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Re-treat- To step back and withdraw to go to a place of privacy or refuge
The last time I went to Esalen ,ifor a kind of retreat from my regular life, it was just for the weekend but I wanted to immerse myself in nature and that overused word yet still compelling idea of community. It’s a place where people come and shed a layer of their armor and have spontaneous and not so spontaneous conversations, interactions and stream of consciousness chats. You can learn stuff, create, retreat, rebel and basically come up against lots of open- ended possibilities. This feels like a retreat from regular life, but there is a new element that it can also be compared to. That would be social media. As social media has burrowed into our collective experience and communication, the retreat at Big Sur felt both like a physical manifestation of a social media community and the exact opposite of social media. The retreat factor creates a slow quality to talking, walking on the grounds, sitting in natural springs over the crashing ocean, the camp like dining at the lodge, in other words interactivity.
But, it’s not fast and superficial. The refuge factor for me is in the human connection, which by nature is deeper and more sustainable. In Big Sur, nature plays a big role in facilitating the conversation and the retreat because it stops us and inspires retreatants to risk longer and slower conversations relaxing into a curious comfort with other people. Esalen is like a psychology camp, a womb or incubator of nature and dwellings with pods of workshops and activities over the Pacific with startlingly beautiful gardens, cliffs, mist, sun, wildlife and a unique intersection of southern and northern California topography. The shooting stars, whale and dolphin shows and organic gardens that supply the healthy food from earth to the table makes this place pretty magical.