For half a century, the Esalen Institute in Big Sur has been at the forefront of radical ideas, many of which have now become mainstream — movements like yoga, holistic medicine and organic food. The institute has also hosted scores of influential thinkers over the past 50 years, from Ansel Adams and Henry Miller to Aldous Huxley and Susan Sontag. We’ll look back at the history of Esalen and its future.

Mike Murphy, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Board of the Esalen Institute
Gordon Wheeler, president of the Esalen Institute
Tricia McEntee, CEO of the Esalen Institute

  • geraldfnord

    Not to be a wet blanket, but failures can often be as interesting and as indicative as successes; which ideas of theirs completely failed to thrive?

  • TylerH

    I was introduced to Esalen at the age of 15 when my mother gave me a set of lectures of Alan Watts recorded there many years before. I didn’t understand, but was fascinated… In college, I discovered Joseph Campbell, yoga, meditation and eastern thought; the name Esalen came up now and again. It took 25 years, and in 2009 I was driving up PCH in Big Sur, saw the sign, and a voice said “It’s Time to visit…” Since then I have attended a dozen or so workshops. Each visit is a respite, a chance to network with intelligent and thoughtful leaders, and a big step in my personal development. The most recent visit was Thanksgiving week. My greatest gratitude goes to the founders, staff, and teachers that started and continue so many revolutions and evolutions of thought in that very special spot perched on Big Sur’s wild coast..

  • It is now 19:07 in Switzerland which should correspond to 10:00 in San Francisco, but there is no audio available. Please advise. Sterling Doughty

  • Frank

    I would like to propose that Occupy Wall St is the Esalen of today.
    It is the means for people to rethink the modus operandi of modern society and question every assumption.
    It is more relevant. The “far out” has to take a back seat to the urgent.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Frank that was a good observation. The 99% not able to afford what the 1% partake of?

  • Ciao from Italy, my gf is a Esalen massage practitioner and we all enjoy her work. Wish one day she can visit You at Big Sur. Great, thank you Mario

  • Larry

    What became of Bernard Gunther and “Non-verbal sensory awareness?” Loved his program there in the late ’60s and at Grace Cathedral.

  • Are children welcome at esalen ? Having experienced the hugely transformative experience of becoming a new mother I am often disappointed that I cannot introduce my son to amazing places like esalen!

    • adeleaili

      I was thinking just the same now that I’m expecting and wondered whether I could come with my partner and baby where he can help with childcare when I need to work there and what the cost would be like then….

  • Teresa Lewis

    I can’t wait to return!!

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Esalen just seems so out of reach of most people financially. That question wasn’t answered.

  • I was deeply involved with Esalen at times from the late 60s > 80s and like many others, am deeply concerned with its development. Frankly the interview seemed to me to be a sort of infomercial, a shallow display of self-satisfaction by the governing Triad of Mike, Gordon and Whoever-she-was, who live in and believe in a world that is completely alien to what Esalen was created to be. I really heard nothing deep or profound or innovative that would give me a sense that the unique Esalen Gestalt (the idea, the property, the relation to the more-normal world – a true aid to human potential) is being properly cared for and nourished by the people in charge. I would hope that they would look deeply into the opportunities being lost as Esalen is sewn back into the larger society and the principles once lived and made flourishing by Dick and Michael, now alas by neither, are not allowed to wither. The Esalen Idea (i.e the totality of the entity’s – people, land, air, baths, water, sunsets, bats, groups, worms, monarchs, sulfur, smoke – experience of those 50 years) is too precious, too rare to be disregarded and discarded now in favor of a very mundane and self-satisfied perfectly respectable elitist organization, as now seems to be happening.

  • Jacqui Linder

    I love going to Esalen for retreat and training. I hear people complaining of the cost and I don’t get it. When I first went there, my training seminar, room and board for the week, and the whole Esalen experience was only 665.00. My seminar alone in Florida, would have cost 595.00. I thought it was way too cheap for what I received. I couldn’t believe the most awesome massage sessions were only 65.00. I was charging that and I didn’t have the Pacific Ocean to soothe my clients! These days the same cost 885.00 and I feel it is still a good value. The massage and bodywork sessions are appropriately priced. I find people afford what they want. I would rather drive a 10 year old car and not waste money on cable tv in order to spend whatever time I can at Esalen.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Please explain how someone who we would call ‘working poor’ could possibly afford such an elitist experience. Bear in mind there are hard working, ethical folk who in this economy cannot afford to drive even a ten year old car, much less afford cable tv or a tv set. These are the 99% folks.

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