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Some Bottomlines

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Some Bottomlines
- the best of advice from your sisters and brothers -

“Advice is the lowest form of communication,” says Howard Schechter, a well-liked and loved seminar leader at Esalen. But (to use this – at Esalen, strictly illegal - word) there might be exceptions to this rule, as with many other rules. After some thirty pages of sharing our personal experiences and sticking strictly to I-statements, we now take the freedom to try and condense it all in a nutshell of – yes, advice - for you. We trust that you take what you can use and disregard the rest. Anna starts off with a practical, down-to-earth counsel, gained in her winter months alone, “Stay in touch with fellow ex-students. Surround yourself with people who have had similar experiences and who have similar beliefs.”

Many of us, if not everybody, share this view. Marie for example, mails from Copenhagen, Denmark, “I think when my transition time was the most difficult, I was not always able to see that my problems were problems of transitioning and not just my own personal problems. It would have been very helpful to talk with like-minded people where I could find support and understanding. Now I still miss talking with people with whom I can share my experiences, keeping them alive and reflecting on what I have learned.”

To make the most of your experience, Udo recommends making it a daily – or at least a regular - effort to keep it all alive, “Maintain the practices that you had while at Esalen, or build yourself a new practice, be it Yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi, dancing, painting, writing, or whatever... What really helped me, too, was reading the 1000 pages of my Esalen journals again and again. They are my best medicine against idealizing the place – and against forgetting its power and beauty. They bring me right back to the immediacy of the moment, the joys and challenges of my year there, and my hopes and visions. And, of course, like many of us recommend here. stay in close touch with friends and family during your transition. And keep in contact with fellow Esalenites. You’ll find the phone numbers and email-addresses of contributors who are willing to support you at the end of this brochure.”

Back home in Calvinist, Switzerland, Tobias found it extremely rewarding to offer a space where people can share themselves more than they are keen to in their “regular“ lives. “Play Gestalt games during dinner parties or gatherings instead of just talking. Organize a writing group, a bad art gathering, whatever you feel like. At the beginning there may only be you and somebody else ... trust it and it will grow to be a crowd. And stay in contact with your Esalen friends, they are a resource of empowerment for the rest of your life!”

“When you leave Esalen, you will probably look for it everywhere until you realize it is you,” writes Melanie from Saint Louis. “You are the messenger. You will be miserable unless you continue to share yourself, wherever you are, and learn. Esalen does not stop at the top of the hill. Learn from the new faces around you and let them learn from you.

Esalen is a very unique place. There is nowhere else like it. Carry it with you in your heart and keep it sacred. Come back to Big Sur and feed yourself as often as you need. Don’t try to be so brave and stay away. Every time I come back, someone always says, ‘Welcome Home!’ And like every hometown, you can stay or go when you choose. If you have to go, I would encourage you to take something with you to give to the world. I chose massage and every time I do a massage, Esalen and all the wonderful experiences are right here with me. Always. AND I am giving them to someone who hasn’t had a chance to live in this incredible place.”

Living at Esalen for eighteen months was a life changing privilege for Katrina. “I could write and write about it, but for now my key advice to anybody leaving is to try to be kind to yourself in the transition. It has been much easier for me when I have been able to do that.”

Andy has approached his pioneer “Guide For Leaving Esalen” from the position that the transition is difficult, “Implied in that is the notion that the reader really ‘gets into’ the Esalen lifestyle while here,” he writes. “One ‘solution’ to the transition problem is, of course, never to become an extended student, or to become one but not to become part of the community.

My own two cents worth on that approach is that I wouldn’t recommend it. Esalen has a lot to offer, especially to people who are willing to give a lot of themselves to the community. In a lot of ways, I liken my departure from Esalen to the end of a happy, loving relationship. The end of such a relationship is almost inevitably painful, and for a while (sometimes permanently) the people enduring the breakup swear to themselves that they are never going to open their hearts again and risk such pain.

Luckily, most people eventually decide that the risks of loving again are worth the potential pain. I think the same is true here. If you happen to be a workscholar reading this, I wouldn’t let post-Esalen readjustment difficulties dissuade you from trying a position as an extended student. If you’re an extended student reading this in your first few months, I wouldn’t let potential post-Esalen readjustment difficulties dissuade you from really throwing yourself into community life. Indeed, I think the people who do that are among the luckiest people on Earth, and I feel quite blessed not merely for the time I spent here, but for the chances I get to come back and rekindle my spirit, and to spend time with some of the finest, most loving, worthwhile people I have ever known.”
 

community – September 27, 2006 – 10:35am