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Register online at or by calling 888-8-ESALEN (888-837-2536).

Tikhikpas and Ellen, both elders, have spent their journeys studying diverse spiritual tradi- tions and praying with native peoples around the world. They will guide us in song, dance, prayer, breathwork, chanting, a mini-vision quest on the Esalen grounds, and a purifying sweat lodge (optional and weather permitting). These practices have grown organically from the land of Esalen and are an amalgamation of wis- dom teachings from around the world.

To deepen our experience and enrich our learn- ing, special guests will facilitate several sessions. Mac Murphy, raised on Esalen land, will facili- tate the ritual of the three sacred waters and inspire us with his embodiment of the spirit of the land. Tom “Little Bear” Nason is an eighth- generation documented Spiritual Leader of the Esselen tribe of Monterey county. He is the car- rier of his ancestors’ prophecy of the coming together of the four root races (red, yellow, black, and white) at the “Western Gate” — Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness. Little Bear will share his knowledge of the Esselen heritage, his understanding of the relationship between the Esselen and Hopi tribes, and walk the Institute’s grounds, locating specific historic ceremonial sites.

Bring your beginners mind and pictures of your ancestors for the altar. Ekae! (It is good).

Please note: There will be a celebratory Thanksgiving dinner in the Esalen Lodge.

Recommended reading: Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer.

Recommended viewing: Watson, SpiritDance DVD.

Ellen Watson bio on page 84.

Tigaro Tihikpas, “He who flirts with all life.” A trib- al elder formally educated in Europe and fluent in several languages, Tihikpas has facilitated sweat lodges at Esalen and across Europe. His theological background includes Native American, Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism, and mystic traditions.

Sweet Mischief: A Lighthearted Path for Self-Realization and Restoration

David Schiffman

Step right up, step right in, come and enjoy the trouble you’re in.

— Coyote Old Man

The radiance of a light heart changes for the better everything it reveals. It bathes us in an atmosphere of playfulness, hope, and goodwill. It is born of innate wisdom and is a blessing for

all who share it. If you feel that living a passion- ate, lighthearted, authentic life is a necessity, not a luxury; if presence to deeper, wiser, more natu- rally uninhibited spirits helps you balance out the needs and demands of others with your own; if you feel being free and whole in your own skin is the proper foundation for a real life lived—then you’re ready for the lighthearted path of sweet mischief.

Come join David Schiffman and friends for a week of high spirits, joyful antics, and deep con- templation amidst all things considered. “Our aim together,” writes David, “is to express our deepest thoughts and feelings in a dreamtime celebration of lighthearted intention. We will call on the uplifting spirit medicine of ceremo- ny, touch, dance, music, and song, along with the powers of spirit-family and personal daring and sharing. Our mission: to reconnect with what is free, natural, and alive inside us… A joy- ful tune-up… A time designed to leave you feel- ing more nimble, poised, and able to face the challenge of making the life you hope for.”

Leader bio on page 18.

Deepening the Characters We Create: A Writing Workshop

Lisa Doctor

The characters we create can and will evolve into real people if we allow them to speak in their own voices without interference. But how do our characters turn into dynamic beings? How do they find their own truths?

Through a series of writing exercises and discus- sions, we will create the profile of a character and then allow him or her to answer challeng- ing questions designed to reveal hidden truths. Each prompt is chosen specifically for the char- acter; no two writers will receive the same exer- cise. As the week progresses, these emerging people will open up about that which haunts and thrills them. They will explore their own personal histories, their concerns about aging, their longings, disappointments, fears, and uncertainties. We will ask them to speak freely about old wounds and their compassion for oth- ers. They will tell us what used to be important to them but no longer is. By the end of the week, the character each writer has created will have begun to emerge into a separate being with an authentic voice and a distinct identity. This workshop is designed for writers of every level, including beginners, who are seeking a group writing experience in a safe and nurturing envi- ronment. The method used is particularly effec- tive for those wishing to begin or are in the

midst of writing a novel, memoir, or short story, where a richly drawn character takes center stage.

Lisa Lieberman Doctor teaches character develop- ment at the UCLA Extension Writing Program. She is a former motion picture executive and a nominee of a Daytime Emmy and Writers Guild Award.

Weekend of November 23–25

Heart Fire: Tending the Flame of Your Sva Shakti Shiva Rea

The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire.


“Join our annual Thanksgiving retreat to tend your heart fire authentically as the center of your creativity, vision, inspiration, wisdom, and most of all the transforming power of love,” writes Shiva Rea. “For many years, we have retreated to the warm springs of Esalen during the Thanksgiving weekend for a ritual deepen- ing and renewal of the heart fire. This popular retreat is open to those returning from previous years and newcomers who are transforming Thanksgiving weekend into an ideal time for unwinding, healing, and tending the sacred fire of the heart.”

Together we will explore:

• The universal and ancient understanding and practices of our heart center from tantra, Hatha, and Bhakti yoga, integrated with our heart’s intelligence for releasing our capacity for healing wisdom and love

• Dynamic and meditative vinyasa flow yoga to awaken the body mandala and heart fire

• Chanting of the bija mantras of the heart chakra and the body mandala

• Simple householders homa for connecting to the heart fire in daily life

This immersive retreat is for practical mystics seeking equal parts transformational vinyasa yoga, meditation, ecstatic movement meditation, and group exploration. Every year has been a great adventure that weaves live music, chanti- ng, and ritual into a heart-based approach to the flow of yoga. Please bring a yoga mat.

Shiva Rea is a yogini firekeeper, sacred activist, global adventurer, and innovator in the evolution of vinyasa flow yoga that integrates the tantric bhakti roots of yoga, Krishnamacharya’s teachings, and a universal, quantum approach to the body.


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