THE THIRD EYE
DR. RACHANA PATNI
Scanning the films scheduled for the last couple of days of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) programme, I caught myself recoiling at one name.I consciously took a moment to notice why I had such an embodied response and sensed immediately that I was protecting myself from watching anything that stirred anxiety in me as a parent. I have the experience of having been ‘had’ by such films before; films which portray the depth of loss with such poignancy and realism that I get stuck with a visceral hollowed-out feeling of dread. I am extremely wary of getting stuck there again.
I have spoken to other parents, who agreed to experiencing a sense of trauma after watching films that depict parental anguish. These engender in us a range of primeval emotions that take a long time to get processed out of our bodies and our minds, and may begin to affect our dreams, nightmares and imaginations. One parent commented that the worst thing is to be stuck in the story, and to then feeling guilty and responsible that we as parents might
actually manifest that loss in our own life through this engaged reaction. It is with some pain that I admit to having been in one such anxiety-guilt loop recently.
In my depth work, with narratives of leaders who confront their thresholds of anxiety and self-acceptance, the syntax and form of therapeutic interactions ensures that I have no idea what we might unearth together. Stories of loss are a universal thread that join us as humans, and in many of our stories, loss is formative of our very essence and existence. Yet we might have different capacities of being immersed in someone else’s story of loss without it depleting our own energetic resources to deal are all familiar with this. Walking into some spaces or interacting with some people may change our vibe, make us feel energetically drained, or make us feel tired and antisocial. We may not even be aware that our change of state has happened. However, when I have watched certain films, I have arrived in a rush and immediately sat down in an immersive way to get into the story.
When it is beautifully filmed, I may become consumed by it, without noticing how the concerns of the film have catapulted themselves to the top of my own list of worries. Those are the times I have been unwittingly had.This
was especially difficult for me when I was pregnant. Watching the suddenness of a scene or the sound effects alone would evoke a range of reactions, and the lingering concern that my child would sense these heightened emotions in my womb.
We cannot protect our children from the world, and we cannot measure, control and predict the world we live in. However, living intentionally is something we do have the capacity for Through prayer, meditation, running, dancing, singing, spending time in nature, working with clay, playing with sand, doodling, painting or journaling we may be able to create our capacity to hold difficult feelings, rather than bottoming out in response to anxiety.
But when art enters our psychic space when we are vulnerable, it may need us to simply take note that we have been had. That act of noticing is radical in itself, and allows us to move on, better resourced. This process helps create another bottom line, while repairing and strengthening our container for our own difficult feelings. Instead of letting it get internalised, it is always better to let it flow out of us, so we do not become the residing space of anxieties as we continue to own our vulnerabilities.
Illustration by Oriana Fernandez. You can follow her work on instagram.com/oriana_fernandez_/
Read more from The Peacock: Issue 6 (2019) here: