There is something magical about any intense, tightly knit group of people working together and playing together, a feeling of being in the world while at the same time being apart from it, apart together. We believe that even those of us who have not experienced that magic hear its distant music, feel its ancient call … such a community can create the context and the confidence for a transforming journey.
George Leonard & Michael Murphy in The Life We Are Given
We've been a community from the beginning. Our community studies and works together, eats together, plays together, grows together, and grieves together.
A large portion of our community lives on site, but the Esalen community is actually a global network of seekers who come to Esalen each year or stay in touch online or through the "coconut wireless."
We also are, strictly speaking, a learning laboratory and sanctuary — spiritual or humanistic, depending on your point of view — and one renowned for meditative experiences and psychological breakthroughs. So it’s not surprising that people tell us they seek out Esalen to “step off the grid,” or to “quiet the mind.” In truth, however, the ocean-bound turn off Highway 1 takes you into an experiment in living that’s sometimes radically accepting to the point of being rambunctious.
Eye contact is startling and invigorating. The cross-fertilization of ideas, creativity, and perspective is almost palpable. Laughter is unguarded and spreads quickly. Conversations become the basis for lifelong friendships.
Life in community is fertile ground for continual personal growth; some serendipitous, some deliberate. In the 50-plus years we’ve been experimenting and playing in this sandbox we have developed a suite of communicational, leadership and relational tools including Open Seat, Process Check-Ins, Community Meetings, and several extended education programs to foster clearer communication and deeper personal growth.
The Esalen community often describes itself as seekers serving seekers. Seminarians, teachers, students, and conference attendees intermingle with residential and local staff sharing meals at communal tables in the Lodge, soaking in the baths, engaging in deep conversation, and sharing spontaneous laughter around the fireplace on the deck. Each community member plays a vital role in Esalen's thriving.
Arriving from diverse backgrounds and for reasons as varied as the hundred or more staff who work on property, the community ebbs and flows, with some staying just a day and others several decades. One can never be sure where on that spectrum you might fall.
Visitors to Esalen are invited into our home and community during their stay and invited to pitch in side-by-side with the rest of us. Visitors are welcome to join in the daily Experiential Program that is often led by multi-talented community members, volunteer in the Farm & Garden or kitchen, and attend the Wednesday Evening Program.