Movie review: Inside Out

Movie Inside OutHave you seen the new movie, “Inside Out“?  If not, I highly recommend it. As many of the movie critics say, it’s much more than a kids’ movie. Honestly, it’s probably not even that entertaining for kids under age 6 or 7 as it is somewhat slow moving in the beginning while they establish the assumptions that they’ll use for the workings of the human mind and our emotions.

One of the reasons why this film is so delightful is that it brings us face-to-face with the complicated cast of characters (our emotions) that are busy formulating our impressions of the world and how we interact with it. The movie doesn’t shy away from the complexity of our emotions, our personality, and how a significant event in our lives (in this case, moving to a new city and leaving one’s friends) can chip away at the core parts of who we are and make some emotions, that previously were playing minor roles, major characters in our life. All of this can lead us to act in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways that can lead to a turn point or rebuilding of our core selves.

At the beginning of the film, we are entertained by the energetic and, literally, glowing, “Joy.” She is clearly in control of the emotional and mental life of Riley, the 11 year old girl who is experiencing this dance of emotions, mental development, and the upheavals of moving to a new city. Joy oversees command central and makes sure things run in a largely positive manner, including making sure each day ends in a joyful moment.

I found Joy to be a happiness tyrant who belittles Sadness and dismisses Fear to the point where I felt bad for them and wanted her to treat them better — making sure they are heard (and felt!). One example of Joy’s over-the-top approach is when Sadness touches a core memory and turns it from the glowing gold of a joy memory to the blue of a sad memory. Joy approaches this as a tragic event.  Though as the story unfolds, Joy learns the value of Sadness.  Indeed, one of the beautiful, yet subtle, messages of the movie, from my perspective, is that Joy and Sadness are always together.  They go hand-in-hand in the movie and in our lives. It’s not Joy OR Sadness.  It’s really Joy AND Sadness.

Sadness also demonstrates her value when she helps a despondent, Bing Bong (Riley’s childhood imaginary friend). Bing Bong is filled with sadness and cannot carry-on with his task. Joy is beside herself about what to do. The situation is resolved when Sadness sits down next to Bing Bong and simply listens to him and what he is thinking and feeling. After she does this Bing Bong is ready to continue on his way. Joy is full of wonder about how Sadness did that, and Sadness shrugs and says, “I just listened to him.” What a great example of how the simple act of listening and being with our sadness can have such a profound impact on how we’re able to act in the world.

Another delightful aspect of this film comes at the end when Riley is 12 years old and the inner workings of her mind and the control console are far more complex than they were a year before. I think this is a wonderful representation of the growing complexity of the human mind and our emotional life as we develop from childhood to adolescence. It also seems to make room for the many other emotions that we experience beyond the five (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) represented in the movie.

I hope you’ll have the chance to see the movie, “Inside Out.” If you do, make sure you bring a hankie or two.

Using Reiki for Working with Grief


When we are faced with a significant loss in our life we want the pain to just go away. Instead of light we often feel engulfed in darkness and unable to make even the simplest decisions. One of the great (and painful) ironies, of the dark emotion known as grief, is that ignoring it and shunning it — over the long run — only makes it grow. When we can sit with our grief and journey with it, we experience a shift that allows us to see light again and live our lives.

Reiki is not a cure all

Sometimes people ask me if Reiki will make grief go away. Unfortunately, Reiki is not a cure-all. However, it is an excellent tool for self-care whether you are a Reiki practitioner or not. By receiving Reiki we can experience deep peace that helps us to exist with our pain. For some people when they experience a Reiki session while they are grieving, they feel a sense of lightness throughout their body afterwards. Some clients have reported a feeling of openness in their chest after receiving Reiki. They say that though the grief is not gone, it seems easier to face it and move through their day.

Keep the light flowing

One client, her name is Holly, told me that the pain of her father’s death seemed to haunt her every step.* She said one day she passed by a mirror and noticed how her shoulders were slouched forward as if she were protecting her heart. After receiving a Reiki session, she said that her heart felt lighter and more open. After a series of sessions she noted that her posture had improved and she said, “There’s a spring in my step again. Reiki didn’t make the grief go away, but it seemed to bring back the light. So now I’m living with lightness and grief.” Holly felt this was a real improvement in her life and she continues to receive Reiki periodically to “keep the light flowing.”

Living in the “and” space

Lightness and grief — this is sometimes called, “living in the ‘and’ space.” This is important when working with grief because when we are so hurt by our loss we feel as if we can never love again. However, when we think of it as an “and” — that is, we love AND we grieve — or, we grieve because we love. If we didn’t love, then there would be no grief; but because we love, we grieve when there is loss. So rather than making grief go away, Reiki reopens ones heart to the love, a sense of wonder, and curiosity about this crazy, and often sad, life that we live.

You are not alone

Another aspect of grief is the profound loneliness that we often feel. Isolation from others exacerbates our grief. When we’re able to share our story with another person, we often feel a lifting of the burden that we are carrying. I encourage you to find that person to talk to. That person may not be within your family or current circle of friends and that’s ok. What’s important is to find someone who will listen and support you. Someone who will help you feel that you can open your heart to love again and journey with love AND grief.

What is your experience with grief? What have you found helpful in this journey?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


*Names are changed to protect each client’s privacy.