By Mary Mellow
Cinema is a fabulous way to understand tricks of the mind and the illusory world we live in. There is nothing real about movies. It’s just masterfully manipulated light, music and images along with skillful acting, which are meant to create a certain emotional response in the viewer. Similarly, our mind is like a plain white screen on which all kinds of images are projected. But if we are totally identified with our thinking mind, then we are totally absorbed by the images not realizing that they are only projections while the screen is most important. Oh, this trickster has a very wicked sense of humor and loves to make a fool of us. As a consequence, our life becomes overwhelmed with self-created tragedies (aside from natural and inevitable things like aging and death). We stay in this sweet dream and lose ourselves going through all kinds of scenarios in our heads and believing them to be true. We play different parts: the faithful husband, the perfect wife, the obedient daughter, the successful businessman, etc. People are so good at it that everybody should receive an Academy Award! The Buddha spoke about it two and a half centuries ago, Shakespeare wrote about it four hundred years ago, so nothing has changed for quite long time.
Of course, it’s understandable that our thinking mind doesn’t want to stay without a job, so its gimmicks are numerous. For example, people’s favorite habit is to be extremely busy with something. We can explain it in many different ways, but the real motivation is to hide from our real selves. We are even afraid of that unusual state when there is no need to think and worry. It means the end to our addiction. Certainly, this habit is a pretty pleasant one in its own way and, on top of that, modern society only stimulates that dream-like state with its blind passions and obsessions. We have a clear plan for everything, “I will graduate from college with honors, get a great high paying job, become famous and respected, marry George Clooney, live happily in a big house, have three kids and a dog…” Yeah, but here’s another trick, we don’t always get what we want, don’t we? It creates one hell of a friction between that imaginary world in our heads and the real world. In addition, life also likes to make sudden and not always pleasant surprises to awaken us a little. In any case, something very important is always missing. Maybe for some time we can be satisfied with our current situation, but surely not for long. Driven by that unexplainable nagging feeling, we start seeking for that something again and again. That’s pretty exhausting. I was in that vicious circle for many years. But I have always had the spirit of an explorer and desire to understand how things work, how to relate to others in a genuine way, and, of course, there was always the QUESTION.
I was determined to find my real self, though I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was searching for. But after some tough challenges and myriad of different techniques in order to overcome them (from positive thinking to completing different programs offered by various psychologists on Oprah), I was finally introduced to yoga and meditation. But we should be very careful here, because so many fake things are going on behind those titles. For example, meditation is not about relaxation or extreme concentration. There is also no exotic mystery behind it. No pink elephants or singing angels in the Garden of Eden. It’s more about tonus and balance. It is simply a mind training, which takes effort, persistence and daily application and can give ultimate answers to ultimate questions (if we are truly interested).
My profession also helps me in my practice. I’m an actress and my primary interest lies in transformational media. My latest project is an autobiographical one woman comedy show “So Good To Be Home!” that explores the tricks of our mind and freedom from them. In the show I tell how I found my real HOME, which is certainly not a special place or person — it is awareness itself. I describe my personal transformation that was suddenly boosted by the discovery of a huge tumor in my belly, and how I was dealing with that situation. My most painful memories and deepest fears emerged to the surface. But because I managed to stay present and not to get driven by my destructive emotions and thoughts, I was able to see clearly games of my mind: all those automatic patterns that are not personal at all. It was quite a revelation to me that gave me courage and inspiration to open myself and share my journey with others.
Our life is a movie, and it’s up to us how to play a part in it =).