The following list are notable documentaries that focus on spiritual growth for the individual and the collective whole:
Sensitive: The Untold Story: Based upon the national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron, Ph.D. defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people. According to Dr. Aron’s research, the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is acutely aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment and processes information in a deeper, more reflective way. Often misdiagnosed as shyness, introversion, autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome, the highly sensitive person lexicon identifies pivotal information and validation for those who are inaccurately labeled.
Belief: A collaboration between Oprah Winfrey, the OWN Network and part2 pictures, Belief presents a diverse range of 28 stories of faith and spiritual journeys as seen through the eyes of believers. Witnessing stories that highlight one of the most basic human needs — a desire to find purpose and meaning in our lives, this docu-series is a pleasant juxtaposition of how diverse and yet similar we all are. Although there are many notable highlights, my big take away is the reverential manner in which the beliefs are presented and how much sincerity and sense of connection is captured.
How to Die in Oregon: “Thinking and talking about death need not be morbid; they may be quite the opposite. Ignorance and fear of death overshadow life, while knowing and accepting death erases this shadow.” Taking an intimate look at Oregon’s battle with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, How to Die in Oregon is a powerfully emotional account of what happens when the patient, the family and the physician navigate the choice to make preparations to die with dignity. Painstakingly compelling and compassionately presented, How to Die in Oregon presents a neutral exploration of the implications associated with how some choose to die with dignity.
Revolution: “In an effort to uncover the secrets to saving the ecosystems we depend on for our survival,” Rob Stewart discovers nothing less than a revolution is required to save life on earth. There is something about climate change that elicits an illusion of “someplace else-ness”. Ocean acidification is quietly happening out of view as we speak. The ocean can seem like “someplace else” when you consider not many people will notice there are fewer sharks, fewer coral reefs and fewer stable ecosystems. Revolution brings all of this to the forefront of the distant conversation. There is no “someplace else” where the effects are being felt. It’s happening all around us. As I watched the visually stunning scenes of Revolution, the hope and optimism conveyed by Stewart and his fellow activists is contagious. This is an undertaking for all to embrace as we recall Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from revolutionists.”
THRIVE: What on earth will it take for a substantial grassroots movement? What else has to happen for us to behave as if it really is not just about our individual self, but every human being on the planet? THRIVE is the documentary you probably don’t want to watch, but need to watch. THRIVE delves deep into hidden structures in place within society that are perpetual impediments to a thriving interconnected populace. The first hour of THRIVE is quite disturbing. With an in depth presentation of the length that is taken to keep certain groups of society in subjugated positions, it’s hard not to feel dis-heartened. However, the second half of the documentary offers suggestions of what can be done and what is already being done to disrupt the imbalanced status quo.
Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds: “The true crisis in our world is not social, political, or economic, our crisis is the crisis of consciousness: an inability to directly experience our true nature, an inability to recognize this nature in everyone and in all things.” In today’s society, we have strayed too far into the realm of thinking; what we perceive to be the outer world of form. As a result, we have lost our connection to our inner worlds. This balance is the birthright of every human being. It is the common link between all religions, and the link between our inner worlds and our outer worlds. Exploring the vibratory field that connects all life, this has been the most consistently suggested documentary to be included on this list.
Finding Happiness: An innovative blend of drama and documentary, Finding Happiness is the story of fictional journalist Juliet Palmer, an investigative reporter specializing in stories that expose corruption. Palmer receives an unusual and unwanted assignment from her boss to explore a spiritual living community. With a unique story directly from the heart and soul of each person who has lived it. Finding Happiness explores if it’s possible for people to live in harmony, collaboration, compassion, cooperation, peace and love together in a conscious community. According to those who have done precisely this, in a community called Ananda — which means “joy”, it is most definitely possible and happening now.
Mindfulness: Be Happy Now: “The art of simply being present. From Oprah to Phil Jackson to Anderson Cooper, it has been embraced by some of the world’s most successful people. Featuring testimonies from Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sharon Stone, Oliver Stone, and more, this documentary shows you how to embrace mindfulness in your own life. Like mindfulness itself, the film is simple, direct, and effective.”
Kumare: Filmmaker Vikram Gandhi presents himself as an enlightened guru from the East and builds a following of disciples in the West. "Kumare" acts as the centerpiece of a social experiment to explore and test one of the world's most sacred taboos.
'Serving Life': "The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is America's largest maximum-security prison, with more than 5,000 inmates. Many are serving sentences for rape, kidnapping and murder. Their sentences are so long that very few inmates will ever experience the world beyond bars again." In 'Serving Life' viewers see an extraordinarily compassionate hospice program where hardened criminals care for dying fellow inmates. Narrated and executive produced by Forest Whitaker, the film explores "what is owed to a dying prisoner, and whether the experience of caring for him can help the hospice workers transform their own lives." This is an excellent documentary.