Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Integral Cinematic Experiment

A little over ten years ago I had my first encounter with what might be called “integral filmmaking.” I had been studying Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995) and practicing George Leonard and Michael Murphy’s Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) on a daily basis. One day I performed my ITP Kata (a set of integrated body, mind, and spirit exercises) right before running a camera test on my new digital video camcorder. Still being in a post-practice transformative state, I had a profound cinematic experience. As I moved through the house with the camera on, I appeared to be fully aware and conscious of my inner experience, the camera in my hand and the space within which I was moving. I exited the house and was drawn to our koi pond. Once there, I felt drawn into the world of the pond and entered a deep state of pure presence or witnessing. My camera became my eyes, and my body, my awareness and the camera danced with the fish, the gently rippling water, the shimmering sunlight, the caressing wind and the material forms of the pond and its surroundings. I spent hours at the pond, lost in a deep cinematic meditation process. Afterwards I felt a profound sense of gratitude and grace.

When I viewed my footage I was amazed at what I had captured. There before my eyes appeared to be a cinematic example of the four dimensions/perspectives of Wilber’s Integral Theory (Subjective/I Space; Inter-Subjective/We Space; Objective/IT Space; and Inter-Objective/ITS Space): Besides the physical reality of the pond (IT Space) and the environment within and around it (ITS Space), I had footage of the individual koi fish in which I could sense their individual presence (I Space) and footage of the fish in pairs and groups that seemed to reveal a collective and inter-relational presence (WE Space).

I decided to continue my accidental experiment, spending the next few days editing the material while in a post-ITP state. I would basically perform my ITP Kata (Leonard & Murphy, 1995) and then sit down at the computer and edit in that state. It was a wondrous experience, and once I finished, the viewing of the final work sent me into the very state I experienced while shooting it. When I showed it to a few people they all said the same thing -- that the video put them into a very relaxed state and gave them the experience of actually being at the koi pond.


Kaplan, M. A. (2002). The Pond [Digital Video].

Leonard, G. & Murphy, M. (1995). The life we are given: A long-term program for realizing the potential of body, mind, heart, and soul. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology, spirituality: The spirit of evolution. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

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