Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Sowing the Seeds of Curiosity and Joy
Photo by Lois Wald

For decades, Esalen's Farm and Garden has offered students a rich forum for experiential learning. This tradition continued recently when Farm and Garden Manager Thomas Leahy along with Chris Omer and Neil Howe welcomed high school students from Marin Academy for a day visit to Esalen.

"The trip is called Coastal Connections," explained outdoor educator Brian Benson who, with science teacher Tanya Bettis, accompanied eight students ages 16 to 18 along Highway 1. Their day at Esalen was the second in a six-day tour of the Big Sur area, with other highlights including hiking in Pfeiffer Burns State Park, a visit to Point Lobos State Reserve, and a tour of Point Sur Lighthouse. The students also had time scheduled for daily mindfulness practices.

"It's not just about exploring, but also about meeting local people, like Neil and Chris and Thomas here in the Farm and Garden. Each one of these individuals has their unique story. The kids will take from that story what they will, but the impact will reach out beyond the group, expand horizons and give the kids an opportunity to formulate their own stories,” added Brian. The night before their Esalen visit, he helped orient the group by focusing on luminaries with strong Esalen connections such as Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts. He feels the effort to provide a cultural framework for the experience that lay ahead paid off.

"Setting foot on the land here, I got the impression they realized this place is the real deal," Brian continued. "Big Sur hits you in the heart, and coming here goes beyond that. The place [Esalen] is impressive; the people are impressive. The gardens are well organized and the people working here know what they are doing. And then to consider that indigenous peoples were here 6,000 years ago… I can talk to the kids about that while they are here and they can learn so much."

As some of the students gathered for a group photo midway through the afternoon, Neil gave them an impromptu introduction to another colorful piece of Esalen culture: the Red Lady statue. The statue overlooks the garden leading to the Lodge, and with her arms outstretched in a gesture of almost palpable exuberance toward the sky, would seem to epitomize something very fundamental about the spirit of this place.

“To me she represents Pure Joy,” Neil commented. “I reconnect with that every morning.”

Alongside learning about the history, engaging in a taste and smell tour of the Farm and Garden, and helping out with planting and weeding, the students also participated in a process group –a unique aspect of working life at Esalen. One of the students was particularly moved by this experience, commenting that it was so refreshing to hear people being “real”, especially adults.

Photo by Doug Ellis

“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

Esalen Team

Sowing the Seeds of Curiosity and Joy

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Photo by Lois Wald

For decades, Esalen's Farm and Garden has offered students a rich forum for experiential learning. This tradition continued recently when Farm and Garden Manager Thomas Leahy along with Chris Omer and Neil Howe welcomed high school students from Marin Academy for a day visit to Esalen.

"The trip is called Coastal Connections," explained outdoor educator Brian Benson who, with science teacher Tanya Bettis, accompanied eight students ages 16 to 18 along Highway 1. Their day at Esalen was the second in a six-day tour of the Big Sur area, with other highlights including hiking in Pfeiffer Burns State Park, a visit to Point Lobos State Reserve, and a tour of Point Sur Lighthouse. The students also had time scheduled for daily mindfulness practices.

"It's not just about exploring, but also about meeting local people, like Neil and Chris and Thomas here in the Farm and Garden. Each one of these individuals has their unique story. The kids will take from that story what they will, but the impact will reach out beyond the group, expand horizons and give the kids an opportunity to formulate their own stories,” added Brian. The night before their Esalen visit, he helped orient the group by focusing on luminaries with strong Esalen connections such as Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts. He feels the effort to provide a cultural framework for the experience that lay ahead paid off.

"Setting foot on the land here, I got the impression they realized this place is the real deal," Brian continued. "Big Sur hits you in the heart, and coming here goes beyond that. The place [Esalen] is impressive; the people are impressive. The gardens are well organized and the people working here know what they are doing. And then to consider that indigenous peoples were here 6,000 years ago… I can talk to the kids about that while they are here and they can learn so much."

As some of the students gathered for a group photo midway through the afternoon, Neil gave them an impromptu introduction to another colorful piece of Esalen culture: the Red Lady statue. The statue overlooks the garden leading to the Lodge, and with her arms outstretched in a gesture of almost palpable exuberance toward the sky, would seem to epitomize something very fundamental about the spirit of this place.

“To me she represents Pure Joy,” Neil commented. “I reconnect with that every morning.”

Alongside learning about the history, engaging in a taste and smell tour of the Farm and Garden, and helping out with planting and weeding, the students also participated in a process group –a unique aspect of working life at Esalen. One of the students was particularly moved by this experience, commenting that it was so refreshing to hear people being “real”, especially adults.

Photo by Doug Ellis

“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

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Sowing the Seeds of Curiosity and Joy

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About

Esalen Team

Sowing the Seeds of Curiosity and Joy

About

Esalen Team

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