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Mar 22
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Mandala Projects
Naked Mind, the Film

DSC00005Denmo Ibrahim at Earthbody interviews filmmaker Sarah Barab

“Meditation is the direct path to understanding the nature of the mind,” says Sarah Barab in explaining what sparked the journey of her new film Naked Mind.

Barab joined up with filmmaker Pax Winters to travel the world pursuing a multicultural and cross-disciplinary perspective on meditation. They met with meditation masters and renowned neuroscientists in eight different countries to explore the role of meditation in our modern globalized world.

We were lucky enough to speak with Sarah about the film. Read our interview with her and let us know what you think in the comments, below.

SMRWhat was the main question that guided you in creating this film and what information were you seeking when you started filming?
When I began working on this project six years ago, the main questions for me revolved around being a Western meditation practitioner in today’s modern world with all of its distractions. The lack of a cultural container for spiritual seekers led me to wonder, how does one become “enlightened” or significantly deepen their consciousness, living in society, having a job, a family and so forth. I wanted to know — is it possible? If so, how?

How did your exploration deepen once you started making the film?

Naked Mind has evolved and deepened its inquiries. Naked Mind delves into the intersections of neuroscience and meditation, mental illness and meditation, the prison system and meditation, and more. We are investigating and documenting an extraordinary meditator, named Machig, who does traditional Tibetan Dark Retreats in which she goes for long periods of time without food or water, in a state of meditative absorption. This directly challenges the collectively accepted belief that human beings die after three days of not drinking water.

The Dalai Lama (R) smiles at Dr. RichardWe are also deeply interested in the research of Dr. Richard Davidson (featured in the film), which investigates how the brain itself changes when people meditate consistently. Perhaps the secret to happiness will not be a secret much longer! The part of the brain responsible for joy and compassion is shown through brain imaging, to be highly developed in meditators. Research shows that happiness can be cultivated through having a regular meditation practice. This reminds me of that quote I love — “Don’t just DO something, SIT there!” Words of wisdom, indeed.

IMG_2765_3_2You traveled to eight different countries in the filming of The Naked Mind. Which countries did you travel to and what did you discover by taking this cross-cultural approach?
We’ve filmed in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Thailand, Japan, Poland, Germany and Canada. We clearly saw the advantages of being a serious meditator in Eastern countries where the culture supports such endeavors, as well as the cultural trappings and pitfalls. For example, woman practitioners have much greater access to Buddhist teachings in Western countries than they do in the East, where there is still such a patriarchal bias. However, as an Eastern man, if you want to dedicate your life to spiritual practice and study, your family rejoices and your community gives you money and food so you don’t have to work! Not quite the case in New York City.

1What stage are you at with the film now and what do you hope to eventually do with the film once it is completed?
We are currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign and need to reach our fundraising goal by April 2. We’ve raised over $37,000 so far, but we only get to keep the money we raise if we reach our full goal of $45,000. That’s the way Kickstarter works.

Once Naked Mind is complete, it will be shown at film festivals worldwide — The International Buddhist Film Festival and the Rubin Museum, to name a couple. We will also seek TV distribution. Shambhala Acharya Fleet Maull (Founder of Prison Dharma Network) and I have created an outreach program and will be taking the film into prisons, veterans’ hospitals, rural high schools and universities, where we will offer meditation instruction and a period of Q&A after showing the film. I am very excited about our outreach program!

Help bring this project to life. Back this project here!

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Denmo Ibrahim is the founder and CEO of Earthbody, a San Francisco sanctuary offering integrative healing sessions and a handcrafted line of holistic organic skincare.

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