I may be decade or three late, but I finally made it to Esalen, a place crucial to the birth of somatics and the hub of the human potential movement. This is the place where Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, Emilie Conrad, Milton Trager and other somatic pioneers first presented their work. If you scroll down you will see a photo of Esalen’s famous deck. While I was there I dug through the archives and found a tape of Feldenkrais, the mentor I never met, discussing his work on that very deck. Other lumaries that lived and worked there include Fritz Perls, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, and Joseph Campbell.
I was there to brings news to my peers on the state of somatics in dance and to learn about recent developments. Organized by Don Hanlon Johnson, we came together to share our stories, and specific place in the somatic story. Learn more at betweenbreaths Transformative Body Practices, Phenomenology, and Science: Playing at the Edges, which will be expanding shortly.
I’m still in processing mode, but I do feel a part of something larger that has yet to take hold in the general culture. Much of what was discussed involved defining and negotiating the borders of this body of work. Not unlike a coastline. Makes sense to go to the edge to discuss the edge we presently find ourselves on.
You can learn more about Esalen from Jeffrey J. Kripal’s new book Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
Located at Big Sur, I could not resist trying to take the place home with me via my point and shoot camera. The drama of the place begs for evidence. Here is mine.