That movie in your head

The German language is known for having a rich and specific vocabulary. Kopfkino (head-movie) is the German word for the movie of thoughts that plays in our heads.

We are on the always lookout for stimulation – from notifications on our smartphone as we wait in line at the supermarket, from podcasts during our daily commute, from music from the radio the moment we enter our car or from Netflix as we stream videos while eating dinner. The constant need for stimulation arises from what happens to us in its absence. When we have nothing to do, and are free from stimulation, we are forced to watch the movies playing in our head.

The movies in our head aren’t particularly interesting – not in the world of blockbuster movies, million dollar podcasts and endless streams of customized entertainment served to pockets by the smartest algorithms on the planet. Those movies in our head pale in comparison. Even worse – those movies can be painful to witness. No wonder we spend most of our waking time trying to busy ourselves with work or busy ourselves with leisure.

“People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are.” – Aldous Huxley

But those movies in our Kopfkino aren’t going anywhere. As we all know, the conscious mind is but the puppet that is visible to us as the unconscious mind pulls at its strings. The thoughts and feelings that we work hard to avoid continue to swim around and  influence our behaviour.

The alternative is to tune into that movie – to sit for about 10 minutes everyday, close your eyes and simply watch your thoughts like you would watch a movie – like a spectator. With time, you would realize that those thoughts are just as fictitious as the movies we see on the big screen. Sure, we may love Jules the gangster played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Quentin Tarantino movie, Pulp Fiction. But we realize that Jules is a work of fictional art as he quotes from the Bible and pumps bullets into his victims.

Meditation is the act of tuning into the movie in your head. Watching those movies doesn’t sound like the most exciting habit to develop. But would that change if you realized that the scripts in those fictitious movies spill into the story of your life? Would that make them more interesting?

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