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Upcoming Work Study Programs

Upcoming Work Study Programs

Workstudy: The Ensemble Process with Peter James Meyers
August 3 - 31, 2014

In the centuries-old tradition of ensemble theatre, individual charisma and creativity are vitally bound up with the greater energy of the group. Modern modes of expression and understanding from jazz to systems theory have affirmed the power of symbiosis. There is now a greater understanding of a model of leadership fueled not by the decisions of a single personality but by the pulse and wisdom of the ensemble.

During this program, Peter James Meyers, veteran stage director and leadership consultant, will help cultivate communication skills, self-assurance, and physical presence through a process of group discovery and performance.

Along the way, the group will practice movement, voice, and improvisation techniques that will allow each participant to amplify personal presence, enhance spontaneity, and heighten clarity of thought. In short, learn how to captivate a room and shape an audience’s experience.

This is an ideal opportunity for anyone interested in blending performing arts with the art of leadership—expanding expressive skills while cultivating the ability to command and inspire. Participants will create an original theater piece to be offered to the Esalen community at the end of the month. Open to participants of all backgrounds and interests.

Recommended reading: Meyers, As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have it Stick.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

August Legacy Program: Gestalt Training with Michael Clemmens
August 3 - 31, 2014

Gestalt is a practice of attending to our experience and style of being in the world in any given moment, in any relational and social context we may encounter. As practiced by Michael Clemmens, Gestalt focuses on our physical awareness, our process of interacting with others, and developing skills to utilize so that we may experience authentic contact.

This program is an opportunity to learn an interactive approach to Gestalt. We will explore and practice skills such as body awareness and sensation development, focusing awareness of physical and emotional states, attention to the interpersonal dynamic of facilitator /client and the importance of contextual field; that is, gaining a better understanding of what is happening within the group dynamic. The structure of the training will include some readings in Gestalt, experiential sessions, demonstrations, and practice labs to support the development of specific skills. This program is open to beginners as well as those with prior experience with Gestalt, and is helpful for anyone who wants to live a more conscious life.

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

Workstudy: Spinal Awakening with the Gyrokinesis® Method with Juergen Bamberger
August 31-September 28, 2014

Who am I today? Listening to and perceiving through your spine can give you answers to this question. As the central and organizing structure that holds and radiates our life force, our spine gives us access to subtle energy centers that are situated along the vertical axes of the body. On a more physical level, the spine gives support against gravity, mobility to function in a 3-D world, and is essential to distributing information throughout the body by forming a pathway for the nervous system. Still, most people are unaware of their backbone unless it sends signals of pain and diminished range of movement.

Led by Juergen Bamberger, this Gyrokinesis Method program offers movement rituals that start a dialogue with the spine, which can bring back feelings from childhood when the body was still fluid and our relationship with it unbroken. By moving the spine systematically, we can regain our youthful vitality and the pleasure to inhabit our body. As a group we experience the rhythm and pulse of waving, spiraling, and arching movements, as well as the power of the breath that supports them. The movement explorations range in quality from calming and introspective to active and invigorating. Through the Gyrokinesis Method we can free ourselves from old restrictions, learn tools to transform physical and emotional stress, and integrate thought forms that keep us from moving freely.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

September Legacy Program: Leadership and Presence with Suzanne Scurlock-Durana
August 31-September 28, 2014

The more present we are in ourselves, the more present we can be with someone else.

Presence is the hidden key to successful leadership. This seemingly elusive skill is learnable, and this Legacy program led by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana contains the steps, through experiential work that is designed to help you pay attention to the subtle cues you receive from your body and the surrounding environment all the time. This will then give you access to your own, highly valuable inner landscape – the wisdom of your body-mind-spirit, which significantly enhances your ability to be more fully present as a leader. In this month we will share how to:

  • Assess your energy reservoir and refill when you are depleted
  • Be more able to BE present vs. DOING all the time
  • Be aware of, but not absorb the emotions of others
  • Make healthy connections (empathy vs. sympathy)
  • Stay open hearted and clear headed
  • Have more powerful leadership conversations

The deeper layer of this program will help you more fully utilize the navigational system of your body, including wisdom of the heart, gut, bones, feet, and legs.

If you feel overwhelmed at times by your feelings or those around you, this course will help you develop your body and energy field into a container that can hold and modulate the whole range of human emotions.  Learning to build this capacity within your navigational field enables you to have feelings and learn from them. Please bring a journal for reflection time and notes, as well as a binder for handouts.

This workshop is especially useful for those in the helping and healing professions in working with their clients and patients.

Required reading and listening: Scurlock-Durana, Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body’s Wisdom, book and audio download or CD.

CE credit for nurses and bodyworkers.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

Workstudy: Motion Theater®: Dreaming on Your Feet with Nina Wise
September 28 - October 26, 2014

It is our nature to be free—and to express that freedom spontaneously and without hesitation through song and dance, poetry and play. Moreover, we each have the ability to wake up to who we already know ourselves to be: people dedicated to a sane and just world made up of individuals who celebrate their common humanity and this planet of indescribable beauty through singing, dancing, playing, and caring for all sentient beings.

This improvisation workshop in Motion Theater allows the creativity that resides within us to have a voice. “Everyone has a story to tell,” says Nina Wise. “And stories reside as much in the body as in the mind. So we begin with movement—slow stretches to open the body. We open the voice with playful classical- and jazz-based exercises. We meditate to calm the heart, dance to free the spirit, find a way to effortlessly compose with language. This journey leads to giving voice and physicality to the private characters and inner realities that live in the subconscious mind and the cells of our bodies.”

The sessions will include meditation, gentle and vigorous movement, exploring the range of vocal expression, writing exercises, as well as solo, duet, and ensemble improv games.

This workshop is like dreaming on your feet. Expect to surprise yourself and to become more playful and at ease before an audience. You might even find that the sense of wellbeing achieved during the workshop not only expands your creative abilities, but also enhances your experience of daily life. And while it is not therapy, the work can be surprisingly, delightfully, holistically healing.”

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

October Legacy Program: Transforming Your Identity, Discovering Your Authentic Self with Tanya McGinnity
September 28 - October 26, 2014

Our emotions can be hugely important in determining the quality of our lives. They occur in every relationship we care about – in the workplace, friendships, with family members, and in our intimate relationships. Emotions can, and often do, arise very quickly. Our conscious self usually does not participate in or even witness what, exactly, triggers an emotion at any particular moment. That speed can save our lives in an emergency, but it can also ruin our lives when we react rather than respond.  

Using an Emotional Intelligence framework, Tanya McGinnity will lead participants on a journey to witness their current capabilities and be encouraged to reach their highest potential. By establishing trust we create an energetic container in which participants will feel safe to dive deep into their souls through guided imagery and self-reflective questioning. By reflecting on negative patterns they will be able to determine the false identities that have been informing their negative self-talk. This transformative course is dedicated to a deep exploration of vision, identity, values, and emotions in order to live intentionally and with purpose, connected with a radiant life force.

Note: This program is full with a wait list- you can apply and be on the wait list and we do not process your deposit unless you get a spot and say yes.

Workstudy: Streams of Energy with Jim Gallas
October 26 - November 23, 2014

Jim Gallas leads this program of Eastern bodywork and movement, including Reiki 1 Certification, a thorough overview of Shiatsu Massage, an introduction to meridian theory, and an easy-to-learn, powerful Chi Kung form. Various meditations, self-massage, and improv games will be used to encourage awareness and expression. The program is designed to open students to their own innate healing potentials, to the power of safe, therapeutic touch, and to being more fully present in their ongoing unfolding. Participants will also receive valuable tools to facilitate the healing of others. In a spirit of compassion, laughter, and expanding awareness, students will be nurtured and nourished by the group interaction and by a deeper connection to Self.

CE credit for bodyworkers.

Legacy Program: Nonviolent Communication: The Language of Life with Jean Morrison
October 26 - November 23, 2014

This month we’ll rigorously integrate the internationally recognized process called Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which is also known as Compassionate Communication. With certified NVC trainer, Jean Morrison, you are offered the opportunity to strengthen your ability to:

  • Honor your authentic self
  • Live from a consciousness of compassion, for yourself and with others
  • Make peace with conflict, which affects emotional health and well-being
  • Replace habits of mind and language that create distress and walls of separation with new habits that create connection, understanding, and healing
  • Liberate your thinking and reactions in order to transform the gifts of anger, hurt, and guilt into energy and expressions that serve life
  • Clarify and express your emotions and needs, distinct from blame
  • Make empowering requests distinct from demands and expectations
  • Apply NVC principles and skills to your goals and aspirations

The sessions include a balance of playful exploration, thoughtful inquiry, powerful exercises for skill-development, and sharing of best practices with participants’ real situations.  Each participant will receive a 30-page binder and booklet.  Journal pages are included in the binder with simple tracking of key events of the day and short processes to connect with the content of the course. For more information about Jean and NVC, please visit

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs.

Workstudy: Gestalt Awareness Practice with Dorothy Charles
November 23 - December 21, 2014

Each of us is born with an inherent drive for aliveness and self-expression and belonging. As we grow up, our sense of self and our ability to be spontaneous may become blocked. Knowing who we are, and what we feel and want, can be difficult when we have lived with the absence of adequate attunement and responsiveness to our emotions. This lack can result in self-judgment and the belief that our emotions are the problem, instead of signals that can point the way toward a better understanding of ourselves and our environment.

The focus of a month with Dorothy Charles and Relational Gestalt Process will be creating a group experience that will provide a context in which feelings can be held and integrated. Individual work with the leader, communication skills, and group process will be used to develop awareness and self- responsibility to create relationships with self and others that are supportive and enlivening. Meditation and expressive arts will also be part of the curriculum.

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs.

Legacy Program: Systems for Living: Understanding and Designing for a Sustainable Life with Michael Ableman
November 23 - December 21, 2014

Words like sustainability, permaculture, and ecological design are now part of the public lexicon, but what do they really mean? We turn on the tap and water comes out, the switch and there is light, go to the store and the shelves are full of food. Rarely are we afforded an in-depth look at how these basic life functions actually work, and how to participate in these essential aspects of our lives in a more conscious way.

Physically isolated from other communities, semi-independent of public sewers, water systems, commercial food production, and energy sources, Esalen provides a unique opportunity to understand how the places where we live physically function. This program offers a microcosmic look at what works and what doesn’t, and how to improve our own “life support” systems back home.

Guided by farmer and author Michael Ableman, guest presenters, and by those who manage the basic systems that keep Esalen functioning, we will explore the inner workings and philosophy of the farm, garden, and kitchen; Esalen’s water sources, sewage systems, and energy supply; the structures where people live, stay, meet, and work; and how these systems are integrated or not. We will hear from those who work with these systems about challenges, strengths and weaknesses of existing infrastructure, planned improvements, and hopes for the future.  

Participants will have the opportunity to develop ideas and designs for the systems we are studying at Esalen, and then learn how to apply those concepts to their own homes and communities. This month-long exercise will provide the inspiration and information that is applicable to any situation, whether a single-family home, a neighborhood, or an entire community. This month is especially useful for people who seek to create a more sustainable world — in their everyday lives and beyond.

Workstudy: Deep Bodywork® with Rob Wilks and Paul Wehrman
December 21, 2014 - January 18, 2015

Deep Bodywork, as created by Perry Holloman over the last twenty-five years at Esalen Institute, is a method that integrates the qualities of a flowing Esalen® Massage with the therapeutic effectiveness of deep tissue work. Using deep tissue methods, massage practitioners can enter the body’s deeper soft tissue layers, freeing previously dense, hardened areas, which may have become chronically painful due to a lack of fluid exchange and energy flow. As these areas soften and “re-organize,” their chronic tension patterns release, revitalizing living tissues with blood, lymph, and chi (life) energy. Because living systems like the human body require a constant flow of chi energy to self-organize and heal, blockages to that flow within our tissues can create longer-term health problems like joint and soft tissue pain, movement restriction, and circulatory problems.

This month with Rob Wilks and Paul Wehrman will focus on exploring the modality of deep bodywork as a healing art, and is designed for massage and bodywork practitioners seeking to incorporate effective deep tissue techniques into their work. We will explore the common areas (back, neck, shoulders, hips, etc.) where these chronic tension patterns tend to stagnate. Students will be taught how to effectively address these areas using gravitational energy, proper use of body mechanics, the importance of working slowly, and self-care practices.

Professional massage experience is highly recommended for this advanced-level class.
Please visit for more information.

Recommended viewing: Deep Bodywork I: Healing the Back, Shoulders and Hips (DVD), available at

CE credit for bodyworkers.


Legacy Program: The Buddhist Path of Awakening with Noah Levine
December 21, 2014 - January 18, 2015

Using a hybrid of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation techniques, Noah will offer an experience of the teachings and practices of Buddhism. We will learn how to develop a greater sense of care for ourselves and for our world through the revolutionary spiritual practices of the Buddha. Led by Noah Levine, the workshop explores the way that true spiritual practice is an engagement with life that goes against the norms of our confused society and is therefore an act of rebellion. This ancient path of awakening our own deepest wisdom and compassion is accessible to all who choose it. Instructions in meditation and guidance in the Buddhist path to liberation will be offered.

Workstudy: Spiritual Massage: Lightbody Infusion with Maria Lucia Bittencourt Sauer
January 18 - February 15, 2015

Spiritual Massage is a hands-on healing practice that works directly on the energy body, balancing the chakras, cleansing old thought forms, and gently facilitating release of emotional, physical, and spiritual blockages. Born into a family of healers with a generations-old tradition, Maria Lucia Bittencourt Sauer studied and continues to study with healers in her native Brazil, where Spiritism—receiving healing knowledge from the spirit world—is very familiar. In 1979, she came to Esalen (where she spent seven years living on property) and was sponsored by Esalen cofounder Dick Price to learn Spiritual Massage from Brazilian healer Luiz Gasparetto.

Maria Lucia emphasizes intentionality as the fundamental tool of any healing art designed to move energy.

Come and practice this wonderful healing technique and also practice Shamanic Ways to help each other find parts of our souls lost in early traumas or other past events. Participants must attend all sessions.

CE credit for bodyworkers.

Workstudy: Opening the Creative Channel with Johnsmith
February 15 - March 15, 2015

If you told the story of your heart, what story would you tell? If your life was a song, what would that song be? Have you thought, “I can't sing- I don't play an instrument, and I'm scared of that.” This program, led by Johnsmith, is for those who don't think they can sing, who are afraid, who were told they can't carry a tune, and who don't play an instrument. This is an invitation to go to your edge and discover the beauty of expressing your story and spirit through creativity and song.

The focus of this program is to open the creative heart through prose, singing, songwriting, storytelling, and poetry. With a mindful and playful attitude, along with the magic and natural beauty of Esalen, we’ll court the Muse and immerse ourselves in creative flow.

The program utilizes the following activities and exercises:

  • Journaling, writing exercises, song assignments, and co-writing
  • Songwriting tools including verse and chorus writing, rhyming, and metaphor
  • Solo and group singing, performance, and impromptu jams

Playing a musical instrument is not necessary, but you are welcome to bring one if you play. Johnsmith’s workshops help students cultivate a fun, dynamic, and safe place to experience our creative selves. John will also be inviting guest artists and staff to assist during the month.

Workstudy: Wisdom Healing Qigong: Wholeness is the Nature of the Self with Mingtong Gu
March 15 - April 12, 2015

“Your true nature is wholeness at one with the universe and all life,” writes Master Mingtong Gu. Through Wisdom Healing Qigong, Mingtong Gu will guide you to deepen your experience as a human energy field of consciousness connected to the energetic universe. “By awakening the true essence of the Self in your cellular, ancient memory, the pathways to the essential nature will open. You can bridge all dimensions of the self: the relative and absolute, the inner and outer, and the formed and formless. Out of this realization, your joy, creativity, and love can naturally flow with deeper knowing and your well-being will resonate with effortless energy.”

Master Gu, who received training from several Grandmasters in China, shares his joyous teachings and skills of translating the ancient teachings of Wisdom Healing Qigong for contemporary times. This month-long program will be a combination of energetic movement, sound, visualization and meditation, emphasizing healing as a self-discovery, self-empowering, and self-realization for daily practice and life. “Together, may we move through an embodied process from releasing stress to opening the heart and awakening the mind.”

CE credit for nurses.
CE credit for acupuncturists; see leader.
CE credit for MFT/LCSW; see leader.

Workstudy: Embodied Relational Gestalt with Michael Clemmens
April 12 - May 10, 2015

“We develop relationships with ourselves and others through the physicality of our vision, smell, touch, and movement,” says Michael Clemmens. “These relationships, or dances, shape what we believe is possible and how we behave in the present. In this program, our focus will be on the ways in which we create relationships through our bodies. By attending to our present dance with others, we can become more aware of our existing context and optional ways of interacting.

“The structure of the program will be experiential exercises, practice sessions, and group discussion to develop our awareness of self and the group. We will begin with our earliest movements (prior to birth) and then explore how we co-create our bodily membership in the more complex gestalts of family, groups, and cultures. Our goals will be to experience how we create relationships through embodiment, and to develop skills in attending to ourselves and others.”

CE credit for MFTs and LCSWs.

Workstudy: The Human as Two: Channeling in History and Practice with Jeffrey Kripal
May 10 - June 7, 2015

Channeling is a modern expression of an ancient practice found all over the world and throughout human history in numerous forms, from ancient Greek prophecy to various forms of divine possession to the revelation of scripture. Those practices generally involve a deity, ancestor, spiritual intelligence, discarnate being, or other dimension of the self speaking through a human person to an individual or a community, usually for some set purpose, crisis, or direction. They are also deeply intertwined with the history and practice of inspired writing.

Jeff Kripal is a historian and professor of religions at Rice University who specializes in the study and comparison of such altered states of mind and energy.  He will guide the group through a broad historical understanding of these practices and provide a simple model through which we might understand them in our own modern terms (from the study of comparative mystical literature and modern neuroscience). Student-scholars will also be encouraged to consider practical applications of the channeling "Human as Two" in dream-journaling, in experiences of synchronicity, and in creative writing. We will also bring in a contemporary modern channeler Paul Selig and the literary critic and writer Victoria Nelson, who has worked with Paul to produce three modern works of channeled literature.

Recommended reading: Selig, I Am The Word; Kripal, Authors of the Impossible.

Workstudy: Embodied Leadership in a Disembodied World with Don Hanlon Johnson
June 7 - July 5, 2015

From its beginning, Esalen has been the model for a new kind of leadership that builds on the complex range of human potentials and recognizes that these potentials are not just the preserve of a special few, but of every person. Michael Murphy and Richard Price exemplified that new kind of leadership in their insistence that at Esalen, no one special teacher or teaching be allowed to “capture the flag”; that it be a place where many skilled people could share what they had to offer in a climate of peership and collaboration. Esalen became a home for various strategies to develop the many potentials required for a new kind of leader. These included effective communication, how to deal with conflict, quality of contact with others, and deep inner reflection. They also included the many kinds of embodiment practices—ancient and modern—which address not only personal transformation but also the capacity to further a deeper sense of our bodily interdependence with others in our sensing, breathing, moving, and speaking.

In this program, Don Hanlon Johnson, a longtime veteran of Esalen and founder of the first graduate studies program in Somatics, located at California Institute of Integral Studies, will work with participants with the various strategies for cultivating leadership that have characterized Esalen’s history. These will include group process, meditation, investigations of each participant’s unique gifts for change, body practices to improve sensitivity, grounding, courage, imagination, and reflection on the meanings of the skills in relation to the great challenges of our era.

Recommended reading: Harding, Is America Possible?; Johnson, Body, Spirit, and Democracy.


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