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Film Review: The Mindfulness Movement

by Rob BeemerMangurama
reviewed by Bilge Ebiri
Practice
Mindfulness Movie

There have been lots of documentaries in recent years about various aspects of mindfulness, but Rob Beemer’s The Mindfulness Movement seeks to be a total guide to the many diverse meanings and understandings of the idea. It’s structured around four individuals— singer Jewel, TV journalist Dan Harris, author Sharon Salzberg, and former college basketball player George Mumford— each of whom discovered that meditating intently on the present moment allows them to overcome their own traumas, troubles, and addictions, and who have now become evangelists for the practice.

As he tells their stories, Beemer also threads in various organizations and individuals that are seeking to spread mindfulness in different sectors of society. (Among the interviewees is Deepak Chopra, who helped produce the film.) Can meditation help prisoners find peace? Can it help heal the post-trau- matic stress of veterans? The evidence is striking in many cases, and it’s fascinating to see so many of our most ossified institutions introduced to bold new ideas.

As a film, The Mindfulness Movement is engaging, although it can get repetitive and, at times, quite cluttered. (Good luck keep- ing track of all the individuals and groups featured in the movie.) Of course, that’s partly the idea: As the film reminds us over and over again (often through clips of news reports), mindfulness is growing all over the country as a philosophy and a practice. And while the documentary can sometimes feel like an exceptionally well-made infomercial, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Beemer understands that the eloquence of the individuals he speaks to, and the compelling stories they have to tell, are the key to making mindfulness a real option for ordinary people in their extraordinary lives. This film can be a valuable tool for anyone looking to learn more about it. 

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