In these emails over the past two weeks we’ve highlighted films that have taken us to fresh and exotic locations, whisking us off on virtual vacations while stuck indoors. This week, as Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, we’re going to stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy two new films in our Virtual Movie Palace that ask us to be mindful of ourselves in this present moment to better understand how this unique situation is affecting our emotional well-being. From Director Rob Beemer, The Mindfulness Movement is now playing alongside The Motions of Stillness which was filmed, edited, and scored by own Technical Director Jared Van Eck.

The Mindfulness Movement is a documentary that examines the practice of meditation, a lifestyle that is growing and evolving in America and allows participants to find peace by focusing concentration on the present moment to examine, understand, and accept the realities that are within and outside our control. And from this practice, discover “the key to creating a healthier, happier world.” Beemer not only covers the science of meditation, but also traces the rise of this lifestyle in the mainstream consciousness and provides us the personal stories of those it has benefited.

For those that may have preconceived notions about meditation or are skeptical or unaware of how it is practiced, Beemer addresses these ideas at the very top of the film. For many of the subjects, they too had these notions such as journalist Dan Harris who confesses he thought meditation was for “hippies” and “people that listen to Enya.” As Harris had to understand the science before he began following it, the narrative covers this first by showing us precisely how it affects the different parts of our brain.

From there, the stories of our subjects are split into chapters and touch on the variety of benefits meditation allows. The film also features musician Jewel who describes how she found mindfulness at the start of her career, having been homeless as a teenager, and athletic trainer George Mumford explains how he used these techniques to recover from substance abuse, which he then brought to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant at the height of their career. Dan Harris also walks us through a panic attack he had on-air while recording a segment of Good Morning America, and how far he’s come since then to write his own book and produce his own app that guides users through meditation. And that’s just the highlights of the star power in this film. Along the way we also meet others with substance addition, eating disorders, veterans with PTSD, and children at school that find peace from disruptive home lives.

So whether you are someone who practices or someone who doesn’t feel like you’ll benefit, there is something to learn from this documentary and inspirational stories to take to heart. There are even two moments in the film that guide you through the meditation process, and with that in mind, you can take what you learned and utilize it in The Motions of Stillness, a transcendental visually meditative experience filmed entirely on a cold day in Ann Arbor on April 15. In this film Jared Van Eck, explores a downtown nature preserve to capture a moment as we were seeing our normalcy disappear while in isolation, while the ground was being draped in a blanket of snow.

From Jared, he writes “I hope this film brings its viewers a peaceful meditation space. By slowing down shots and blending in an original electronic score with nature’s natural sounds, my aim is to encourage the viewer to equally still them self, focus on deep breaths, and reflect on the simple beauty of falling snow. Many of us are feeling alone and scared right now as we often do when storms, in all their shapes and forms, come our way. In viewing my film, I hope these scenes from an April snowstorm allow you to become mindful of the vulnerability, resilience, and beauty that we see over and over again in our natural environment… things that exists in all of us.”

There is much to gain and learn about ourselves from these films, and we hope that you find the intended benefit in honor of this important month dedicated to mental health. And keep in mind that on Thursday, June 4, we will have a Virtual Q&A with Director Rob Beemer at 7:00 PM via Zoom to discuss The Mindfulness Movement! Register to join the conversation and we hope to see you all very soon.

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