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A Time of Harvest

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A Time of Harvest
– looking back at the experience now –

All of life is but a transition – this deep, spiritual insight is sustained by many of the world’s mystics and religions. In a practical, day-to-day sense, though, there comes a time, when things start looking smoother and more stable again, when the struggles, the uncertainty and the doubts give way to a feeling of abundance, a time of harvest. Remembering the bounty that she took home, Katrina says she knows that she had used her time at Esalen well, “I had reconnected to my passion for life and grown hugely in my self belief. I had discovered parts of me I didn’t know were there for the growing - through body and talking therapy work, dancing, painting, writing, acting, gardening, and the everyday living in the Esalen culture and on the inspiring land. I had built wonderful relationships, which I still feel strongly about. I had a joyful, brimful experience.

I even made sure I did my goodbyes in a way I’d never done them before, ¬with presence and real intimacy. At the last moment I cancelled plans for a leaving party to have a simple fire ceremony because that was what felt right at the time. When I left, I was excited about my future, about returning to the United Kingdom and integrating all I’d learned into my life and relationships. I was longing to see family and friends and looking forward to being ‘in the world’ again. I’d gone to Esalen for a number of reasons, but, if I’m honest, mainly because I thought I’d meet my mate. I didn’t, and that was painful. But I did fall in love with myself, and I have never felt so alive, even in the first throws of romance with another. That in itself was a very powerful lesson, which has stayed with me.”

Like with many other people, Marie’s stay at Esalen and the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center was motivated by a longing to change her life, personally and professionally. And she feels that she did, indeed, take steps toward this goal, “Looking back, I think my experiences at Esalen and in California have changed my life in two decisive ways: I have learned to do Esalen Massage and I have a Zen Buddhist meditation practice. To me, these are very good tools to create a foundation in myself and in my life. Through massage I can work with my own body awareness, my grounding, etc., and even get paid while doing it! Through meditation practice and the Zen Buddhist philosophy, I can connect with myself and my intentions; I can find direction in my life.”

Maiko-San, too, reports from Japan, that her Esalen experiences have helped her to change, “I feel that the wisdom I learned at Esalen is not just theoretical knowledge, it’s not only in my thoughts. I carry it in my body, in each of my cells. I certainly notice the changes. They may be small, but they make a huge difference to me. I defiantly care less about what other people think about me, for example; I am no longer scared to dance freely anymore, not even in Japan.

I realize so many things everyday. Especially problems in relationships. Setting clear boundaries was always my problem. I couldn't say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ (I guess I didn’t want to take the responsibility of making decisions). I didn’t know what I wanted, because I based my actions and decisions on my projections of how other people might react. Now I can really feel and see my fantasies. I find it fascinating how my reactions have changed. I feel much more spontaneous and relaxed.”

Anna brought home a whole basket full of insights and inspirations from her time at Esalen, “To feel integrated in a community for the first time in my life; hugging and being hugged; trusting the process; getting in touch again with my creativity; feeling guided by the Cosmic Forces; Gestalt therapy; massage; the Wave; knowing that I am not a weirdo, that there is nothing wrong with me.”

From Sao Paulo, Brazil, Andrea writes that she felt like she was in paradise at Esalen because she made it a paradise, “The fact that I am not there anymore encourages and teaches me to find paradise within myself. That way I will find peace and happiness anywhere I go, because peace and joy come from the inside out. The fact is that I had ups and downs and I still do.”

When Tobias arrived at Esalen he was a pretty mistrusting, deeply insecure person, he writes, “I had opted out of a high salary, high prestige, high power job, as I felt that this wasn’t what I wanted my life to be, yet I had no clear alternative ideas whatsoever. By the time I left, I had grown in my integrity; I felt ready to go about the endeavor of my life:

- I trust myself more
- I trust people more
- I trust life’s process more
- I trust that everything is okay the way it is
- I trust that I can give my life direction
- I trust that I can handle unexpected turns in my life
- I know that I’m part of something that is beyond me
- I know that I’m not alone

And sometimes it’s difficult to maintain a sense of trust.

I guess that I have a tendency to underestimate the learning experience I had there. It’s the everyday wisdom I swam in while living and working in Esalen that now is valuable to me beyond measure. Awareness and presence are immensely powerful tools, with the potency to change lives.”

Lilly thinks that she has learned to look into her emotional side better and to articulate what those emotions are. “...and I am still working on it. I met my beautiful husband at Esalen, which completely changed my life. We now have a beautiful baby girl, Satya, and I feel blessed every day of my life. I've learned to be present in my daily tasks (mostly through my massage training at Esalen) and if not, I am at least aware that I need to be present... first step, right?”

From her new home in England, Tina writes that, even though she had been to the U.S. many times before, even for longer periods, life at Esalen proved to her again that, “I can do it; I am fully capable of leaving my home country and a secure and safe environment all on my own and managing to settle down literally in a New World. Looking back, I wasn’t even aware of how courageous I had been. You just don’t do things like that in an ordinary life in my German home country.

The Esalen experience gave me more confidence not only in myself, in my ways of being and in my behavior, but also in the vast unknown world and its people in general. The world isn’t such a bad place at all.”

 

community – September 27, 2006 – 10:35am