Now I know. Soul Collage© finds its true magic in the experience. Having this experience at Esalen Institute made it that much more magical. Sharing it with my friend longtime friend Michelle closed the circle of perfection.
First, you should understand this place called Esalen Institute. Here’s how it works. You move between various soul-nourishing stations. First, the dining area sits high on a cliff overlooking a coastline that takes your breath away. The amazing organic, vegetarian, gluten free food, much of which comes from the local garden, is served community style and everybody is very friendly and eager to connect while staring out at the gorgeous view. An assortment of local Monterrey wines are available, or you can opt for 1 of the 20 decaf teas which was my personal fave. Who doesn’t want locally infused lemon lavender water with their seafood bouillabaisse?
The next station is the incredible baths which sit on the south end of the property and are nestled into the rocks of a steep cliff over the Pacific. From the baths, which you can enjoy under the stars and moonlight or in the beautiful sun, you can see the rocks and crashing waves below. From the open air shower, we watched whales pass and seals bob up and down while washing our hair. I had a massage under a sun umbrella listening to waves crash against the shore that combined Swedish and Thai techniques. The place is known for its top notch massages and healing waters. I knew this, but to experience it brings a whole new understanding.
Then there’s the Art Barn. We traveled there during the course of three days to create art in the form of SoulCollage© cards. We would meet in a circle upstairs in the loft, talk about the concepts and theory which was more involved than I realized at first, then make cards with visual images that spoke to us. Getting to know SoulCollage© originator Seena Frost and her right hand lady Mariabruna Sirabella was a treat. She’d thrown Dove chocolates all over the floor and my wrapper spoke the truth: You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Then, there was the last station: the forest. We trekked back into to redwoods and crossed a bridge, following a path along a babbling creek. I love forests. The light, the sounds, the quiet—just wow. We ran up against a huge tree that had fallen, looked at each other and said, “Well? End of path?” No! A closer look revealed steps up the tree and arrows pointing across the creek. There was much more to explore. Life metaphor 524—sometimes we see a block in front of us without a passage. When we refocus, we see the perfect solution we didn’t see two seconds earlier.
And that’s really what this art medium—and Eslaen–does. It helps you shift perspectives in a fun and communal sort of way. Simple, yet complex. The idea is to unplug and create. The product is an ongoing deck of cards which is personal to you and which you can use as a tool in your life for the duration in various ways. Everybody’s cards were strikingly different and all cards were honored equally. It wasn’t a beauty contest. You give voice to the card by starting with “I am the one who…” which, to me, was a visual adaptation of Stephen Aizendat’s Dreamtending© concept where you animate a symbol to find deeper meaning in a dream.
I think what I enjoyed best about the whole process was giving intuition a playground to explore and letting intuition be the rock star of the weekend with its own close parking to every move of the psyche. To reach for the stars. It reminds me that we know so much more than we think, if only we’d quiet down enough to listen.