Esalen. The word itself summons up tantalizing visions of adventure, of unexplored frontiers, of human possibilities yet to be realized.
There is the wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff. There is the delicate and subtle Big Sur air of a late afternoon in May, the midnight mist of July, the drenching February rain. There are October nights so clear the Milky Way can light your walk along the darkened garden path. And always there is the sound of the sea.
The Three Waters
Water flows at the heart of Esalen. Three water sources converge here to form a trinity of creation, renewal, and destruction, harkening back to our own ancient origins. According to Chinese medicine and other traditions, the human emotional body is held by the water element. Perhaps that is one reason why Esalen is a safe and powerfully healing place to look within.
Grounded in the wildly alive Big Sur landscape, Esalen exists in deep relationship with the forces of nature. From the transfiguring force of a wildfire to a glimpse of infinity in the night sky, Esalen honors the myriad ways that nature is our source and greatest teacher.
In the upper reaches of the canyon on Esalen property, a freshwater spring known as the Source bubbles to the surface. The spring, known as Porter Springs, is in Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness. It provides about 75% of our water. Most years its flow drops off in fall and we use Hot Springs creek in the same watershed to supplement our needs. “The Source”, also in the Ventana Wilderness, was the intake point for the pipe that brought creek water to the treatment plant. That pipe was destroyed in the 2008 fire and we haven't yet received approval to replace it. Therefore we pump water from the creek in low water periods.
Heated by the molten core of the earth and laden with minerals, the waters of Esalen’s hot springs flow at a rate of 80 gallons per minute and emerge at a temperature of 119 degrees Fahrenheit. These waters possess deeply rejuvenating properties, and the Esalen baths are a place of refuge, reverence, healing, and contemplation.
The Pacific Ocean
Esalen is perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, which creates a sublime horizon connecting our lives to the infinite. We evolved out of the ocean, the blood in our veins having almost the same salinity as sea water. We are primal beings who exist within, not apart from nature. There is nothing like a clear view of the ocean to center ourselves in the unity of all things. Due to dangerous ocean conditions and currents, access to the ocean from Esalen property is prohibited.