20 Empath-friendly Movies (good movies for HSPs and Empaths)

This post was inspired by a search on Google for “Good movies for Empaths” and the surprising discovery that a list like this, did not really yet exist.

So I would like to begin suggesting certain films that I feel are suitable for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP) and Empaths.

Empaths will tend to find that movies with a lot of negativity, hatred, violence, and (to a point) stupidity, will tend to rub them the wrong way.  Often the negativity, violence, etc., will be taken (rather involuntarily) into the Empath’s energy field, and lodging there, become yet more weight for the Empath to energetically “carry around”, in addition to the general burden the Empath tends to pick up from the suffering/pain/sadness in the world around them!

So it is generally advisable, most Empaths find, to reduce their consumption of gratuitous violence, negative films, etc., for their own psychological, energetic, indeed even physical well-being.

Maybe more details should come on this later.  We would like to begin suggesting some movies.

This should be an ongoing project that should be added to frequently.  Also feel free to suggest your own.   I look forward to us putting together perhaps some kind of library or reference list (bibliography) of  Films Good for Empaths:

 

 

1.  Life is Beautiful  (1997):  

Dir.  Robert Benigni     http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118799/

In a list of “empath friendly films”, it may seem counter-intuitive to begin with a movie that is set in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.     But Life is Beautiful is a

life is beautiful poster

bout one man who somehow finds ways to make this singularly cruel and terrible backdrop into something, dare we say, rather fun and lighthearted.

The central character, played by Benigni, is devoted to keeping his son from feeling depressed or scared in the camp, through treating the entire situation as one great game, that nobody can let on they are playing.

While that may sound absurd and a rather tenuous premise, Benigni pulls it off brilliantly, making this one of the most heart-warming and beautiful films of all time, in my opinion (and many Empaths may feel something of the same way).

The final scene may make you cry, if you are an Empath (it never fails to for me).  But they are tears not of sadness, but somewhat in awe of the great and terrible beauty, the incredible beauty and generosity human beings can show.    In any case, just a wonderful movie that everyone, (especially Empaths perhaps), should see at least once.

We may also take it as a commentary on the techniques Empaths can master to “make a heaven out of” what often seems a bit more like a hell, a world that may be difficult for them.   If Benigni’s character can make such a hell into a lighthearted place, perhaps we Empaths can perform a similar transformation on the more mundane hells and purgatories of our lives.

 

2.  Adam (2009)

Adam, the title character, has Asperger’s syndrome.  He is not an empath, as while Empaths viscerally pick up on the emotions and energies around them,  those on the Asperger’s-Autistic spectrum have something of an opposite problem, generally having difficulty understanding the emotions of others.

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However, those with Autism-Asperger’s do have certain things in common with Sensitive Persons (HSPs) and Empaths, which is that they tend to be far more sensitive to stimuli.  Like HSPs and Empaths, they tend to feel that “the world is too much with them,”  and it is a difficult place for them to live in and to interact with others.

 

This is a beautiful story about one man with Asperger’s, trying to make his way in the world.   Many Empaths and HSPs have been mistakenly described as having Asperger’s tendencies perhaps by parents or those close to us,  and it is touching to see someone with this psychological makeup getting by in the world.

Also a beautiful film and a touching story.  Highly recommended.

 

3. Truman  (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3754940/

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“Julián receives an unexpected visit from his friend Tomás, who lives in Canada. The two men, accompanied by Julián’s faithful dog, Truman, will share emotional and surprising moments prompted by Julián’s complicated situation.”

This Spanish film is one of the most touching and real portraits of friendship, life, and the issue of death, that has come out in a long time.  Truly a powerful story you will never forget.    Has received excellent reviews for very good reason.  This is one that will stick with you.  In a good way.

As one reviewer said, “See it with a friend.  You will be closer because of it.”  I couldn’t agree more.  But if no friend is available, see it yourself.  You may find it brings you closer to humanity in general. 

 

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower  (2012)

Very meaningful film especially for anyone who ever felt “out of place” in high school.  Ah, the weirdos, the misfits–these are the people many Empaths can relate to, since they may often have felt that way themselves growing up.

While Empaths may have been popular or well-liked people, they undoubtedly have often felt themselves, to be people who were a little odd.    The beautiful young characters of this film,  are also certainly outcasts and misfits in that regard.

Many people have commented that they do not want this movie to end, since they feel like they get to know the characters so well.    A very touching film.

 

5. Amazing Grace (2006)

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Provides a good piece of history for understanding the background to the abolition of slavery in Britain…   The main character is certainly portrayed as an idealist, dare we say perhaps an Empath  (he has to stop his cart every time he sees a horse being beaten, getting out in the rain to rebuke and stop the perpetrator of the violence).

 

5. My Left Foot (1989)

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis

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Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, learns to paint and write with his only controllable limb – his left foot.  (This is a biopic telling the true story of Christy Brown)

Deeply inspiring picture, brilliantly acted by Day-Lewis (one of his earlier films) about being able to surmount the unique difficulties one may be born with, to live a novel life.  Christy Brown is no saint-like Helen Keller, but his story is remarkable.

6. The End of the Tour (2015)

The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’

A sweet and rather powerful movie about an interviewer spending time with the writer David Foster Wallace.  DFW is most certainly a sensitive man (and a misunderstood, rather unusual, rather brilliant one),  and one would think, very probably an Empath.

7. Gandhi (1984)

IMDB:  Gandhi’s character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent.

Every Empath should see this.  One of the most beautiful biographical films ever produced, on one of the most incredible souls to walk this earth on our century.  Probably the most famous Highly Sensitive Empath in human history (well… perhaps besides Buddha, Jesus, and a couple of others.  Perhaps we should say, one of the most famous in “modern” history).Gandhi-independence-day-673x1024

Gandhi’s story is an incredible one about how a man who was once too afraid to even speak to a table of people (feeling dizzy, stuttering and stumbling, and not able to get his words out), eventually became among the most respected moral leaders on Earth, helping a nation of over 400 million people in humanity’s first ever successful large-scale nonviolence independence movement.

A truly incredible life and accomplishment, and an incredible film.

I hope to produce some articles or books on Gandhi as Sensitive person in the future.  He is really perhaps among the most accomplished and inspirational Empaths of our time.

8. Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Not a high-budget or very slick or polished film.   But certainly an uplifting and inspirational, could we say “spiritual” film, that reminds one to live in the moment, follow one’s dreams, etc.

 

8. Ram Dass: Fierce Grace (2001 Documentary)

A lesser-known (perhaps hard to find) documentary,  on the spiritual teacher Ram Dass.  Inspiring for anyone with interest in spirituality, the 1960’s, or the a piece of spiritual history.    A very beautiful film in which we see the transformation of Ram Dass himself, his survival of a stroke and learning to deal with it, and the transformation of others along the way.

 

9. The Celestine Prophecy (2006) 

Incredibly corny at times, and certainly not a candidate to win any film awards.  That said, if one can look past the rather clumsy acting and execution (which, frankly, reminded me of the rather clunky dialogue of the book),   the message of one interconnected world, being open to synchronicity, etc., etc., is something that many Empaths may feel they resonate with, and can be a bit inspirational.

10. Avatar (2009)

OK, OK.  Yes, it is very mainstream, very big-budget,  and the ending is rather disappointingly formulaic.   But…  Could we leave out a film featuring “blue people” who are so reminiscent of weird extraterrestrial Empaths?  (counselling their human friend to “feel the energy,” trying to live in peaceful harmony with their environments, etc.).

A very beautiful movie, in terms of setting, story, and everything.   As noted, the end is rather disappointingly predictable (the blue people defeat the bad guys in battle! Great.)   But still a wonderful movie that everyone may as well see at least once.

11. Good Will Hunting (1997) 

A feel-good movie about a young man realizing his potential with the help of a mentor.  A nice movie that will bring your energy up into a more positive state, rather than down. 

12. The Big Short (2015) 

An enjoyable lighthearted look, full of plenty of comedy, into the rather serious subject of the deception that led to the Financial Crisis.   A rather silly film, but can satisfy Empaths’ interests in serious topics, while at the same time making us laugh and genuinely enjoy the movie.

13. Catch Me If You Can  (2002) 

A lighthearted piece that is fun all the way through, without any heavy energy for the Empath. Quite enjoyable to watch in its completeness, and a very empath-friendly choice.

A nice movie for any night of the week, important and highly enjoyable.

14. Promised Land  (2012)

Empath friendly film with environmental themes.

15. Groundhog Day (1993)

A great and genuinely funny (and in certain respects, definitely philosophical) film starring Bill Murray.    A certified classic.   One can take from this messages about learning to live in the moment, take the positives rather than the negatives from life, etc.  Just an all-around feel good and at times hilarious film.     Bill Murray at his best.   Feel good all the way through.

16. Juno (2007)

Another film about young people (kind of like Wallflower) who are out of place misfits in this world.   A good feeling film.

17.  Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

They may not exactly be Empaths, but these people are definitely psychologically different.  An enjoyable film mostly all the way through.

 

 

18. The Dhamma Brothers (2008)

IMDB:  East meets West in the Deep South. An overcrowded maximum-security prison-the end of the line in Alabama’s correctional system-is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program. Behind high security towers and a double row of barbed wire and electrical fence dwells a host of convicts who will never see the light of day. But for some of these men, a spark is ignited when it becomes the first maximum-security prison in North America to hold an extended Vipassana retreat, an emotionally and physically demanding course of silent meditation lasting ten days. The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison inmates at Donaldson Correction Facility who enter into this arduous and intensive program.

Inspirational and uplifting documentary about the introduction of Vipassana meditation into a maximum-security prison environment.   Many of the prisoners find themselves transformed by the practice, and eventually are seen coming together to try to keep the program from being cancelled.

 

 

 

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The Counter-intuitive importance for Vata Dosha of *Scheduling*

Hi friends,

It is an interesting principle of Ayurveda that, the doshas inherently tend to have preferences, or to take action in directions that,  are often contrary to what might actually contribute best to the good or well-being of that dosha.

 

So for that reason, Vata dosha always seeks freedom, movement, being unfettered by all bonds of space and time, including very prominently, restrictions of Schedules.

 

Vatas love a free and unhindered schedule! (for the most part).   Very Vata people will want to have the whole day open and free, so they can freely explore various options and make use of their time in the way that they feel is best in that moment.

 

Brief Illustrative Contrast with Pitta (Love of Schedules)

This contrasts largely with the Pitta temperament, which is inherently metabolic (likes breaking things, or events, or appointments, or plans) down into small and digestible pieces, to be completed and carried through in a rational, scheduled way.

People of strongly Pitta temperament with respect to mind and scheduling, tend to be those who love to block off their day-timers,  to have things set,  to eat lunch and dinner at precisely the same times every day, and to know what will come next and what has been completed.

 

According to Ayurveda, Pitta people could actually gain a bit more balance by loosening up this rigidity of schedule.

 

Vata is aided by “Schedules”

But Vata people may actually be aided by bringing a bit more scheduling into their lives.

 

Why?  As many Vata-dominant people have told me,  they tend to lose all bearing, and often wind up getting less things done, rather than more (as they initially hoped) from a totally free and open schedule.

 

This may be expressed physiologically also as anxiety, uncertainty, and bowel issues (diarrhea, or much much more commonly for Vata, constipation).

 

Many Vata people have had this experience of Constipation, seemingly chronically in their lives,  and know not precisely from whence it comes….

 

But many of them find, seemingly miraculous, that when they are forced into, say, a kind of Day-job where they have to wake up in the morning, eat something, and go into work at the same time each day,  that miraculously their elimination/excretive processes are fixed up, and they find themselves having a (mostly) regular bowel movement ever single morning,  just as “clockwork” as the Pitta person.

 

(Indeed, the phrase, “like clockwork” might be revealing in this sense — it denotes regularity, and the Vata person who is forced onto the clock, may find that their Physiology responds very well to this scheduling, in the form of (not only getting more things done),  but also a reduction of Anxiety,  frazzled-ness, and a remedy of constipation/digestion/ elimination problems).

 

Now, this should be taken in moderation — of course, the Vata person will still find it useful (and important) to maintain some good degree of freedom in their lives (especially doing work that they find not a Drudgery but something personally Meaningful.)

But on the scheduling side of it, it is often advisable for Vata people to try to set themselves a good schedule, some way some how,  usually against their own original intuition/will,  and see if this brings their physiology and digestion into better alignment.

 

Summary of The Key Point:

  • If you are of the Vata dosha, and find yourself frequently unmoored, or suffering from a lack of direction in your life (very common for Vata), or having Constipation/Digestion issues (extremely common for Vata!),  then a strong recommendation of some Ayurvedic practitioners is to try to develop a Schedule and stick to it.

 

Final note —  This may seem difficult at first, but search online for various methods to make and keep schedules.  You need not be rigid as a board,  but at least having some positive scheduling in your life, to have appointments a bit more clearly delineated, is very likely to help your physiology and psychology as a whole.    Try it and see.  Good luck  🙂

South Korea: Hagwon vs. International Schools

On a totally different topic from what is usually covered in this blog, just thought I would write a bit about my current experience, teaching at an International Elementary School here in Korea,  and  comparison of this kind of work with a standard “Hagwon”/”Hakwon”  (Private academy).

While “Private Academy” sounds rather prestigious in many countries, those familiar with English learning in South Korea will understand that Private Hagwons are “a dime a dozen,”  and often not very prestigious institutions,  though of course they range in quality,  being privately run.

In comparison,  “Public School” jobs are rather more difficult to obtain in Korea (though not particularly hard,  the remaining positions are generally done through GEPIK or similar programs),   but are  far more sparse these days, due to government cutbacks in hiring of Native English instructors.

An  “International School,”  like the one I teach at now,  is generally privately run (like a hagwon),  but is generally far more reputable,  and the primary difference is that this school is the Primary/Main  school for it’s students (they attend in the daytime),  as compared with hagwons which are usually afterschool academies.

So whereas in a Hagwon position I was working afternoon/evening hours  (from about 1:30 pm to about 9:30 pm, though I often stayed a bit later, till around 10, voluntarily),   now at my present International elementary school,  I work in the daytime,  from about 7:50 am to 4:10 pm.

These hours are actually far preferable for me, though all people are different.   I know some people actually enjoy being able to sleep in very late, and work late.

For me, I enjoy the natural aspect of being able to wake up in the morning, (with the sun and most of the animals), and being finished by the afternoon, giving me the evening free.   But again, everyone has different preferences.     (and to be sure, I actually wouldn’t mind sleeping in an extra hour or so).

The biggest differences are probably in the details of instruction.

Hagwons often use largely “pre-packaged” lessons, out of textbook, etc.

At my hagwon (an academy for students all the way from Elementary grade 1, to first year high school),  we primarily worked basically straight out of English textbooks.  (actually, rather low-quality  Korean-produced English textbooks,  occasionally with  typos  or slightly awkward Konglish constructions).

For this hagwon work, there was little preparation necessary (though I always went through the pages in advance), as teachers (I was the only Native English teacher there actually),  were expected to stick very closely to the curriculum, and make sure pages were completed.

Though this saved prep time, it certainly left something to be desired in terms of a feeling of autonomy or control over lesson planning,  or the ability to be more creative with how we did things in class.   That was certainly lacking at the hagwon.

(though at my hagwon, this was partly made up for by a demand to make “activities” (often silly games and things), for the younger students.   I personally found this to be often a burden and a chore, though some teachers who love making up games, etc., might actually enjoy this aspect).

International School:  More Freedom and Creativity Involved in Lesson Planning

In contrast, at my International School,  there are fewer class hours,  but more prep time,  but I must make all my own lesson plans,  and design my lessons with some creativity.

I have more leeway to complete the curriculum as I see fit (though there are still arbitrary requirements to fill all the pages, etc., etc.),  but there is much more autonomy to design my own lessons,  ability to show relevant videos in class,  discuss things in a more open-ended manner, etc.

In this respect, I far prefer the International School format, (and can see why they are more discerning with the teachers they hire),  because frankly,  having some autonomy over how one does one’s job is a major aspect of job satisfaction,  and this makes my work far more interesting and fulfilling, where I can design and plan my own lessons how I like.

Have any experiences with hagwons / Public schools / International Schools in Korea?  If so, leave a comment and let me know.  Thanks for the feedback.  Until next time, warm wishes.

Feeling Lightness of Heart

I would love to start a complete blog entitled something like,  “Beautiful Things to Make You Feel Good.”

Imagine that:  a whole compilation of beautiful things, ideas, etc., to bring joy into people’s hearts, etc.

Today was a bit of a hard day.  But, there was one thing that made me feel extraordinarily wonderful.

I was listening to something upon first waking up, a kind of audio on the “Insight Timer” app,  and it exhorted me to “… Feel freedom.  Feel a lightness in your heart, a lightness in your body, and know that you are free…”

This incredible idea:  — “A lightness in my heart?”  I thought,  “What on earth does that feel like?”   I could imagine feeling light in my body, but not feeling “lightness” in my heart.    (Maybe warmth of heart… heaviness of heart… but for some reason I could not remember ever feeling “light” of heart)

In any case, I tried then to viscerally feel what it would feel like to feel a lightness in my heart…

And, lo and behold,  what an incredible feeling!  And what an accompanying Memory!  I HAD felt this way before!   

Indeed, it brought me back to when I was in Dharamsala in 2013,  a beautiful town (home of the Dalai Lama, etc.,) in the foothills of the Himalayas (India).

That Lightness of Heart!  That was something I used to feel almost continuously and every day while I was living in India at certain times,  relatively free (studying, not working in a kind of daily grind as a teacher day in, day out).     It brought back that lightness and I felt —  I hoped, I felt, I was sure, that I could get back to there and feel that lightness again.

I hope to be recommitted.  (shall I be committed for writing this post?)    I hope to be recommitted to go back to India and to feel that lightness again.   To get out of the daily grind, and get back to a life of study and writing (more or less) at my own pace.

To be Free (again) is a goal I have.   What a blessing to be reminded, that it is possible to Feel Light of Body and Light at Heart.    Thank you.