Awe and Wonder: An Exploration Through Science, Contemplation, and Narrative
October 14–16, 2022
October 14–16, 2022
with Dacher Keltner and Mollie McNeil
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Awe is the feeling of encountering vast mysteries that transcend our current knowledge and understanding of the world. In its greatest sense, it is an astonished and transformative appreciation for the moral beauty of others, for nature, for the arts—and is always rooted in a spiritual understanding of life.  

In this new, paradigm-shifting workshop, we will uncover the latest scientific understandings of awe. By engaging in evolutionary and neuroscientific approaches to the mind, and considering the narrative and cultural meanings of awe, we will begin to tease out where this feeling lives in our own minds and hearts and learn how to cultivate it more deeply.

Together, we will discover a number of practices to cultivate awe in our own lives and how to deepen one’s relationship to it. We’ll travel by way of reflective writing, using expressive writing principles and models from Contemplative Studies.

During our time together, we will:

  • Learn the latest science and scholarship on awe and wonder
  • Engage in contemplative practices related to awe
  • Learn about literary, poetic, and aesthetic approaches to awe
  • Learn to cultivate an awe-related writing and reflective practice
  • Cultivate an awareness of more everyday awe

Join us for this incredible opportunity to refresh your heart and mind in the breathtaking natural setting of Esalen and Big Sur.

Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner is a professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center. His research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, and humility, as well as power, social class, and inequality.

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Mollie McNeil

Mollie McNeil

Mollie McNeil, PhD, is a published writer and has lectured in the English departments of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Mills College, and De Anza College. She currently teaches a variety of creative writing classes at the Modern Elder Academy and in various Bay Area workshops.

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Workshop Schedule

Friday
8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
4:15 pm – 6:15 pm
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

More activities can be found on our open class schedule.

See general schedule information including arrival, departure and meal times.

Accommodations & Tuition

Click Register Now to view availability of accommodations and all-inclusive, program-specific tuition. Please note that not all accommodation levels are available for every workshop and additional faculty fees may apply.

We offer scholarship funds for those with financial need. Learn more.

Accommodations & Tuition

For this workshop, you will register and pay for accommodations and tuition in two separate steps.

First, sign up and pay tuition directly to

Second, click Book Accommodations from this page and enter the password to complete your reservation to stay at Esalen.

Prices for accommodations include your lodging, meals, open classes, and use of the baths and other facilities. View partner program accommodations pricing.

COVID Update

In addition to proof of vaccination, all guests and faculty must provide proof of negative test results at time of check-in. Please read our current COVID safety guidelines for complete details prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

Effective January 7, 2022 in response to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, all guests and faculty will provide proof of negative PCR, NAAT, or antigen test results at time of check-in. The test must be taken within 72 hours nd results must come from a laboratory or healthcare provider.Please read our updated COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

Effective December 15 in accordance with new guidance from Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Health, all guests, students, staff, residents, and faculty are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings, irrespective of vaccine status, for the next four weeks (December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022). Please read our updated COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

Effective November 19, 2021, in accordance with new guidance from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, all guests, students, staff, residents, and faculty are no longer required to wear masks indoors on campus. Please read our updated COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

Starting November 5, 2021, due to substantial levels of COVID-19 transmission in Monterey County, a mask mandate established by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will go into effect. Please read our COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

All guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival starting September 3, 2021. Please read our COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

COVID Update

Masks are no longer mandated indoors or outdoors, except during massage sessions. Guests are not required to provide testing or vaccination verification before arriving on campus. Please read our COVID safety guidelines prior to booking your stay.

All-inclusive Pricing
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