The Ashtanga Zap!!

One of the tools presented in the film, Beyond Belief, is “present moment awareness’ or ‘being present’, being in the moment.  There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is yoga.

Last summer when Jim and I were in the midst of producing the film Beyond Belief we made a pact to ‘do yoga everyday’ until the film was complete.  This daily yoga practice helped us to stay centered and focused throughout the production.  And now yoga is a part of my life.

I LOVE Ashtanga Yoga!  Stepping up to the edge of my mat, bringing my hands into prayer position against my chest, might be compared to a diver stepping up to the edge of the board on a high dive, or a runner putting a foot on the starting block, bending to put hands on the ground before a race.

There is a brief glimpse into the future, of what is about to come, and then, you become present in the moment, allowing the outside world to fade into the distance, as you bring the focus to the breath.

Ashtanga is an intense form of yoga that is physically demanding.  The primary series leads you through a sequence of about 75 postures, combining a sweaty workout with a meditative focus, synchronizing movement and  breath.

Moving through the sequence of 75 postures can be both frustrating and  enlightening, as you become aware of the endless thoughts roaming through your head, even as you attempt to ‘quiet the mind’.

Why do people spend a good 90 minutes of their day sweating from head to toe, doing the same physically demanding postures, over and over again, twisting and contorting their bodies like a corkscrew, and then come back for more?

Perhaps at least part of the answer lies in the experience, which I now call “The Ashtanga Zap!!”

One day when I least expected it, I had this experience.  In the middle of my practice, moving and breathing, and trying to remember which posture came next, my mind just suddenly went “blank…”    Simply, completely, totally…..blank

Tabula Rasa…

There was no thought about what posture I just completed, or which posture came next.  This was different from times in the past, when I simply had trouble remembering the next posture.  This felt more like…

Silence.  Stillness.  Calm.

I took a step back and looked with amazement at the space where I had just been standing, wondering what just happened?!   It was like an ‘energy source’ had zapped my mind, and all the noise was gone.  Stillness.

It lasted only a moment, before my mind kicked in:

“What just happened?”

“What’s the next posture?  Keep moving!’”

Then I was moving again, breathing, twisting, sweating, thoughts roaming in and out and through my head:

“Focus on the count, focus on the breath, inhale, exhale, focus… focus….”

This Ashtanga Zap is what I imagine the ultimate feeling of being present must be like.  No longer lingering in the past, no longer looking to the future, but simply ‘BE-ing’ in the present moment.

I would encourage you to find your own way to take a moment and be present, each and everyday.  Of course, I highly recommend YOGA:)

But you will find the method that works best for you, and when you do, it will transform your life.



To see the trailer and get the DVD Beyond Belief go to:

Posted in Beyond Belief, Mind Body Spirit on 05/10/2010 09:49 pm