community's picture

Carried By A Mighty Current


Carried By A Mighty Current
– the euphoria of the first few days, weeks, or months –

After arriving back home, many of us felt just how deeply relaxing and healing a prolonged stay at Esalen can be. While the sense of relaxation and recovery after a “normal” vacation usually wears off rather quickly in the urban rat race, the effects of a year or so at Esalen tend to linger a lot longer. Katrina says, “My euphoria kept me buoyant for a good four months after my return, and it was exciting to catch up with friends and family. I was lucky in that I had a financial buffer through having rented out my flat in London while at Esalen. I also got into a relationship, which occupied a lot of my time.”

After four weeks of housesitting at Stinson Beach, Melanie had badly gotten the blues and decided to return to Esalen. After several more months there, she left in best spirits with an Esalen massage certificate in hand, this time turning right at the top of the hill. “I was on my way to Desert Hot Springs to live with Alyssa who had recently left Esalen, too. She had gotten a job directing the movement program at WeCare, a cleansing spa. She was 24; I was 41. We loved each other dearly. She was taking her dance into a new place and so was I. I highly recommend transitioning with someone who has been at Esalen. If you physically can’t, do it by phone. Surround yourself with the love and support you need.

Alyssa and I faced the challenges of moving together from the lush green mountains plunging into the ocean to the hot, barren, desolate desert. I was full of fear and had $15 to my name, but I had Alyssa. She was happy to have me, too. Her trust and patience (and a small loan from another Esalen friend who believed in me) comforted my panic. I immediately got a massage job at Estrella, a plush spa in the heart of Palm Springs, because the manager had been to Esalen. Who would’ve thought there would be someone else in this desert that knew Esalen? Put Esalen at the top of your resume. You never know who is out there, and it will lead you into connections. The spa was a little too plastic for my taste, but I was able to get a lot of great massage experience right out of ‘school.’”

Udo ended his year in California with a week of travelling and visiting friends, most of whom he knew from Esalen. “As I was driving from friend to friend, my undercurrent of sadness gave way to a sense of freedom and adventure. I had left Esalen all right, but I had not returned home yet! I was roaming through a no-man’s land. And I discovered again how exciting life outside Big Sur can be.

Back in Europe I continued to travel for a week or so, visiting friends and family back home – in the same sense of footloose, careless abandon. It even continued a few weeks after I returned to my hometown Stuttgart. I remember riding in the subways in late November, the gloomiest time of year in Germany, practicing conscious breathing that Thomas Fortel had taught us in his Yoga classes in the Dance Dome. I was astonished just how gray and drab a wintry workday morning can be in my own country. I felt compassion with all the folks who looked rushed and tired and listless, but I was not yet a part of it. In the turmoil of my own return, I often felt very stable and relaxed. A surge of calm energy, built in a year at Esalen, carried me for many weeks.”


community – September 27, 2006 – 10:35am