Mindfulness in Disney's Little Mermaid Prequel

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As a parent of young children, I get to experience a worldview that includes a whole bunch of random crap I wouldn't otherwise know about. As a therapist, I take that crap and synthesize it with my knowledge and experience both to entertain myself and connect with my child. This is how I wound up finding myself weeping uncontrollably while watching the film Ariel's Beginning with my toddler. 

First off, this is actually a decent film! I was surprised that the writer and director is a young and hip seeming woman and I'm assuming they gave her enough creative control to actually make a Disney sequel that is enriching and enjoyable to watch.

In the first few minutes of the film, I was so moved by the song that Ariel's mother sings to her daughters as they go to sleep:

And the waves roll low

And the waves roll high

And so it goes

Under the bright blue

Endless sky

Waves try to measure

The days that we treasure

Wave hello

And wave goodbye

These touching lyrics beautifully describe deep spiritual concepts from Eastern philosophy - finding an inner sense of calm, knowing that you are not your thoughts and feelings, being unmoved and thrown about by apparent storms on the surface. Above it all is an endless blue sky, ever-present and steadying and calm. 

Of course Ariel's mother Athena freakin dies in the next couple of minutes, but the lessons she taught her daughter are solid and lasting in Ariel's heart, giving her the confidence she needs to follow her heart's urging throughout the film. 

So many bloggers and commentators out there are cynical about the negative messages in Disney films. It's just as easy to see the positive, deeply meaningful and spiritual concepts clearly presented on screen. I refuse to vilify the whole Princess thing. Those are some badass bitches! You can look for evidence of dis-empowering messages or you can look for clear themes of empowerment, compassion and grit. Then you can invite a meaningful critical conversation of the different lenses and systemic elements in play. I'm getting into another blog post here - definitely stay tuned for more Disney posts, as long as I have toddlers in my midst which if a few more years at least :)

Patricia Borgess