Examples of Mindfulness in Movies

Movies are one of the most powerful mediums of entertainment available. They convey stories using visuals, music, emotion, mis en scene, and a host of other creative methods.  We tend to learn much from the stories that we see on the screen, and often take away much more than is on the surface.

They also help us to exist in the present moment.  By watching movies, we temporarily escape reality and focus solely on the stories.  This is present moment awareness to a certain degree.

Therefore, I would like to use this page to detail some movies that I feel allow us to walk away feeling empowered emotionally and help us to become more mindful and overall better people in our everyday lives.  Some will be obvious, and others not so.  These movies deal with the protagonist becoming aware of the present moment, and through that, gaining the power to overcome their most heated obstacles.

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Without further ado, here are some examples of mindfulness in movies.

Inside-Out

Inside-Out is an animated movie by Disney-Pixar that follows the life of an eleven year old girl named Riley.  Most of the movie takes place inside her head as personified emotions.  Each emotion is a character.  There’s the main character Joy, and supporting characters Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

Each time something of value in Riley’s life happens, a memory is created, and colored with the dominant emotion of that memory.  Most memories, including the “core memories”, which are the most important ones in her life, are colored with Joy, until she and her family move from the Midwest to San Francisco.  That’s when the drama really picks up.

When Riley begins her new school, she’s telling the class about her life in the Midwest, and the character Sadness starts playing with the memories, coloring them from Joy to Sad.  Without ruining anything, this prompts Joy and Sadness to get sucked into the memory banks, and leaves behind Anger, Fear, and Disgust to run Riley’s mind.  Things go crazy from there.

This movie is mindfulness personified.  It characterizes whet goes on in our heads from moment to moment, and does a pretty amazing job of illustrating our thoughts and emotions.  I find that watching this film can do WONDERS for your own life and mindfulness practice.  Watch it and see what I mean.

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Peaceful Warrior

This is by and large a movie solely about living in the present moment.  The story follows a gymnast who meets a strange character names Socrates who changes his entire perspective on life.  The main character is Dan Millman, who wrote the original book “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”.  I don’t want to ruin too much of the story, suffice to say that the tagline for the film is “There are no ordinary moments”.

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The Lord of the Rings

There are so many masked references to the present moment in this trilogy that I don’t even know where to begin. Frodo is mindful of the effect of the ring on him, although loses the mindfulness from time to time.  Sam is a rock who is ever mindful of his situation. Gollum…no need to explain there.  He could use some present moment living to lessen the effect of the ring on himself. Saruman and Wormtail fall victim to their own obsessions and could use some present moment awareness.  Try watching it again mindfully and it’s a whole different experience.

The Star Wars Epic

The Jedi live and operate in the present moment  Watch when QuiGon Ginn tells Obi Wan to be mindful in the opening of The Phantom Menace.  He tells Obi Wan to keep his thoughts here and now where they belong, and never lose sight of the present moment.  Later on, before the pod race, he tells Anakin that his focus determines his reality, that focus comes directly from the present moment.

In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan is constantly reprimanding Anakin for not being in the present moment, and getting carried away with emotion.

In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin falls because he loses sight of the present moment and gets lost in worry about a possible future.  He becomes completely lost in the dark side of the force.  Watch to see how different this movie would have been if he’d just stayed in the present moment. (and if there was more of a story there hehehe)

A New Hope is filled with Luke learning about the force from Obi-Wan.  “Use the force Luke…let go….Luke”  Mindfulness allowed him access to the present moment, which allowed him access to the force, and allowed him to kill thousands of people in one shot (ok…ok…cheap shot there lol)

Empire Strikes Back has the entire training on Dagoba, and especially the cave sequence where Luke brings his fear into the cave and sees himself as Darth Vader.  He lost awareness of the present moment and was overcome with fear and vengeance.

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Return of the Jedi has the entire scene with the Emperor trying to seduce Luke.  It doesn’t work because Luke stays centered until the end, where he lashes out in anger and almost kills his father.  But then Vader regains his humanity and saves his son.

The Matrix

You can’t bend a spoon outside of the present moment, nor can you see the matrix for what it is.

The Karate Kid

Daniel is very reluctant throughout the entire movie until he has a moment of clarity at the end where he becomes aware of the present moment, stands in the pose, and strikes Johnny in the face, winning the tournament.

Batman Begins

Watch the entire training with Bruce Wayne by Ra’s Al Ghul.  It’s ninja, and not possible without learning to be mindfully aware of the present moment.

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Meetings With Remarkable Men

Asian mystic…dance…meditation….nuff said.

Avatar

This one is a bit loose as I think the esoteric could have been infused more into the story.  However, the idea of a universal consciousness of the planet, borrowing heavily from the “Gaia” principle and the state of mind of the Navi helped that movie make my list.

Harry Potter

This, like Avatar, has a loose connection.  I refer to whenever Harry uses the Patronus charm.  In order to summon the patronus, Harry bust become extremely mindful.

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This movie is classic mindfulness, hidden behind a cult classic comedy. Ferris Bueller is the embodiment of living in the moment, while Cameron is stuck as a prisoner in his own mind.  The quote, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” epitomizes some core tenants of mindful practice.

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Man of Steel

There’s a couple of scenes in this film that exemplify the benefits of mindfulness.

The first in when Clark is a little boy and he’s sitting in class.  The teacher calls on him and he begins to see through her body, then looks around and can see through everyone else’s bodies as well.  Muscles, skeleton, organs, etc…

He gets scared and runs off into a closet to hide.

Martha Kent comes into the school and sits by the door as Clark is cowering in the closet.  She talks him out by telling him to focus on her voice and do some visualization.  This works, and Clark comes out of the closet.

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The second scene is more profound.  This is the scene where General Zod takes off his helmet and experiences a rush of sensory overload.  All of his super-sensory abilities appear at once, completely overwhelming him.  He can’t fight and is in extreme pain. Superman tells him that his parents taught him to focus and block that stuff out.

The third time is when General Zod uses his skill to focus and he goes from overload to seeing just what he wants to see.  This is probably the most profound mindful scene in the whole film.  It is pretty impressive and really shows the power of mindfulness without saying that it’s mindful haha.

More to come, so bookmark this page!

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2 thoughts on “Examples of Mindfulness In Movies

  1. I think “The Last Samurai” and “About time” Have some mindfulness in them.

    The “no mind” scene and in “About Time” we can find “The secret formula to happiness”

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