Through this short blog, I would like to introduce you to a group of films that I watch as a part of my spiritual practice. I have been watching these films for over a decade, and find that they are some of the most powerful catalysts for spiritual cultivation, especially in the context of social and ecological transformation....The power of these films is that they develop certain observational and empathetic qualities that strengthen my personal and professional commitments while enhancing my capacity to respond to planetary suffering. Therefore, I use them as objects of spiritual guidance.
There’s a scene in the movie Garden State where Natalie Portman’s character exclaims, “You’re really in it” as Zach Braff portrays someone beginning to feel more sentient coming out of a long-term, lithium-induced haze. This phrase, to me, serves as enthusiastic recognition of someone working the space between the anxiety of existence and sheer exhilaration of being alive.
In my PhD capstone methods course, I was introduced to photovoice, a visual research methodology that is used to visually capture another’s perspective by commissioning individuals to go out and capture their own lives in a meaningful, visual way. Photovoice is an emancipatory method at its roots, used to help highlight the voices of those who are often silenced in society—victims of domestic violence (Frohmann, 2005), those with a disability (Thoutenhoofd, 1997), people of color (Douglas, 1998), LGBTQ-identified individuals (Santurri, 2014), the elderly (Baker & Wang, 2006), and more.
Watch Professor Rhonda Magee's powerful keynote talk at the "Meeting the World" conference hosted by The Center for Mindfulness in the Spring, 2015. In her presentation, she both leads us through practices to sit with discomfort and find some grounding and explains why these practices are so critical to both dismantling systems of oppression and healing from them.