Scene of people meditating in the film Chasing the Present

James Sebastiano and Mark Waters are Chasing the Present

The sound of traffic on a busy street. A contemplative and questioning voiceover from James Sebastiano reflecting on his history of drug use and abuse, his movement to vegetarianism and building successful businesses and his lifelong struggle with anxiety. James is the protagonist of this feature-length documentary Chasing the Present. His is a relatable struggle and quest. A yearning for ease, for meaning, for clarity, for happiness, for peace, for bliss. Throughout Chasing the Present, we follow James as he travels around the world and into his own stillness. He is looking for the path to presence and to mental health and wellness in the present moment.

James and Alex Grey in Chasing the Present

Some of James’ quest takes place through conversation, some of it through practice, some of it through action, some of it through reflection. His insight into his own mental health is one that mirrors our own. It is a fitting line of inquiry for Mental Health Awareness Month….and for the rest of all of our lives.

Join LA YOGA for a Virtual Screening of Chasing the Present on May 21.

Chasing the Present is beautifully filmed and thoughtfully directed by Mark Waters. It criss-crosses the world with James’ visits to locations including the banks of the River Ganga in Rishikesh, India, and the Peruvian jungles. We also travel with him to Indonesia, Nepal, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. It is framed by conversations James has with his father while sharing a meal in a diner. This sets up the conundrum James explains early on in the film, one that has meaning for all of us. “It’s not so hard to go to India for a month and practice and feel good. Then you have to go home and explain it to your dad, your mom, your friends. It’s challenging.”

James in Rishikesh, India

Chasing the Present to Find Mental Health

After all, what can make the largest impact is our daily integration of our ability to surrender in the present, to fully know that we are our consciousness, and to experience the real happiness and peace that is possible. This is what James discovers on the yoga mat, the meditation cushion, in the plant spirit medicine journey, with teachers, and in conversations.

James’ many conversations with a wide range of noteworthy teachers and leaders is one of the gems of his journey. He is generous in his vulnerability and he and Mark Waters allow us to eavesdrop on the wisdom gathered in sessions that include Russell Brand, Alex Grey, Rupert Spira, Joseph Goldstein, and more.

Russell Brand in Chasing the Present

We fade out back to that conversation between James and his dad, sitting in a diner, talking about the importance of presence. Taking the chase into daily life, moment by moment, day by day.

Watch the Film and Enjoy a Lively Discussion!

On Thursday, May 21 at 7pm.

Join us for a virtual screening of the film.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A and discussion with James Sebastiano, film Producer Adam Schomer, and LA YOGA editor in chief Felicia Tomasko. Topics will include the film, mental health, yogic practices, and more.

Buy Tickets for the Virtual Chasing the Present Screening. Only $8 for the ticket for screening and discussion.

Chasing the Present Poster


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Stay informed and inspired with the best of the week in Los Angeles, etc. and more ...

Stay informed & Inspired