For Survivors and Volunteers - Dealing with Difficult Memories

By TAGAdvocacy, Tuesday, February 27 2018

Survivors who speak to TAG have been through intense experiences of war and mass atrocities. Volunteers who interview survivors are exposed, even if vicariously, to the intense situations experienced by the survivors. So we recommend some techniques to clear those memories, both for survivors and our volunteers who work with them. Here is one that we have used for several years, that is based on a Hindu/Saivite practice (tantra) called Vasana Daha Tantra. 

Based on feedback we thought this technique would be useful to people outside TAG as well. Thanks to Jim Feketa for help with writing up the description of this technique as we use it.

"Clearing A Difficult Experience: Write down (by hand with pen and paper, not typed) your memory and any feelings associated with it, whatever you remember and feel… then light a Fire, and simply burn the paper. It helps to use the out-breath, when you burn the paper.. let it go.. let your memories and emotions simply flow out onto the paper and allow the fire to consume them.
Some memories are buried deep in the subconscious and this process will bring them to the surface so repeat until the further memories stop flowing. What is left in the mind should be the memory without the emotional content attached to it. The thoughts and memories around that situation should therefore feel 'lighter' or 'weightless'. Repeat the exercise until you notice a difference. 
Some variations: It is possible to shred the paper instead of burning it, but we find this is not as effective. We think the subconscious understands the symbolism of visibly burning the paper better than it understands shredding. Journalling is a popular modern technique. Again we think that journalling can be done in parallel and for other purposes, for the purpose of clearing it is important to physically get rid of the paper after writing down the experiences either by burning or by shredding. "