The ancient art of meditation has seen a resurgence in the last two decades as the pace of modern life, the overwhelm of information overload and the hyperstimulation of screens has led people to search for new ways to relax, recharge and reconnect.
Scientific research into the health benefits of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices has also exploded in recent years. In fact, since 2000 there have been thousands of studies showing how a meditation practice can improve your health and well-being.
If you would like to learn more about the science, philosophy and practice of meditation, one of the best ways to inspire your daily practice is by watching documentaries.
Here are my picks for some of the best documentaries about meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.
1. Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds
Of the thousands of documentaries that I’ve watched over the years, Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds is in my top 10. This film explores the one vibratory field that connects all things in 4 parts: Akasha, The Spiral, The Serpent and the Lotus, and Beyond Thinking.
The sequel to Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds — Samadhi is a 3-part documentary series that goes deeper into nonduality and experiences of higher states of consciousness. This is the kind of documentary film that you may need to watch a couple times to really let everything sink in.
3. Eckhart Tolle: Enjoying Every Moment
This documentary starts with 5 of the most profound words I’ve ever heard… Q: So, you’re able to enjoy every moment? A: Yes, I accept what is. And it just gets better from there! Eckhart Tolle is not only profound but also funny and he really gets to the root of how to break free from the modern prison of egotism and overthinking.
4. Awake: The Life of Yogananda (Trailer)
Unique biopic about Yogananda, author of The Autobiography of a Yogi. In the 1920s, he brought Hindu spirituality to the West. This tells the story of his life and influence on yoga, religion, and science, combining re-enactment, interviews, and verité.
5. A Joyful Mind
A Joyful Mind pulls back the curtain on what it means to meditate, what modern science reveals about its benefits, and on how meditation and mindfulness can be used in workplaces and schools. This groundbreaking film serves to clear up the confusion around meditation perpetuated by the media.
6. A Cloud Never Dies
A new biographical documentary of the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh narrated by actor Peter Coyote, A Cloud Never Dies weaves together original film and photographic archives, telling the story of a humble young Vietnamese monk and poet whose wisdom and compassion were forged in the suffering of war.
7. David Lynch: Meditation, Creativity, Peace
Acclaimed Filmmaker David Lynch is a huge proponent of Transcendental Meditation. In this documentary, a team of filmmakers followed David Lynch on a sixteen-country tour and documented a series of lectures and intimate interviews on Lynch’s creative process and his relationship to Transcendental Meditation.
8. The Power of Meditation BBC Documentary
This awesome documentary about meditation explores a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.), and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness.
How can we overcome our fears? How do we reconnect with our intuition? What is the power and magic of using your intention? To what extent can we use it to reach the life we truly want? Enlightenment explores how to transform our negative subconscious beliefs and resistance through meditation.
10. All Is Self
This documentary unpacks the two stories that dominate the modern world: that we exist as separate selves in an unintelligent world of dead matter and that we were created by God in his image who rules over us.
Other Meditation Related Documentaries
Here are some more documentaries about meditation, yoga, and mindfulness that are also worth watching:
1. Float Nation
The story of the popular trend of floating and the power of sensory deprivation for meditators and for the experience of altered states of consciousness.
A prominent YouTuber tells the story of his 10 days of complete silence in a Vipassana meditation retreat and how it was a life-changing experience.
The story of the cruelty and injustice of America’s massive prison system and how meditation is helping prisoners cope better with mental health challenges.
A rare documentary made in 1971 about prominent meditation teacher, spiritual entertainer and scholar of eastern philosophy Alan Watts.
A documentary about the Vedantic Path of Self-Realization and the Hindu traditional vision of the universal and divine self.
The fascinating story of Dutch breathwork pioneer Wim Hof who climbed Mount Everest in his shorts and how his teachings have led to a renaissance of interest in meditation and breathing practices.
This documentary explores the mindfulness revolution ins 4 parts: What is mindfulness? The formal practice of mindfulness meditation, the informal practice of mindfulness through mindful living, and mindfulness at work.
A PBS documentary that tells the story of young Prince Siddhartha Gautama who abandoned his royal life for a spiritual journey to discover enlightenment.
Faced with behavioral and learning challenges, a San Francisco middle school decided to try something new: mindfulness meditation. This is their story.
10. The Yoga of Life
This documentary unravels the ever-evolving perspectives of several yoga students on a yoga teacher training held in the vibrant soul of South India.
A documentary that chronicles the American discovery of eastern traditions in the 1960s and how today’s younger generation is embracing mindfulness and yoga.
This documentary film about mindfulness and education was made by the organization Mindful Schools which shows what happened when mindfulness was introduced to kindergarteners at Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley, San Francisco.