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  • Writer's pictureLex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA

On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace

Updated: May 26, 2023

In 2018, I chanced upon a cinematic masterpiece that profoundly resonated with me, artfully weaving together a tapestry of life elements I hold dear. "On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace" swiftly ascended to become the most transformative movie I have ever encountered, leaving an indelible mark on my consciousness. This film transcends mere entertainment; it is an enlightening odyssey that I sincerely recommend every reader to embark upon.

The film introduces us to Michael O'Neill, an illustrious photographer whose portfolio boasts iconic portraits of a diverse range of individuals, spanning from esteemed statesmen like Richard Nixon to acclaimed actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio. The film commences in O'Neill's studio amidst an intriguing montage of archival footage, launching us into his compelling narrative.

At a crossroads in his life, grappling with a debilitating injury, O'Neill faced the potential demise of his photographic career. It was during this challenging phase that he discovered yoga, a practice that not only healed his physical affliction but also sparked a profound personal transformation. He embarked on an extraordinary journey to delve into the mystic depths of yoga, a discipline that had remarkably altered his life's trajectory.

The narrative transitions from a self-centric perspective of accomplishment ("I am somebody and I have done a lot of stuff") to an enlightened pursuit of selfless exploration ("I need to explore the world and use what tools I have to share the story of yoga"). This is where the movie's narrative transcends its conventional boundaries, mirroring O'Neill's personal journey from pain to yoga, a humbling experience that led him to embrace the spiritual practice wholeheartedly.

As the film's narrator, O'Neill escorts the audience on an awe-inspiring expedition across the globe, bringing us face-to-face with some of the most revered yogis and spiritual gurus of our generation. The film is punctuated with moments of sublime transcendence and visually stunning sequences, imprinting vivid impressions that linger long after the closing credits have rolled.

O'Neill's journey takes us from the spiritual epicenter of India to the remote corners of Nepal, and to gatherings of yogis across the world, inaccessible realms seldom explored by westerners. He conducts insightful interviews with these individuals, who impart wisdom and love not only for the physical aspects of yoga but also for the spiritual odyssey towards self-realization. The film itself becomes a metaphoric portal, inviting viewers to embark on their introspective journey of self-discovery. At the time of writing, I have watched this film five times, and I fully anticipate revisiting it multiple times in the years to come.

Few films encapsulate my personal practices and human journey as deeply and authentically as "On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace". The evocative soundtrack, masterfully composed by Silvio Piesco, harmoniously intertwines meditative chants and melodies of serenity, adding a rich auditory layer to the cinematic experience.

Every time I watch I am struck by the moving cinematography and the way that the soundtrack perfectly matches ebbs and flows through interviews. There's no other way to put it: the film gives me immense peace and grounding when I watch it. It has helped remind me of why I keep returning to my practices day-in and day-out and how the teachings of my life have brought me this far.

This film is a veritable treasure trove of wisdom and enlightenment, a must-watch for all. Remarkably, it is freely accessible on YouTube, reinforcing my recommendation for everyone to immerse themselves in this extraordinary journey into the world of yoga and self-realization.

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