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10 Movies That Could Change Your Understanding Of Life

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Image Still from the film, SAMSARA by Ron Fricke

Every movie has the ability to affect its viewer differently. Some films evoke wonder and excitement, while others provoke fear or sorrow, but all films contain a prevailing message or theme.

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Some films can summon such profound questions that they change the way you perceive life as you once knew it. The following list contains 10 unique movies which do just that.

10) Donnie Darko

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Richard Kelly’s cult-classic Donnie Darko stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled, sleep-walking teen who insists on challenging authority and who is often visited by Frank, a monstrous rabbit that urges Donnie to perform dangerous and destructive pranks.

A haunting work of loneliness, alienation, and the universal desire for companionship and meaning wrapped in the guise of understated ‘80s nostalgia and head-spinning science fiction mythology, Donnie Darko is a film you shouldn’t miss.

What makes Donnie Darko especially fascinating is its take on multiple realities and universes. The film explores concepts of imploding universes, black holes, and alternate timelines, leaving most scratching their heads and itching for an immediate second viewing. Richard Kelly stated that the film has varying interpretations, which is why it remains the object of analysis and debate to this day.

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9) The Matrix

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A smartly crafted combination of stimulating action and mind-bending philosophy, The Matrix is a film that casts doubt on our perception of reality. The film’s premise finds Neo (Keanu Reeves), an office-worker by day, computer hacker by night, suddenly stripped of “the grand illusion.” That is, the idea that life as we know it is false, a simulated and constructed reality in which mankind is unknowingly imprisoned.

The film is an allegory for the concept of a spiritual awakening. Neo is woken up to the fact that he’s been enslaved to the system, the matrix, his entire life. He is re-taught about his unlimited potential as a creator-being, and stands up against the dark forces that hold humanity captive. Amazing in every sense, The Matrix has a lot to offer, with the potential to change the way you understand the world in which we live.

8) Waking Life

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Absurd, transporting, and strikingly original, Waking Life poses many life-changing questions, such as “What are dreams?” and “What is reality?” Within the animated film, the lines between the dream-state and reality become blurred as the protagonist wanders through various scenarios and interacts with an eclectic cast of characters.

Each character throws science and philosophy into question, and as the main character continues to experience the extended dream, he begins to worry he will not awaken.

Humans and inanimate details are sometimes quite realistic, even recognizable (such as Ethan Hawke), but the computer “painting” can give subjects forms, movements, and dimensions that are wildly exaggerated, limber, and stylized in cartoon-like fashion. The movie looks like an LSD trip, and is a cult classic that could find a spot on everyone’s top 10 list.

7) Cloud Atlas

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Colossal in scale, Cloud Atlas follows six interwoven story lines that span hundreds of years. The official synopsis describes it as “an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present, and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”

Cloud Atlas’s prevalent theme delves into the theory of reincarnation, which boasts that an eternal aspect of our self — the soul — experiences any number of lives incarnated here on Earth. The film also explores the concept of karma and the karmic cycle, suggesting that our actions in one lifetime may reverberate into the next.

Although the critic consensus is mixed for Cloud Atlas, one must applaud the film for tackling a complex topic like reincarnation, as well as a massively ambitious storyline.

6) Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring is a Korean film that follows a Buddhist monk and his journey at a monastery that floats on a lake in a pristine forest. The story follows the monk as he passes through the seasons of his life, from childhood to old age.

Each changing season acts as a beautiful metaphor and lesson that the main character experiences. The film is very quiet but the breathtaking imagery speaks for itself. Although the story has only a handful of characters and everything takes place in a small area, it encompasses a surprisingly broad portion of the human experience, including lust, love, jealousy, murder, suicide, and redemption. It has important things to say about the difficulty of teaching and the elusiveness of wisdom.

This film is about learning from one’s mistakes and becoming a better person by seeking wisdom.

5) Samsara

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In a number of Eastern faiths, samsara literally means “continuous flow,” referring obliquely to the ongoing cycle of life and death, decay, and renewal.

Samsara the film turns that idea into a sprawling concept, a continuous flow of images of the natural world and the human tide that dominates it. The film envelops the audience in a barrage of diverse imagery that shifts rapidly from one locale and one theme to the next.

Through watching the continuous imagery, we are given the chance to truly observe our world with utmost presence, something we tend not to do in our fast-paced culture. It’s a journey through life and death, and a film that may give you a new perspective on the human experience.

4) Detachment

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Detachment is a chronicle of one month in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators, and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Barthes’ method of imparting vital knowledge to his temporary students is interrupted by the arrival of three women in his life — the damaged and naïve prostitute Erica, a troubled teen named Meredith, and a fellow teacher.

These women all have profound effects on Barthes’ life, forcing him to not only rediscover aspects of his own personality, but to come to terms with both the tragic suicide of his mother and the impending death of his grandfather.

Henry impacts his students’ lives and makes them more focused and attentive, but he alone can only do so much. The film is a character study of one man, and a social commentary on the failing education and social systems.

3) Her

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Her follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely, introverted middle-aged man who hears of the new OS1, the world’s first artificial intelligent operating system. When Theodore meets Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the charming female voice of his OS1, he soon finds himself drawn to  her romantically. As he becomes closer to Samantha, Theodore must decipher where his desire to be with her is really coming from.

There are many themes in Her that parallel the issues of our current technology-obsessed culture. We’ve become so attached to our phones, laptops, and tablets that we’ve begun to lose touch with an essential aspect of life, authentic human interaction. Her reveals how technology is propelling isolation and loneliness to a frightening degree, something we all should consider.

2) Fight Club

Fight Club (1999) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)

Fight Club teaches its viewer many things. A big lesson to take away from watching the film is the emptiness that exists within consumerism and materialism. It’s also a film that questions our attachment to identity: Are we really who we believe ourselves to be? The film shocks its viewer when we discover that the “revolution” that has been building up is a mere satire constructed to teach the main character a massive lesson about the state of humanity.

1) Life Is Beautiful

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Life is Beautiful reveals the power of optimism and perception during dark times. The story is simple: A father tries to shelter his son and family from the horrors of WWII. It teaches us how preserving our childlike innocence can protect us from the troubles life may throw at us — a simple concept that is beautifully crafted.

Obviously this list only skims the amount of life-changing films available today. I didn’t even mention documentaries, because there are too many to start listing. What are some movies or documentaries that have impacted your life? Share with us below!

Some of the previous film synopses were taken from:

Rotten Tomatoes

IMDB

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Consciousness

Ask Yourself: Would Would You Do If Money Didn’t Matter? What Would You Do If It Didn’t Exist?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Alan Watts delivers a speech that puts into question the idea of money and what we are all doing here on planet Earth.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we have enough resources and technology to provide everybody on Earth with abundance? If we do, and if we did, what would human beings do? Would we return to our natural state and start exploring and advancing?

You probably hear this now-cliché question all the time: “If money was no object, what would you be doing with your life?” But hearing a question multiple times doesn’t make it any less valid. There is a profound truth underlying these words which it seems many of us have come to belittle or outright ignore, and yet the implications of truly internalizing their meaning are huge.

You may be a young, excited individual coming into the workforce or you may be part of an older generation who has been in the workforce for a while, wondering, “How did I get here?” Or perhaps you are someone who already loves what you do. In any case, I truly think that regularly asking yourself what it is you would love to do with your time if money was no longer an object can be a powerful tool. So why don’t we go ahead and do some self-analysis? But first, let’s listen to what Alan Watts has to say about the topic, as I think it will really get us into the right mindset for this task.

The Exercise

This exercise is a pretty simple one, just like the question it addresses. When answering these questions, it is important to go beyond some of the things we are kinda taught are the things to strive for. For example, letting go of our ideas about ‘success,’ money, material goods, fame, etc. and instead looking at it like Alan says – if money didn’t matter and I could do anything right now… what would it be?

Don’t worry about the whole career or job thing right now, just begin with what you like. Then think about what you feel you can contribute to the world, whether it be to just one person or a whole community (or the entire globe!). Educating others, contribution to a project, and bringing joy to others are all examples of ways you could contribute to the world. 

Then grab a piece of paper and write:

“What do I enjoy doing? What makes me tick or gets me excited?”
“What would my ideal day look like if I could do what I wanted to do?”
“What is my ideal job? What does it look like?”
“What are my favorite hobbies or things to do?”

Once you start answering some of these more basic questions, we dive into things like:

“Why do I like these things I enjoy doing?”
“What about them are interesting to me?”

What this does is gets you thinking about yourself and the things that you enjoy. More importantly, it gets you thinking about why you enjoy them. This is key, 
because it helps you to isolate the elements of those activities that are important to you. You can then use that knowledge to find or incorporate those things into many different tasks or jobs. Because sometimes you really should ‘sweat the small stuff.’ Sometimes it’s those little details which make a job really great, or really awful. 

In the end it’s all about participating in activities that bring you joy and ignite your passion, even if it’s only for a few hours a week. The key is trying not to get too stressed about the process either. Worrying that you can’t find your passion or your purpose is not going to help you find it. Have fun and be playful with it. The answer may also change a year from now or 5 years from now. It is human nature to change and to grow, and our passions and interests may change as we do.

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Consciousness

New Moon In Pisces: Seeing Things In A Different Way

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We are having a New Moon in Pisces on February 23rd and in the early hours of the 24th in the countries furthest East. This is initiating a new 29.5-day lunar cycle and a new wave of energy for the coming month. However, the astrological configurations mentioned in this article will be more prominent over the coming two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Virgo on March 9th/10th.

This New Moon is occurring a week into Mercury Retrograde which is also in Pisces for most of its duration. You can read more about that here. Generally speaking, this is a period of re-orientation around how we incorporate Piscean energies in our lives and this New Moon kicks this into gear even more so.

Pisces is the last of 12 signs and is associated with spirit and oneness as a reflection of its place in the zodiacal evolution. As a result, it is the least compatible with the physical-material and mundane world.

Pisces is oriented around emotion, compassion, energy, spirituality, imagination, and dreams. It is highly intuitive and even psychic, sometimes unknowingly. Pisces can be divinely inspired, idealistic, healing, tranquil, mystical, empathic, and highly creative. It is forgiving and self-effacing.

Negative qualities of Pisces can be delusion, deception, confusion, escapism, addiction, intoxication, flakiness, evasiveness, and having issues with boundaries. It can lack rationality and mental acuity. The line between reality and fantasy can be blurred.

New Moon Sextile Uranus & Mars Near South Node

In the days leading up to the New Moon, Mars in Capricorn has been in a trine with Uranus which are both in a sextile to this Lunation and get carried into the Lunar cycle. This can be good for taking a different approach towards something or asserting yourself in an area of life in a new way. It can also reflect action that is unusual, innovative, progressive, metaphysical, experimental, liberating, rebellious, or independent.

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However, Mars is also moving towards the South Node which is strongest from February 24th-26th.  This can reflect some sort of purging or releasing and/or things from the past may come up that need to be changed. Perhaps something may come up that can get in the way of our growth. For some people this can be a period of needing to let go of negative expressions of Mars that can be holding us back. If so, it can be connected to anger, aggression, force, competitiveness, or aspects of sexual behavior or relationships.

Mercury Inferior Conjunction

This Mars aspect is happening during the most significant part of Mercury’s retrograde which is when it joins the Sun, known as the ‘Inferior Conjunction’. Mercury will also be in a direct sextile with Mars and the South Node which makes it more significant. This can be a period of increased insights, and the themes or circumstances pertaining to how this retrograde is affecting you may come up more during this period.

Complications and frustrations can also be stronger at this time depending on your circumstances or how you are applying yourself. This may also be a period of ridding yourself of certain thoughts, ideas, perceptions, old interests, expectations, or other things that are not serving you while the potential for new ones may be seeded.

Jupiter Sextile Neptune

Jupiter is making its first of three sextiles to Neptune that are happening in 2020. This one is strongest from February 14th-26th. Considering that Neptune is associated with Pisces (also currently in that sign) and Jupiter having a broadening effect on it, this energy accentuates all the Pisces energy that is already occurring at this time.

It can be expansive, explorative, educational, philosophical, and ambitious in a creative, artistic, spiritual, mystical, or compassionate way. With Jupiter being in the Earth sign of Capricorn, many people can experience this around ambitions, career, business, or practical matters. This energy can also be good for visual media efforts. Capricorn can help bring groundedness, practicality, and realism to this idealistic combination of planets.

Venus Square Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn

Venus in Aries is in an exact square with Jupiter at the time of this New Moon. This energy can be excessive and impulsive when it comes to spending money, fun, pleasure, love, or anything sensual. However, it can also reflect growth or learning around relationships, values, art, or perhaps connected to aesthetics.

Venus then builds up towards a square with Pluto which will be strongest from February 27th-29th. At best this can reflect depth, regeneration, passion, or some sort of empowerment in our relations with others. This can also play out as power struggles, possessiveness, intensity, manipulation, or changes within friendships, in social situations, or amongst lovers. Fears or suspicions around these areas can come up or hidden matters may surface considering that Mercury is also retrograde.

Following this, Venus is in a square with Saturn which is strongest from March 2nd-4th. This can reflect difficulties, obstacles, delays, seriousness, dullness or restrictions either socially, financially, or aesthetically. We may need to be realistic, cautious, or more responsible in these areas.

Making Intentions and Things To Consider

What can you be doing to help you become more spiritually activated and bring more magic into your life? Do you have any self-sabotaging or escapist tendencies that could be traded in for creative, spiritual, or inspiring practices, efforts, or projects? Do you need to develop your intuition? Should you be meditating more often? How can you be integrating your visions, imagination, inspiration, creativity, or even visual media into your career or any projects that you are doing? Do you need to be more compassionate?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 3:32pm Universal Time on February 23rd.  You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology-related content.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

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Consciousness

32 Thoughts That Can Help You Achieve Anything

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9 years ago I made a choice, that choice changed the rest of my life. What I realize today is that same choice is one that many face and are very afraid to consider. I want to help shift that today.

In today’s world, most seem to be chasing success, wealth, an opportunity, fame or something of that sort. And I can’t blame anyone. We live in a world where ‘things’ are flashy, fun, and exciting. Where money holds us back from being able to have basic experiences.

Of course people want to have access to the world! But in many cases to get that access means we may need to work hard. We may need to work through challenges.

Now I think we can go on talking about how much of the time we get caught up in looking for material wealth to make us ‘happy’. But today I’m going to pull focus away from that and simply look at what can inspire us to achieve our deepest desires, passions, and the things we feel we’ve been put on earth to do.

Not everything comes easy but if we have the right mindset approach with ourselves and take action, I believe we can achieve anything. I proved this to myself 9 years ago when I made my choice to drop out of school for good and pursue my passion. I’m still doing it and there is much I learned along the way.

Words have power. The story we tell ourselves and the power of the mind comes into play everyday in our lives. Audit your current story, how much do you doubt yourself? Talk poorly about yourself? Talk down to yourself? What about when you are talking to others about yourself?

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Here are some thoughts and phrases to really reflect on and internalize to help you achieve anything.

1. You are in control of your life, at a deep level!

2. Take your dreams seriously. Others will tell you they are not possible, but they are. Always.

3. What does your ideal day look like? Start creating it!

4. “If you don’t have room to fail, you don’t have room to grow. — Jonathan Mildenhall

5. If someone asks you why you do what you do, you better have a good reason.

6. If you are doing what everyone else is doing, there is a good chance you will end up where they are too.

7. What you do and who you are is unique and no one else in the world will do it like you. For that reason alone you must do it.

8. There is no such thing as failure, it’s simply a learning lesson you were brave enough to reach.

9. You already have all it takes to create anything! It all comes from within you, it’s about what you choose and expose yourself to.

10. Change for yourself, not for others.

11. Change starts within. Don’t look outside yourself to get things started. Look inward.

12. There is so much to be said about DOING. You can’t achieve anything if you don’t DO.

13. A setback is a setup for a comeback” – Dr. Willie Jolley

14. Be genuine! Your true self and true story holds much more power than a fabricated game.

15. Connect back with your initial passion and desire weekly. Getting lost in the chase is highly detrimental.

16. Surround yourself with others who support you. Limit time spent with those bringing you down.

17. Don’t completely shut out the nay sayers, they bring feedback you often won’t get otherwise.

18. There is no positive and negative when you see things for what they are. This allows you to stop fantasizing about outcomes.

19. Visualize! Each day you can benefit greatly from visualizing what you want to achieve. Seeing yourself doing it.

20. Be grateful for where you are no matter what. Check in with yourself to refuel the realization of gratefulness.

21. “Your problem isn’t the problem. Your reaction is the problem.” — Anonymous

22. Don’t subject yourself to other’s idea of how things ‘have to be done’. If your way works, do it!

23. On that note, learning from your mistakes is great but learning from others is even better. Use your FEELING to determine which path to take.

24. It’s not about the destination as much as it is about the journey, enjoy every step of the way and don’t judge it.

25. Pay attention to YOUR dream and not the dreams of others. Audit yourself, who’s dreams are you really after? Yours? Your parents? Societies?

26. Give a damn. Care. What you put in is often what you get out.

27. “The most important thing to remember is this: to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.” — W. E. B. Du Bois

28. And on that note, who are you? Truly? Do you know? Spend time getting to know you!

29. Do or Do Not. There is no Try — Yoda.

30. What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.

31. We often start off terrible at things, no problem. Mastery comes in continuing.

32. No great person simply picked something up and was the best. Everyone put in time, energy, hours and in fact, 10,000 of them. Be gentle with yourself, but remember to work for what you want.

Many of these thoughts, wise words and quotes have been huge themes in my life in following a passion. Climbing a mountain most thought I couldn’t climb. But the key after all these years is not to judge others, ‘prove’ anything to them or revel in accomplishments. It’s realizing that this was my path. This was my journey. I chose this.

Stay present, stay humble, stay in line with your passion and your ego will stay quiet. Connect to your heart.

Photo credit Tim Bogdanov.

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