Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Jovinna Chan at Esalen. Photo by Stephanie Lewis.
Dark Night of the Soul — #myEsalen
Category:
Spirit

After 60 years, you’d be hard pressed to find two people who have the same description of 55000 Highway 1. However, the collective Esalen experience is something pretty special: we are here to unlock, unleash, and transform… something.

Just like you, we remain curious, continually evolving and exploring. Approaching our 60th anniversary, we kick off our #myEsalen campaign across The Journal and our social channels, featuring stories from humans who have stepped foot on this sacred land and transformed… something.

What does #myEsalen mean to you?

Jovinna Chan, E-RYT 500, YACEP, and co-founder of the Shakti Initiation Yoga Leadership School and A Wild Life Sanctuary™ is the first to tell us... a little something.

Dark Night of the Soul

By Jovinna Chan

Ask me what was responsible for my healing and transformation, and I will say teachers, community, embodiment practices, and nature. In my experience, there is an undeniable interconnectedness of all of them; and, out of these aforementioned four, nature plays a significant part in freeing my imprisoned mind.

Sometime in December 2006, I was at the lowest of the lowest. “Checkmate,” said Hopelessness, as I stared off into space. I didn’t know what to do or which way to go anymore. Earlier that year, I graduated from yoga teacher training, hoping for a fresh start, but the aspiration and inspiration I felt at the end of the training lasted only a few months. Depression wrapped its tentacles tightly around me. I felt despondent. My will to save my marriage and life finally broke. It was my dark night of the soul.  

This internal collapse was the beginning of an epic eight year journey to undo a set of deep beliefs and conditioning that imprisoned me in a mental state of right and wrong, success and failure, and an obsessive mindless pursuit of a set of values and lifestyle that did not align with my Soul and Spirit.The exhaustion from trying so hard to have everything under control not only broke me, but saved me. The catalyst of that final letting go was a tiny seed of faith planted during my yoga teacher training. 

In April 2007, I moved into Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Nestled in the beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires Mountains, I arrived for an internship to become a yoga teacher trainer. I must confess, I took the position not because that was my dream, but because it was the ticket out of my dark times in New York City. There, I met my beloved teacher Vincent Martínez-Grieco, the designer of Soul Motion Conscious Dance. He invited me to assist him at Esalen that September. I had never been to Esalen. My mentor, Devarshi, said to me, “You must go to Esalen!” So I did. 

I remember the perfect weather that afternoon along the winding Highway 1. I had a window seat. My broken heart burst wide open by the oxygen I gasped at each encounter with the wild beauty of Big Sur. I met two other people who would strengthen my ties to Esalen. My Soul Motion/Gestalt Awareness Teacher, Zuza Engler, and Lance, my partner. From then onwards, I would come to Esalen regularly, sometimes to teach workshops, sometimes to assist my Soul Motion teachers, and sometimes to enjoy being a guest. 

There I was. I had made it to the other side. By God’s grace, I landed in a place and time to study and train with many incredible teachers of yoga, dance, meditation, and Gestalt Awareness Practice. I was given tons of opportunities to create, lead and teach. So much of my spiritual growth was a result of traversing between the worlds and cultures of Kripalu and Esalen. I threw myself wholeheartedly and relentlessly into service, into spiritual practices, and into many inquiries on love. Gradually, I lifted out of depression. A ferocious appetite to live rekindled in me. 

Living on the land of the Berkshires and Big Sur  continually shifts something fundamental in me. Those lands slow me down and show me the rhythm of life. The beauty of nature has a way to the heart and mind. Nature, effortlessly embodies wildness and aliveness. The more I live in relation with Nature, the more I return to my own aliveness and wildness. 

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
~ Wendell Berry, Our Real Work

Jovinna’s next workshop is Integration From the Core: Embodiment through Yoga, Dance, and Sound Meditation, September 5–9, 2022. Look for it soon.

“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?


Find a Workshop

Register

About

Esalen Team & Jovinna Chan

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Jovinna Chan at Esalen. Photo by Stephanie Lewis.
Category:
Spirit

After 60 years, you’d be hard pressed to find two people who have the same description of 55000 Highway 1. However, the collective Esalen experience is something pretty special: we are here to unlock, unleash, and transform… something.

Just like you, we remain curious, continually evolving and exploring. Approaching our 60th anniversary, we kick off our #myEsalen campaign across The Journal and our social channels, featuring stories from humans who have stepped foot on this sacred land and transformed… something.

What does #myEsalen mean to you?

Jovinna Chan, E-RYT 500, YACEP, and co-founder of the Shakti Initiation Yoga Leadership School and A Wild Life Sanctuary™ is the first to tell us... a little something.

Dark Night of the Soul

By Jovinna Chan

Ask me what was responsible for my healing and transformation, and I will say teachers, community, embodiment practices, and nature. In my experience, there is an undeniable interconnectedness of all of them; and, out of these aforementioned four, nature plays a significant part in freeing my imprisoned mind.

Sometime in December 2006, I was at the lowest of the lowest. “Checkmate,” said Hopelessness, as I stared off into space. I didn’t know what to do or which way to go anymore. Earlier that year, I graduated from yoga teacher training, hoping for a fresh start, but the aspiration and inspiration I felt at the end of the training lasted only a few months. Depression wrapped its tentacles tightly around me. I felt despondent. My will to save my marriage and life finally broke. It was my dark night of the soul.  

This internal collapse was the beginning of an epic eight year journey to undo a set of deep beliefs and conditioning that imprisoned me in a mental state of right and wrong, success and failure, and an obsessive mindless pursuit of a set of values and lifestyle that did not align with my Soul and Spirit.The exhaustion from trying so hard to have everything under control not only broke me, but saved me. The catalyst of that final letting go was a tiny seed of faith planted during my yoga teacher training. 

In April 2007, I moved into Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Nestled in the beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires Mountains, I arrived for an internship to become a yoga teacher trainer. I must confess, I took the position not because that was my dream, but because it was the ticket out of my dark times in New York City. There, I met my beloved teacher Vincent Martínez-Grieco, the designer of Soul Motion Conscious Dance. He invited me to assist him at Esalen that September. I had never been to Esalen. My mentor, Devarshi, said to me, “You must go to Esalen!” So I did. 

I remember the perfect weather that afternoon along the winding Highway 1. I had a window seat. My broken heart burst wide open by the oxygen I gasped at each encounter with the wild beauty of Big Sur. I met two other people who would strengthen my ties to Esalen. My Soul Motion/Gestalt Awareness Teacher, Zuza Engler, and Lance, my partner. From then onwards, I would come to Esalen regularly, sometimes to teach workshops, sometimes to assist my Soul Motion teachers, and sometimes to enjoy being a guest. 

There I was. I had made it to the other side. By God’s grace, I landed in a place and time to study and train with many incredible teachers of yoga, dance, meditation, and Gestalt Awareness Practice. I was given tons of opportunities to create, lead and teach. So much of my spiritual growth was a result of traversing between the worlds and cultures of Kripalu and Esalen. I threw myself wholeheartedly and relentlessly into service, into spiritual practices, and into many inquiries on love. Gradually, I lifted out of depression. A ferocious appetite to live rekindled in me. 

Living on the land of the Berkshires and Big Sur  continually shifts something fundamental in me. Those lands slow me down and show me the rhythm of life. The beauty of nature has a way to the heart and mind. Nature, effortlessly embodies wildness and aliveness. The more I live in relation with Nature, the more I return to my own aliveness and wildness. 

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
~ Wendell Berry, Our Real Work

Jovinna’s next workshop is Integration From the Core: Embodiment through Yoga, Dance, and Sound Meditation, September 5–9, 2022. Look for it soon.

“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?


Find a Workshop

Register

About

Esalen Team & Jovinna Chan

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