Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Esalen’s Vaccination Decision: FAQs

On September 3, 2021 Esalen made the decision to require proof of vaccination for all faculty, staff, guests, and students. We did not make this decision lightly. Esalen’s Board of Directors considered the issue deeply, from many different angles. They spent considerable time weighing the benefits and consequences of such an action, both as an immediate solution and as a long-term statement about Esalen’s mission. 

Our core values are guided by prioritizing the creation of a space where people can confidently gather safely in a supportive environment — spiritually, emotionally, and physically as a part of an ongoing exploration of human potential and community connection. 

Here, we address the most frequently asked questions about our current COVID guidelines. We want to acknowledge the feedback and insights we’ve received on social media, direct emails, and calls to guest services as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of the collective on our campus.

Why are you requiring proof of vaccination?

In 2020, we lost almost twelve million dollars due to closures related to COVID-19, fires, and mudslides. Even while our doors were closed to guests, our operating costs to maintain the land with reduced staff stood at one million dollars a month. If we have to shut our doors for any reason, it directly impacts the survival of Esalen Institute.

We are committed to keeping our staff, faculty, guests, and students safe while avoiding closures due to outbreaks on campus. We have chosen to follow the science, which shows vaccination is the highest defense against the spread of COVID-19. 

Why aren’t you requiring proof of a negative COVID test instead of forcing people to get vaccinated?

We are not forcing people to get vaccinated. If you want to come to Esalen, we require proof of vaccination. While testing and tracing is still an important part of helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have also considered the number of days it takes to test positive and show symptoms. We ultimately determined that a vaccine requirement was the best way to manage these safety protocols with success with our current staffing levels.

Is the proof of vaccination requirement temporary? 

We will continue to require proof of vaccination while the pandemic continues to surge, both in the U.S. and around the world. 

Why are you discriminating against unvaccinated people?

We are not discriminating against unvaccinated people. We take full responsibility for our stand as we recognize the interdependence of all things, while appreciating diversity of persons, thoughts, actions, and belief. We are aware that our attitudes and actions affect the whole. 

What if I exhibit symptoms while on campus?

Due to Esalen’s remote location we are unequipped to quarantine guests on our campus. Any guest who exhibits symptoms must immediately contact the office or the gate where they will be checked out and asked to complete a questionnaire for our contact tracing protocols. If you require help getting tested locally you can find resources here.

Continuing the conversation

If you’d like more information please direct your queries to our dedicated email for vaccination and COVID-19 issues: safety@esalen.org.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Esalen Team