith to bring myself to watch them. This was especially true because of how miserable I was feeling working up to this point and yet my motivation to relieve these awful feelings always eclipsed my reluctance. No matter how consistently I was healed by this process I questioned it every time. I still do. It’s something I had to get used to. I often laugh about the tenacity of my doubt given the consistently positive results but after a lifetime of believing that this kind of thing is not possible, it’s difficult to shake the part of myself that still doubts. I’ve become accustomed to doubt now and allow it to flow through me without giving it too much energy.
It’s been and continues to be a remarkable experience. I’ve been asked to watch films where I can relate to every character in the film – even the nasty ones and ones I never could have imagined relating to before. It’s been enlightening, astonishing and liberating. It has released me from issues that had been clouding my judgement and holding me back in so many ways. It has alleviated maladies I didn’t even know I had and healed others that I felt were beyond anyone’s powers. It has strengthened my relationships with those closest to me, especially my young son, and has helped me to face things in my life in a more honest and direct way. This has been a result of not only this peculiar movie technique but the constant guidance I’ve received daily. It’s been an extraordinary experience that I doubt words can do justice to but I’m utterly compelled to try.
I’ve always been a questioning sort of person and continue to be although I don’t always get the answers I want. Sometimes I don’t get answers at all but what I get is far more important than that. I get positive change. That’s far more valuable than anything that answers can provide. These changes within me are worth embracing any notions I previously considered to be strange or impossible or flighty (the list goes on). The truth is that I’m not asked to believe anything really. I’m just asked to agree to do certain things to heal. One of the things that I know is part of my healing is to speak and it would be impossible for me not to speak about this inner guidance. I know it’s inside of all of us. It’s a phenomenon that has such possibilities to end suffering and to bring about peace. It has astounding potential and yet it is a very personal and unique experience for everyone. It can’t be bottled or marketed but it can be shared and people can be inspired to pursue their own experience of it in their own way and that’s what I hope to do.