Review: ‘Free the Mind’ documentary finds hope in meditation –

By Gary Goldstein

May 16, 2013, 6:00 p.m.

There’s something healing about simply watching “Free the Mind,” Danish filmmaker Phie Ambo’s gentle, compassionate documentary spotlighting the use of such drug-free options as meditation and mindfulness to treat anxiety and trauma.

Writer-director Ambo focuses on three main subjects: Will, an endearing 5-year-old with ADHD and a fear of elevators; Steve, an Afghanistan war veteran haunted by his stint as a military intelligence soldier and interrogator; and Rich, a former battalion leader in Iraq wracked by guilt and horrific memories of combat. Fueled by the subtle parallels between young Will and the adult Steve and Rich, the movie follows the trio through brief, life-changing experiments overseen by neuroscientist Richard Davidson.

Davidson, who founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, believes the brain can be physically altered by the power of thought. Thus he guides the veterans toward peace and happiness through meditation, yoga and breathing exercises.

CHEAT SHEET: Cannes Film Festival 2013

Meanwhile, Will, with the help of some wonderful special teachers, undergoes similar anti-anxiety routines plus other child-geared calming practices. The results for all are hopeful and inspiring, though their work is clearly not done. Affecting private moments with the PTSD-affected Steve and Rich, as well as with Will’s kindly foster parents, further enhance this nicely edited film’s deeply human dimension.


“Free the Mind.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes. At Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills and select days at Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena.

via Review: ‘Free the Mind’ documentary finds hope in meditation –


Mindful meditation could help you get through the madness –

Mindful meditation could help you get through the madness

By Mary MacVean

April 16, 2013, 3:59 p.m.

Mark Coleman has been practicing meditation for 30 years. In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday morning, he offers some thoughts and advice about how to get started. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of mindful meditation, he provides all you need to get started — and the entry bar is low: just five minutes a day.

Mindfulness is being used in prisons, public schools, corporations and the military to help people focus and improve their reactions. It can even help make the traffic more bearable. But as Coleman discusses, mindfulness is a serious pursuit that can help people respond to the happy and difficult things we inevitably confront.

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