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Upcoming Work Study Programs

Work Study - Deep Bodywork® with Rob Wilks
September 24 - October 22, 2017

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


Work Study -  Medicine in Motion: 5Rhythms Movement Meditation with Davida Taurek
October 22 - November 19, 2017

Put the psyche into motion and it will heal itself. – Gabrielle Roth

Movement is medicine for the soul. The 5Rhythms® include flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. These rhythms lay the foundation of a simple yet profound movement practice in which we become aware of the patterns, rhythms, and cycles of energy that live within and around us. The 5Rhythms is a powerful catalyst that dances us awake, while uncovering the wild, graceful, unique, tender, and exquisite beings we truly are. This mindfulness practice shines light into the shadows, unearths our stories, and unravels the bonds that keep us stuck in old patterns and predictable behaviors. It ignites our potential for living an authentic, spontaneous, and freer life.

During our time together we will begin with the Waves level teachings of the 5Rhythms. Building on that foundation, with gentle humor and a safe container, we will dive into our shadows and give expression to the dark sides of our lives. Our work together will culminate in a daylong Heartbeat level of this work where we explore and befriend the territory of our emotions. This will be an intimate journey into self, other, and the collective. We will dedicate time to reflect and integrate our experiences through counsel, ritual, and experiential exercises specifically orchestrated to cultivate genuine kindness, compassion, empathy, respect, and acceptance of self and others. No previous experience required.

All workshop hours contribute to Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms® teachers training prerequisites.

Recommended reading: Roth, Sweat Your Prayers.


Legacy Group -  Embodied Relational Gestalt with Michael Clemmens
October 22 - November 19, 2017

“We develop relationships with ourselves and others through the physicality of our vision, smell, touch, and movement,” says Michael Clemmens. “These relationships, or dances, shape what we believe is possible and how we behave in the present. In this program, our focus will be on the ways in which we create relationships through our bodies. By attending to our present dance with others, we can become more aware of our existing context and optional ways of interacting.

“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.

For course information, see


Work Study -  The Enneagram: Nine Journeys of Awakening with Russ Hudson
November 19 - December 17, 2017

"This program is a wide-ranging conversation about how the Enneagram and related inner work can be of use in the possibilities and challenges emerging in our time," Russ Hudson says. "Specifically, we will explore new ways of relating to one another based in an ongoing and dynamic awareness of our groundedness in presence and creativity. The first part of the program invites the group to a deep experience and appreciation of the higher aspects of the Enneagram (Essential Qualities, Virtues, and Holy Ideas). We will look at how these aspects of consciousness impact our individual awareness, our relationships, and our sense of purpose in the world. We will also look at how the three Instincts (or subtypes) can be explored directly through body awareness as a way of opening new possibilities in our behaviors. We will see how these instincts are crucial for balance in our lived lives, and create some of the biggest opportunities that we have for integrated development, and for creating successful relationships. The final portion of the program will focus on how the Higher Aspects can manifest in our relationships.

"I want to invite a playful and collaborative exploration – a rich relational field – in which each of us can discover new potentials and possibilities in being present together. While many of us may have already had significant spiritual breakthroughs in our lives, it can be challenging to remain open to non-dual perspectives and emergent awareness when we are engaged in significant relationships – intimate or professional. Yet this is the frontier of consciousness: to learn to live together, to function, and to build and create together while remaining truly awake to our co-creating of emerging reality.

"We will combine experiential exercises, meditation, music, and periods of spontaneous inquiry to deepen our presence and to explore the interface between our ego consciousness and the realms of freedom and vastness that are our True Nature. There will be many opportunities for questions and shared exploration."

Please note: Knowledge of the Enneagram is helpful but not essential; however, participants must be willing and able to go deep into themselves and this profound material.


Recommended reading: (Please read this book prior to the program.) Riso and Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram.


Legacy Group -  I Am the Word: The Energetics of Consciousness with Paul Selig
November 19 - December 17, 2017

In his breakthrough works of channeled literature, I Am the Word, The Book of Love and Creation, The Book of Knowing and Worth, The Book of Mastery and The Book of Truth, author and medium Paul Selig recorded a program for personal and planetary evolution as humankind awakens to its own divine nature. Through a series of lectures, attunements, and energy activations, you will be introduced to the frequency of the Word, which can be described as the energy of “God in action.”

During the month, you will be shown exercises for healing the self and others, along with practical techniques for developing and sustaining higher levels of consciousness. You will also receive individual instruction that will support you in moving through the physical and emotional blocks that may be keeping you from manifesting your own higher nature. You can discover how realizing your own true potential is inexorably linked to the well-being of others and our planet. Paul’s workshops can be deeply transformative. The energy he works with is palpable and loving, and those attending will be supported in moving to the next level of their own spiritual development.


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

“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.


Legacy Group - Ways of Council: Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit with Adam Rumack
December 17, 2017 - January 14, 2018

In this program, we will explore the deep listening and mindfulness awareness practices of council, and learn through didactic skill building, body-based awareness practices, contact with our personal and collective stories, and engagement with the natural world. As a collective practice of deep listening and mindful awareness, council promotes radical compassion and an experience of interconnectedness that can break down barriers to connection, reconciliation, and peace.

For more than thirty years, the way of Council has been shared in Ojai, Calif., and at places in need of peacemaking, community-building, and reconciliation – from prisons in California and Rwanda to multi-billion-dollar tech companies and social justice non-profits. We will use the four themes of mind, body, soul, and spirit to come to a holistic experience and understanding of the council practice, and deepen relationship with ourselves, one another, and the more-than human world, and gain tools to facilitate the process with others. Together we will explore:

  • Core intentions and forms of council
  • Authentic communication and deep listening as practice
  • Underlying values and principles of cultivating collective wisdom and emergent group leadership
  • Group, dyadic (two person), and intrapersonal (one person) council techniques
  • Models of mindfulness and compassion training in relation to council
  • Relational embodiment techniques
  • Council with the natural world
  • The Wheel of Life (Medicine Wheel)
  • Interactive games to build connectivity, trust, and energy within the group
  • Storytelling around relevant prompts or questions
  • Developing prompts and “reading the field” for responsive group leadership
  • Bearing witness without judgment
  • Co-leadership/transparent Leadership
  • Self-inquiry and shadow
  • Group soul, common purpose, vision and conflict

Please note: For participants interested in seeking certification as a trainer or facilitator from the Center for Council, this program will fill all requirements of a Council 1 training with much of the requisite practice time to participate in Council 2.

A packing list with items specific to this program will be sent upon registration.

Recommended reading: Zimmerman and Coyle, The Way of Council.


Work Study -  Fulfilling the Vow of Your Birth: Exploring Purpose and Potential with Michael Sapiro
January 14 - February 11, 2018

“What will your life look like, and how will you feel, if every day you rise to meet your highest potential?” asks Michael Sapiro. “Offering everyone you meet, and the community you live in, your fullest self. How will you live differently when you integrate all aspects of yourself, from the shadowy, primal elements to the deepest joys of being? Our potential for living a life of purpose and value occurs when we acknowledge and use our innate gifts while simultaneously accepting life’s challenges, including our own psychological and spiritual suffering. This is what it means to fulfill the vow of our birth.”

In close dialogue and reflection with yourself, others in the group, and with Michael, you will have a chance to:

  • Invite your vast and unlimited potential to play
  • Investigate your life’s purpose
  • Identify personal values
  • Set goals to meet those values and live a life of purpose
  • Examine stuck points and personal obstacles that have kept you from fulfilling your potential
  • Encourage personal growth and psychological development

“We will engage in activities of guided introspection, group discussion, meditation and awareness practices, private reflection, and writing activities to bolster connection with yourself while embracing all that arises in the process. We will learn to love every element within us as a tool for growth and development, and leave feeling renewed. Each of us will create an action plan to continue expanding into our greatest potentials, thus fulfilling the vow of our birth.”

A one-time private session can also be arranged with Michael for added support during the month.


Legacy Group - 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.


Work Study -  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.


Legacy Group -  Spiritual Massage and Compassionate Touch with Seema Christie
February 11 - March 11, 2018

Spiritual Massage is a hands-on healing practice that can balance the energy body and gently facilitate release of physical, mental/emotional, relational, and spiritual blockages. This experiential course presents training in Spiritual Massage, as well as related healing modalities including guided meditation, chakra system alignment, active imagination journey work, and restorative yoga. Each session will focus briefly on a different energy center, and be built upon in following classes. From a deepened state of awareness, participants will explore grounding, presence, and energy as the foundations of compassionate touch. The group field will form a safe and soothing environment to support both the learning and the healing processes. Activities and coursework include:

  • Centering practices and meditation to arrive into the present moment and prepare the giver of healing touch for the work
  • Active imagination/visualizations to gather personal information about the chakra energy system
  • Guided partner work that establishes connection with self and other in the context of healing touch, trust, movement, and listening
  • Guided Spiritual Massage table work
  • History and lineage of Spiritual Massage, which was developed at Esalen by Maria Lucia Sauer

Take a journey into the present moment, first listening and connecting deeply with self, and from that place intuitively touching others with a full heart and being. Participants will come away with the full protocol and methods of Spiritual Massage, and training and experience in meditation, active imagination journey work, and restorative yoga. This gentle, hands-on energetic touch is offered fully clothed. All levels of experience are welcome.


Work Study -  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:

CE credit for massage;


Legacy Group -  Radical Presence: Tibetan Mind-Body Practices for Health and Well-being with Alejandro Chaoul
March 11 - April 8, 2018

Well-being in the Tibetan tradition is a holistic sense of wellness that encompasses body, energy, and mind. During this month, participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice meditative techniques using the healing power of the breath-energy (qi or lung in Tibetan), as a link and support for a healthy body and a 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,” Alejandro Chaoul says. “They have feelings and emotions, and obstacles in their lives like all of us. 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 secret recipes for centuries, and only in the last couple of decades have started to be known in the West, being 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 program will encourage participants to make this meditative routine a part of a healthy lifestyle to allow them to clear the “poisons” of one's afflicted emotions, and become more familiar with the healing support of the breath and be radically aware of one’s inner home. Please bring a journal.


Work Study -  Gestalt Group Process with Michael Clemmens
April 8 - May 6, 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 participants regularly attend each session.

No prior 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;


Legacy Group -  Asian Healing Arts: Theory and Practice with Richard Gold
April 8 - May 6, 2018

The ancient, rich traditions of Asian healing arts are based on what is best described as an energetic paradigm of human existence. The healing techniques vary among cultures (for example among Japan, China, Thailand, and India) but at the core of each healing model is the understanding that human beings are simultaneously physical and energetic. In this Legacy program, participants will deeply engage in the study and practice of traditional Thai bodywork (Nuad Bo’Rarn). Thai bodywork combines aspects of assisted yoga, deep compressions, range of motion and stretching, point and energy pathway stimulation, and meditative mindfulness. Techniques will be taught to provide a flowing full body session with the recipient in four positions: supine, prone, lateral recumbent, and seated. The body mechanics and mindfulness of the practitioner will be emphasized. Special attention and techniques will be directed to the importance of deep abdominal work. In addition to Thai bodywork, participants will be taught cupping and gua sha, two important and clinically effective techniques that originated in China and eventually spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, and now into the Western world. Finally, participants will learn the precise anatomical locations, energetics, and clinical application of approximately 50 major acupressure points.

There are no academic or previous bodywork training pre-requisites for this program. Please be aware that the course of study is somewhat physically demanding and requires being comfortable working on a floor mat in a kneeling position.

Recommended reading: Gold, Thai Massage: A Traditional Medical Technique; Kaptchuk, The Web That Has No Weaver.


Work Study -  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.


Legacy Group -  Nonviolent Communication: The Language of Life with Jean Morrison
May 6 - June 3, 2018

This month we’ll rigorously integrate the internationally recognized process called Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which is also known as Compassionate Communication. With certified NVC trainer, Jean Morrison, you are offered the opportunity to strengthen your ability to:

  • Honor your authentic self
  • Live from a consciousness of compassion, for yourself and with others
  • Make peace with conflict, which affects emotional health and well-being
  • Replace habits of mind and language that create distress and walls of separation with new habits that create connection, understanding, and healing
  • Liberate your thinking and reactions in order to transform the gifts of anger, hurt, and guilt into energy and expressions that serve life
  • Clarify and express your emotions and needs, distinct from blame
  • Make empowering requests distinct from demands and expectations
  • Apply NVC principles and skills to your goals and aspirations

The sessions include a balance of playful exploration, thoughtful inquiry, powerful exercises for skill-development, and sharing of best practices with participants’ real situations. Each participant will receive a 30-page binder and booklet. Journal pages are included in the binder with simple tracking of key events of the day and short processes to connect with the content of the course. For more information about Jean and NVC, please visit


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

This program is part of our Integral Leadership Program Summer Leadership Series.

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

Esalen's Integral Leadership Program (ILP) targets college-aged and recent graduates. For more information and to apply, visit


Legacy Group -  Collaborative Leadership, Ecological Consciousness and Creative Self-Expression with Adam Wolpert
June 3 - July 1, 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


Work Study -  TBD with Drew Dillenger
July 1 - July 29, 2018

Description pending.


Legacy Group -  TBD with Caroline Harvey
July 1 - July 29, 2018

Description pending.



Work Study Programs at Esalen


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