I have gone through different phases in how many and what types of movies I watch, from mainstream action movies in my early teens to international and classics in my early teens to none for a few years to just about anything now (from obscure documentaries, to international, to classics, to sci-fi, to mainstream movies).
And since my late teens, in addition to watching movies for enjoyment and education, I have seen movies as practice… initially mostly as a way to work with projections.
Movies can be an invitation for…
- A shift into witness, into pure seeing… of what happens on the screen, in the surroundings, in this human self.
- A a shift into Big Mind, as the seeing and seen, without being caught up in the content or identified as either the seeing or seen. (And when identifications arise, just notice that as well.)
- A heartfelt seeing and being with what comes up in this human self… any emotions, any reactivity, any stories triggered.
- An empathy with the characters in the movie, whether defined as good or bad or a mix. (A shift into Big Heart.) And also noticing when empathy does not come up so easily. Who and what do I exclude from my empathy? What do I need to let go of to open up for empathy for even them?
- Seeing the movie as a mirror for my human self. Anything happening in the movie, any story lines, any characters, any behaviors, any settings, each reflect something very similar in this human self. Can I find it? Can I feel it, equally much in here as out there? Can I be with it in an heartfelt way?
- Noticing projections. Whom and what trigger an attraction and sympathy in me? Whom and what trigger aversion? Can I find (and feel) what I see out there in myself? What do I need to let go of to see it equally well in here as out there?
- Seeing the story, or parts of it, as reflecting an inner story. Where can I find similar dynamics in me and in my life?
- Working with shadows. Whom and what trigger aversion in me? Whom is it difficult for me to recognize in myself and have empathy for? What do I need to let go of to see them in myself, and open for genuine empathy?
- Noticing beliefs triggered by the story, characters or setting. What triggers reactivity in me? What is the belief (the should) behind it? And then, later on, take it to inquiry. Is it true? What happens when I hold onto the belief? How would it be without the belief? What are the genuine truths in the turnarounds of initial belief?
- And finally in a more conventional way, notice social and cultural patterns (norms, hidden assumptions) reflected in the movie, and explore how they show up in my own belief system and life and what effects they have.
As I watch, any of these may come up depending on the movie and what it triggers. If sadness comes up, then a heartfelt being with may be the response. If reactivity, then noticing it as a shadow projection and the belief/identity creating it. If unquestioned cultural assumptions are clear in the interactions of the characters, or the apparent intention of the movie maker, then I can notice and explore those. If the action is especially intense, a shift into Big Mind (headlessness) often happens naturally. If a great deal of suffering among the characters, then a shift into empathy and Big Heart (and a noticing of whom my heart may be more closed towards).