Friday 3 to Sunday 5 October
Esalen, Californian Coast, USA
Several months ago, when we first began planning this trip, Simon read the (excellent) advice that one should aim to gather experiences, not sights. After all, we are going to a lot of places just by the very nature of our travels; it is what we do in those places that will really be memorable.
So we looked out for one-off, can’t-get-this-anywhere-else opportunities, which is how we found ourselves at Esalen. After all, what could be more Californian than a weekend workshop on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the original hippie hang-out?!
Esalen occupies a particularly stunning section of the Californian coast. The institute was established in 1962, and was the birthplace of the “human potential movement”. Today, it hosts a range of courses and workshops, as well as providing a beautiful retreat. Its facilities include accommodation, a farm, a kitchen that produces the most delicious fresh food and hot springs.
We were fascinated by the incredible wildlife, including the hummingbirds (which sound like a jet engine when they pass close by) and blue jays. The monarch butterflies were amazing, too; far bigger than the ones at home. They apparently migrate over 2,000 miles each year to their breeding grounds in Mexico.
We also met some lovely people, including fellow Brit Rich (we bonded over tea, of course), who is travelling around the world visiting “intentional communities” and blogging about what he finds.
Video of the day
If you are wondering what mindfulness is all about, this video should enlighten you!
PS Thanks to Ed, and to Helen (who took me to The Orange Tree) for originally piquing our interest in mindfulness.