"This is the way life goes in Big Sur. Waiting for the mail, watching the sea-lions in the surf or the freighters on the horizon, sitting in the tubs at Hot Springs, once in a while a bit of drink - and, most of the time, working at what ever it is that you came here to work on, whether it be painting, writing, gardening or the simple art of living your own life. " - Hunter S. Thompson
A Brief History. In the 1950s, Esalen was a restaurant and gathering place for the Big Sur community. Had you been there back in the day, you might have seen Henry Miller, Steve McQueen, Joan Baez, or a young Hunter S. Thompson (who briefly ran the place). They would soak in the baths and then come up to the Lodge to eat and drink or write. The place is the stuff of legend. Indian Burial Grounds. Orgies. LSD. Magic.
Cut to 2018. Today Esalen offers high end workshops (learn more here). The shortest is three days, Thursday- Sunday. Do yoga, heal your inner child, find purpose and meaning. Clothing is optional. All meals are provided. The bar is only open during dinner (wine and beer).
I've been to Esalen twice. Once to attend a workshop on finding purpose and meaning in my life, following a break up. And once to sneak in and live life like Hunter S. Thompson in 1960. To be honest, it's better attending a retreat (not only because you aren't constantly paranoid someone is going to realize you aren't actually part of the workshop on intimacy).
I'm the last person on the planet to preach veganism and yoga and the healing powers of crystals. But I do think that there may be something more to life than having a g wagon and a 22 inch waist. Beyond the fact that Esalen and Big Sur in general are insanely stunning, there is something beautiful about giving in to doing some hippy spiritual crap and sitting around with 15 strangers talking about how you aren't happy with your life and what you can do to change it. Your cellphone won't work. You can wear a bathing suit, but no one does. And people are actually kind to each other.