“We say we ‘expire’ with our last breath, so surely we ‘inspire’ with our first breath?”
Vivian McKinnon used every breath she drew on the evening of 26th April – on screen as well as in person – to say something that inspired us all.
Over seventy people came together in the beautiful vintage setting of The Strand Cinema in Belfast to be part of this exclusive screening and panel discussion to explore trauma and the nature of healing. In her thirty-minute film, The Magic Is Within You, Vivian took us from “breakdown to breakthrough”, sharing her personal story with unflinching honesty. She generously shared the experiences in her childhood and adult life which brought her to a “dark, heavy place” in which she became “comfortably numb”.
Discovering floatation helped her to consolidate a softer, kinder approach to herself. She was inspired to open Northern Ireland’s first floatation centre, Hydro-Ease, and became an award-winning trauma therapist, creating the RAFT (Reconnection And Floatation Therapy) programme.
During the post-screening conversation, Vivian told Action Trauma Network Director Karen Hamilton she made the film because of how easily people “make assumptions about people just by looking at them”. The documentary was a way for Vivian to show she has not always been the confident, successful person people see before them, and that she’s living proof that radical healing is possible for everyone.
Vivian’s panel included therapist and addiction expert Emmett Watters, acupuncturist & homeopath Colin Durling, consultant psychiatrist Prof Paul W Miller, and psychologist & researcher Emma Ylitalo-James. Discussions and question responses explored wide-ranging issues, including the potential of psychedelics, addiction in our prison population, post-conflict transformation, and the neurological power of language.
We’ll conclude with an A.H. Almaas quote from Vivian’s film. We have little control over the things which happen to us, particularly at the hands of others. Our pain may be undeserved but could claiming it as “actually yours” be a way to reclaim ownership of our whole selves? By listening to a small voice within, Vivian found compassion for the parts of herself that developed unhealthy ways of coping with trauma; a voice that told her: “the magic is within you”.
“Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They are actually yours. They are specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. You are not going in the right direction unless there is something pricking you in the side, telling you, ‘Look here! This way!’ That part of you loves you so much that it doesn’t want you to lose the chance. It will go to extreme measures to wake you up; it will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen. What else can it do? That is its purpose.”