Several Esalen faculty chart new territory during COVID-19 with free online offerings designed to strengthen community and stimulate the heart, mind, body and spirit.
"Although we need to socially isolate right now, I felt called to offer opportunities to breathe and move together, and to make these opportunities as accessible as possible by offering them for free," says Esalen faculty and yoga instructor Noah Mazé. "It is critical that we stay connected, engaged and also find ways to nurture our identities and keep good company—both inside and outside. Yogic practices give us many effective tools to do just that and stay healthy."
In addition to Noah’s virtual yoga classes, we discovered other online faculty offerings. Let's explore:
Who: Noah Mazé Often described as having a fierce and compassionate dedication to yoga, Noah provides a space for students to journey deeper into body, heart, mind and spirit. His online community continues to expand, as do his stellar offerings.
What: Daily Yoga Classes Noah’s free classes range from learning the fundamentals of yoga to more dynamic approaches to the practice. Class titles boast a playful edge—from Wednesday Bendsday to Fearless Friday. On Saturdays, he hosts Family Yoga Brunch—yoga playtime for all ages.
When: 10 a.m. (PST) Monday through Saturday.
Who: Dan Siegel Dan has inspired Esalen seminarians for many years. He is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain and Development and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center.
What: Personal Experience, Planetary Pandemic = PEPP Dan’s weekly PEPP MWe Up Talk and Gathering finds him interacting with guests online to focus and share personal experiences during the pandemic.
When: 1 p.m. (PST) Fridays.
Who: Carla Fernandez and Lennon Flowers The duo launched The Dinner Party as a platform for grieving 20- and 30-somethings to find peer community and build lasting relationships. Their mission soon became a valiant quest to transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation and forward movement using the age-old practice of “breaking bread.”
What: The Dinner Party Virtual Calendar Carla, Lennon and their team serve compelling virtual offerings during COVID-19, ranging from yoga and community sing-alongs to humor for “dark” times and virtual dinner parties where 20-, 30- and early 40-somethings who have all experienced loss can hold space with and for one another as they navigate through challenging situations.
Where: Dinner Party Virtual Calendar.
Who: Day Schildkret An author and artist who believes that connecting more with nature is the best dose of medicine around, Day is internationally known for his morning altars, a stunning array of sublime mandalas which he creates daily from natural materials. His book, Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art and Ritual, has inspired people around the globe to be awed with impermanent earth art.
What: Morning Altars Workshop For Those Grieving “We’re going to make nature altars together and turn our grief into beauty,” Day says, noting that online participants will first meet on Zoom where they’ll be taught seven “how-to” steps. “We will then leave the screens and go out to our own backyards, parks and stoops to collect leaves, berries, bark or flowers,” he adds. Once palettes are filled with treasures, it’s time to get lost in the creative process. Upon completion, participants will return to the Zoom meeting where an art tour of the altars ensues, followed by a time of devotion to “all those we are grieving.”
When: Most Sundays (*donation-based; nobody turned away).
Who: MaMuse Fueled by folk and gospel traditions, Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker’s music is awe-inspiring, interweaving resplendent harmony with lyrics filled with emotional intelligence. The group’s musical presence is beautifully accentuated by varied acoustic instruments—upright bass, guitar, mandolins, ukulele and flutes—and backed by guitar titan Walter Strauss.
What: Nooney Tunes Dubbed “ethereal harmonies, joyous song and sharing from the heart,” the weekday events establish a sense of community and rare shared experiences in which attendees can be creative. “We felt a calling to continue giving our gifts,” Sarah says of Nooney Tunes. “We wanted access for all, because all people need music and connection, especially right now. What I'm discovering about these online gatherings is that there's a real sense of connection that can happen when people come together in this way. So potent.”
Where: Facebook Live.
When: 12 p.m. (PST), Monday through Friday.
Who: Suzanne Scurlock Suzanne has taught at Esalen since 1984, is the author of Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom and Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body's Wisdom. She is also a CranioSacral therapy instructor for The Upledger Institute and created the Healing From the Core® curriculum, specializing in conscious awareness and its relationship to the healing process.
What: Calming Strategies for COVID Crisis Suzanne says her "new, short recordings for the soul" offer strategies and meditations to help us explore how to quiet the anxiety in our gut, clear our thinking again and be steady in our heart about what we need to do next in these challenging times. Several strategies include extending kindness and also staying connected in a world that now asks us to not touch one another and maintain at least six feet distance. One of Suzanne's recent offerings, Resting Between the Waves, shares insights about the various life currents—or "waves of energy"—we move through.
Who: Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche One of few masters of the Tibetan Bön Dzogchen tradition living in the West, Rinpoche founded Ligmincha International and is known for his ability to make Tibetan practices easily accessible to all. He is the author of nine books, including Wonders of the Natural Mind and The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep.
What: Various Online Offerings Rinpoche’s virtual offerings are vast, ranging from 24-hour Moon Practice of Sherap Chamma and Embracing Death in the Inner Refuge to Meditation, Breath and Movement and Tibetan Dream Yoga. Support from Rinpoche’s online community of meditation practitioners is also offered.
Who: Michael Guy Thompson, Fritjof Capra and Nita Gage All three provoke thought in their field: Michael is a psychoanalyst who worked with Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing for many years and has been training therapists for more than 30 years; Fritjof is the author of several international bestsellers, including Uncommon Wisdom, which features his extensive conversations with R. D. Laing; and Nita trained with R.D. Laing at the Philadelphia Association and went on to co-found the NeuroImaginal Institute. She also directs Healer Within retreats.
What: Second Virtual Gnosis Existential Salon—What is Will? Michael, Fritjof and Nita offer insights on the concept of will and review how philosophers, beginning with the Greeks, have treated the concept of will and what it comprises. Also on the roster: exploring will from a systems theoretical perspective and why science has for the most part neglected this concept, and how will shows up and is employed in group situations.
Where: For more details and to RSVP, click here (*40 attendees max).
When: 3-5 p.m. Saturday, June 6.