Holding Hands

Any successful discipline remakes us to some extent. It alters habits, eliminates outworn routines, changes psychic and physical structures. This is especially true for practices that simultaneously embrace our cognitive, affective and physical parts while respecting our unique makeup.

Although some disciplines with relatively limited aims have well-marked stages, methods and results, integral practices make their way in new territories. Though they can draw upon experience from many fields, they have no detailed maps for all their activities. For that reason they depend upon a certain amount of trial and error, the love of adventure and improvisation. —Michael Murphy, The Future of the Body

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy


Michael Murphy is co-founder of Integral Transformative Practiceregister_mark.png, 368B, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Esalen Institute and author of four novels: Golf in the Kingdom, The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Jacob Atabet and An End to Ordinary History.

His nonfiction works, in addition to The Life We Are Given, include In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experience, co-authored with Rhea White and The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature. Golf in the Kingdom, still a bestseller 32 years after it was published, has spawned the Shivas Irons Society, a nonprofit organization with members in the 50 states and in 20 countries as well.

Murphy was born in Salinas, California, graduated from Stanford University and lived for a year at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. In 1980, he helped initiate Esalen’s Soviet-American Exchange Program, which was a premiere diplomacy vehicle for citizen-to-citizen relations. In 1990, Boris Yeltsin’s first visit to the U.S. was initiated by the Institute. Shortly after this visit, Yeltsin catalyzed the end of communism in Russia.

Esalen is also a groundbreaking research site. Preparatory work for The Future of the Body began in 1977 with the building of an archive of more than 10,000 studies of exceptional human functioning. The archive is now located at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

During his long involvement in the human potential movement, Murphy and his work have been profiled in The New Yorker and featured in many magazines and journals worldwide.