The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the "human potential," the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination. Esalen soon became known for its blend of East/West philosophies, its experiential/didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds blessed with natural hot springs. Once home to a Native American tribe known as the Essalen, Esalen is situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising sharply behind.
There are various ways to experience Esalen, ranging from an overnight visit to a long-term stay as a seminarian. Prior Reservations are always essential. The weekend and five-day workshops described throughout the Workshops section of the catalog are the standard route for coming to Esalen. The Experiencing Esalen workshops, scheduled periodically, offer an introduction to practices such as Gestalt, massage, sensory awareness, and meditation. From such a sampling, participants can then choose those approaches they are most attracted to and pursue them in subsequent seminars.
Another way of being at Esalen which allows a greater involvement at a lower expense is the Work Study Program, an intensive twenty-eight day work-oriented program for individuals who want to make a directed, personal commitment to self-exploration and growth, and a contribution to the Esalen community.
For those who wish an extended stay, there are periodic long-term programs which involve didactic seminars or professional trainings as well as experiential workshops.
Finally, there are other events that enrich life at Esalen. There are occasional forums in which writers and thinkers, both visiting and resident, share their ideas with the community. On Wednesday nights there may be lectures, films, dance performances, or other events. Bodywork of various kinds is available by appointment with individual practitioners. There is also a community event schedule offered. Please check the bulletin board when you arrive.
Esalen is a center for experimental education. We offer neither psychotherapy nor assurances of change.