The One Hour Meditation

About a month ago, Jennifer Heister asked for help.

Well on her way as a teacher in the Baptiste “Power” method, she needed to submit a video of herself teaching a yoga class to clear one of the final hurdles of certification.

I’m prone to answer ‘yes’ to calls for help, even if they come in on a Saturday evening, for a Sunday morning class. Help like this is too far inside my wheelhouse to not give.

Also, her birthday was coming up, and I’d do anything for Jen besides.

But, I warned her, I’d only be able to use my phone because the late ask left no time to prepare otherwise. We’ve somehow made it to the future without building Skynet (well, sorta), and in lieu of hoverboards we have tricorders. The 720p/24fps output of my ‘phone’ would be sufficient.

And it usually is — when audio is captured.

But as I found out at the end of one hour of very sweaty recording (Jen does Bikram/hot room yoga, and I was dressed all wrong for it), the audio mic for my phone was shot, even though all other audio I/O (voice recorder & speakerphone, for example) were still working just fine.


So, a week later, we reconvened, and this time, I used Jen’s worn-but-trusty G9. No small irony that the device was the same one that once captured production footage of me at work in Cambodia, years ago.

But no time to get misty: the class was starting, and I needed to get familiar with the machine, fast. I wasn’t looking to shoot this class a third time.

I work in stills and video fluidly; the mediums draw from complementary spaces within. Put a photographic recording device of any kind in my hands, and I can work it. Though I have a long way still to go to master the craft of storytelling, I do know I’m pretty good, and I can generally manufacture aesthetic beauty at will.

All that said — presenting every second of a solid one-hour take, without edit or retake, is extremely disrobing. Given the nature of Jen’s need, I couldn’t stop shooting until she was done. And picking a static angle was out of the question: I had to show Jen’s personal interactions with her students. So in addition to the screen, I really had to watch my feet: there were close to 30 students in the class, all of whom were plenty busy holding their own weight, sweating their way to enlightenment.

Nowhere to hide, and nothing to do but shoot. So I did, and I had so much fun with it.

There are plenty of moments I’d edit out, given the choice. But in watching this before final export, I also found something beautiful in the piece… I’ve never seen a yoga class presented quite this way. And for all the moments that I’d love to bury, there are just as many that are genuinely beautiful, that I’d find no other way than in meditation. And by the 20th minute of shooting, with 40 more to go, that’s exactly what it becomes.

For one hour on April 8th the morning sun was generous, the teacher was sure, the students were focused, and I was wearing shorts.

Thanks for thinking of me, Jen — love ya.

25 April 2012, 17:24

Your Turn


An Envelope Slipped Under the Door

I’m still getting used to being in Gowanus on a daily basis. Everything is moving fast, and I get acquainted with what I need to know as soon as I need to know it.

I have no idea where to look for my mail, for example. This hasn’t been an issue, as VR has little-to-no postal traffic. But I do know what an envelope slipped under a door sounds like, and when I looked by the front door to find the cause of the sound, my first 11215 mail beckoned.

Within this was a second envelope.

Arn Chorn-Pond is a musician, human rights advocate, genocide survivor, founder of Cambodian Living Arts, and dear friend. He was my cultural ambassador and translator throughout the six weeks of countrywide production for “Masters”.

I have vague memories of Arn toting a camera around back then; I was completely focused on the job at hand, massive as it was.

This past Sunday, I was asked to tell the story of how I came to do what I do, and why. I didn’t want to derail the flow of the gathering with an extended monologue, so I gave the shortest rendition yet: three and a half years ago, I made a promise to help promote a new Cambodian iconography – one that centers on the nation’s culture. Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve built, and everything I’ve become has grown around this promise.

Photographs by Arn Chorn-Pond

It’s a long road; one that’s taught me to appreciate the journey. But there are signs along the way – rich, sweet, kind ones – and I am grateful.

24 April 2012, 10:58

Your Turn


Stairway to Heaven

You know the path leads somewhere interesting when the way forward looks like this.

23 April 2012, 17:50

Your Turn



“…we have not even to risk the journey alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Joseph Campbell, via River Eirtree

18 April 2012, 10:30

Your Turn



“When you are in alignment with who-you-really-are, you cannot help but uplift those with whom you come into contact. Your value to those around you hinges upon only one thing: your personal alignment with the Source. And the only thing you have to give to another is an example of that alignment – which they may observe, then desire, and then work to achieve – but you cannot give it to them. Everyone is responsible for the thoughts they think and the things that they choose as their objects of attention.”

Esther Hicks

10 April 2012, 21:42

Your Turn [2]


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