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by Ira Israel
Bayview Entertainment, 2012
Review by Christian Perring on Oct 15th 2013

Mindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City Living

This one hour video was shot in many cities around the world, and it has a lot of footage of them, which makes it fascinating to watch because there is always the challenge of working out which city is being shown.  It uses lots of time-lapse cinematography with an altered perspective that blurs the background and makes colors in the foreground especially vivid.  Watching the video has hallucinatory echoes.  Psychotherapist Ira Israel guides the viewer about the rationale for depression being a result of alienation, which he suggests is especially a result of individualized city life.  He promotes meditation and mindfulness as a solution to the problem.  We see him sitting and meditating all over the world, and a large portion of the video encourages the viewer to join him in meditation: each meditative section ends with the single ringing of a bell.  He brings in a smattering of different theories and when he is not sitting and meditating, he is facing the camera and talking to the viewer with an oddball enthusiasm.    He takes pains to separate himself from biological psychiatry, making some disparaging comments about science, but he embraces psychological approaches that hold out hope for change, and he clearly likes alternative approaches.  To get anything useful out of the video, viewers should ignore the simplistic and ill-judged theoretical statements he makes, and should enjoy the cinematography of Dalan McNabola, who also directed and edited the video.  I doubt that many people will actually find this useful as a tool for meditating, since meditation generally involves closing your eyes and focusing inward, rather than watching a screen.  But it might inspire people to try some meditation, and maybe that could be useful.  This is definitely not a solution for people who are in the grips of clinical depression, but it might help people who are looking for ways to achieve some greater sense of contentment and who want to be less troubled by bad feelings. 

 

© 2013 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York