It all starts with a simple discussion. The next thing you know, you’re off to the Amazon rainforest in South America, drinking tea made from a psychoactive plant and taking part in an ancient ceremony intended to heal and open the realms of consciousness.
That’s what happened to filmmaker Michael Wiese as he was searching for a cure after being confronted with a serious disease. Michael realized the universe was co-conspiring to aid in his mission, and soon he, his wife and his translator were off, embarking on a mysterious and deeply personal adventure.
The Shaman and Ayahuasca on GaiamTV.com follows these three on a thought-provoking journey, providing unique personal perspectives, majestic and stunning visuals of Peruvian surroundings, and wisdom from a famed shaman. It also piques the viewer’s curiosity: What does this psychoactive elixir taste like? How does it feel to be whisked away to other realms and connected to the cosmos? How does it feel to return to reality? Here are a few of the most intriguing and eye-opening moments from this fascinating documentary:
I first met Elena Brower this October when we both presented at the Ojai Yoga Crib, although we’d been acquainted through email for about a year prior. Elena walked into the faculty dinner and seemed to carry a piece of the sun in her essence.
Now I know that might sound a bit “woo-woo,” and if you’ve been reading my blog for the past five years, you know that I am a straight shooter and tend to refrain from sharing heavy doses of mystical or esoteric phenomenon with my readers. But I tell you, I can also recognize a galvanizer when I see one, and I was immediately drawn to Elena’s intense stare, clarity of tone and poetic spirit. She’s awesome! And I am happy to now call her my friend.
So when I found out she was about to publish her very first book Art of Attention, a yoga workbook designed to inspire your yoga practice, contemplation and creativity, which she wrote with co-author Erica Jago, I wanted to have a heart-to-heart interview: teacher-to-teacher, innovator-to-innovator and woman-to-woman. Here is the result of that conversation:
The feature film for December is The Letter Writer, written and directed by Christian Vuissa. It is a story about connection across generations as a teenage girl learns a valuable lesson from her mentor, a man at the end of a long life.
This month, the film selections from Spiritual Cinema Circle will inspire you with the power of everyday magic. The feature film, Musical Chairs, is a romantic drama about two young New Yorkers who overcome physical challenges and celebrate the beauty of dance.
I’ve been a big fan of angel oracle cards for many years, and my collection includes quite a few Doreen Virtue decks. I just love their artwork and their messages, and I’ve found them to be amazingly accurate. I have clients who choose a card at the end of our sessions together, and the card usually either beautifully summarizes our session or offers guidance in moving forward. When my friends and their children come to my home, they always ask to choose a card or two.
These days, oracle cards are often available as an app for smart devices; the convenience is wonderful, but I must say, I believe the physical cards hold a special value and power.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
That statement has been moving through my mind for the past several weeks as I read comments on social media and hear so many people feeling helpless and disillusioned. It’s clear to me that we are living in a time of extreme opposites. There are people doing extraordinary work to bring peace and consciousness to the planet, while at the same time there are also people committed to war and violence.
The real question for me is “How do I want to respond and live?” I believe that we are either part of the problem or we are part of the solution. I also believe that our words have power and that what we put out in the universe eventually returns to us in some form.
So instead of being upset about the state of the world, I have decided to do something, and I would like you to join me.
As Spiritual Cinema Circle enters its ninth year, we have distributed more than 400 films, and the one element that they all have in common is a sense of hope. In the world of Spiritual Cinema, hope infuses every film that we have grown to love … and every film that we distribute.
We hope you’re enjoying our month-long Gaiam Hope Project as much as we are! The articles, videos, blog posts and reader stories so far have been truly inspiring, and we’re thrilled to be able to share them with you. But we also think you shouldn’t have to wait for us to post to get your daily dose of hope. That’s why we’ve created hope-themed wallpapers for your computer, iPhone, iPad and Facebook Timeline.
The Hunger Games is certainly the most frightening movie that I have ever seen … and, in a bizarre way, one of the most hopeful.
Even though it contains echoes of films such as 1984, Network and The Lord of The Flies, The Hunger Games is singularly unique in that it represents a very “right now” look at our celebrity-worshiping, violence-laden, reality-television culture, and it throws in some chilling warnings about the dangers of all-powerful government.
Having not read any of Suzanne Collins’ three books from which this film springs, my first impression upon hearing about the film’s central theme of a nationwide contest that pits 24 teenagers against each other in a fight to the death was ”Uh-oh, here we go again with the mindless violence…”
Although I am proud to be a voting member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I have a conceptual issue with the notion of “Best” film, actor, etc. Art is way too subjective to be making objective distinctions. For me, it is simply impossible call one film or a performance “better” than another. Who, for instance, is to say that Mozart wrote “better” music than Chopin, or that Gauguin was a “better” painter than Van Gogh?
For these reasons (as well as the incredible personal politics surrounding nominations), I feel much more comfortable using the phrase “favorite film.”
Another criteria for this list is a simple question that I ask myself: Do I feel better about being human after having seen the movie? This personal qualifier is certainly not a part of the Academy voting rules, but it is an essential one for me.
While I respect others who praise the “craft” of slickly produced and directed films that illustrate how violent, cruel and/or awful we can be as human beings, I personally do not want to feel assaulted or depressed by a dramatic film. I acknowledge all the fear, cruelty and negativity in the world and need only read a newspaper or watch the news or any one of several documentaries to see that side of our humanity. For me to enjoy and recommend a narrative film, however, I want it to show that, despite all the challenges and frailties we have as human beings, we can also be a generous, compassionate species that consciously loves, forgives and embraces the wonder and magic of life itself.
Here are my favorite, life-affirming films of 2011: