Last Fall, I made a long-overdue commitment to practicing Mindfulness and Meditation. It was partly in response to my son learning about it in school; partly due to a long-standing habit I had of reacting to others’ anxieties (reactions that were never helpful to anyone); and partly due to some pretty deep emotional wounds from which I was having difficulty recovering.
Keep in mind at this point, I had been doing yoga for over 15 years, and I also had had a wonderful, compassionate therapist with whom I’d meet every so often. For whatever reasons though, those two things simply weren’t enough to help me break some habitual ways of thinking and doing. Something more was needed.
I decided to enroll in a six-week online course in Mindfulness through the Mindful Schools organization – a course that literally transformed my life. I say this with absolutely no exaggeration; it truly was that profound. I suddenly could recognize when I was reacting to something, and had the tools to change it into an awareness that something big was going on inside my brain, and that all I really needed to do was pause for a minute and observe it before settling on a much more thoughtful response.
It didn’t take long to make this change. The effects of a regular Mindfulness Meditation practice were, for me, immediate. The key was taking the leap and committing to it. It wasn’t until I finally understood that I was going to be chronically disappointed most of my life if I didn’t do something to change the way I reacted to the people and situations around me. I had to “be the change”, rather than look at the people around me as though it was they who were the problem.
Now as a filmmaker, I am always looking for a subject, and one day while meditating (no joke!), I kept seeing black and white imagery of eyes closed, and a body and mind at rest. I quickly realized I wanted, NEEDED, to make a film about Mindfulness. A couple weeks later, my husband (who happens to also be my filmmaking partner) and I gathered our son, his friends, and their parents and made “Just Breathe”. The film unexpectedly went viral, and before we knew it, it was on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program after her interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn.
The amount of ecstatic responses we received from people around the world, thanking us for a creating a “beautiful”, “wonderful”, “phenomenal piece of work”, completely blew us away. Clearly we had hit a nerve. Several non-profits contacted us asking if we’d be willing to do more of these films, too, and of course the answer was a resounding YES! But, no one organization has the sole financial means to fund them. And, as much as we’d like to, we can’t exactly continue to make films for free (we have bills to pay and a family to raise, too!). And so it got us thinking…
What if we pooled our resources and together funded more short films like “Just Breathe”, but for people of all ages and on other topics, like Anxiety, Addiction, Trauma and Grief? How incredible would it be to collectively produce films that help people navigate their way through challenging moments? Rather than go the traditional route by pitching a film series to a network, we figure it would be way more in line with our philosophy if this were a Global Mindful Team Effort!
And thus a crowdfunding campaign begins: http://igg.me/at/mindfulfilms/x/4380587
The events of late – extended wars, a severe refugee crisis, THREE school shootings – have made it more painfully obvious than ever that our society is headed down a very grim path. I believe our species is simply not equipped to handle the amount of information coming at us, and it’s wreaking havoc on our brains, and in turn, our world. Our lack of awareness causes us to launch attacks and inflict a tremendous amount of harm on others and ourselves. This has to change.
As a parent, I am even more concerned about the future generations and the world they are inheriting. And this is why we want to make more films about Mindfulness: to provide people with some tools to get through these difficult times — short films that are accessible to everyone, everywhere. But we cannot do it alone. Please consider supporting our campaign: http://igg.me/at/mindfulfilms/x/4380587
It would be very much appreciated if you would share this campaign with your friends, family, and/or others who take a keen interest in projects with potential to make a difference in the world. If you want to post it to your FB page, by all means…!
The expression “It takes a village…” is very real, especially when you’re independent filmmakers with a mission to do something revolutionary. We hope you will be a part of this growing village.
With tremendous gratitude,
Julie Bayer Salzman
Bio: Julie has never liked labels (she finds them too limiting), so she calls herself a Creative Generalist. As a filmmaker, her subjects arise from her passions for both the mental and physical landscapes. She’s a mother to a cheeky seven year old and two enormous chocolate labs (adopted siblings), and she values friendship above everything else in life. She also has some mean dance moves.