Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Proust Questionnaire: Casandra Vieten

Inspired by 20th-century French writer Marcel Proust, we here at Esalen have created our own version of his favorite parlor game to dig just a little deeper — and differently — into our incredible faculty and staff.

When asked what she'd like to change about herself, Cassandra Vieten wishes for the power of teleportation. "I'm not sure that's the point of the question, but it is a true answer!" Although she can't instantly transport her body across space just yet, Vieten regularly transforms lives here at Esalen through her classes, such as the upcoming How We Change and Why We Don't. The licensed clinical psychologist and mind-body medicine researcher explains her love of languages, shares a couple of wise mottos, and lists a few of her inspirations — including Princess Leia and other women who "tell it like it is and then do something about it."


What is Esalen to you?
Esalen is the place where the inner and the outer meet in a blazing glory of beauty and ruggedness, where the separation between the mind, body, and spirit is thin or nonexistent, and where the little glimmers of the radiance of all that is shimmer through the physical world and are experienced with ease. And one of the most conducive places for personal transformation on the planet.

What do you do/are you doing at Esalen?
I work to facilitate people finding a path for their lives that feels purposeful and aligned with their unique combination of affinities, talents, strengths, networks, and resources. It’s important to note that these arise from both what they have accomplished in their lives and the places they have experienced weakness, challenges, and despair. I love to help people find small and seemingly insignificant ways to re-enchant their lives with awe, wonder, and magic.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My loved ones are safe and healthy; I’ve done something useful today; the fire is roaring; a hot cup of tea is by my side; a good book is within reach, and a view stretches out in front of me.

What is your greatest fear in your work?
That something I discover or reveal would be used for harm.

What is the quality you most like in a human?
Authenticity, enthusiasm, and kindness in equal measure.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My daughter, without question. Love that little bean. Not so little anymore — twenty-one but still my bean.

What about your work brings you the most happiness? 
I absolutely adore the intersection of science fiction, futurism, virtual reality, and space exploration as they overlap with and inform spirituality, well-being, mental health, and personal transformation. I love being able to share out loud the hundreds of ways we can stay emotionally and mentally healthy when many have learned this topic should be secret and there are only a few ways to improve mental well-being. Mostly, I enjoy working with people who are equally enthusiastic about these topics and those just getting turned on to them.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be able to speak many languages. Names can be distant echoes of actual experiences, but I’ve also had the experience of a whole new corner of the world opening up when I’ve learned a new word for something. Other languages have words for things that English doesn’t, and I have a feeling learning those words would create frames for understanding concepts more fully.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be able to teleport. I’m not sure that’s the point of the question, but it is a true answer!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Not one thing, but I love it when I am able to bring people and projects together and something magical happens.

What would living at Esalen for a month be like for you?
I’ve done it, and it was wonderful!! The one thing I recommend: Don’t bring outside work with you if at all possible.

What is your most treasured possession?
Oddly enough, I don’t actually think I have one! At least not in terms of a thing. What I treasure most is the fascinating array of work and people I’ve had the good luck to have around me.

What is your favorite component of your work?
Working at the nexus of science, art, futurism, psychology, and spirituality.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Curiosity. I have a voracious appetite for the novel and original. I am in love with the variety of the world’s religions, odd obsessions, obscure passions. I’ve hardly ever met a subculture I wasn’t fascinated by.

What do you value most in your work/practice?
Time. Spacious, open-ended, unstructured time.

Who are your inspirations?
So many amazing women. Jane Goodall. Michelle Obama. Marie Curie. Harriett Tubman. Recently, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles — women who tell it like it is and then do something about it. 

Who is your hero of fiction?
Probably Princess Leia. Leading the Rebel Alliance.

What is your greatest regret?
I’ve been quite lost a couple of times in my life and created harm for people I loved. I believe we can all get lost from time to time, and we can all recover.

How would you like to die?
Either surrounded by loved ones who are helping to build the rainbow bridge, or … I recently learned about a pod where one sits looking out of a window and, when ready, presses a button for a mist to appear that helps one cross over gently. Overlooking the ocean sounds good.

What is your motto?
Either of these, borrowed from Ram Dass: Treat everyone you meet like God in drag. And We are all just walking each other home.

“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?


Join Cassandra Vieten for How We Change and Why We Don't: The Art and Science of Transformation, January 2–6, 2023 at Esalen.

Register Now

About

Esalen Team

The Proust Questionnaire: Casandra Vieten

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Proust Questionnaire
Casandra Vieten

Inspired by 20th-century French writer Marcel Proust, we here at Esalen have created our own version of his favorite parlor game to dig just a little deeper — and differently — into our incredible faculty and staff.

When asked what she'd like to change about herself, Cassandra Vieten wishes for the power of teleportation. "I'm not sure that's the point of the question, but it is a true answer!" Although she can't instantly transport her body across space just yet, Vieten regularly transforms lives here at Esalen through her classes, such as the upcoming How We Change and Why We Don't. The licensed clinical psychologist and mind-body medicine researcher explains her love of languages, shares a couple of wise mottos, and lists a few of her inspirations — including Princess Leia and other women who "tell it like it is and then do something about it."


What is Esalen to you?
Esalen is the place where the inner and the outer meet in a blazing glory of beauty and ruggedness, where the separation between the mind, body, and spirit is thin or nonexistent, and where the little glimmers of the radiance of all that is shimmer through the physical world and are experienced with ease. And one of the most conducive places for personal transformation on the planet.

What do you do/are you doing at Esalen?
I work to facilitate people finding a path for their lives that feels purposeful and aligned with their unique combination of affinities, talents, strengths, networks, and resources. It’s important to note that these arise from both what they have accomplished in their lives and the places they have experienced weakness, challenges, and despair. I love to help people find small and seemingly insignificant ways to re-enchant their lives with awe, wonder, and magic.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My loved ones are safe and healthy; I’ve done something useful today; the fire is roaring; a hot cup of tea is by my side; a good book is within reach, and a view stretches out in front of me.

What is your greatest fear in your work?
That something I discover or reveal would be used for harm.

What is the quality you most like in a human?
Authenticity, enthusiasm, and kindness in equal measure.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My daughter, without question. Love that little bean. Not so little anymore — twenty-one but still my bean.

What about your work brings you the most happiness? 
I absolutely adore the intersection of science fiction, futurism, virtual reality, and space exploration as they overlap with and inform spirituality, well-being, mental health, and personal transformation. I love being able to share out loud the hundreds of ways we can stay emotionally and mentally healthy when many have learned this topic should be secret and there are only a few ways to improve mental well-being. Mostly, I enjoy working with people who are equally enthusiastic about these topics and those just getting turned on to them.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be able to speak many languages. Names can be distant echoes of actual experiences, but I’ve also had the experience of a whole new corner of the world opening up when I’ve learned a new word for something. Other languages have words for things that English doesn’t, and I have a feeling learning those words would create frames for understanding concepts more fully.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be able to teleport. I’m not sure that’s the point of the question, but it is a true answer!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Not one thing, but I love it when I am able to bring people and projects together and something magical happens.

What would living at Esalen for a month be like for you?
I’ve done it, and it was wonderful!! The one thing I recommend: Don’t bring outside work with you if at all possible.

What is your most treasured possession?
Oddly enough, I don’t actually think I have one! At least not in terms of a thing. What I treasure most is the fascinating array of work and people I’ve had the good luck to have around me.

What is your favorite component of your work?
Working at the nexus of science, art, futurism, psychology, and spirituality.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Curiosity. I have a voracious appetite for the novel and original. I am in love with the variety of the world’s religions, odd obsessions, obscure passions. I’ve hardly ever met a subculture I wasn’t fascinated by.

What do you value most in your work/practice?
Time. Spacious, open-ended, unstructured time.

Who are your inspirations?
So many amazing women. Jane Goodall. Michelle Obama. Marie Curie. Harriett Tubman. Recently, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles — women who tell it like it is and then do something about it. 

Who is your hero of fiction?
Probably Princess Leia. Leading the Rebel Alliance.

What is your greatest regret?
I’ve been quite lost a couple of times in my life and created harm for people I loved. I believe we can all get lost from time to time, and we can all recover.

How would you like to die?
Either surrounded by loved ones who are helping to build the rainbow bridge, or … I recently learned about a pod where one sits looking out of a window and, when ready, presses a button for a mist to appear that helps one cross over gently. Overlooking the ocean sounds good.

What is your motto?
Either of these, borrowed from Ram Dass: Treat everyone you meet like God in drag. And We are all just walking each other home.

“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?


Join Cassandra Vieten for How We Change and Why We Don't: The Art and Science of Transformation, January 2–6, 2023 at Esalen.

Register Now

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Proust Questionnaire: Casandra Vieten

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Join Cassandra Vieten for How We Change and Why We Don't: The Art and Science of Transformation, January 2–6, 2023 at Esalen.

Register Now

About

Esalen Team

The Proust Questionnaire: Casandra Vieten

About

Esalen Team