Tucked into the stunning and violent landscape of California’s Big Sur, Esalen Institute has long been the go-to retreat for those seeking a dose of profound spiritual awakening combined (or augmented) with a dip in their natural hot springs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1962 by two Stanford psychology graduates keen to offer a place where alternative thought and belief systems could be taught free of traditional educational dogma, Esalen became a hub of the New Age movement. Workshops and lectures continue to be given to this day (a weekend workshop costs $450, and includes meals, the use of their facilities and reserves a spot for your sleeping bag in the common area; private rooms cost more) with humanistic psychology, mindfulness, spiritual awareness and sustainability core topics. After the devastation of last February’s landslides left Big Sur cut off from the world, helicopters were called to evacuate stranded Esalen guests from a hilltop. The institute reopened partially in summer and is now back in full swing, with a renewed focus on the impact of the digital age on human relationships, attention spans, and happiness. And while The New York Times sees an institute focused on tech millionaires anxious to come to terms with what they’ve unleashed on the world, we prefer to see a program merely expanding its offerings while retaining its old school, hippy vibe (After all, nude bathing is still de rigueur during the nightly 1-3 a.m. time slot when the baths are open to the public.)
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at email@example.com.
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