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Upcoming Work Study Programs

Intimacy with the Subtle Body: Movement, Mind, and Breath with Peter Sterios
December 17, 2017 - January 14, 2018

This program is full.

“We all share a desire for joy, and seek experiences that produce freedom, gratitude, and light-heartedness,” says Peter Sterios. “When we manifest this in our lives, we see our world more clearly, feel our relationships more authentically, and learn more about ourselves through intimate connection to others and the natural world. Ultimately, our lives become an expression of deep gratitude, which supports subtle body healing within and around us.”

This course leads you through a simple program of mindful, breath-full movement and inner dialog that meets you wherever you are – physically or psychologically. Together, the group will share experiences through storytelling, group learning, yoga, and meditation to access a natural lightness in how you feel and think, which reminds us of the innocence our lives began with, and which reawakens wonder, inspiration, and delight for supporting us at any stage of life.

You can discover how to naturally release unwanted, often unconscious patterns of contraction in your body – physically, mentally, and emotionally, from ancient practices found in yoga which produce an incredible lightness of being. Once you feel this, you can incorporate a more intuitive approach for living in the most refreshing and enlightening ways.

Please bring a yoga mat, and a journal for reflection and notes.

CE credit for yoga teachers through Yoga Alliance; see leader.


Songsmithing: Opening the Creative Channel with Johnsmith
January 14 - February 11, 2018

If your life was a song, what would that song be? If you told the story of your heart, what story would you tell? Discover your authentic singing and songwriting voice through creative exercises, prompts, and assignments. We will focus on opening the creative heart and bringing forth the music and stories that dwell there. All are welcome; no prior songwriting experience is needed.

With a mindful and playful attitude, we will invite the stunning natural beauty of the Big Sur coast, its healing waters, and the spirit of Esalen to work its magic on us as we immerse ourselves into creative flow. Within the safe container of the group, everyone will be invited to delve into the deep work that only creative play allows.

Johnsmith has led work scholar programs and workshops at Esalen since 2006. His transformational offerings help students reach deeply inward to bring forth their truth and story in well-crafted songs. Johnsmith always brings along his infectious, curious, fun-loving otter spirit to his work...or play, one might say. We will use journaling, movement, meditation, co-writing, solo and group singing, impromptu jams, and performance — for ourselves and the Esalen community. Playing a musical instrument is not necessary, but you are welcome to bring one if you play. We will 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.


Growing Sea Legs in Samsara: Mindfulness in Challenging Times with Bill Morgan and Susan Morgan
February 11 - March 11, 2018

Living skillfully in these challenging times requires sensitivity, discernment, and wise action. Mindfulness meditation is a vehicle that can cultivate and strengthen these qualities, yet despite the growing popularity of mindfulness in our culture, much continues to be lost in translation, and the depth and power of these practices have not been made fully accessible to our present-day context.

There are two major emphases in this course: First, we will explore ways to enrich and enliven mindfulness practice on the cushion, supporting each participant to clear blocks to deeper self-acceptance and connect with authentic, personally alive presence; Second, our practice will radiate out into mindfulness in action. Experiential exercises offer an opportunity to clarify and work with the relational dynamics of self as agent in this world-on-fire. Journaling, mindful speaking, and deep listening exercises provide a context for learning to express oneself in language rooted in discerning compassion.



Upledger Institute International’s CranioSacral Therapy Level One Intensive: Presence, Palpation and Protocol with Karen Axelrod
March 11 - April 8, 2018

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. Participants 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.

Participants will learn how to use one’s 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, participants 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 measureable results from a CranioSacral treatment session.

Participants who complete this workshop will gain full credit for Upledger’s CS1 course, and will be eligible to take CS2 through the Upledger curriculum.

Course prerequisites: Participants must be professional healthcare practitioners, healthcare program students or graduates awaiting licensure/accreditation. If participants have not experienced a CranioSacral session, it is recommended. See for a practitioner in your area.

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;


Collaborative Leadership, Ecological Consciousness and Creative Self-Expression with Adam Wolpert
April 8 - May 6, 2018

Skillful collaboration is facilitated by an open mind and heart, keen powers of observation of self and others, compassionate communication, a whole-systems view, and willingness to witness and experience transformation. This program, led by artist and facilitator Adam Wolpert, will promote these qualities while enhancing leadership skills, self-awareness, and capacity to contribute to positive change at any scale.

Participants will tap into their direct experience with creative practices and deepened ecological consciousness as sources of wisdom and guidance for group work. Under this guidance, they will be taught practical skills and useful perspectives that support collaborative participation in groups. Dynamic group exercises, presentations, and deep dialogue will all be employed to facilitate comprehensive learning.

Participants can expect to:

  • Practice and learn from creative self-expression
  • Learn how to think in terms of whole systems
  • Learn compassionate communication skills
  • Cultivate ecological consciousness
  • Explore and understand group dynamics, group leadership, and facilitation
  • Connect with their own intuition, inspiration, and vision


Write Your Life for the Page and the Stage with Ann Randolph
May 6 - June 3, 2018

As we write, we are both describing and deciding the direction that our life is taking.
–Julia Cameron

This is an invitation for you to discover your own unique and powerful story and the profound transformation that occurs when speaking it out loud. During this program led by Ann Randolph, you’ll be taught how to trust your creative impulses, thus embracing all of who you are. By becoming the author of your own life and learning how to tell your own story, you can not only begin to craft your experience into a compelling narrative, but you will also unleash a sense of purpose in your own life you never thought possible.

Through writing exercises, group discussion, and improvisation, we will support one another in creating and speaking our stories. Topics include:

  • Writing to simulate memory
  • Crafting story structure
  • Creating spontaneously
  • Writing on our feet
  • Overcoming performance anxiety
  • Releasing yourself from the inner critic
  • Transforming ideas/stories into performance

This is a workshop for those interested in personal essay, memoir, or solo performance, and for anyone seeking to bring more meaning to their life through writing. All levels welcome.


Bhagavad-Gita: Wisdom, Literature, and Leadership with Brad Lewis
June 3 - July 1, 2018

The Bhagavad-Gita is the most popular and widely studied of the Hindu scriptures. Plus, it has become a classic of world literature, inspiring such diverse writers and artists as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Phillip Glass, Anita Desai, and Chitra Divakaruni. Most recently, it has become an invaluable resource for developing cross-cultural principles of management, leadership, and positive psychology.

This program is led by Bradley Lewis, New York University cultural studies professor and practicing psychiatrist. The month is devoted to an appreciative and critical study of the Gita’s lessons. When you pick up a copy of the Gita, it is encouragingly slim and may seem like a quick read. But if you delve into its philosophy for living, wisdom, and meaning, you'll find that it is a most enriching companion and a lifelong friend worthy of careful and detailed study. As Mahatma Gandhi put it: “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see no ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad-Gita.”

Our Work Study program approaches the Bhagavad-Gita through dialogic and participatory spirituality. It includes the following activities:

  • Appreciative and critical reading and discussion focusing on personal, political, and philosophic dimensions of the text
  • Spiritual and experiential exercises inspired by the Gita (yoga, meditation, chanting)
  • Creative arts and expression inspired by the Gita (memoir, music, visual arts, opera, film)
  • Engaged spiritual practice by applying wisdom gleaned from the Gita to larger work study activities
  • Journal writing and journal sharing of our processes together


Leadership and Presence with Suzanne Scurlock Durana
July 1 - July 29, 2018

The Bhagavad-Gita is the most popular and widely studied of the Hindu scriptures. Plus, it has become a classic of world literature, inspiring such diverse writers and artists as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Phillip Glass, Anita Desai, and Chitra Divakaruni. Most recently, it has become an invaluable resource for developing cross-cultural principles of management, leadership, and positive psychology.

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
  • Increase your capacity to BE present vs. DOING all the time
  • Grow awareness 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, 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.

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


Apotheosis: When Humans Reach Their Highest Potential, They Become Divine with Vipin Thekk
July 29 - August 26, 2018

This experiential month-long course revolves around exploring human potential — how to reach your own and activate other people in doing the same. This offering is intended for anyone seeking a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging in their life. Collectively, we will explore our unique purposes in this phase of our lives.

Our journey will take us through the three faces of Spirit as articulated by philosopher and theoretical psychologist Ken Wilber. This journey deepens our relationships with the spirit in ourselves, others, and in the systems we inhabit.

  • The first face of Spirit relates to the self: Who are you called to being? What dimension of your life is not in alignment with your highest self? How do you embody authenticity, conviction, and grace in your day-to-day life?
  • The second face of Spirit relates to others: How do we build meaningful, supportive communities? How can we become effective agents to activate potential in other people?
  • The third face of spirit relates to the systems we live in: What does it look like to lead in a world where change is the only constant? How do we raise the consciousness of the systems we inhabit so as to solve some of society’s most vexing problems?

To explore these questions, we will play with modalities that support us in accessing the intelligence of mind, body, spirit, and shadow.

Vipin Thekk will draw on his training as an Integral Life Coach to help students design experiential journeys at the individual and collective levels. Practices will focus on listening deeply into what life is inviting us to birth through mindfulness, self-reflection, journaling, time in nature, meditation, kundalini yoga, integral theory and Theory U. We will develop and implement prototypes to explore our passions and channel the insights from the experiences to create an inspiring and meaningful road map for our unfolding lives — to discover the sacred within and around us.

By the end of our time together, students will have greater clarity on their passions and purpose in life, a mindset of curiosity, and trust in the unfolding journeys of their lives.


Lean Permaculture: Towards a Pattern Language of Sustainable Design with Misha Rauchwerger
August 26 - September 23, 2018

Permaculture aims to create human systems in ways that mimic how ecosystems work in nature. Food production, energy, housing, water, communities, cities, and organizations can all be reimagined according to permaculture principles. There is so much talk today about sustainability, but do we really know what it means to live in a sustainable way on this planet? Can we create permanent culture? The goal is to regenerate our degraded landscape and live in a way that produces no waste and allows all beings to coexist and cooperate while maximizing the earth's potential to create abundance. Is this even possible?

Permaculture design is much more than food forests and herb spirals. The need for true sustainability is forcing us to reevaluate everything we do at every scale with a new lens. This course integrates concepts such as the lean approach, which is already widely used in business planning, as an iterative and incremental approach in sustainable systems design. We will combine tried and true engineering concepts of problem solving with practical and novel principles to create a new means of dealing with our most pressing issues.

This course introduces a series of patterns and principles to create a new language of design. This process is the focus of the month, and we will utilize small groups and real issues, identified by the class members using an Open Space format, to work through the process and learn the patterns and principles of the design methodology. Students will identify problems — some personal, some related to issues at Esalen, others on a larger, global scale — and learn how to distill the essential question driving the problem, and then work through a series of steps to move toward solution-oriented design. Upon conclusion of this program, students will have lived the process and will have created and shared with the rest of the group a complete cycle of design.


Embodied Relational Gestalt with Michael Clemmens
September 23 - October 21, 2018

This month-long 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.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs


Streams of Energy with Jim Gallas
October 21 - November 18, 2018

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. Jim uses various meditations, self-massage, and improv games 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. Students 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 massage.

($10 materials fee will be added to the workshop cost)


The Art of Skillful Living: Leadership, Love and Freedom with Coby Kozlowski
November 18 - December 16, 2018

We are all called to leadership as agents of inspiration, purpose, and change. Leadership is about being of service to the world, and every moment is an opportunity for leadership. Leadership also is an inward journey to the depths of what it means to be human. Leadership is about being fully expressed, about being called to your greatness, and about having the courage to act in ways that are in alignment with your highest and awakened self.

The world is shifting; this rapid change is an invitation to participate in the evolution of consciousness. In this program, students will have the opportunity to deepen the meaning of leadership by investigating belief systems, understanding the nature of consciousness, diving into emotion regulation, discovering the key to collaboration, and facilitating change using the lens of contemplative wisdom, yoga philosophy, expressive arts, and group discussion. Through this interactive, lecture-based, and highly experiential program, students can begin to embody the integral leadership model, discover the leader within, and connect with and act on a personal calling. By liberating the heart/mind and stepping fully into authenticity, you can inspire others to do the same and become agents of change. This is the new way of leadership.



Work Study Programs at Esalen


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