As a disciple of meditation would agree, “The purpose of our life is to help others through it because, at the end of the day, we are all connected”. One doesn’t have to be a practicing Buddist to feel a sense of enlightenment from the new documentary “On Meditation”, a brisk 65-minute film from director Rebecca Dreyfus that explores how the practice of daily meditation affects the lives of people in very different ways. The film opens at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts in Los Angeles today.
“On Meditation” is comprised of a series of mini-documentaries that profile various people, some famous and some not. Actor Giancarlo Esposito explains that setting aside time to meditate has not only helped him heal from the emotional scars of his poverty-stricken childhood, but also aids in his performance as an actor. In playing his most memorable role as Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring in AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” he channeled his practice to make his character more of an observer, despite being evil, there is a quiet peace to his performance and personality as Gus that no one can deny.
Gabrielle Bernstein, a motivational speaker, talks of her early days struggling with horrible anxiety as a drug and alcohol addict. It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she turned to meditation in the form of chanting mantras, a repetition of words and phrases that help center and calm the mind. Today she preaches the benefits that this practice has had on her life. Similarly, mogul Russell Simmons practices mindfulness to quiet his “noisy mind” a total of 2.5 hours a day. Despite having his hands in many projects, including film and tv, a record label, internet businesses, a financial services company, and five charities, he credits his priority of meditation as giving him the strength to stay strong.
Perhaps the most recognizable face in the documentary, especially if you are aware of this specific spiritual practice like I am, is David Lynch’s talk of Transcendental Meditation. Before finding inner peace, Lynch thought of happiness as a dance on the surface– fleeting and empty. After finding TM, he has had a more optimistic view of the world and a feeling of unification in the notion that all living beings are in this together. Being David Lynch, most of what he has to say in the film is quoteworthy, and I personally found this specific phrase to be memorable: “An artist doesn’t have to suffer to show suffering, just understand it.”
“In Meditation” does not teach one how to meditate, for everyone will practice in different ways, rather it shows just how meaningful it is in people’s lives. Many in the film believe that, if Americans were to set aside just five minutes a day to focus on their breath and their inner being, the world would be a better place. To end things on a positive note, as the film does, I leave you with another phrase that resonated with me: “We are all enlightened– maybe the lights just haven’t been turned on yet.”
“On Meditation” is not rated. 65 minutes. Now playing at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts in Los Angeles.