Cultivating Meaning and Happiness through Mindfulness and Yoga

  • The Esalen Institute The Esalen Institute
  • 55001 California 1, Big Sur, CA, USA
  • Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2019 (6 days)
  • $650 - $1700

About us

Many of us would benefit from learning how to dis-identify with the mental chatter in our heads and cultivate equanimity. These qualities help us make healthy, long-term decisions and engender loving, positive, secure, and supportive attachments to other people. We must learn to transcend any blunt tools we developed over the years — negative self-talk, overreactions, judgments, facades, fears, expectations, passive-aggressive behavior — and replace them with precise tools such as authentic communications, loving relationships, balanced lifestyles, commitments to personal integrity, and yoga and/or meditation practices.

In this workshop, we will explore specific practices that encourage more meaning and happiness in our lives. We will determine our long-term goals and the skills we should cultivate to realize them. There will be all-level Vinyasa flow yoga classes as well as restorative yoga classes, and we will practice myriad mindfulness meditations to cultivate non-reactivity in order to reduce drama and de-escalate conflicts. Most importantly, we will learn how to replace the resentments that our minds create with gratitude. Please bring a yoga mat.

“Ira Israel’s work intimately speaks to us all at a level of wisdom and compassion that leads to authenticity, joy, and freedom. I cannot recommend it highly enough.” ~ Reverend Michael Beckwith “Ira Israel speaks with wisdom and power about the central psychological issues of our day. His voice is a gift to all who are seeking to find their way.” ~ Marianne Williamson “Successfully challenges the authenticity of all our assumed realities, our 21st century addictions, distractions, and compulsions in language that is elegant, simple and refreshingly modern. A great read.” ~ Sting “It is a helpful blend of psychology east and west… a subject that is dear to my own heart.” ~ Jack Kornfield “Ira Israel draws upon a broad and deep array of knowledge to brilliantly expand the paradigm of mindfulness by making us conscious of everything we absorb unconsciously in culture. Few thinkers give us more tools to guide us through the minefield preceding personal empowerment than Israel.” ~ Warren Farrell “How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult weaves together the wisdom of reflection, the beauty of art and the rigor of clinical practice. The wealth of ideas and practices in this illuminating work will be of benefit to all of us welcoming a new way of perceiving that has the power to transform our individual and collective lives.” ~ Dr. Shauna Shapiro “Ira Israel is a modern day prophet – an amazing teacher, thinker, and leader, whose work combines philosophy, spirituality, and psychology seamlessly. How To Survive You’re Childhood Now That You’re An Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening” is a wonderful manual for how to live a richer and more meaningful life. Read this book and be transformed.” ~ Rabbi Joshua Buchin “Ira Israel is one of the most creative thinkers I know. With his insight, combined with his deeply compassionate heart, Ira hits it out of the park with How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening!” ~ Jai Uttal “Ira Israel’s courageous and riveting new book takes on the status quo: How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult illuminates our society’s extremely narrow bandwidth for emotions common to us all. In particular, feelings of sadness and grief are stifled (or medicated) because the may hinder our perceived productivity and participation, even if temporarily. Ira asserts, unmistakably that happiness is only achievable when we live into it with pure authenticity, feeling all our emotion without needing to grasp or avert. He helps the reader realize the power of loving and genuine relationships that enable access to the true self. Ira provides a place to contemplate the intimacy born of nonjudgmental, intentional support in relationships where we are free to feel and process our wide range of emotions that are encompassed in the uninhibited human experience. This is a very brave book by someone with an eagle eye and an open and tremendous heart.” ~ Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, author of “Bearing the Unbearable” “Culling from his extensive background in philosophy, psychology, and Buddhism, Ira Israel offers a unique perspective into what we consider to be normal and provokes us to inquire into how we can be more authentic and create a more compassionate, just and healthier society.” ~ Daniel Pinchbeck “The cultural illusions that my dear friend Ira Israel so elegantly unpacks in this deep thinking dive into the heart of being human are nothing short of a revelation.” ~ Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of “Calling in the One” and “Conscious Uncoupling” “With mastery and wit, Ira Israel challenges us to make a journey— from the identity we constructed to protect us as children, to authentic adults living a creative, meaningful and joyful life.” ~ Allan Badiner, editor of “Zig Zag Zen,” “Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism” “Ira Israel has discovered the way to be fully mature and keep a childlike sense of wonder. In print and in person he is a delight to be with.” ~ Sam Keen, Ph.D., author of “Fire in the Belly,” “To Love and Be Loved,” “The Passionate Life” “Ira Israel is a brilliant, progressive teacher who draws upon philosophical and psychological teachings from Buddhism and Hinduism to Western psychology and thought in order to find the lessons that we need to learn today to embody authenticity and experience true happiness. This book is the guide we have all been looking for to navigating the complexities of the mind in the modern world.” ~ Felicia Tomasko, Editor in Chief of LA Yoga and Boston Yoga magazines “Ira rips open his brilliant heart/mind and gives us a glimpse of the human condition and how to respond wisely to the often difficult and confusing realities we face. Read this book, be mindful, forgive everyone and carry on.” ~ Noah Levine “Ira Israel has given us a tremendous gift in his new book How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening! His wisdom, clarity, and insight permeate seamlessly through the pages in service of us all living in a greater landscape of joy and truth. A must read for all truth seekers on the path.” ~ Govind Das “Ira’s psychological insights into the causes of depression and anxiety are staggering and his writing is poignant and provocative. I’m going to recommend this book to many patients.” ~ Jenny Pascal, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist “As a yoga teacher of 37 years, whose chronological age (almost 70) belies his emotional age (on the best of days about 13), I found Ira’s book enormously helpful in suggesting a number of simple ways that I might finally learn to act my actual age. I especially enjoyed his take on dharma and our proper place in the grand scheme of things, which is perhaps the most lucid I’ve ever encountered on that difficult subject.” ~ Richard Rosen, author of “Yoga FAQ: Almost Everything You Need to Know about Yoga from Asanas to Yamas,” “The Yoga of Breath: A Step

Venue Highlights

The Waters: Water flows at the heart of Esalen. Three water sources converge here to form a trinity of creation, renewal, and destruction, harkening back to our own ancient origins. According to Chinese medicine and other traditions, the human emotional body is held by the water element. Perhaps that is one reason why Esalen is a safe and powerfully healing place to look within.

The Land: There is the wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff. There is the delicate and subtle Big Sur air of a late afternoon in May, the midnight mist of July, the drenching February rain. There are October nights so clear the Milky Way can light your walk along the darkened garden path. And always there is the sound of the sea.

The Bookstore: Adjoining the lodge at the heart of property, the Conley Bookstore is a cozy book nook with benefits. It’s just the place to find the perfect book, gift, article of clothing, snack, or soundtrack to accompany your journey of self-discovery. In addition to books on topics ranging from Art to Zodiac, the store offers journals, postcards, prints, music, sundries, clothing, ceramics, and other carefully curated accoutrements to promote contemplation, relaxation, and joy.

Farm & Garden: For over forty years, the Esalen Farm and Garden has provided a holistic model of local food security and sustainability, growing organic food that sustains, heals and educates the community of people who live at and visit Esalen every year. The Esalen Farm and Garden exists in a landscape of constant transition and transformation. Our program reflects the Institute as a whole: we wear our dogmas lightly, we go with the flow, we experiment, and we constantly evolve in our practice.

The Art Center: Commonly known as the Art Barn, the Art Center is a two-storied structure with a covered patio on the ocean cliffs next to the Leonard Pavilion and the Farm. It has served as the residence for many artists over the years as well as being the birthplace for latent creativity and the source of many stories


  • Restaurant


Whether after a rigorous workshop session or a long soak in the hot springs, a meal among friends in our lodge is surely one of the most nourishing and enlivening Esalen adventures.

The Esalen kitchen serves delicious, healthy meals to 250 to 350 people per day. This includes everyone from workshop participants and teachers to Esalen board members and staff. The kitchen team crafts each meal with mindfulness and care, featuring produce and herbs from the Esalen farm and garden.

Breakfast: 8:30 - 9:45 am
Lunch: 12:30 - 1:45 pm
Dinner: 6:00 - 7:30 pm

Between Meals
Coffee, tea, house-made bread for toast, preserves, nut butters, and fresh fruit are available all day and night until 5AM.

Volunteering in the Kitchen
On-site guests are always welcome to volunteer in the kitchen, stop in and ask for the chef if you are interested in volunteering during your stay.


A variety of accommodation options is possible with workshop registration. Since some of these fill more quickly than others, it is advisable to sign up as early as possible. Please indicate your second choice for accommodations and workshop in case your initial choice is unavailable. We cannot guarantee specific room requests.

Standard Accommodations: This is shared housing that accommodates two or three persons per room, although couples or friends traveling together who book into standard accommodations will be housed privately. In some cases, bathrooms are shared. The rates listed for standard accommodations throughout the web site are per-person. (A private/single standard accommodation must be requested and may be available on a limited basis for an additional $150 per night).

Premium Rooms offer greater privacy, upgraded bathrooms (and occasionally outdoor clawfoot bathtubs), enhanced sound, climate insulation, and in-floor heating. You can request either ocean views or internet (ethernet cable), and we do our best to honor these requests, although not all rooms offer both. Prices listed throughout the website may reflect either single or double occupancy. Please call 888-837-2536 for details about premium room accommodations and availability.

Point Houses are private suites nestled behind the Esalen Garden and perched at the cliff's edge with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Each of the three Point Houses offers a living room with wood stove, a master bedroom, a sleeping loft, full kitchen and dining area, private redwood deck overlooking the Pacific with outdoor claw foot tub, Internet connections, and in-room telephone. Please call 888-837-2536 for details about Point House accommodations and availability.

Bunk Bed Rooms: Bunk beds are available for seminar participants who are willing to share a room with four to six persons of the same gender. Limited in number, these spaces are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Off-site Accommodations: If you are staying outside Esalen, meals and unlimited use of the property’s facilities are included while you are registered for your workshop.

Sleeping bags: Some of our meeting rooms are sometimes used as shared sleeping bag space and may be available for workshop participants with limited financial means. There is a 7-day limit on sleeping bag stays. Should you choose sleeping bag accommodations, you are responsible for bringing your own sleeping bag, blankets, pads, pillows, etc. Esalen provides towels and face cloths. Some rooms do not include a shower, though shower facilities are available at the baths. The meeting room is a public space where Esalen activities, scheduled and unscheduled, take place. Thus, the room is inaccessible between 9 am and 11 pm. Access to the room is not permitted while these activities are in process. Sleeping bag accommodations are coed, and several people may share a relatively small space. You may want to bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper or bothered by the sleep sounds of others.

All camping or sleeping on the grounds, either in tents, campers, or vehicles of any type is strictly prohibited. We do not have parking space to accommodate RVs.

Tags: buddhism career counseling hinduism love meditation mindfulness philosophy psychology relationships yoga

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