A single captivating book or film can be a powerful tool for change. When someone feels connected to a storyline or character, it can transform their consciousness to move past the pages and be more open minded to what’s going on in their own life and world. As a medium, books and films require complete attention, honing in on a key aspect of mindfulness, which is living in the present moment. They command us to focus and fully immerse in what we are watching or reading.
So in the spirit of Mindful May, we thought we’d share with you our list of the most phenomenal books and films that not only require your attention, but explore mindfulness and enlightenment as topics.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert
A beautifully written memoir about one woman’s journey from the concrete jungle of New York and confines of work and married life, to her reconnection with what it truly means to live and experience the world. A year-long quest shows her travel from Italy, to India, then finally to Bali, with each place teaching her something new about herself and the world. Riddled with humour and open mindedness in life’s uncertainties, the story shows the protagonist’s courage to adventure into the unknown, where she learnt how truly beautiful life is when all the chaos and materialism is stripped away.
As an autobiography, it’s a deeply personal book. The author taps into how she confronted her own self-image and imperfections, and details how she grew and changed through each experience and adventure, becoming more grounded and fin touch with her sense of happiness. It’s a book that focuses on the benefits of spirituality, cultural immersion, and living in the present moment, with a healthy dose of self love.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
A touching collection of poetry and prose written by author Rupi Kaur, the book is split into four chapters, and journeys through the emotions attached to heartache, pain, love and healing. Reflecting on the rollercoaster of life, Milk and Honey is ultimately about survival and packed with raw emotion .
It delves into the benefits of mindfulness, through presenting the destructiveness of being stuck in the past, and how moving forward in life can release yourself from the burden of old pains. This delicate book is a reminder to be aware of both yourself and your experiences, it inspires the reader to take control of their own feelings and thoughts, inspiring courage for all that life throws at them.
Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka
Cities I’ve Never Lived In is a novel made up of 14 short stories, all about different people with varying lives and problems, but maintains a level of consistency through the narrator’s own story of her recent divorce from the husband she still loves. The story follows her travels after her divorce and her need to find deep connections with those she meets on the road. The reader is brought along on her quest of self discovery, as she finds out what she truly wants out of life. Rich with detail and brimming with atmosphere, the book is beautifully crafted. It deals with heavy themes of loss and heartache. But if you look deep into the heart of it, the book shows how a seemingly lost individual discovered herself again, and found what living a fulfilling life means.
Midnight in Paris
This film centres on a screenwriter in the modern day, who longs for the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1920’s. While on a trip to Paris with his fiancee and some friends, he finds himself magically transported back to the 1920’s every night through sheer force of nostalgia. The notion is playful and charming, yet as the story progresses we begin to realise that for the main character, the idealisation of something that was is a futile way of escaping the present.
Midnight in Paris dances around the notion of mindfulness, by turning the spotlight on the importance of being present in one’s life. Wishing for a time that has passed is a fruitless pursuit; you miss all the good moments that present themselves in the now. The film shows the main character’s journey to recognising this. Owen Wilson plays the wistful and doe-eyed screenwriter exceedingly well, and the film strikes a sweetly sentimental note, while throwing in a healthy dose of comedy.
Minimalism: A Documentary on Important Things
Minimalism, the concept of removing unnecessary possessions in order to experience life better, goes hand in hand with the idea of mindfulness, so it should be no surprise that this title made it on the list. Debuting on Netflix in 2016, the documentary made waves among the ‘less-is-more’ community. It delves into the lives of Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, two guys who longed to step away from the corporate world and their over-accumulation of possessions, and the wider movement, with more and more people seeking sanctuary from materialism.
It became immensely popular for its ability to show a unique way of living. Minimalism reinforces how important it is for us to be mindful about the number of possessions that we own, and how they makes us react and feel. It revolves around the concept that if we declutter our lives, we will declutter our minds. A relatively simple notion to comprehend, though difficult for many to carry out. The allure of stripping everything back in order to find out what truly fulfills you, has made this documentary almost a self help guide for those on the path of minimalism.
The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This film centres on a man who is left heartbroken after the love of his life undergoes a procedure that completely wipes him from her memory. He decides to do the same and the story follows him as he begins the operation and looks back on all of his memories of her. The viewer travels through his memories as he reflects upon them, and we get to see his journey and conflicting feelings on going through with the procedure.
It’s a unique presentation of the idea of mindfulness. The film sheds light on how being completely in tune with one’s feelings, memories and thoughts, can bring about startling clarity on what that person truly wants. As we go on the main character’s road to reflection, we see the importance of freeing the mind of judgement and ill thought, making room for acceptance.
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