Poetry From Esalen



Wisdom and Nonsense In Equal Measure

Well, I think I needed that! There is a depth of personal healing and permission in some places that simply aren’t available anywhere else. For me, that place is the Esalen Institute on the spectacular Pacific coast of Northern California. Perched above an ocean of whales and teeming with hummingbirds and truth, this garden of transformation has been a sacred land for centuries, if not millennia. I feel myself being woven into its mysteries more and more each year that I return.

I arrived at Esalen for the first time in July 2014 to join the Wisdom 2.0 retreat. I was commissioned to create a set of Soul Portraits to exhibit at their conferences in Dublin and San Francisco in 2015. That weekend, Esalen and I connected with such depth that I made a personal vow to return at least once a year until I die. Due to the pandemic – our reunion this year was three years in the making and sweeter than ever!

I have attended so many incredible workshops at Esalen over the years; learning about the Enneagram, Conscious Dance, Esalen Massage, and of course Mindfulness. I have loved the Anna and Daria Halprin workshops in particular and it was an absolute honour and privilege to attend again this year and reconnect with Daria and share a dance for the recently departed and dearly missed, Anna.

When I am at Esalen the wisdom that I have cultivated through my practice and work since a teenager is particularly nourished and close to the surface, my healings are more potent, my sounds richer, and my being fully released into freedom. Perhaps you can sense it in the poetry that emerged from me whilst there?

I hope you enjoy their wisdom and nonsense and find places and moments for yourself that supports your deepest and dearest emergence.

The Peaceful Warrior

I know how to wield a spear,

I can even catch a fish.

I can leap through rocks in blueberry socks

And climb those trees with surprising ease.

And yet my war is peaceful.

I seek not to kill you dead.

My prey this life is neatly surmised

As the lies within your head.

I work with ancient tools you see,

I find them in my Soul.

They cut and dice with blades precise,

But seek to leave you whole.

I know how to wield a spear

I can even catch a fish.

I bring the war of love to Earth,

It will be my dying wish.



By Neil Seligman, Esalen Institute, Aug 2022

My Head Is Not On My Shoulders

Your head is on your shoulders, someone told me once.

As if they really thought, my neck had gone to lunch.

You see the giraffian structure, between my ribs and chin,

That’s where the head is going – said God screwing my nut on for the win.

My neck is quite the miracle

It stores things like spirit dreams,

The links between four galaxies

And blueprints for machines.

The tribal scrolls are woven in

To my larynx and neural groves.

The heather song of Whales

Grows between my throat’s big toes.

And so, you see, if you follow me

That someone had it incorrect.

My head is not on my shoulders.

It is firmly on my neck.

By Neil Seligman, Esalen Institute, Aug 2022

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Neil Seligman

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Neil Seligman is a leading International Mindfulness Expert, Author and Presenter. He is the Founder of The Conscious Professional and…

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