It takes just as long to prepare seventy strangers from all over the world to share authentic meals together than it does to prepare the food for those meals.
Here’s the feedback we usually receive at the end of the week: “Y’know, I just spent the best time of my life breaking bread with complete strangers and I have no idea what any of them do for work and none of them asked me what I do for work! It was amazing!”
This is the process:
First I have to deconstruct students’ current paradigms.
I propose that there are three entrance ways into the subconscious: magic, jokes and dreams. I don’t analyze dreams (it’s too speculative and unscientific) so I concentrate on magic and jokes. Both jokes and magic rely on set-ups, mis-direction, and pay-offs. This is why I refer to Derren Brown as the best psychologist in the world and show his videos in my workshops.
Jokes and magic demonstrate how easily we can be misled, fooled. The reason for this is because we did not install our own operating systems — our minds — and we weren’t even provided with proper User’s Manuals for them. That is why it is so easy for magicians to trick us: because they DO have the User’s Manuals for our minds.
Which leads us to discussing consciousness… thinking… and how it relates to language: could language be a cage? And is that cage even smaller if you only speak one language?
Could we all really be prisoners to our own prejudices, all of the things that we were brought up to consider to believe to be “normal”? And is my “normal” the same as what is “normal” for someone from the Ukraine, from Bora Bora, from Botswana?
What if many of the ideas that you consider to be “rational” and “reasonable” can be proven false or inaccurate?
What a rare privilege! To authentically connect with fellow human beings with zero status symbols casually dropped into conversations! Yes, imagining that you are “crazybusy” and continuously talking about all of the stuff that you “do” is even an attempt at raising your status, self-importance.
“I want to be a human being, not a human doing.”
And who knows what could result from a festive meal? It could lead to dancing!
Languid, shared meals sans busyness are not only extremely healing, but many of us have made friends for life and continue the tradition when our paths cross again outside of Esalen. In summary, the magic of Esalen is its rare combination of workshops by leading intellectuals and psychotherapists combined with inclusive communal meals over delicious food and conversation.