Posts Tagged ‘Esalen Institute’

Esalen: Land of Transformation


My wife and I have just returned from the 50th Anniversary celebration at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. The celebration was called A Moveable Feast and allowed participants to sample many dimensions of Esalen. I attended workshops on Gestalt process, creative writing and sustainability. In addition to the smaller workshops, the celebration included evening events reflecting on the history and future of Esalen. In addition to all of these splendid dishes at the feast, a concert on the lawn took place one afternoon. Joan Baez, who was there for the week, performed. She sang soulful songs of loss, joy and social awareness.

Then there was the Land. From the time I walked onto the Land, I felt the presence of the sacred. The Land has always been known as sacred. For thousands of years, the Native peoples in this place cared for the Land. For the past 50 years, the peoples of Esalen, including Native elders, continue to preserve and protect the sacred Land.

The sacredness also appears in the silence, a quiet that fills your soul. Each morning I would sit by the sea listening to this silence. My body became infused with the silence. Everyone there commented on this unique aspect of Esalen. We were filled with awe of its abiding presence. I hope that I can carry some of this quiet with me now that I returned to the busy world.

The Land is truly precious, but so are the People of Esalen. From the time you drive down to the gate to the time you leave, you experience an open acceptance and authenticity by those dwelling on the Land. The people reflect the sacred quiet of the Land. Their work reflects back on the place. Place and People are inseparable. The dwellers of Esalen, some who have been there for 40 years, make Esalen a place of personal and social transformation. They recognize the importance of community of being together to make a whole. The people attending the anniversary were filled with beauty and I am thankful for encountering newly found friends.

Finally, this is a place of the Body. The Esalen baths and massages are known throughout the world. Natural sulfur hot springs feed the baths, which reminds me of the alchemical nature of the place. The importance of Body to life, to being an authentic being pervades all aspects of Esalen. I experienced some great massages there that were in themselves transformative.

I went to the 50th anniversary to honor elders who I have received so much from: Aldous Huxley, Gregory Bateson, Alan Watts, Fritz Perls, Joseph Campbell, to name a few. Walking the grounds I was constantly reminded of their presence at Esalen and now living within me. I also went to experience what ever happened. Experience. Perhaps this is what Esalen is really about. You never know what you will experience, but in the Land of Transformation, you know you will be changed forever.

Thank You and Happy 50th Birthday Esalen!

Read Full Post »