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Characters finding stillness

An article exploring how watching characters 'still their minds' on film can support young people to build the practice into their daily lives.
Boxer Rocky Balboa sits in his corner of the ring between rounds as his support team talk to him.
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/UA Entertainment Company (1976) All rights reserved.

‘Stillness’ is a core part of mindfulness and is a great starting point for those who are new to mindfulness exercises.

While being physically still is part of developing this stillness, we’ll focus in this step on the importance of mental stillness. Not only does it raise our awareness of the present moment, but it also teaches us about the control we have over our body, mind and impulses.

If we learn how to still our minds amid distractions and worries, we can improve our ability to handle challenging situations. It can also enable us to make more considered choices about our actions.

Achieving stillness does not always come easily, though. It can feel uncomfortable at first – especially in a room with other people – and it takes practice to sustain it and make it a habit.

Film can help to mitigate that initial awkwardness by removing the pressure to focus on ourselves. Instead, we can watch characters model the exercise and then explore how it can be incorporated into our own lives.

Think of a film you know well where a character finds a moment of mental stillness to allow them to remain calm, present and focused on the task at hand. It might be in the lead-up to the start of that all-important championship match; before the climatic confrontation with the villain or just after an emotional clash with a member of the family.

Use these questions to help structure your thoughts:


  • What feelings might the character be experiencing at first?


  • What task is the character focused on?
  • What do you think is going on inside their mind to help with this task?


  • What does the mindfulness exercise look like on the outside?
  • How do other people react to it?
  • Does the character seem concerned about what others think?


  • How do you think the character feels afterwards?
  • How can you tell?

You can find the questions on the Character Finding Stillness activity sheet. It has been designed to be used in class with your students and is available to download below.

We’d love for you to share your reflections and the films you focused on. Add your responses in the Comments section and let us know your thoughts on how watching characters find stillness might make young people more comfortable with trying it for themselves?

© Into Film (2022)
This article is from the free online

Mindfulness Through Film

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