Subtle. Soften. Drop into your heart. The Intimate Return to Esalen

Updated: Aug 22


They say its magical, and it is: Esalen, a beautiful retreat center nestled into the cliffs of Big Sur, CA overlooking the ocean. My first visit back in 2012, I showed up, I heard myself for what seemed like the first time. Now a few year later, I was back for another Yoga Retreat with the rockstar yoga teacher - Peter Sterios.

The focus of this retreat was the Subtle body; subtlety has never been my strong point.

I set an intention to slow it all down and take a chill pill in the rushing department. Back in LA, I feel a constant movement, even when I’m moving at a slower pace, I still feel an underlying anxiety to “get things done”. As I started to shift into the present vibe of Esalen, the fast pace busyness was subtle, but still present. I felt the layers peel back and knew we were about to get to the root of the busy body.

Today, my teacher asked me how my hips felt after all our morning hip openers, and my comment was my low back hurt. He smiled saying in his compassionate and strong yoga teacher way that I needed to peel back on my need for stretching, that I needed to soften and ease slowly into my postures. My favorite way to “yoga” is to feel the stretch, the burn, to hear my body tell me that I am doing something to create a change.

His next cue was to drop my heart. I took his words a step deeper in hearing I must, drop “into” my heart. I felt a sting behind my eyes… that’s what I am here for, tapping into my subtle, soft side and learning how to drop down into my heart. Vulnerability and intimacy, alongside with loosening the reigns on control.

I followed up by asking why I was unable to feel the subtlety. His response "subtlety is connected to intimacy - becoming intimate with ones body". The heat intensified behind my eyes, that’s the button, the sticky space I was directed to connect with, to become intimate with my body in the subtle spots.

The heat grew and was now all over, the tears softly streamed down my cheek. I was unsure what was the driving voice behind my need for speed, until he said intimacy. Was I speeding through life, burning rubber, piling on the work, overloading my plate so that I could skip the process of becoming intimate with my own subtle cues… I knew the next steps in this wild ride, the challenge to soften the busyness in order to build an intimate relationship with myself and then others.


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