in: Intentional Living

Mindfulness Goes to the Movies

Amy Angelilli

Mindfulness and movie-watching might not seem like they go hand in hand, but the movie-going experience has much more to offer us than escapism and popcorn.


As movie watching has changed over the years, we tend to take the art of film for granted. When someone asks what we’ve done over the weekend and the reply is, “I watched a movie,” that’s not usually much of an event. It’s our “go to” entertainment.

However, think about being in a movie theater and all the implications around it …

You’re there in the dark in front of a big screen, maybe with popcorn. You’re fully dressed and you can’t pause the movie to run to the refrigerator or the bathroom. Instead, you’re glued to your seat, drawn into the action on the screen. You’ve also bonded with the other people in the theater for having shared the experience and maybe, just maybe, you’ve been changed as a result of what’s happening on the screen.

We are all the stars of our own lives—perhaps even the heroes. As we have the raw experience of watching other heroes via films we often have strong emotional reactions even if what we’re seeing is fiction. The purpose of any story—especially one on the big screen—is to bring the audience into the story’s world. This investment by the viewer makes the story’s characters come to life and is the ultimate payoff for the film.

Consider movie-going as transformational entertainment. As the characters transform through the film, so does the viewer as that transformation rubs off on the audience. The fictional characters change as do the real people watching. By the end, both sets of people have been affected and those in “real life” leave the theater forever-changed. You and I aren’t the same people leaving the theater, as we were when we arrived.

Movies have the power to transform consciousness.

Think about that especially in terms of movies you grew up with. For me, I think about the ‘80s and the films that touched me as a teenager. One of everyone’s favorites is the cult comedy classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris Bueller is the embodiment of living in the moment. The quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” epitomizes core concepts of mindful living.

Another classic ‘80s favorite that is more transformational than many of us realize is The Karate Kid. The hero, Daniel, is reluctant throughout the majority of the movie until he has a moment of clarity at the end. Here, he becomes aware of the present moment, stands in the pose, and strikes his adversary in the face, winning the tournament.

And let’s not forget the John Hughes classic, The Breakfast Club—one of my all time favorite films. The film begins with teenage stereotypes in Saturday detention and ends when detention wraps up. However, the transformation each character goes through during that two-hour period is amazing. By tapping into their true selves and leaving the stereotypes aside, the teenagers are able to connect in an unlikely place with students they’d never mix with on a regular school day.

The Mindful Living Network is putting mindful entertainment front and center. According to its website, the goal is “to provide rich, original content through multiple platforms, mindful columnists and a mindful community, online and local.” Their television platform showcases real life and real people. “The original programming is powered by real life content and infused with uniquely interactive shows-created by viewers, for viewers.”  The approach is to put mindfulness in your face through real people’s lives and the issues in their lives. To me, it’s another tool to put in our boxes to help us in our mindfulness journeys. But, is it necessary? 

Maybe. Maybe, not.

Think about the films that have touched you over the years. Think about the characters on the TV shows that you’ve followed over time.

Cristina, one of the original characters on the long running hospital drama, Grey’s Anatomy, has finally moved on. I just watched the season finale before sitting down to type this to see how they’d wrap things up—for her and for us. While I won’t tell you in case you haven’t watched it yet, I will say that her character was touched and then grew and evolved. The Cristina we are left with is a better version of the one we were introduced to at the show’s start however many years ago. And isn’t that what mindfulness is truly all about? Being the best you can be?

I’d say so. 

I invite you to think about the films and television shows that have touched you. Take a few minutes to see how the characters evolved and how you’ve evolved from spending time with them.

Mindfulness really is only a click away; so the next time someone asks what you did over the weekend, tell them you went to the movies, but then smile to yourself knowing that you had an experience that was way deeper than just being entertained for a few hours.

[image: via rpb1001 on flickr]

About the Author:

Amy Angelilli Amy Angelilli

Amy Angelilli: Chief Adventure Officer – The Adventure Project Amy Angelilli’s own adventure project began when she turned 40 while on safari in South Africa. Realizing she had veered off the path of her “right life,” she returned determined to make major changes both personally and professionally. In the first half of 2012, she left her relationship, her house and her job. In the second half of 2012, she married the love of her life–one year to the day she unveiled an authentic, heartfelt profile on a dating website. Her latest creation is The Adventure Project, which offers relationship, life and travel adventures to the Every Person via play. When not playing or navigating adventures, she can be found enjoying meaningful travel, restorative yoga or improvisational theater. Her greatest performance is as herself in “It’s All About Amy”–the unscripted story of her life. She also created and produced the theater experience “3 Blind Dates”–Denver’s only unscripted romantic comedy that showcases the phenomenon of modern dating. Follow her authentic adventures on twitter or via her blog and you just might find your own adventure!

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