#myEsalen — The container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Before discovering Esalen, Sam Stern was mired in a professional slump — and his personal life wasn’t exactly on fire either. “I was working as a massage therapist in a strip mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My main source of fun was checking out the staff favorites at the public library.” That all changed after Sam came across Esalen’s work scholar program (now called LEEP) when Googling one of his favorite authors.

“I saw that you could come and live at this unbelievably beautiful place in Big Sur,” shares Sam. “When I arrived, I was assigned to work in the Farm & Garden — the stroke of luck I needed. The land was incredibly healing. Even more, those daily Esalen check-ins set me straight — I was given the opportunity to share my feelings aloud with my co-workers and new friends. Somehow, that helped me shake off the shame and loneliness I’d been living with for years.”  

Within a few transformative years, Sam's journey at Esalen evolved from work scholar to extended student, ultimately leading him to join the staff while studying under the guidance of Esalen's renowned faculty. “My favorite workshops were loud and weird. Psychological, but rooted in the body. Ann Bradney’s Radical Aliveness and Paula Shaw’s the Max were both theatrical, almost confessional, with an emphasis on catharsis. When everything was clicking, people presented enormous versions of themselves in those rooms. I needed to express myself in a big way, and at Esalen, the container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely.”

Today, Sam is a full-time content creator for Esalen and teaches The History of Altered States at Esalen and AI For Creative Synergy on the open schedule. “I love that I get the chance to teach about AI,” he says. “Esalen has always been about exploring the edge and being curious. If used creatively, in a spirit of exploration, I don’t think AI has to be antithetical to the pursuit of human potential. Everything can be used wisely if you let it.”

“Being part of Esalen for the past ten years has been joyful and expansive, and now, I have the opportunity to share my current curiosities and passions with my community,” Sam adds. However, it’s Voices of Esalen, which Sam created in 2016, that he remains most deeply committed to, slowly growing into a beloved platform with a devoted following.

“The podcast took a long time to catch on — like, about eight years,” says Sam, “and then, suddenly, I looked up, and we had almost 200 episodes and over a million downloads. I’ve been inspired by the diverse thought leaders expanding the frontiers of human potential I’ve interviewed. As a lifelong student, it’s the opportunity I was always hoping for.”

“It’s funny; the best episodes are the ones where something happens emotionally. My interview with Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy, is so personal it’s almost embarrassing. It’s super raw, but it resonates with our audience. I suppose that makes sense, coming from Esalen.”

Esalen has fulfilled much more than Sam’s working aspirations. Somehow, unexpectedly, those lonely nights at the library were replaced with family. “My wife, Candice — who I met during my work scholar months as we planted endless rows of broccoli and chard, chatting the whole time about performing, writing, and growing up in the south — heads the Farm & Garden now. Our daughter has been going to the Big Sur Park School for almost three years.” 

Now, feeling a million metaphorical miles away from that lonely guy at the mall, Sam is proud his family sees him working hard in the field of human potential. As someone who has experienced it in major aspects of his life, he’s now focused on extending this gift to others — as far and wide as he can. "At Esalen, amid the relentless pursuit of self, it turns out that personal evolution is just another group activity. And somehow, despite everything, it works — surprisingly well."

“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?


Check out the Voices of Esalen podcast.

Tune In

About

Esalen Team

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Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
#myEsalen — The container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely

Before discovering Esalen, Sam Stern was mired in a professional slump — and his personal life wasn’t exactly on fire either. “I was working as a massage therapist in a strip mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My main source of fun was checking out the staff favorites at the public library.” That all changed after Sam came across Esalen’s work scholar program (now called LEEP) when Googling one of his favorite authors.

“I saw that you could come and live at this unbelievably beautiful place in Big Sur,” shares Sam. “When I arrived, I was assigned to work in the Farm & Garden — the stroke of luck I needed. The land was incredibly healing. Even more, those daily Esalen check-ins set me straight — I was given the opportunity to share my feelings aloud with my co-workers and new friends. Somehow, that helped me shake off the shame and loneliness I’d been living with for years.”  

Within a few transformative years, Sam's journey at Esalen evolved from work scholar to extended student, ultimately leading him to join the staff while studying under the guidance of Esalen's renowned faculty. “My favorite workshops were loud and weird. Psychological, but rooted in the body. Ann Bradney’s Radical Aliveness and Paula Shaw’s the Max were both theatrical, almost confessional, with an emphasis on catharsis. When everything was clicking, people presented enormous versions of themselves in those rooms. I needed to express myself in a big way, and at Esalen, the container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely.”

Today, Sam is a full-time content creator for Esalen and teaches The History of Altered States at Esalen and AI For Creative Synergy on the open schedule. “I love that I get the chance to teach about AI,” he says. “Esalen has always been about exploring the edge and being curious. If used creatively, in a spirit of exploration, I don’t think AI has to be antithetical to the pursuit of human potential. Everything can be used wisely if you let it.”

“Being part of Esalen for the past ten years has been joyful and expansive, and now, I have the opportunity to share my current curiosities and passions with my community,” Sam adds. However, it’s Voices of Esalen, which Sam created in 2016, that he remains most deeply committed to, slowly growing into a beloved platform with a devoted following.

“The podcast took a long time to catch on — like, about eight years,” says Sam, “and then, suddenly, I looked up, and we had almost 200 episodes and over a million downloads. I’ve been inspired by the diverse thought leaders expanding the frontiers of human potential I’ve interviewed. As a lifelong student, it’s the opportunity I was always hoping for.”

“It’s funny; the best episodes are the ones where something happens emotionally. My interview with Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy, is so personal it’s almost embarrassing. It’s super raw, but it resonates with our audience. I suppose that makes sense, coming from Esalen.”

Esalen has fulfilled much more than Sam’s working aspirations. Somehow, unexpectedly, those lonely nights at the library were replaced with family. “My wife, Candice — who I met during my work scholar months as we planted endless rows of broccoli and chard, chatting the whole time about performing, writing, and growing up in the south — heads the Farm & Garden now. Our daughter has been going to the Big Sur Park School for almost three years.” 

Now, feeling a million metaphorical miles away from that lonely guy at the mall, Sam is proud his family sees him working hard in the field of human potential. As someone who has experienced it in major aspects of his life, he’s now focused on extending this gift to others — as far and wide as he can. "At Esalen, amid the relentless pursuit of self, it turns out that personal evolution is just another group activity. And somehow, despite everything, it works — surprisingly well."

“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?


Check out the Voices of Esalen podcast.

Tune In

About

Esalen Team

#myEsalen — The container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely

About

Esalen Team

< Back to all articles

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Before discovering Esalen, Sam Stern was mired in a professional slump — and his personal life wasn’t exactly on fire either. “I was working as a massage therapist in a strip mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My main source of fun was checking out the staff favorites at the public library.” That all changed after Sam came across Esalen’s work scholar program (now called LEEP) when Googling one of his favorite authors.

“I saw that you could come and live at this unbelievably beautiful place in Big Sur,” shares Sam. “When I arrived, I was assigned to work in the Farm & Garden — the stroke of luck I needed. The land was incredibly healing. Even more, those daily Esalen check-ins set me straight — I was given the opportunity to share my feelings aloud with my co-workers and new friends. Somehow, that helped me shake off the shame and loneliness I’d been living with for years.”  

Within a few transformative years, Sam's journey at Esalen evolved from work scholar to extended student, ultimately leading him to join the staff while studying under the guidance of Esalen's renowned faculty. “My favorite workshops were loud and weird. Psychological, but rooted in the body. Ann Bradney’s Radical Aliveness and Paula Shaw’s the Max were both theatrical, almost confessional, with an emphasis on catharsis. When everything was clicking, people presented enormous versions of themselves in those rooms. I needed to express myself in a big way, and at Esalen, the container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely.”

Today, Sam is a full-time content creator for Esalen and teaches The History of Altered States at Esalen and AI For Creative Synergy on the open schedule. “I love that I get the chance to teach about AI,” he says. “Esalen has always been about exploring the edge and being curious. If used creatively, in a spirit of exploration, I don’t think AI has to be antithetical to the pursuit of human potential. Everything can be used wisely if you let it.”

“Being part of Esalen for the past ten years has been joyful and expansive, and now, I have the opportunity to share my current curiosities and passions with my community,” Sam adds. However, it’s Voices of Esalen, which Sam created in 2016, that he remains most deeply committed to, slowly growing into a beloved platform with a devoted following.

“The podcast took a long time to catch on — like, about eight years,” says Sam, “and then, suddenly, I looked up, and we had almost 200 episodes and over a million downloads. I’ve been inspired by the diverse thought leaders expanding the frontiers of human potential I’ve interviewed. As a lifelong student, it’s the opportunity I was always hoping for.”

“It’s funny; the best episodes are the ones where something happens emotionally. My interview with Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy, is so personal it’s almost embarrassing. It’s super raw, but it resonates with our audience. I suppose that makes sense, coming from Esalen.”

Esalen has fulfilled much more than Sam’s working aspirations. Somehow, unexpectedly, those lonely nights at the library were replaced with family. “My wife, Candice — who I met during my work scholar months as we planted endless rows of broccoli and chard, chatting the whole time about performing, writing, and growing up in the south — heads the Farm & Garden now. Our daughter has been going to the Big Sur Park School for almost three years.” 

Now, feeling a million metaphorical miles away from that lonely guy at the mall, Sam is proud his family sees him working hard in the field of human potential. As someone who has experienced it in major aspects of his life, he’s now focused on extending this gift to others — as far and wide as he can. "At Esalen, amid the relentless pursuit of self, it turns out that personal evolution is just another group activity. And somehow, despite everything, it works — surprisingly well."

“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?


Check out the Voices of Esalen podcast.

Tune In

About

Esalen Team

< Back to all Journal posts

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
#myEsalen — The container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely

Before discovering Esalen, Sam Stern was mired in a professional slump — and his personal life wasn’t exactly on fire either. “I was working as a massage therapist in a strip mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My main source of fun was checking out the staff favorites at the public library.” That all changed after Sam came across Esalen’s work scholar program (now called LEEP) when Googling one of his favorite authors.

“I saw that you could come and live at this unbelievably beautiful place in Big Sur,” shares Sam. “When I arrived, I was assigned to work in the Farm & Garden — the stroke of luck I needed. The land was incredibly healing. Even more, those daily Esalen check-ins set me straight — I was given the opportunity to share my feelings aloud with my co-workers and new friends. Somehow, that helped me shake off the shame and loneliness I’d been living with for years.”  

Within a few transformative years, Sam's journey at Esalen evolved from work scholar to extended student, ultimately leading him to join the staff while studying under the guidance of Esalen's renowned faculty. “My favorite workshops were loud and weird. Psychological, but rooted in the body. Ann Bradney’s Radical Aliveness and Paula Shaw’s the Max were both theatrical, almost confessional, with an emphasis on catharsis. When everything was clicking, people presented enormous versions of themselves in those rooms. I needed to express myself in a big way, and at Esalen, the container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely.”

Today, Sam is a full-time content creator for Esalen and teaches The History of Altered States at Esalen and AI For Creative Synergy on the open schedule. “I love that I get the chance to teach about AI,” he says. “Esalen has always been about exploring the edge and being curious. If used creatively, in a spirit of exploration, I don’t think AI has to be antithetical to the pursuit of human potential. Everything can be used wisely if you let it.”

“Being part of Esalen for the past ten years has been joyful and expansive, and now, I have the opportunity to share my current curiosities and passions with my community,” Sam adds. However, it’s Voices of Esalen, which Sam created in 2016, that he remains most deeply committed to, slowly growing into a beloved platform with a devoted following.

“The podcast took a long time to catch on — like, about eight years,” says Sam, “and then, suddenly, I looked up, and we had almost 200 episodes and over a million downloads. I’ve been inspired by the diverse thought leaders expanding the frontiers of human potential I’ve interviewed. As a lifelong student, it’s the opportunity I was always hoping for.”

“It’s funny; the best episodes are the ones where something happens emotionally. My interview with Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy, is so personal it’s almost embarrassing. It’s super raw, but it resonates with our audience. I suppose that makes sense, coming from Esalen.”

Esalen has fulfilled much more than Sam’s working aspirations. Somehow, unexpectedly, those lonely nights at the library were replaced with family. “My wife, Candice — who I met during my work scholar months as we planted endless rows of broccoli and chard, chatting the whole time about performing, writing, and growing up in the south — heads the Farm & Garden now. Our daughter has been going to the Big Sur Park School for almost three years.” 

Now, feeling a million metaphorical miles away from that lonely guy at the mall, Sam is proud his family sees him working hard in the field of human potential. As someone who has experienced it in major aspects of his life, he’s now focused on extending this gift to others — as far and wide as he can. "At Esalen, amid the relentless pursuit of self, it turns out that personal evolution is just another group activity. And somehow, despite everything, it works — surprisingly well."

“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?


Check out the Voices of Esalen podcast.

Tune In

About

Esalen Team

#myEsalen — The container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely

About

Esalen Team

< Back to all articles

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Before discovering Esalen, Sam Stern was mired in a professional slump — and his personal life wasn’t exactly on fire either. “I was working as a massage therapist in a strip mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My main source of fun was checking out the staff favorites at the public library.” That all changed after Sam came across Esalen’s work scholar program (now called LEEP) when Googling one of his favorite authors.

“I saw that you could come and live at this unbelievably beautiful place in Big Sur,” shares Sam. “When I arrived, I was assigned to work in the Farm & Garden — the stroke of luck I needed. The land was incredibly healing. Even more, those daily Esalen check-ins set me straight — I was given the opportunity to share my feelings aloud with my co-workers and new friends. Somehow, that helped me shake off the shame and loneliness I’d been living with for years.”  

Within a few transformative years, Sam's journey at Esalen evolved from work scholar to extended student, ultimately leading him to join the staff while studying under the guidance of Esalen's renowned faculty. “My favorite workshops were loud and weird. Psychological, but rooted in the body. Ann Bradney’s Radical Aliveness and Paula Shaw’s the Max were both theatrical, almost confessional, with an emphasis on catharsis. When everything was clicking, people presented enormous versions of themselves in those rooms. I needed to express myself in a big way, and at Esalen, the container of community was strong enough to hold my voice safely.”

Today, Sam is a full-time content creator for Esalen and teaches The History of Altered States at Esalen and AI For Creative Synergy on the open schedule. “I love that I get the chance to teach about AI,” he says. “Esalen has always been about exploring the edge and being curious. If used creatively, in a spirit of exploration, I don’t think AI has to be antithetical to the pursuit of human potential. Everything can be used wisely if you let it.”

“Being part of Esalen for the past ten years has been joyful and expansive, and now, I have the opportunity to share my current curiosities and passions with my community,” Sam adds. However, it’s Voices of Esalen, which Sam created in 2016, that he remains most deeply committed to, slowly growing into a beloved platform with a devoted following.

“The podcast took a long time to catch on — like, about eight years,” says Sam, “and then, suddenly, I looked up, and we had almost 200 episodes and over a million downloads. I’ve been inspired by the diverse thought leaders expanding the frontiers of human potential I’ve interviewed. As a lifelong student, it’s the opportunity I was always hoping for.”

“It’s funny; the best episodes are the ones where something happens emotionally. My interview with Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy, is so personal it’s almost embarrassing. It’s super raw, but it resonates with our audience. I suppose that makes sense, coming from Esalen.”

Esalen has fulfilled much more than Sam’s working aspirations. Somehow, unexpectedly, those lonely nights at the library were replaced with family. “My wife, Candice — who I met during my work scholar months as we planted endless rows of broccoli and chard, chatting the whole time about performing, writing, and growing up in the south — heads the Farm & Garden now. Our daughter has been going to the Big Sur Park School for almost three years.” 

Now, feeling a million metaphorical miles away from that lonely guy at the mall, Sam is proud his family sees him working hard in the field of human potential. As someone who has experienced it in major aspects of his life, he’s now focused on extending this gift to others — as far and wide as he can. "At Esalen, amid the relentless pursuit of self, it turns out that personal evolution is just another group activity. And somehow, despite everything, it works — surprisingly well."

“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?


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