Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Living and Learning at Esalen: Jake Potter

In the course of one year, there are more than 300 students participating in Esalen’s residential education program. Ranging in ages from 18 to 70-plus, they come from across the country and around the world to study, work, and live at Esalen for 28 days, a summer, or an entire year depending on which program they choose to pursue.

For Australian native Jake Potter, Esalen was only supposed to be a month-long commitment. Instead he has extended his stay for a year. “What surprised me was the level of support the community can give,” says Jake. “I thought a living community wasn’t going to be my thing, but I then I saw the benefit of how the community helps each other and how that support can create creative possibilities.”

Jake first heard of Esalen through Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms movement meditation practice. As a dancer, he wanted to see the land where conscious dancing was birthed. “I wanted to dive in where the heart of the practice began,” he says.

What he also discovered was that Esalen was an opportunity to pair his interest in dance with a passion for teaching. “My intention was to train as a teacher of the Open Floor Movement Practice,” recalls Jake. “Within the first month at Esalen I was stepping into a leadership role involving cultural awareness, conflict resolution, compassion, and more.”

Through his involvement in Esalen’s Integral Leadership Program (ILP), an exploration of conscious leadership skills, Jake was given the space to teach dance. Today he’s also leading dances as part of Esalen’s general movement offerings. “It was always a dream to teach at Esalen,” he says.

When Jake concludes his time as an Extended Student at Esalen, he will return to Australia. He plans to work with diverse youth, using dance practice to create healing, connection, and foster a sense of self-worth. Looking back at his experience, Jake feels honored to have been part of the student experience. “Without the work scholars Esalen would not be able to run. They are the heart and soul of Esalen and it was a privilege to be part of the program – studying while cleaning the baths.”


Learn more about Esalen’s Work Scholar program and Integral Leadership Program online.

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

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“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.”

“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?“

“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.”

“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.“

“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!”

“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.”
“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?


Esalen Team