Integral Transformative Practice grew out of co-founders George Leonard and Michael Murphy’s observations at Esalen Institute for the need for a dedicated practice to maintain ongoing growth. During their transformative workshops at Esalen, they witnessed students who experienced profound gains during a weekend, only to return to old habits when they continued with their “regular lives.”
George and Michael’s work in creating the human potential movement eventually culminated in the first experimental ITP group in 1992, where they tested their theories about an integral practice that fosters long-term, positive change.
Experiments and Transformations in ITP
In this first experimental ITP class, thirty-six participants were selected and included people from a diverse range of ages and careers. For eleven months, this group met each Saturday for two hours in Mill Valley, California. At that first meeting, it was the intention to work toward creating an integral transformative practice appropriate for a modern lifestyle while offering practitioners the opportunity to enjoy increased centeredness, health and growth in body, mind, heart and soul.
Careful records were kept of all transformations that occurred in the class members’ conditions. The research from both the first and second ITP class cycles demonstrated a strong correlation between dedication to the practice and realizing personal affirmations, along with significant improvements in overall physical and mental health.
There were also some unexpected findings that suggested the importance of “intentionality” in positive human change. For example, focus during the ITP Kata turned out to be more important than the number of times the Kata was performed.
Likewise, how conscious practitioners were of what they ate seemed to be more important than exactly what they ate—though both were important.
Other positive changes in the first two experimental classes challenged conventional explanation:
- A 45-year-old woman with a long and compelling family history of cataracts reversed her own cataracts over the two years of the program.
- A 57-year-old woman who suffered from functional epilepsy was averaging one grand mal seizure a month when the program started. She has had none in the fifteen years since.
- A 46-year-old man increased his leg strength by 140 percent without changing his physical exercise regimen.
- One woman, a manager, significantly increased the amount of time she could spend in the “flow state” while on the job.
An Ongoing Evolution
After the conclusion of the first two class cycles, George and Michael collected the results of their experiment and wrote the book The Life We Are Given. Though the book was written as a guide for ITP practitioners, it is a practice created to evolve with time.
The transformative results of ITP continue, and studies done by Institute of Noetic Sciences in 2006, further support the effectiveness of our integral approach to untapping our human capacities. Perhaps even more encouraging though, are the ongoing positive affects our practitioners experience that support the need for an integral, transformative practice.
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