Back in the Day with Jessica Britt: “Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

Back in the Day with Jessica Britt
“Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”
Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Esalen student, teacher, and workshop leader Jessica Britt on the Esalen of the ‘80s: “A very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch.”


In the mid-1970s, I was a psychiatric nurse. I worked in a child psychiatric ward at a hospital and at a community mental health center in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was a special project started called CSARC, Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center, for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused through incest and rape. It was very intense. And when I was working there, I went down to Esalen with my girlfriend to take Stan Grof’s workshop.  While I was there, I met Chris and Dick Price and she was pregnant with Jenny. This must have been in 1974 or ’75. And Chris and I just hit it off. 

Dick Price was an incredibly generous being and a very mysterious being. He would occasionally invite people who worked in mental health all through the Bay Area to come down to Esalen on him and do a week of Gestalt work with him and Chrissy. 

I'd already been in Freudian analysis and Jungian analysis, but I was afraid of Gestalt work because of the history with the Hot Seat, so I didn't want to do Gestalt work. I knew if I went on the Hot Seat, it would be about feeling intense feelings. 

I'm lying there, and I'm starting to feel intense feelings, and then I go into this huge process on the opening night. Next thing I know, Dick's on one side of me and Chrissy's on the other side. It was as if I was on acid! (Which I wasn't.) It was just a total deep embodied process. And they're right there.And when I came out of it, I can remember looking at my hand and going, Oh my God, I have a hand! That's how disembodied I was.

I was hooked. In 1980, they invited me to move down to Esalen as a work scholar with housing. I worked in Cabins, and then I just stayed. I lived in the Big House, in the Annex, in a little room down below. It was a little bit bigger than a walk-in closet.

The main thing about Esalen in the ’80s was that it was the beginning of the family life era. Before then, there were few families. And the major thing that opened that up was the birth of Jenny Price. Janet Lederman was like, “Oh, cool! Now I'm going to get a more kid-friendly place.”  Basically, she started the Gazebo School as a place for Jenny Price to go in the afternoon, so Dick and Chris could have time alone. Community became more foreground. 

Esalen in the ‘80s was a very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch. Gabrielle Roth was doing her 5Rhythms work. She was very, very creative. But she was also very, very kind. Strikingly kind. And she knew something about positive emptiness. There was a way that she could enter into the void, or emptiness, in a certain way — in a positive way. 

So, in the 1980s, we were encouraged to offer service to others whilst learning about oneself. The atmosphere was incredible, with so many strong women, so many innovators. Ilana Rubenfeld was around then doing body-oriented therapy. She was a very good woman with a very good heart. Ellen Watson was more of a student at that time, and then she went really into the movement and the massage direction. Fantastic massage therapist! I always felt so well loved up by her. 

Emilie Conrad was doing Continuum work. She was really a serious dancer. Very many dancers are very disembodied. They're like up here directing their body, right? And she had a break. And when she melted down, she got into micro-movements. She got into the cellular movement place. She developed a whole movement thing where you'd start off and put certain very spacey music on and then give you directions to really enter into the dynamic stream of the cells, basically. The fluid body. 

Babatunde Olutanji was a presence then, too.  He was fantastic. He would come July 4th. Oh, and to see the young girls from Gazebo dance with him was amazing. 

But the Gestalt work was really my focus. Freud helped me organize my very chaotic history. It gave me a logical narrative. Jungian work really opened up the archetypes: There's more than just this human personality. There are spiritual forces — the great mother and all the archetypes. Just made the picture larger, which relaxed my soul a lot. Then the Gestalt work opened up my emotional body. 

Dick Price and Chris were very somatic in their Gestalt work. Yet Dick was so hands-off. He was very in the background. His management style was similar, there yet, in deep background. Though he was rarely in the office during the day,  you'd see him in the office going through the books, like at midnight.

He had a very deep impact on many, many souls. Working with him, he was so fearless. And in terms of transference, he was so clean. There was no fear of him touching anywhere in your body because there was no secondary agenda. His narcissism was really low. He did not need to be the star in the room, and that was very impressive for me. His ability to go into the hell realms was very impressive, especially working with someone like me who had a lot of hell realms to go into. Chris learned that capacity from him. You could feel his presence right in there with you, but not interfering. Yet not distant. 

I don't know what my experience with Esalen would have been if I hadn't been embraced by Dick and Chris. Falling into their way of working was so incredibly healing. And the fact that Esalen included the opportunities to just step out my door and go do work with Gabrielle Roth or Emilie Conrad — and then come back and process how I was changed. 

Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

< Back to all Journal posts

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt: “Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt
“Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

Esalen student, teacher, and workshop leader Jessica Britt on the Esalen of the ‘80s: “A very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch.”


In the mid-1970s, I was a psychiatric nurse. I worked in a child psychiatric ward at a hospital and at a community mental health center in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was a special project started called CSARC, Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center, for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused through incest and rape. It was very intense. And when I was working there, I went down to Esalen with my girlfriend to take Stan Grof’s workshop.  While I was there, I met Chris and Dick Price and she was pregnant with Jenny. This must have been in 1974 or ’75. And Chris and I just hit it off. 

Dick Price was an incredibly generous being and a very mysterious being. He would occasionally invite people who worked in mental health all through the Bay Area to come down to Esalen on him and do a week of Gestalt work with him and Chrissy. 

I'd already been in Freudian analysis and Jungian analysis, but I was afraid of Gestalt work because of the history with the Hot Seat, so I didn't want to do Gestalt work. I knew if I went on the Hot Seat, it would be about feeling intense feelings. 

I'm lying there, and I'm starting to feel intense feelings, and then I go into this huge process on the opening night. Next thing I know, Dick's on one side of me and Chrissy's on the other side. It was as if I was on acid! (Which I wasn't.) It was just a total deep embodied process. And they're right there.And when I came out of it, I can remember looking at my hand and going, Oh my God, I have a hand! That's how disembodied I was.

I was hooked. In 1980, they invited me to move down to Esalen as a work scholar with housing. I worked in Cabins, and then I just stayed. I lived in the Big House, in the Annex, in a little room down below. It was a little bit bigger than a walk-in closet.

The main thing about Esalen in the ’80s was that it was the beginning of the family life era. Before then, there were few families. And the major thing that opened that up was the birth of Jenny Price. Janet Lederman was like, “Oh, cool! Now I'm going to get a more kid-friendly place.”  Basically, she started the Gazebo School as a place for Jenny Price to go in the afternoon, so Dick and Chris could have time alone. Community became more foreground. 

Esalen in the ‘80s was a very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch. Gabrielle Roth was doing her 5Rhythms work. She was very, very creative. But she was also very, very kind. Strikingly kind. And she knew something about positive emptiness. There was a way that she could enter into the void, or emptiness, in a certain way — in a positive way. 

So, in the 1980s, we were encouraged to offer service to others whilst learning about oneself. The atmosphere was incredible, with so many strong women, so many innovators. Ilana Rubenfeld was around then doing body-oriented therapy. She was a very good woman with a very good heart. Ellen Watson was more of a student at that time, and then she went really into the movement and the massage direction. Fantastic massage therapist! I always felt so well loved up by her. 

Emilie Conrad was doing Continuum work. She was really a serious dancer. Very many dancers are very disembodied. They're like up here directing their body, right? And she had a break. And when she melted down, she got into micro-movements. She got into the cellular movement place. She developed a whole movement thing where you'd start off and put certain very spacey music on and then give you directions to really enter into the dynamic stream of the cells, basically. The fluid body. 

Babatunde Olutanji was a presence then, too.  He was fantastic. He would come July 4th. Oh, and to see the young girls from Gazebo dance with him was amazing. 

But the Gestalt work was really my focus. Freud helped me organize my very chaotic history. It gave me a logical narrative. Jungian work really opened up the archetypes: There's more than just this human personality. There are spiritual forces — the great mother and all the archetypes. Just made the picture larger, which relaxed my soul a lot. Then the Gestalt work opened up my emotional body. 

Dick Price and Chris were very somatic in their Gestalt work. Yet Dick was so hands-off. He was very in the background. His management style was similar, there yet, in deep background. Though he was rarely in the office during the day,  you'd see him in the office going through the books, like at midnight.

He had a very deep impact on many, many souls. Working with him, he was so fearless. And in terms of transference, he was so clean. There was no fear of him touching anywhere in your body because there was no secondary agenda. His narcissism was really low. He did not need to be the star in the room, and that was very impressive for me. His ability to go into the hell realms was very impressive, especially working with someone like me who had a lot of hell realms to go into. Chris learned that capacity from him. You could feel his presence right in there with you, but not interfering. Yet not distant. 

I don't know what my experience with Esalen would have been if I hadn't been embraced by Dick and Chris. Falling into their way of working was so incredibly healing. And the fact that Esalen included the opportunities to just step out my door and go do work with Gabrielle Roth or Emilie Conrad — and then come back and process how I was changed. 

Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Back in the Day with Jessica Britt: “Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

About

Esalen Team

< Back to all articles

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt
“Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

Esalen student, teacher, and workshop leader Jessica Britt on the Esalen of the ‘80s: “A very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch.”


In the mid-1970s, I was a psychiatric nurse. I worked in a child psychiatric ward at a hospital and at a community mental health center in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was a special project started called CSARC, Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center, for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused through incest and rape. It was very intense. And when I was working there, I went down to Esalen with my girlfriend to take Stan Grof’s workshop.  While I was there, I met Chris and Dick Price and she was pregnant with Jenny. This must have been in 1974 or ’75. And Chris and I just hit it off. 

Dick Price was an incredibly generous being and a very mysterious being. He would occasionally invite people who worked in mental health all through the Bay Area to come down to Esalen on him and do a week of Gestalt work with him and Chrissy. 

I'd already been in Freudian analysis and Jungian analysis, but I was afraid of Gestalt work because of the history with the Hot Seat, so I didn't want to do Gestalt work. I knew if I went on the Hot Seat, it would be about feeling intense feelings. 

I'm lying there, and I'm starting to feel intense feelings, and then I go into this huge process on the opening night. Next thing I know, Dick's on one side of me and Chrissy's on the other side. It was as if I was on acid! (Which I wasn't.) It was just a total deep embodied process. And they're right there.And when I came out of it, I can remember looking at my hand and going, Oh my God, I have a hand! That's how disembodied I was.

I was hooked. In 1980, they invited me to move down to Esalen as a work scholar with housing. I worked in Cabins, and then I just stayed. I lived in the Big House, in the Annex, in a little room down below. It was a little bit bigger than a walk-in closet.

The main thing about Esalen in the ’80s was that it was the beginning of the family life era. Before then, there were few families. And the major thing that opened that up was the birth of Jenny Price. Janet Lederman was like, “Oh, cool! Now I'm going to get a more kid-friendly place.”  Basically, she started the Gazebo School as a place for Jenny Price to go in the afternoon, so Dick and Chris could have time alone. Community became more foreground. 

Esalen in the ‘80s was a very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch. Gabrielle Roth was doing her 5Rhythms work. She was very, very creative. But she was also very, very kind. Strikingly kind. And she knew something about positive emptiness. There was a way that she could enter into the void, or emptiness, in a certain way — in a positive way. 

So, in the 1980s, we were encouraged to offer service to others whilst learning about oneself. The atmosphere was incredible, with so many strong women, so many innovators. Ilana Rubenfeld was around then doing body-oriented therapy. She was a very good woman with a very good heart. Ellen Watson was more of a student at that time, and then she went really into the movement and the massage direction. Fantastic massage therapist! I always felt so well loved up by her. 

Emilie Conrad was doing Continuum work. She was really a serious dancer. Very many dancers are very disembodied. They're like up here directing their body, right? And she had a break. And when she melted down, she got into micro-movements. She got into the cellular movement place. She developed a whole movement thing where you'd start off and put certain very spacey music on and then give you directions to really enter into the dynamic stream of the cells, basically. The fluid body. 

Babatunde Olutanji was a presence then, too.  He was fantastic. He would come July 4th. Oh, and to see the young girls from Gazebo dance with him was amazing. 

But the Gestalt work was really my focus. Freud helped me organize my very chaotic history. It gave me a logical narrative. Jungian work really opened up the archetypes: There's more than just this human personality. There are spiritual forces — the great mother and all the archetypes. Just made the picture larger, which relaxed my soul a lot. Then the Gestalt work opened up my emotional body. 

Dick Price and Chris were very somatic in their Gestalt work. Yet Dick was so hands-off. He was very in the background. His management style was similar, there yet, in deep background. Though he was rarely in the office during the day,  you'd see him in the office going through the books, like at midnight.

He had a very deep impact on many, many souls. Working with him, he was so fearless. And in terms of transference, he was so clean. There was no fear of him touching anywhere in your body because there was no secondary agenda. His narcissism was really low. He did not need to be the star in the room, and that was very impressive for me. His ability to go into the hell realms was very impressive, especially working with someone like me who had a lot of hell realms to go into. Chris learned that capacity from him. You could feel his presence right in there with you, but not interfering. Yet not distant. 

I don't know what my experience with Esalen would have been if I hadn't been embraced by Dick and Chris. Falling into their way of working was so incredibly healing. And the fact that Esalen included the opportunities to just step out my door and go do work with Gabrielle Roth or Emilie Conrad — and then come back and process how I was changed. 

Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

< Back to all Journal posts

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt: “Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt
“Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

Esalen student, teacher, and workshop leader Jessica Britt on the Esalen of the ‘80s: “A very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch.”


In the mid-1970s, I was a psychiatric nurse. I worked in a child psychiatric ward at a hospital and at a community mental health center in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was a special project started called CSARC, Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center, for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused through incest and rape. It was very intense. And when I was working there, I went down to Esalen with my girlfriend to take Stan Grof’s workshop.  While I was there, I met Chris and Dick Price and she was pregnant with Jenny. This must have been in 1974 or ’75. And Chris and I just hit it off. 

Dick Price was an incredibly generous being and a very mysterious being. He would occasionally invite people who worked in mental health all through the Bay Area to come down to Esalen on him and do a week of Gestalt work with him and Chrissy. 

I'd already been in Freudian analysis and Jungian analysis, but I was afraid of Gestalt work because of the history with the Hot Seat, so I didn't want to do Gestalt work. I knew if I went on the Hot Seat, it would be about feeling intense feelings. 

I'm lying there, and I'm starting to feel intense feelings, and then I go into this huge process on the opening night. Next thing I know, Dick's on one side of me and Chrissy's on the other side. It was as if I was on acid! (Which I wasn't.) It was just a total deep embodied process. And they're right there.And when I came out of it, I can remember looking at my hand and going, Oh my God, I have a hand! That's how disembodied I was.

I was hooked. In 1980, they invited me to move down to Esalen as a work scholar with housing. I worked in Cabins, and then I just stayed. I lived in the Big House, in the Annex, in a little room down below. It was a little bit bigger than a walk-in closet.

The main thing about Esalen in the ’80s was that it was the beginning of the family life era. Before then, there were few families. And the major thing that opened that up was the birth of Jenny Price. Janet Lederman was like, “Oh, cool! Now I'm going to get a more kid-friendly place.”  Basically, she started the Gazebo School as a place for Jenny Price to go in the afternoon, so Dick and Chris could have time alone. Community became more foreground. 

Esalen in the ‘80s was a very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch. Gabrielle Roth was doing her 5Rhythms work. She was very, very creative. But she was also very, very kind. Strikingly kind. And she knew something about positive emptiness. There was a way that she could enter into the void, or emptiness, in a certain way — in a positive way. 

So, in the 1980s, we were encouraged to offer service to others whilst learning about oneself. The atmosphere was incredible, with so many strong women, so many innovators. Ilana Rubenfeld was around then doing body-oriented therapy. She was a very good woman with a very good heart. Ellen Watson was more of a student at that time, and then she went really into the movement and the massage direction. Fantastic massage therapist! I always felt so well loved up by her. 

Emilie Conrad was doing Continuum work. She was really a serious dancer. Very many dancers are very disembodied. They're like up here directing their body, right? And she had a break. And when she melted down, she got into micro-movements. She got into the cellular movement place. She developed a whole movement thing where you'd start off and put certain very spacey music on and then give you directions to really enter into the dynamic stream of the cells, basically. The fluid body. 

Babatunde Olutanji was a presence then, too.  He was fantastic. He would come July 4th. Oh, and to see the young girls from Gazebo dance with him was amazing. 

But the Gestalt work was really my focus. Freud helped me organize my very chaotic history. It gave me a logical narrative. Jungian work really opened up the archetypes: There's more than just this human personality. There are spiritual forces — the great mother and all the archetypes. Just made the picture larger, which relaxed my soul a lot. Then the Gestalt work opened up my emotional body. 

Dick Price and Chris were very somatic in their Gestalt work. Yet Dick was so hands-off. He was very in the background. His management style was similar, there yet, in deep background. Though he was rarely in the office during the day,  you'd see him in the office going through the books, like at midnight.

He had a very deep impact on many, many souls. Working with him, he was so fearless. And in terms of transference, he was so clean. There was no fear of him touching anywhere in your body because there was no secondary agenda. His narcissism was really low. He did not need to be the star in the room, and that was very impressive for me. His ability to go into the hell realms was very impressive, especially working with someone like me who had a lot of hell realms to go into. Chris learned that capacity from him. You could feel his presence right in there with you, but not interfering. Yet not distant. 

I don't know what my experience with Esalen would have been if I hadn't been embraced by Dick and Chris. Falling into their way of working was so incredibly healing. And the fact that Esalen included the opportunities to just step out my door and go do work with Gabrielle Roth or Emilie Conrad — and then come back and process how I was changed. 

Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Back in the Day with Jessica Britt: “Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

About

Esalen Team

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Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Back in the Day with Jessica Britt
“Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.”

Esalen student, teacher, and workshop leader Jessica Britt on the Esalen of the ‘80s: “A very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch.”


In the mid-1970s, I was a psychiatric nurse. I worked in a child psychiatric ward at a hospital and at a community mental health center in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was a special project started called CSARC, Child and Adolescent Support Advocacy and Resource Center, for children and adolescents who had been sexually abused through incest and rape. It was very intense. And when I was working there, I went down to Esalen with my girlfriend to take Stan Grof’s workshop.  While I was there, I met Chris and Dick Price and she was pregnant with Jenny. This must have been in 1974 or ’75. And Chris and I just hit it off. 

Dick Price was an incredibly generous being and a very mysterious being. He would occasionally invite people who worked in mental health all through the Bay Area to come down to Esalen on him and do a week of Gestalt work with him and Chrissy. 

I'd already been in Freudian analysis and Jungian analysis, but I was afraid of Gestalt work because of the history with the Hot Seat, so I didn't want to do Gestalt work. I knew if I went on the Hot Seat, it would be about feeling intense feelings. 

I'm lying there, and I'm starting to feel intense feelings, and then I go into this huge process on the opening night. Next thing I know, Dick's on one side of me and Chrissy's on the other side. It was as if I was on acid! (Which I wasn't.) It was just a total deep embodied process. And they're right there.And when I came out of it, I can remember looking at my hand and going, Oh my God, I have a hand! That's how disembodied I was.

I was hooked. In 1980, they invited me to move down to Esalen as a work scholar with housing. I worked in Cabins, and then I just stayed. I lived in the Big House, in the Annex, in a little room down below. It was a little bit bigger than a walk-in closet.

The main thing about Esalen in the ’80s was that it was the beginning of the family life era. Before then, there were few families. And the major thing that opened that up was the birth of Jenny Price. Janet Lederman was like, “Oh, cool! Now I'm going to get a more kid-friendly place.”  Basically, she started the Gazebo School as a place for Jenny Price to go in the afternoon, so Dick and Chris could have time alone. Community became more foreground. 

Esalen in the ‘80s was a very robust, dynamic place. People were coming to really own and express their dynamic aliveness. We were a sexy bunch, we were an attractive bunch, we were a juicy bunch. Gabrielle Roth was doing her 5Rhythms work. She was very, very creative. But she was also very, very kind. Strikingly kind. And she knew something about positive emptiness. There was a way that she could enter into the void, or emptiness, in a certain way — in a positive way. 

So, in the 1980s, we were encouraged to offer service to others whilst learning about oneself. The atmosphere was incredible, with so many strong women, so many innovators. Ilana Rubenfeld was around then doing body-oriented therapy. She was a very good woman with a very good heart. Ellen Watson was more of a student at that time, and then she went really into the movement and the massage direction. Fantastic massage therapist! I always felt so well loved up by her. 

Emilie Conrad was doing Continuum work. She was really a serious dancer. Very many dancers are very disembodied. They're like up here directing their body, right? And she had a break. And when she melted down, she got into micro-movements. She got into the cellular movement place. She developed a whole movement thing where you'd start off and put certain very spacey music on and then give you directions to really enter into the dynamic stream of the cells, basically. The fluid body. 

Babatunde Olutanji was a presence then, too.  He was fantastic. He would come July 4th. Oh, and to see the young girls from Gazebo dance with him was amazing. 

But the Gestalt work was really my focus. Freud helped me organize my very chaotic history. It gave me a logical narrative. Jungian work really opened up the archetypes: There's more than just this human personality. There are spiritual forces — the great mother and all the archetypes. Just made the picture larger, which relaxed my soul a lot. Then the Gestalt work opened up my emotional body. 

Dick Price and Chris were very somatic in their Gestalt work. Yet Dick was so hands-off. He was very in the background. His management style was similar, there yet, in deep background. Though he was rarely in the office during the day,  you'd see him in the office going through the books, like at midnight.

He had a very deep impact on many, many souls. Working with him, he was so fearless. And in terms of transference, he was so clean. There was no fear of him touching anywhere in your body because there was no secondary agenda. His narcissism was really low. He did not need to be the star in the room, and that was very impressive for me. His ability to go into the hell realms was very impressive, especially working with someone like me who had a lot of hell realms to go into. Chris learned that capacity from him. You could feel his presence right in there with you, but not interfering. Yet not distant. 

I don't know what my experience with Esalen would have been if I hadn't been embraced by Dick and Chris. Falling into their way of working was so incredibly healing. And the fact that Esalen included the opportunities to just step out my door and go do work with Gabrielle Roth or Emilie Conrad — and then come back and process how I was changed. 

Because you can't do that work and not feel changed.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team