Mental Movie Making – Make Movies in Your Head or Live in Stillness and Inner Peace

“We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless present moment rather than be caught up in mental movie making.”
–Eckhart Tolle

When I first heard Eckhart Tolle talk about mental movie making some years back, I can’t say that I got what he meant right away.  It took some time and lots of mulling it over.  I remember hearing him give a talk and trying to figure it out on a conceptual level rather than the knowing inside me that would have understood right away.  Funny, I am sure the ego was wrapped up in all that mind chatter.

In a recent conversation I was having with a friend, I heard myself explain it so clearly.  I had been listening to my friend and feeling compassion for her suffering.  I was just really listening presently, I wasn’t thinking about what I would say, I was just really in the vibration of stillness and non-judgement and when it was my turn to respond to her, these words explaining the concept of mental movie making came through.  As she reacted with enthusiasm and excitement about how true and helpful that was, I also heard it and understood it so much deeper than I ever had before.  I heard my own words (or words borrowed from stillness really) and learned something more deeply from them.  It was like one of those hugs from the universe I believe in when you just feel so connected to everything.  It was such a lovely lesson that I thought I would share it here.

My friend had been describing dealing with a hard situation with a family member and sharing her disappointment over their actions, etc.  She felt very sure of her position and even more sure that the family member was doing others wrong.  The suffering she was creating for herself was obvious.  I wasn’t judging her for doing that or judging the family member for her actions (which can be easy to do), I was really just listening in presence and feeling compassion for her and then the right words came.

I said to her – We get to decide how we let things effect us.  When we interact with others, they have their perception of the situation, we have ours.  Neither one is true ultimately and neither one actually happened.  None of this “stuff” is actually happening, it is all in our minds.  It’s all a movie we are creating as we look through the veil of our perceptions.  In our movie we are the star and we have our supporting characters and guest appearances, etc.  In the other person’s movie, they are the star and we are their supporting actors or maybe just an extra.  Depending on the veil we look through and all the past experiences we bring with us, we decide how to interpret things and how much importance to give them.  Sometimes things just roll right out of our awareness and sometimes we obsess and keep the movie running and running and running.  We can make it get bigger and worse and keep it alive with all the movie creating in our heads.  None of it actually happened.  At about this point in the conversation she said “wow that is amazing, I never thought of it that way.”

We went on and had a lovely conversation, it is hard to explain the added depth in the discussion, it was just there.  When we concluded our conversation, I felt so peaceful and I had this knowing that we had really shared a moment of glimpsing a truer reality.  It was special and I was grateful.  Conversations and moments like this when we can ease suffering and grow consciousness are miraculous.

It can be easy to get caught up in mental movie making, it’s even thought to be normal and people go on consoling each other and adding to each others movies by agreeing with their version, etc.  Even in the exact moment of the very thing we think we are upset about, it didn’t happen.  It was just the way we created it in our head and someone else created a different version in their head.  No other mind saw it exactly the way we did.  Once we understand this we can step back and begin to figure out how we are creating these movies and keeping situations alive in our minds that never even happened.  We can begin to watch this happening and explore other options.  We can free ourselves from this false reality and gain peace and learn to dwell in the power of stillness rather than an ever-changing movie.

As I mentioned before, I had heard Eckhart talk about these things many times and I had been reading The Four Agreements and applying all of that wisdom as well.  I am so grateful for all of the great teachers presenting this information in so many different ways, yet saying the same thing.  We can continue to grow and grasp the teachings and then we can learn to live it.  When we hear ourself explain something more clearly than we had ever understood it, we know we tapped into the stillness that is Everything.  If we can listen and be still and let that voice come through then we can truly become more of our essential self and much less of our reactionary self…one response at a time.

I believe our judgements can block the real answers from coming through.  If I had been judging my friend for her feelings or the family member for hurting her so much, we may not have had that special moment when we could grasp a deeper truth.  It’s so worth all the searching and practicing and trying to chip away at the ego to have true moments of stillness like this one.  It wasn’t the little false sense of me that was able to stay away from judgments and touch the stillness, it was the big Me that is connected to everything.  It was the one that I have been trying to spend more time with and get to know more in stillness.  It was beautiful.  I highly recommend it and I know that it is always there waiting for us to enjoy.  We ALL have the ability to touch that very same stillness!

As we go out into the world today and always, lets practice living in stillness and turning towards presence rather than creating movies in our head that trap us in the past or take us to future worries.  Wishing you all love and joy!!!