Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
How Do Humans of Esalen Relax? Shares from Shauna Shapiro, Jeffrey Williams, Sylvie Rokab, and more
Woman relaxing in the woods in a hammock

What are you doing to relax today? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s worth relaxing with a nice cup of tea and pondering about making time for self-care. The importance of relaxing, especially for reducing stress, is in the spotlight more than ever before. Mental health, overall wellbeing, maintaining good health are well-documented as a desired lifestyle for many of us. How about you?

"We can’t avoid stress or control our outer circumstances, but we can control how we meet them,” said Jeffrey Williams, longtime Esalen workshop facilitator and founder of Lifestyles of Light and Vitalist Institute. 

“Being able to do that requires knowing yourself and being able to center back into that knowing so you can make the choice to respond in alignment with yourself, rather than react to what shows up each day. Life is more fulfilling when aligned with your authentic self!”

For National Relaxation Day — August 15th — we decided to ask some humans in the Esalen community and faculty how they relax. Their answers reminded us that there are so many ways to help ourselves. Be inspired: you might get some new, great ideas for finding ease.

Brita Ostrom, Director of Massage

Brita Ostrom, Director of Massage

“I immerse myself in nature — the wind, the waves, the sun, the stars, a dance — participating in the larger wholeness of this place we call home.”

Brandon Perry, Guest Services Reservationist

Brandon Perry, Guest Services Reservationist

“Meditation. As a Buddhist, the core of our practice is a chant, “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”. This doesn’t only bring about relaxation, it also helps me to calm and center myself. It also fills my life with peace, vitality, joy and courage!”

Sylvie Rokab, Forest Bathing Guide and Love Thy Nature Filmmaker

“To be in the presence of the wonders of nature and feel embraced by its power and magic!”

Next workshop: Forest Bathing for Homecoming and Belonging, October 11-15, 2021

Darnell Walker, Artist and Teacher in Residence

Darnell Walker, Artist and Teacher in Residence

“I find a patch of land, hopefully with a garden or remnants of what could have been a garden. I remove my shoes, walk, and breathe. The coolness of the grass or dirt on my feet immediately relaxes me. And if there’s a body of water nearby, even better!”

Shauna Shapiro, Professor, Scientist, and Author

Shauna Shapiro, Professor, Scientist, and Author

“I place my hand on my heart. This physical gesture of self-care releases oxytocin and immediately down-regulates my physiology.”

Next workshop: Good Morning, I Love You, October 15-17, 2021

Gianni Arrington, Human Resources Coordinator

“I go on lots of walks and always stop to smell the flowers.”

Jeffrey Williams, Vitalist Institute

“To relax, I sit or lie down, deepen my breath, then move consciously through my body as it softens and releases all contraction and constriction in my tissue. This lets me create spaciousness and awareness in my being... in the here and now.” 

Next workshop: Evolutionary Embodiment, August 20-22, 2021

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant

Danai Fakutukwa, Guest Services Representative 

“I take myself on little adventures hunting for bakeries and coffee shops in Big Sur, Monterey, or Carmel.”

Nani Almanza, Guest Services Supervisor

“Lately, I’ve been drawing and coloring in my meditation practice. I also weave and play my sound bowl.”


Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Senior Content Producer. Christine is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, a best-selling author, California native, and yoga teacher's teacher (ERYT500, ERYT300, YACEP) on Esalen Faculty.