Best-selling authors Pico Iyer and Janet Fitch teach The Traveler's Practice July 15-20.


Upcoming Work Study Programs

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

As of May 1st, there are a few spaces left in this program.

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

This program is full.

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 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.


Deep Bodywork® with Rob Wilks
December 16, 2018 - January 13, 2019

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 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

For more information and to apply, visit

CE credit for massage.



Work Study Programs at Esalen


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