Discover a pathway to joy. The Art and Science of Mindfulness, Compassion and Awe starts August 11.


Upcoming Residential Study Programs

Meditation as Medicine of the Mind: Tibetan Mind-Body Practices for Health and Well-being with Alejandro Chaoul
June 9 - July 7, 2019

Well-being in the Tibetan tradition is a holistic sense of wellness that encompasses body, energy, and mind. During this program, participants will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Tibetan wellness and experientially practice meditative techniques that utilize the healing power of the breath-energy (qi or lung in Tibetan) as a link and support for a healthy body and more aware state of mind. In addition, some of the current research in this area will be presented and discussed.

Tibetan yogis, monks, and nuns are human like you and me; they have feelings and emotions, and obstacles in their lives. That is why the practices they have created as a way to remove obstacles from their body, energy, and mind are suitable for us too.

These tools remained as secret recipes for centuries, and only in the last couple of decades have started to be known in the West, as they’ve been researched scientifically and practiced now by thousands of people. Those who practice them can discover or tap into a radical sense of presence — an aliveness in the midst of chaos — like a lotus flower coming out of the mud or the sun illuminating everything without bias.

This workshop encourages participants to explore the potential of their subtle bodies —composed of channels and chakras — as a powerful tool for meditative practice, which utilizes the five breath-energies present in yogic and medical texts. These meditative practices and movements allow one to clear the “poisons” of one's afflicted emotions, become more familiar with the healing support of the breath, and be radically aware of one’s “inner home.” Please bring a journal.

This program is full.


The Flourishing Lab with Dustin DiPerna, Mikey Siegel, Aneel Chima and Ahmed Alashwa
July 7 - August 4, 2019

How do we flourish as human beings? What can we learn from ancient wisdom about living a meaningful and fulfilling life? In a tech-everywhere world, when faced with more options and more distractions than ever before, how do we best use our time, energy and attention? Inspired by the innovative teachings and methods within Stanford University's Wellness Education curriculum, join four of the program’s lecturers in exploring the latest research, frameworks and experiential tools that enhance emotional, psychological, social and contemplative well-being.

This monthlong program includes:

  • Week 1: Human Flourishing (+ initial assessments) with Aneel. What is human flourishing and how do we practice it in an age of hyper-complexity and ever-accelerating pace? You will engage with these two questions by studying, discussing, and applying research on the psychological, emotional and social factors that promote a life well lived.
  • Week 2: Neuroscience, Technology, and Meditation with Ahmed. The group will investigate the power of meditation for training the mind and changing the brain, specifically in focusing attention, enhancing awareness and generating compassion. 
  • Week 3: Designing Well-being with Mikey. You will design processes and principles that support well-being and human connection. Work in interdisciplinary project teams and design a modern tool or product that supports human flourishing.
  • Week 4: Contemplative Well-being with Dustin. At the heart of human flourishing is our potential to move beyond our usual sense of self. You will explore your own awareness through body-based, heart-centered and analytical meditation practices. Through deep exploration of contemplative well-being, participants will have the opportunity to take their meditation practice beyond mindfulness and into the core of human flourishing.

Core members of the teaching team are also trained in Ken Wilber’s integral theory, transpersonal theory and clinical psychology. Throughout our time together, you will be offered a comprehensive framework that will allow you to synthesize ancient and modern wisdom in a way that has a tangible and immediate impact on your life.

Apply now.


Compassion Cultivation Training with Leah Weiss, Margaret Cullen and Monica Hanson
August 4 - September 1, 2019

Compassion is an emotion that provides a sense of shared suffering combined with a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and to show loving-kindness to those who suffer. The benefits of practicing compassion are profound and numerous, not the least of which is happiness, which can be infectious to your partner, family members, friends and even co-workers. Developing the qualities of strength, courage and resilience in the face of suffering can support a wide range of goals — from improving personal and work relationships to making a positive difference in the world. A crucial key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice.

Faculty and curriculum for this program are from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. During your monthlong study you will discover how to cultivate and practice mindfulness and increase self-compassion and self-care; reduce stress, anxiety and depression; and enhance connection with others. Designed to help people improve resilience and feel more connected to others, the program combines traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research to help you lead a more compassionate life. Through instruction, daily meditation, mindfulness and in-class interaction, you can strengthen the qualities of compassion, empathy and kindness.

In this course, you will learn how to:

  • Increase kindness and compassion for yourself and others
  • Develop profound levels of serenity, resilience and creativity
  • Calm the mind and direct thoughts more positively
  • Sharpen your ability to focus and pay attention
  • Access a variety of self-care skills and techniques

The program will be taught by rotating faculty each week. Week one focuses on mindfulness, taught by Erika Rosenberg; week two focuses on compassion for self and loved ones, taught by Leah Weiss; week three focuses on compassion for the common humanity, taught by Margaret Cullen; and week four focuses on active compassion and integration, taught by Monica Hanson.

Apply now.


Leadership and Presence with Suzanne Scurlock
September 1 - September 29, 2019

Presence is the hidden key to successful leadership. The more present we are in ourselves, the more present we can be with someone else. This monthlong program offers experiential work designed to help you pay attention to the subtle cues you receive from your body and the surrounding environment all the time. This will 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
  • Increase your capacity to be present versus doing all the time
  • Grow awareness of, but not absorb, the emotions of others
  • Make healthy connections (empathy versus sympathy)
  • Stay openhearted and clearheaded
  • 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, pelvis, 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.

Required reading and listening: Scurlock-Durana, Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen.

Apply now.


Upledger Institute International’s CranioSacral Therapy Level One Intensive: Presence, Palpation and Protocol with Karen Axelrod
September 29 - October 27, 2019

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) utilizes very gentle touch to assess and correct imbalances in the craniosacral system — the membranes and fluids protecting the brain and spinal cord. CST is a powerful hands-on modality that addresses numerous sensory, motor and intellectual challenges; central nervous system disorders; and chronic pain. You will be taught detailed anatomy and physiology of the craniosacral system, its functions in health and its relationship to disease. Emphasis will be on developing effective palpation skills to detect subtle movement, energy, fluid and structures within the body. The group will explore palpation as both an evaluative and therapeutic tool to facilitate fascial and soft-tissue releases.

As part of this monthlong program you will also explore how to use your presence to augment the healing process through mindfulness/sensory-awareness exercises. The practitioner’s sense of presence during a treatment session enables a strong therapeutic alliance, which in turn creates a safe environment for the client’s innate healing process to unfold. Anatomical knowledge, palpation and presence provide the foundation needed for participants to learn an effective 10-step CranioSacral protocol. By the end of this program, you will have the tools to evaluate the entire body from a CranioSacral perspective, identify significant restrictions affecting the craniosacral system, apply structural and energetic CST techniques to restore balance to the client’s body, and gain measurable results from a CranioSacral treatment session. Completion of this workshop will result in full credit for Upledger’s CS1 course, and eligibility to take CS2 through the Upledger curriculum.

Required reading and advance preparation: Upledger, CranioSacral Therapy chapters 1-6 and Your Inner Physician and You. Also please familiarize yourself with the definitions and/or locations of the anatomical terms here:

For continuing education syllabus, see

CE credit for massage;

Apply now.


An Embodied Response to the Challenges and Opportunities of Our Lives through Sensory Awareness with Lee Lesser
October 27 - November 24, 2019

There is so much in our world that we cannot change or control. Yet how we respond to the immediate possibilities and challenges of each moment is completely within our domain of influence, and can change the way we live, allowing more room for joy and wholehearted responsiveness.

This monthlong journey of practicing Sensory Awareness is focused on cultivating trust in our natural capacity through landing in our bodies and in our direct and concrete sensory experience. Our terrain of exploration is the simple activities of daily life. As we become more in tune with how we sit, walk, stand, lie down, eat, work and connect with another person, we also become more aware of the habits and patterns that hinder us.

All of our sessions are based on experiential learning. We cultivate quiet and stillness that allows focused attention on what is happening in each moment. We also explore movement and playfulness, as well as our relationship to breath, to the influence of gravity and energy. We learn how to discern between the energy that is needed to fulfill a task, and the extra effort that creates strain and constriction. We will have group classes, and the daily tasks at Esalen will expand the terrain of discovery as we apply what we learn in the class. There also will be individual sessions to provide more individualized attention to personal insights and growth.

The ability to be present and responsive belongs to all of us. Our sensations are ever-present allies, enduring and solid. They can help us be true to our most authentic selves and respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities of our lives.

Apply now.


Embodied Relational Gestalt with Michael Clemmens
November 24 - December 22, 2019

This monthlong program is focused on Gestalt as a group process. Gestalt offers the opportunity to experience and explore our own process in relation to others and the context of the present moment. We will create a group that can contain the varieties of each person’s unique way of being and allow us to experience the power of the greater whole, the group. Because of the importance of creating an ongoing collective, it is crucial that all students attend each session. No prior experience with Gestalt or group process is necessary. 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.

For continuing education syllabus, see

Apply now.


Deep Bodywork® with Rob Wilks
December 22, 2019 - January 19, 2020

Deep Bodywork, as created by Perry Holloman over the last 25 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 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. You 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 massage;

Apply now.


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