Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Slow Down & Listen Deeply: Lessons in Healing & Reconciliation
Category:
Healing

At the start of each of our conversations, Esselen Tribe members Cari Herthel and Jana Nason invite space and pace for us all to ease into; this is about respect and deep listening. Jumping in immediately with big and personal questions feels like the antithesis of a mindful way to begin a new relationship — and so we surrender together to take our time. The world of hustle and bustle, deadlines, and busy schedules may feign instant intimacy, but that is not an authentic way to create real, meaningful, and lasting relations. 

“We as people don't slow down to be respectful or do deep listening to one another, and I think that loss of connection definitely plays out in so many different ways; we’re less connected to our environment,” said Cari, a Tribe elder and medicine woman and the vice chair of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County (ETMC). 

“Traditionally, we would be sitting face-to-face,” says Jana. As niece of ETMC chief Tom “Little Bear” Nason, she represents the next generation of storytellers and wisdomkeepers passing on traditions. “We would be sharing a meal. We'd probably be exchanging gifts and we would offer prayers.” Instead, this first conversation is over Zoom, and we are staring at each other through a screen and the positive and destructive innovation of technology. 

“It is important to follow those cultural traditions that I've learned,” Jana adds. “Society kind of conditions us to not be present. So I'm really trying to slow down, to listen with both ears — all the things my elders are saying.” This medium — though it was a significant bridge for continuing to meet and stay connected and in conversation safely during the pandemic — is not ideal for traditional deep listening. 

“It is challenging to be honest. Although this conversation here feels very personal, it would be at a different depth if we were sitting face-to-face in person. The technology has moved at a really fast pace, and I personally struggle with staying grounded and making sure I have time to process and critically think about what's happening.”

Jana recites a prayer over Zoom, just as she would if we were face-to-face, first in Hokan, the language of the Esselen people, and then in English: “Yes, My grandfather. Yes, my grandmother. Thank you for this day and for my life. We pray for the birds. We pray for the fish, we pray for the deer. Great spirit, please purify our bodies and our souls.” 

Cari emphasizes that respect is a necessity with deep listening and vice versa. “That points to something in me that is feeling a [voice of] privilege. Like, I don't need to listen to you because I already know. I don't need to have a relationship with you unless I'm in control…When somebody is not interested in the other, in the deep listening or relationship, why is that taking place?” she wonders. 

Building a relationship of respect with the Esselen Tribe — recognized as aboriginal inhabitants of the Big Sur region, and the first known people to reside on the sacred land that the Esalen Institute sits on today — starts with receiving the Esselen story directly from members of the Tribe, not relying on colonial and mission documentation and revisionist history that has been amplified by academia. 

“It wasn't until 1924 by the Indian Citizen Act that American Native people were given full birthright citizenship. We were not even considered as real people — even though we were here the whole time. And it wasn't until 1957 that we even had the right to vote, which is absolutely bizarre,” Jana says. 

According to the Tribe, the Esselen inhabited the territory, pre-historically, that encompasses the greater San Francisco Bay area south to Lopez Point. then were pushed by invasion down to Monterey Peninsula, Point Lobos, the rugged Big Sur coastline, Santa Lucia Range, Carmel and Salinas Valleys. In more recent memory their ancestors have since inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains, Carmel Valley, and the Big Sur coast from Carmel Mission South 40 miles to Pacific Valley.

In 2019, the Esalen Institute set the intention to nurture true healing and reconciliation with the Indigenous Tribes of the region. With the facilitation of the Healing & Reconciliation Institute, we began a multi-year process of individual and collective reflection, deep learning, and humble listening. In 2021, Esalen carried forward with the skills and self-awareness from the training session and sat in listening circles with members of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. Space and time were created for all to name the historical harms, speak their truths, and deeply listen in order to bridge and commune, to cultivate compassion and commit to co-stewardship and an ongoing relationship moving forward.

“When we came into some of the initial conversations with Esalen Institute, I would be crying in every meeting. I was a mess. It was sensory overload. It was a lot of heaviness, a lot of misunderstanding about Indigenous peoples,” says Jana. “I've had to slow down and process those emotions a lot in order to communicate without getting too emotional or distracted.”

The land that the Esalen Institute resides on today is recognized to have served as a home, refuge, and healing place to the Esselen people. Long before post-colonial industrial revolutions, the Indigenous lived in harmony with this sacred land. The three waters – mineral, sea, and fresh – converge here to create “natural power points.” They were and are a source of healing and sustenance. This connection to all living things and their relationship with the land and waters breathes a sacredness into the land.

Cari and Jana, as well as other Tribe members and other Indigenous communities, continue to embody their culture, traditions, songs, stories, and their deep connection to land, water, and all living things. The Esalen Institute honors this Tribe through its name and through its stewardship of the lands and sacred waters— and we are honored that Cari this month will share the Tribe’s wisdoms and traditions through her upcoming workshop: “Healing Waters: The Medicine Wheel and Embodied Motion,” which the medicine woman will lead along with Douglas Drummond, the institute’s healing arts and somatics director. The workshop, Cari and Douglas write, is about “honoring the mana/matsa—the life force—of the healing waters flowing through the sacred land at the Esalen Institute, we will set an intention to gather in community.”

“In listening circles, I bring up conversations that people haven't talked about in a long time.,” says Cari. “Those conversations open up areas of ourselves that collectively engage us to make changes. I love this opportunity for the workshop through the medicine wheel for that very reason. In directional work, there is a rich opportunity, a self inquiry that is remarkably safe.”

“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?



About

Shira Levine

Shira Levine is the Director of Communications & Storytelling at the Esalen Institute.

Slow Down & Listen Deeply: Lessons in Healing & Reconciliation

About

Shira Levine

Shira Levine is the Director of Communications & Storytelling at the Esalen Institute.

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

At the start of each of our conversations, Esselen Tribe members Cari Herthel and Jana Nason invite space and pace for us all to ease into; this is about respect and deep listening. Jumping in immediately with big and personal questions feels like the antithesis of a mindful way to begin a new relationship — and so we surrender together to take our time. The world of hustle and bustle, deadlines, and busy schedules may feign instant intimacy, but that is not an authentic way to create real, meaningful, and lasting relations. 

“We as people don't slow down to be respectful or do deep listening to one another, and I think that loss of connection definitely plays out in so many different ways; we’re less connected to our environment,” said Cari, a Tribe elder and medicine woman and the vice chair of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County (ETMC). 

“Traditionally, we would be sitting face-to-face,” says Jana. As niece of ETMC chief Tom “Little Bear” Nason, she represents the next generation of storytellers and wisdomkeepers passing on traditions. “We would be sharing a meal. We'd probably be exchanging gifts and we would offer prayers.” Instead, this first conversation is over Zoom, and we are staring at each other through a screen and the positive and destructive innovation of technology. 

“It is important to follow those cultural traditions that I've learned,” Jana adds. “Society kind of conditions us to not be present. So I'm really trying to slow down, to listen with both ears — all the things my elders are saying.” This medium — though it was a significant bridge for continuing to meet and stay connected and in conversation safely during the pandemic — is not ideal for traditional deep listening. 

“It is challenging to be honest. Although this conversation here feels very personal, it would be at a different depth if we were sitting face-to-face in person. The technology has moved at a really fast pace, and I personally struggle with staying grounded and making sure I have time to process and critically think about what's happening.”

Jana recites a prayer over Zoom, just as she would if we were face-to-face, first in Hokan, the language of the Esselen people, and then in English: “Yes, My grandfather. Yes, my grandmother. Thank you for this day and for my life. We pray for the birds. We pray for the fish, we pray for the deer. Great spirit, please purify our bodies and our souls.” 

Cari emphasizes that respect is a necessity with deep listening and vice versa. “That points to something in me that is feeling a [voice of] privilege. Like, I don't need to listen to you because I already know. I don't need to have a relationship with you unless I'm in control…When somebody is not interested in the other, in the deep listening or relationship, why is that taking place?” she wonders. 

Building a relationship of respect with the Esselen Tribe — recognized as aboriginal inhabitants of the Big Sur region, and the first known people to reside on the sacred land that the Esalen Institute sits on today — starts with receiving the Esselen story directly from members of the Tribe, not relying on colonial and mission documentation and revisionist history that has been amplified by academia. 

“It wasn't until 1924 by the Indian Citizen Act that American Native people were given full birthright citizenship. We were not even considered as real people — even though we were here the whole time. And it wasn't until 1957 that we even had the right to vote, which is absolutely bizarre,” Jana says. 

According to the Tribe, the Esselen inhabited the territory, pre-historically, that encompasses the greater San Francisco Bay area south to Lopez Point. then were pushed by invasion down to Monterey Peninsula, Point Lobos, the rugged Big Sur coastline, Santa Lucia Range, Carmel and Salinas Valleys. In more recent memory their ancestors have since inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains, Carmel Valley, and the Big Sur coast from Carmel Mission South 40 miles to Pacific Valley.

In 2019, the Esalen Institute set the intention to nurture true healing and reconciliation with the Indigenous Tribes of the region. With the facilitation of the Healing & Reconciliation Institute, we began a multi-year process of individual and collective reflection, deep learning, and humble listening. In 2021, Esalen carried forward with the skills and self-awareness from the training session and sat in listening circles with members of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. Space and time were created for all to name the historical harms, speak their truths, and deeply listen in order to bridge and commune, to cultivate compassion and commit to co-stewardship and an ongoing relationship moving forward.

“When we came into some of the initial conversations with Esalen Institute, I would be crying in every meeting. I was a mess. It was sensory overload. It was a lot of heaviness, a lot of misunderstanding about Indigenous peoples,” says Jana. “I've had to slow down and process those emotions a lot in order to communicate without getting too emotional or distracted.”

The land that the Esalen Institute resides on today is recognized to have served as a home, refuge, and healing place to the Esselen people. Long before post-colonial industrial revolutions, the Indigenous lived in harmony with this sacred land. The three waters – mineral, sea, and fresh – converge here to create “natural power points.” They were and are a source of healing and sustenance. This connection to all living things and their relationship with the land and waters breathes a sacredness into the land.

Cari and Jana, as well as other Tribe members and other Indigenous communities, continue to embody their culture, traditions, songs, stories, and their deep connection to land, water, and all living things. The Esalen Institute honors this Tribe through its name and through its stewardship of the lands and sacred waters— and we are honored that Cari this month will share the Tribe’s wisdoms and traditions through her upcoming workshop: “Healing Waters: The Medicine Wheel and Embodied Motion,” which the medicine woman will lead along with Douglas Drummond, the institute’s healing arts and somatics director. The workshop, Cari and Douglas write, is about “honoring the mana/matsa—the life force—of the healing waters flowing through the sacred land at the Esalen Institute, we will set an intention to gather in community.”

“In listening circles, I bring up conversations that people haven't talked about in a long time.,” says Cari. “Those conversations open up areas of ourselves that collectively engage us to make changes. I love this opportunity for the workshop through the medicine wheel for that very reason. In directional work, there is a rich opportunity, a self inquiry that is remarkably safe.”

“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?



About

Shira Levine

Shira Levine is the Director of Communications & Storytelling at the Esalen Institute.

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Slow Down & Listen Deeply: Lessons in Healing & Reconciliation
Category:
Healing

Building a relationship with the Esselen tribe — recognized as aboriginal inhabitants of the Big Sur region, and among the first peoples to reside on the sacred land that the Esalen Institute sits on today — starts with receiving the Esselen story directly from members of the tribe, not relying on colonial and mission documentation and revisionist history that has been amplified by academia.

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About

Shira Levine

Shira Levine is the Director of Communications & Storytelling at the Esalen Institute.

Slow Down & Listen Deeply: Lessons in Healing & Reconciliation

About

Shira Levine

Shira Levine is the Director of Communications & Storytelling at the Esalen Institute.

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