One of the fundamentals of the agricultural practice at Esalen is the way in which we incorporate the lineage of human relational and individual process work that has been core to the Institute since its formation. Every morning after breakfast, our crew sits quietly in circle for a few minutes, and then we have a group check-in. In this space, each of us has the opportunity to show up as our whole self, by choosing to share the physical, emotional, and spiritual feelings and sensations that are present for us.
We hold this act of coming together to share in circle as sacred, just as our ancestors on the land did before us. We strive to practice and model an evolving emotional vocabulary, with an eye toward building, strengthening and restoring the connections between us. We endeavor to turn toward the dynamic relationships we have with ourselves, with one another and with our work on the land.
All of this informs and supports our land stewardship, the integrity and health of the soil, and our cohesion as a group. The elements of our Farm and Garden system—the work crew, community, natural ecology, soil history, our human relationships, the quality of the food we eat, the presence and intention with which we interact with the plants—all of these create a Gestalt, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
There are boundless potential approaches to the world’s challenges of ecological and personal sustainability. Our choices around land stewardship have the potential to shift the human reality from inevitable collapse to a restorative transition. The acts of cultivating the soil and cultivating our human relationships cannot be separated. As Dorothy Charles, Esalen Gestalt mentor and teacher said recently, “Learning how to articulate what we want, what we think and what we feel is a political act.” We strive to embody and develop this kind of relational agriculture at Esalen and beyond.