Esalen Institute

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.

Hank speaking to a group at EsalenHank speaking to a group at EsalenThere 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.


55000 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA, 93920
United States
Tel: (831) 667-3000

Upcoming events

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 8:30pm - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 11:30am

This is a powerful 5-day retreat for those wanting to create a more intrimate relationship with both their Higher Self/Oversoul as well as their Guide – their Oversoul's teacher. This retreat focuses primarily upon shamanic cosmology – where we use investigative shamanic fieldwork to explore the sacred dimensions where all mysteries, great and small, may become known. Our connections with our oversoul, as well as our committee of elder spirit teachers, will be deepened and broadened, fine-tuning our ability to do divination work among other things.

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 8:30pm - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:30am

This retreat includes elements of the weekend workshops, but in greater depth. We will utilize the classic shamanic journey method to establish connections with our spirit helpers and teachers, ancestral spirits, and possibly descendants.

We will begin to examine the nature of health, illness, and healing from the perspective of the traditional shaman, and the week will conclude with a powerful healing ritual. This workshop provides a clear introduction for those less familiar with the shaman's path and will enhance the practice of more experienced inner travelers.

Fri, 09/21/2018 - 8:30am - Sun, 09/23/2018 - 11:30am
An introductory weekend experiential workshop in which the classic method of shamanic journeywork is taught. Utilizing the way of the shaman, we connect with the inner levels of reality, awareness and experience to find our spirit helpers and teachers, those inner sources who are intimately connected with our life purpose, and who provide us with power, protection, knowledge and support. The weekend includes work with empowerment of self and others and will conclude with a healing ritual.
Sun, 09/23/2018 - 8:30am - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 11:30am

In the Western world today, interest in complimentary and alternative therapies is on the rise, and increasing numbers of healthcare practitioners and laypersons alike are discovering the ease with which the healing modalities pioneered by the indigenous peoples can be learned and practiced.